Understanding Media Composer
Understanding Media Composer
The Media Composer functions, tools, and interface are all designed around the task of getting media into your project, editing that media and then outputting the finished project. We're going to select and open up an existing Avid project from our exercise files. So here, I've got the Select Project dialog. And here's the project that I'm going to be using, MC5 getting started. Let's click OK. And now that project will open up. Now, we're going to start having a look at the Media Composer interface.
One thing I'd like to make really clear here is that in order to present this to you as clearly as possible, what we've done is we're using a very, very small screen resolution. Yours will probably look a little different to this. So I'm just going to go ahead and expand things a little here, so that our timeline fills up all of this space here. Great! Now we're ready to get going. The Media Composer interface. As you can see, across the top, we have some standard menu commands, just like with most applications.
However, it's here in the Project window where most of the organization goes on inside of Media Composer. You can see that this is the Project window because we have a Bins tab, a Settings tab, an Effects tab, a Format tab and others. If you need to see more, you can just resize the Project window a little bit, like that. Next, over here, we have what's called the Composer window. On the left-hand side of the Composer window, you've got where you're going to play back your source clips, to review them and see how much material you'd like to add to your sequence.
On the right-hand side, this is actually where you'd see the sequence, all of the assembled clips playing back. And down here is the Timeline area. And that's where you'd see a graphical representation of all of the clips in your sequence. Here, in the Composer window, there is a Fast menu, which gives you access to some of the more commonly used tools. You can actually rip that panel off if you like and put it somewhere else. I'm just going to close it back up. Down here in the Timeline, there's also a Fast menu, and that gives us access to a lot of common commands in the Timeline area.
And up here in the Project window there is another Fast menu. Incidentally, another commonality between all of the windows in Media Composer is if I right-click, I'm going to get a contextual menu, and the same down here in the Timeline. Before, we move back to the Project window, I just want to call out some very primary controls in the Timeline area. Here, you've got your audio meters and your Audio Monitor button. If I click on the Audio Monitor button, I can access the tools to allow me to mute or change the audio level.
And down at the bottom of the Timeline, we have the Video Quality menu. The Video Quality menu has three settings: full green - which is full quality, yellow - which is the lowest quality, and yellow-green - which is about half-way between. The reason I bring this up is that if your system is a little older, and a little slower, then you might need to use either the yellow setting or the yellow-green setting. If your system is fast and up-to-date, then yellow-green, or even green, might be possible for playback.
With that covered, let's go back to the Project window, because here, I'd like to bring up one other part of the Media Composer interface that's not visible on the screen here. If I go to the Settings and scroll down, we can open up the Keyboard. And so as we're going through the course, I want you to bear in mind the Keyboard. Media Composer comes with a lot of standard features mapped to your keyboard. And using the keys in conjunction with the interface will make you a faster editor.
Where possible, I'll call out the appropriate keystrokes for the Mac or the PC, as we move through the tools in the interface. Okay, I am going to close that back up and go back to the Bins tab. Here, we're actually looking at folders. If I fold down one of the folders, I have subfolders. Inside there, I have these, which are bins. I can tell that they're bins as I have these little strips hanging down. They meant to be filmstrip icons. If I double-click on one of these, I get my clips Bin open. These are the actual audio and video files that we're going to be working with.
If I take one of them, drag it into the Source Viewer, now you can see how I can start to scrub through the material using the Scrub Bar underneath the Picture viewer right there. If I open up my other bin, you can see I've got a sequence. These are different icons. See these are clip icons here, and that's an audio icon. Well, this is a sequence icon. If I double-click on that it's going to load a sequence. And you can see the graphic representation of the sequence down here, and the picture representation of the sequence up here in the Record viewer.
How does all of this translate into a workflow? Well, first of all, we use Media Composer to input material into the bins. Then we use the bins to organize our material. We use the Source viewer to select portions of our material. And then we use the editing tools to bring that material into our Timeline down here. When we've finished assembling our Timeline, we'll go back to the Timeline in the bin and choose to export the Timeline, or else perhaps lay it out to type.
Projects contain bins and folders; bins contain clips and sequences. Understanding the Media Composer interface, nomenclature, and workflow is akin to learning to drive a car. Once you've mastered these basic ideas, you'll be absolutely free to embark upon your own journey.
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