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- Working with clips, bins, folders and the project window
- Customizing user settings and keyboard layout
- Importing video, audio, and graphics
- Accessing clips from other projects
- Comparing backup structure
- Organizing media and project assets
- Understanding media resolution and locations
- Editing in the timeline
- Mixing audio
- Compositing with keyframes
- Creating titles
- Color correcting footage
- Preparing and outputting master sequences
Skill Level Beginner
Both Media Composer and Final Cut Pro are both engineered to perform auto-saves as well as explicit saves and to allow for easily backing up the results of the work done in your project. Once I've saved my FCP project, the software is able to begin auto-saving my work in the background, according to the rules set under the General Settings tab accessed from the User Preferences. Here under Autosave Vault we can specify how often and how many copies we keep.
To manually back up our FCP project, we would need to exit the software, browse to the location where we saved our project, and then copy that file to a safe external location. In Media Composer, the Autosave Vault is called the Attic and the settings can be found as with most settings under the Settings tab of the Project window. When you go to the Bin Settings, double-click. You might remember we came here to enable the SuperBin earlier in the course. Up above that area, we have the ability to change our Auto-Save Interval, maybe I'll make that 5 minutes, and also the maximum number of bins in a project's attic as well as the maximum versions of a bin in the attic.
So with that running in the background, if there should be a computer malfunction or a power failure we can feel confident and we can always go back in time to retrieve a bin with a good recent copy of our work. Now in addition to the protection offered by auto-save, if you've just spent a lot of time coming it with your masterpiece, there is no harm in using the explicit save to protect your investment of time and energy. In Final Cut Pro the command to perform an explicit save is Command+S. This saves your project.
In Media Composer, the fastest way to explicitly save the entire project is to use the following keystrokes: Command+9 to highlight the Project window and Command+S to save everything inside. Notice that in Media Composer if something in a bin changes, for example, let's say I duplicate one of these clips, notice that we now get an asterisk before the bin name. If I now explicitly save, notice that the asterisk goes away. So that's a quick way to know whether there is something in your bin that currently needs saving.
Further to auto-save and explicit save there is a third type of save incorporated into both applications. When I exit either FCP or Media Composer, the system will do a full save of my project at that point too. Saving your bins and projects regularly is a good first step. However, all of that project information is stored in one or two folders on your system. If something happened to your system drive, you might lose all of your work. Therefore, it's common practice to back up all project data to another device or a server location at the end of every day or week depending on the amount of work passing through your system.
In order to perform a manual backup, you'll need to exit your project and exit Media Composer. Before we do exit though, I'm going to make a change over here in the Music bin. Let's go back to the Bins tab. You can see I am in the 02_ 02 subfolder and I've got the music_attic_example bin opened. What I'm going to do is I'm going to take this audio_sequence here and I'm going to accidentally delete it, like so. Okay, it's gone. We can see the change there, I might even save it, and it's absolutely gone from that bin right now.
Let's go ahead and exit Media Composer. Remember, if we close the Project window, we'll exit to the Select Project dialog. We don't want to do that this time. What we'd like to do is exit the application altogether. Now we've exited Media Composer. On your desktop I'd like you to create a new folder called avid_project_backups. Next, at the operating system level, navigate to the location of your Avid project. In our case, we know that we're on the media drive. We know that we're inside the catalyst_CONTAINER and inside the catalyst_Avid_Projects there are the projects that we've been working with, including the two examples we made earlier in this chapter.
So now if I wanted to do a full backup of my catalyst_5994 project I would simply need to copy this item, move to my backup location, and paste the item. Now, ideally this would be on a thumb drive or an external network resource or somewhere other than your computer. We're just really going through the process here so you can see what we're doing. So what we've just covered is best practice when all is going well. But what if something goes wrong? What then? For example, let's say at the end of my editing session I had accidentally deleted a sequence like I did in the Music bin.
How would I get it back? Again, with either Media Composer or Final Cut, the application needs to be shutdown and next we're going to browse to the location of the Avid Attic. So I've brought up here the path to the Avid Attic on a Mac system. You can see that I am on a Mac hard drive. Under Users, under Shared, under AvidMediaComposer, we find the Attic itself. Underneath the Attic we then have a representation of each project that we're currently working with. If we scroll over a bit further, we can see inside catalyst_5994 I have Bins and inside my Bins I can now find my music_attic_ example bin.
If we go inside of here and we switch to Detail view, we can actually get to see the times at which things were saved. So what I need to do is dial back in time slightly. Now, these numbers, by the way, are really just to indicate what sequence things were saved in. Once it reaches the maximum number of bins that you've specified, it will roll back over to number 1. So you need to make sure you definitely check the time of the Attic file that you're restoring. To do this, I'm going to roll back in time a little bit.
I'm going to go back to 11:40 here and I'm going to copy this item. Let me close this location and now I'm going to paste this item onto my desktop. Next, I'm going to make two changes to the file name. The first one is I'm going to change the extension from .7 to .avb. I'm also going to change the name itself, so I don't get confused when a get back inside Media Composer. Instead of music_attic_example I'm just going to call it music_Recovered. All right! Now let's go back into Media Composer and bring this recovered file into our project.
I'm going to go ahead and go back into the catalyst_5994 project. Now I'm going to close my music_attic_ example bin and I'm going to go ahead and create a new bin called Recovery. I'm going to place that alongside that material in the 02_02 subfolder and now I'm going to use the Open Bin command to go and browse to my desktop, because it's on my desktop that I'm going to find the music_Recovered bin. Choose Open and now I'm reading this bin directly off of the desktop.
So you can see that in the Recovered version of my bin I have the audio_sequence. So I'm going to actually take everything, move it over from the Recovered bin into my Recovery bin, and now I'm going to close this one. Now, why did I do that? Well, remember this is external to our project, so I don't want to be relying on this. This bin here is inside my project structure and so that's why I want to move all of the assets out of the Attic version into my current version. Now we can close that and we could even go to the desktop and get rid of that Avid bin folder on the desktop now, because everything is safe and secure back inside my project.
So in this process we were able to simulate the accidental deletion of a sequence and the restoration of that asset from the Avid Attic. Overall, the procedures for saving, backing up, and restoring are quite similar when we compare FCP with Media Composer. However, despite the similarities, there is a fundamental difference at the heart of how things are auto-saved in Media Composer when compared to FCP. Remember, at the start of Chapter 2 we were talking about Final Cut Pro, placing emphasis on the project, and Media Composer placing the emphasis on the bin.
Here we see that same theme extended, because FCP is designed to auto-save projects whereas Media Composer is designed to auto-save bins. In practice, what this means is that if I have a problem with the sequence in a bin like in the previous example, then in Media Composer I could simply restore the auto-save backup of that specific bin, leaving any other work I did in the project alone. In other words, I just dial that one bin back in time to before I accidentally deleted my important sequence.
The rest of my project is still up-to-date. So in conclusion, both FCP and Media Composer use an auto-saving mechanism. In FCP, projects are backed up in the Autosave Vault; in Media Composer bins are backed up to the Attic. Setting auto-save is of course is a good start. However, remember it's always a good idea to manually back up your project data to a thumb drive or external location at the end of everyday or every week.