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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
In Final Cut Pro, we set the scratch disk location; in Media Composer, we use the Media Creation Settings. In both cases, we're setting up rules ahead of time for where to send media when it's imported, captured, or generated. Under the Final Cut Pro menu, we have the System Settings. It's here that we can specify when media is sent, when it's captured or when it's rendered. The same place in Media Composer is called the Media Creation Settings.
We can access it two ways. We can either go to our Settings tab in the project window and scroll down and find Media Creation that way. There it is. Or alternatively, I could go to the Tools menu and drop down to Media Creation this way instead. And you could see Command+5 is the keyboard shortcut to bring this dialog up. So just like when I create a project in Final Cut, I should always first go to my Scratch Disk Location and check the integrity of that, the same is true with Media Composer.
When I create a project in Media Composer, I want to come to the Media Creation Settings and check that everything is going to the right place and at the right resolution. Let's start on the Drive Filtering & Indexing tab. Basically this is telling the system hey, don't record any media to my system drive or my launch drive or my network drives based on resolution. Of course, if you are using your Mac internal hard drive as your media drive in this particular case, you want to leave these unchecked. Otherwise your media will go offline.
With many of the rest of the tabs, the most important things to note are the Video Resolution and the Video Drive. Here in the Capture tab, we're specifying that media would go to the Macintosh hard drive. I want to switch this to my media drive so that I get better performance. This switch here is really just saying whether or not the audio and the video files are sent to the same location. This can be useful if you have a specific audio workflow that requires the audio files to be put in a different place.
I'm going to leave them all being sent to the media drive. We'll come back to the Video Resolution in just a moment. Let's first look at Titles. This is for media generated inside the system through either the Media Composer Title tool or Avid Marquee. Import, this specifies where media is written to when we import multimedia files. Mixdown & Transcode, this is telling us where the media will go if we choose to mixdown a whole sequence of that timeline into an individual clip or perhaps transcode material from one frame right to another.
Then we have a separate tab for Motion Effects and a separate tab for Renders. And over here we have Media Type and you can see that's set to MXF. Now let's go back to the Render tab for a moment and have a look at the Video Resolution dropdown. You can see here that you have choices between Avid's own DNxHD codec, which is pretty much the equivalent of Final Cut Pro's ProRes codec, or we can choose camera manufacturer codecs such as Panasonic's AVC-Intra or Panasonic's DVCPro HD, or Sony's XDCAM EX 35 megabits per second, or Sony XDCAM Optical at 50 megabits per second.
These two other choices here are for uncompressed HD media or uncompressed HD media at 10 bit. The uncompressed options will preserve the maximum amount of data, making the quality of the copy almost indistinguishable from the original, but it will also generate huge files. As we choose resolution then, on the one hand we need to preserve the quality of the original media, whether that be a file or type source. And then on the other hand, if we use too much information to store our images, we may end up spending too much money on storage, waste time on longer transfer times, and be unable to play back the material smoothly without investing in faster storage.
To help us understand this more clearly, let's go to the Avid Storage Calculator online. Here with the Avid Storage Calculator, we can go ahead and choose a project type. Let's go to our project type here, 1080i/59.94. Then I can choose a resolution. Let's go for Avid DNxHD 145. Let's type in 10 minutes worth of footage. You can see right away that gives us the storage requirement of 10 gigabytes. Avid DNxHD 145 is pretty much the equivalent to ProRes 422.
This time let's choose Avid DNxHD 220, and we can see with the same amount of material we'd now need an extra 5 gigabytes to store that. This is pretty much the equivalent to ProRes HQ. Let's go a little further. Let's choose DVCPRO HD 100. We can see that it has a significantly smaller storage requirement. Let's keep looking through. 1:1 8-bit HD. This is going to be big. You can see that it will cost us 71 gigabytes of space if we were to capture at 1:1 8-bit HD.
Likewise, if we were to go to 10-bit, that goes up to a whopping 83 gigabytes for 10 minutes worth of footage. So you can see that choosing the correct resolution to support the quality of your file and the environment that you're going to be editing in is very important indeed. Let's go back over to Media Composer and explore this a little further. Let's go back to the Media Creation dialog for a moment. I want to point out a couple of things. I've been using Render to explain what these different resolutions are going to do for us.
The same choices are going to be available in Import and of course in Mixdown & Transcode. The only difference would be the Capture tab. If we go in here, we're going to have a reduced set unless we have hardware attached to our system. If we have hardware attached to our system that can ingest baseband media over a video cable, then we would see the same range of resolutions here. In this case, because I'm working on a software only system, I'm only being given the choices that are available to me through a FireWire based capture.
Next thing, let's cancel out of here. What I'd like to do is go to the Format tab. You can see there we're at 1080i/59.94, 1920x1080. Let's switch this down now to 720. The reason I've done that is because this is going to affect what we see under the Media Creation aettings. You see here now I'm getting a different set of resolutions that are smaller in size because of course the 720 frame is smaller in size.
If I now switch to my format over to 30i NTSC, in other words, an SD resolution and we go back to the Media Creation dialog, you're going to see now that we're presented with a whole different set of resolutions. One thing I'd like to point out is that you've probably noticed that in the HD dialogs, most stuff is represented with a number indicating the megabits per second. When we come to SD media though, Avid is representing things as a ratio.
In other words, 2:1 is much less compressed, let's say, than 10:1. So 10:1, for example, would be a proxy resolution whereas 2:1 or maybe 1:1 or 1:1 10-bit would be our online finishing resolution. So you can see that it's important that when you're first setting up your project, if you are going to be moving between different frame sizes, you need to come and set the Media Creation settings for every frame size that you're going to be working with, whether it's capturing, whether it's rendering, or whether it's mixdowns and transcodes.
Final point here, the Media Creation dialog, that's all about sending media to the managed media files location, the Avid MediaFiles folder on the root of your hard drive. I said at the beginning of this segment that you really don't want to delete those files manually using the operating system. You need to use the tools inside of Media Composer. So how do we do that? Let's highlight this clip here. Let's just load it so we can prove that it's in fact online. Let's highlight this clip here and hit the Delete key on the keyboard.
You can see I've got an interesting choice here. Delete the effect clip or Delete the 3 associated media files. I'm going to reverse this. I'm going to delete the media only but leave the effect clip online. That way I could re-import it later at a different resolution. And you could see underneath, I've got the resolutions that we're going to delete displayed. Click OK and then we have a confirmation dialog and now that clip is gone offline. We still have the clip in our bin and as I say, we could re-import that now if we wanted to from the original file.
But this is one way of deleting media inside of Media Composer and it's far better to do it this way because Media Composer has databases which are scanning the contents of that managed media file location. So deletions through the software itself will keep everything up to date and everything moving smoothly. In conclusion, both FCP and Media Composer have managed media file locations. In FCP, it's the scratch disk; in Media Composer, it's the Avid MediaFiles folder.
When writing files to the managed media files location, we'll need to specify the resolution of the new files created. When linking to a file, the resolution is actually determined by the source file. This is different to linking to media because when we link to media using AMA, the resolution of the file is actually specified by the source file, since no new media is being written to the managed media files location.