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In Avid Media Composer 5 Getting Started, author Steve Holyhead explores the tools and techniques in Media Composer for producing great looking video, as well as the basics of high definition media formats. This course walks through the video production workflow from input to editing to output, covers key information such as trim concepts and frame rates, and introduces techniques such as color correction, footage stabilization, and real-time audio effects. Exercise files accompany the course.
Whatever we're doing with Media Composer, there will be numerous ways for us to achieve our goals. If we understand some basics about how the system works with media, we'll be able to make smarter and more efficient choices about how we work. I've got numerous effects down here in my Timeline. I'm actually going to go ahead and mute my audio tracks, like so. I am going to playback these effects, and we'll see what they look like. Depending upon the resolution of your material and the power of your computer you may find that certain effects are real-time, whilst others might require rendering.
A real-time effect is one where the system can calculate the changes to the image or audio on the fly, and display the result as the Timeline plays back. Many of the effects are real-time in Media Composer, and that's indicated by this green dot here. A non real-time effect is indicated by the blue dot. And what this is telling us is that the system will not be able to make the calculations on the fly. The effect definitely will have to be rendered. But sometimes even real-time effects are hard for the system to play back, depending upon the complexity of the effect, the number of layers involved, and the resolution of the material, even the power of your computer.
It can mean that real-time effects can sometimes stutter or not playback smoothly in the Timeline, like so. Or hear again. Or hear again. To solve this, we can render those effects. This means that rather than waiting until that very moment in the Timeline, and then trying to do the math on the fly, we asked the system to calculate the effect beforehand and then write the effect out as a media file just like any other clip.
That way, when the system comes to that effect on the Timeline, instead of bogging down computer resources trying to make the calculation, Media Composer just calls up the pre-rendered media file and place that back for the duration of the effect instead. In order to render an effect, what we would do is park on that effect in the Timeline, make sure that the track is active for the clip that we want to render. Next, we come here to the Render Effect button. Click that, and a dialog opens.
This is just simply confirming that we want to render to the Manage Media Files folder on the D drive. Click OK. We have a dialog box, which shows us the progress of our render. And once this is complete, we will be able to play the effect back, guaranteed, in real-time. Okay, let's see how that looks. There we go. So we've got completely smooth playback now on that effect. Now the majority of Media Composer effects are designed to be real-time when played back on a reasonably new and powerful computer.
The older your machine, the more likely you are to have to render. Now one drawback of rendering effects is that the process takes time. Sometimes when we're designing an effect, we just want to see how the effect flows over time. To have to keep stopping in order to render the effect can interfere with the creative process. Another way that you can get around this is to use the Video Quality menu. Here at the bottom of the Timeline, there is the Video Quality menu, and I can toggle it between full green, full yellow and half green half yellow.
Now full green mode, this is displaying full qualities, displaying all of the pixels all of the time. Now depending on the resolution of your material, that could be quite resource- hungry, meaning that when we try and playback effects that would normally be real-time, that they might stutter or even freeze. What we can do is we can drop ourselves down to the next quality level, half yellow half green and see how that plays back. Now we're getting more movement, but it's still stuttering.
So let's drop ourselves right down to Full Yellow mode, which is the lowest quality, but will provide the greatest opportunity to see the effect in real-time. Okay. Now we get an idea of what the effect would be like at full quality, and if we're happy with that, then we can bump our Quality back up and then go ahead and render this effect, too. So far, we've been adding effects directly to clips, but what I'd like to show you now is that I can actually add an effect to an entire track.
I'm going to add a video track to my Timeline. Right-click > New Video Track. Now I've got video track 2. Disable 1, because I'm going to add an effect across the entire Timeline. I'm going to come up here to the Effects palette, and I'm going to come to the Generator category. Now not all effects are designed for the audience to see; some are utility effects. Here, for example, I have the Timecode Burn-in effect. If I drag and drop that, it's going to drop across the entire track of V2, covering all of the sequence.
I'm going to have to monitor V2 in order to better see it, and you can see there now I've got a Timecode Reader that's overlaying on top of my sequence. If I want to customize this, I just have to go back into Effects mode. I can reposition the Timecode box like so, and make it bigger. I can also come down and switch on the second Display, and instead of showing Timecode this time, I could maybe say, let's have a look at the Source Clip Name.
Let's affect the size of that, too. Reposition that and close the effect. If I play that back, you can see that this effect plays over the entire Timeline, over the top of all the other clips with their effects on them. So not all effects are designed for the audience to see. In this particular case, having a read out of the Timecode in my sequence and the name of individual clips in the sequence, a producer, or a director, or anyone else I'm working with can have an intelligent conversation with me about the sequence that I'm working on.
Certain effect types fulfill technical or production workflow requirements, Other effect types are purely to enhance story, pace, rhythm, and meaning.
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