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Before launching Media Composer, it's important to take a look at how everything works in the editing environment. Media Composer is a digital non- linear, non-destructive editing system. It's digital because the media it accesses consists of computer files rather than physical film or tape. It's non-linear because editors can construct programs or sequences by combining clips together in any way possible. For example, you can start with the end, add the beginning later, insert shots in between shots,and so on.
It's non-destructive because no matter how many cuts you make to the footage to build your program, the actual raw media remains untouched in whole. This can happen because of the Media Composer's relationship between its clips and its media files. Media files are raw video and audio files that come from recording footage with a video camera among other things. These files are very large and once you capture them onto your system, they are stored on your media drive and remain there untouched.
In Media Composer these files always live in a folder called Avid MediaFiles, which lives on your media drive. These media files are very useful but they are only half of the equation for editing. The other half of the equation is clips. Clips are much smaller files that point to the larger media files, allowing you to watch the media and assemble it any way you want. Because of this, clips are often called pointer files or virtual files. That is, clips are files that refer to their corresponding media files.
They live in bins inside the Media Composer project, which we'll look at later. Think of this relationship like a card catalog in the library. The cards in the card catalog are the clips and the books are the media files. Card catalog entries contain a lot of information about the corresponding books like name, location, creation date, and so on. In this sense, they point to or refer to the book itself. However, the card catalog alone does you no good. You need both the reference to the book as well as the actual book to be able to find and use it appropriately.
Now clips do this too. They refer to the media, allowing you to access it. The editing relationship goes one step further though. As soon as you access it, you can begin assembling your program non-linearly and non-destructively. So now that we understand the world that Media Composer lives in, let's get started editing.
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