Locked vs. Unlocked Tracks in Avid Media Composer

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What is the difference in locked and unlocked tracks in Avid Media Composer?

This tutorial explains locked and unlocked tracks in Avid Media Composer. It is a companion tutorial for Lesson 4 of the Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts Series. Knowing this concept will keep you from knocking your clips out of sync. 👊🏼

(all of this ⬇️ is explained in the video ⬆️)

You have the choice to lock or unlock a timeline track. I highly recommend locking your tracks. In fact, I pretty much only edit with my tracks locked. There are a handful of times where it’s more useful for me to unlock them but 99% of the time they’re locked.

When you “lock a track” in After Effects or Premiere Pro it means you cannot make any changes to it. That’s not what this is in Media Composer. Locking tracks syncs the given timecode for all locked tracks, locking them together so if you make changes (i.e. adding or removing time to a track by editing in or editing out a clip) to one then you make changes to them all.

Need more Avid Media Composer knowledge? Check out our Ultimate List of Avid Media Resources

Here’s a scenario: You have clips on V1 and V2 and the tracks are locked. Both clips begin at 01:02:20:14 and end at 01:02:24:14 – they’re 4 seconds long. If you have V1 selected and you extract from 01:02:21:10 to 01:02:22:10 (1 second) then the clips on V1 and V2 shorten by a second. Both clips would end at 01:02:23:14. If the tracks were unlocked however the clip on V1 would shorten to 3 seconds and the clip on V2 would remain the same.

I find that more times than not I want everything on the timeline to react together. If I shorten a clip on V1 at 01:03:00:00 I don’t want to have to think about the rest of the clips further down the timeline that are synced up with clips and audio on other tracks getting knocked out of alignment.

Locking tracks keeps you from unintentionally knocking your timeline out of sync. It takes some time to wrap your head around it but IMO it’s the safest, quickest and best way to edit. Leave me a comment if you’re confused about anything.

Music used in this video, “Endless Summer” by Mikey Geiger, was purchased and licensed through my friends at Soundstripe (affiliate link). For 10% off a subscription use the code EVF at checkout.

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