Find a Corrupt Clip or Frame Quickly in Avid Media Composer

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This article will show you the quickest way to do the guess and check procedure to find a corrupt clip or frame in Avid Media Composer.

To learn the fast method, I’m going to walk you through two other ways you can do this. Skip to #3 if you are in a rush. If you aren’t, it’ll be worth a couple minutes’ time to read through the first two methods described so you can have some background.

Recently in the Avid Editors of Facebook group there was a member with an error — Exception: PMM_SYNC_FAILURE. This error typically means that there is a corrupt piece of footage in your timeline, usually just a couple frames. This happens for a million reasons but I’m here to show you how to troubleshoot your way out of it.

I’ve dealt with more corrupt media than any editor should have to in a career. I still routinely work on projects that were originally created in the 2003-2005 range — back when this now graying editor was back in high school. Corrupt media is a near weekly occurrence to me during the busy seasons and one of the reasons I feel like I’m a pro at troubleshooting NLE issues.

The way out of this pickle is to find the corrupt media, clip, or frame in Avid Media Composer. But how do you find a frame or two in a 90-minute timeline? Use the guess and check method!

Find Corrupt Clip Method #1: Play In to Out

Select all relevant tracks in the timeline. Set an in point at the beginning of the timeline. Set an out point in the middle of the timeline. Hit the number 6 in the top row keyboard to play between your in point and out point. Media Composer will stop playing when it either reaches your out point or it hits the corrupt frame(s).

If you watch the first half of your timeline all the way through successfully, repeat for the second half. Eventually Media Composer will stop a couple seconds before the corrupt frame(s).

When you find that point, if you have multiple video tracks, narrow it down by deselecting tracks and moving the monitor track lower and repeating the play in/out around that section. When you land on the clip, perform a match frame. If this is the clip with the error, that error is going to pop up again.

Remove the clip from your timeline. Re-capture, import, AMA-link, or just replace with a new shot. Use your editing skills here to be creative.

Note: You may receive an error when trying to edit this clip out. In that case, create a new timeline. In/out all media before the bad clip and use Opt/Alt+C to copy it to the Source Monitor. Go to your new timeline and edit it into it. Go back to the “bad” timeline and in/out and Opt/Alt+C around the media after the bad clip then edit it into the new timeline.

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Find Corrupt Clip Method #2: Render In to Out

This time we’re going to use Render In to Out instead of Play In to Out. Set an in point at the beginning and another in the middle with all relevant tracks selected. Right-click in an empty area of the timeline and perform a Render In to Out.

If the corrupt portion is in this half of the timeline, it won’t finish the render. Use in/out points and Render In to Out to continue to narrow down the section.

Just like Method #1, use match frame to try to verify it’s a specific clip. Then remove it from your timeline.

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Find Corrupt Clip Method #3: Copy to Clipboard (the winner for Avid Media Composer!)

My issue with Method #1 and #2 is that these take time. Who has time to watch their entire timeline to find this one frame? And #2 you have to wait for it to render everything. Also a time suck. Let’s find this bad clip even faster.

Remember that Opt/Alt+C from a few paragraphs ago? We’re going to do that to find our corrupt media.

Set in and out points for the first half of your timeline with all relevant tracks selected. Now use Opt/Alt+C (hold Opt if you’re on a Mac or Alt if you’re on Windows and hit the C key). This sends that content into the Source Monitor. If it works, then the bad part is in the second half. If you get an error, then you narrow down the range and use Opt/Alt+C again.

You can find this clip in probably under a minute doing it this way.

Once you find it, just like the other methods use match frame to verify then remove the clip from your timeline.

If you’ve read this article and you still need help with the guess and check method to find a corrupt frame or clip in Avid Media Composer, please leave a comment and I’ll do what I can to help troubleshoot. I hope you stick around and check out some of the other Avid Media Composer articles on my website or consider signing up to get notified about new blog posts and happenings around EVF.

– Josh

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