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Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 5: Modes, Trimming and Slipping

Mastering Media Composers Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 5 on Modes, Trimming and Slipping

This is the fifth lesson in a series on mastering Avid Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts on modes, trimming, and slipping. Each lesson tackles a handful of shortcuts. By the end of all the lessons you should be flying through your editing sessions.

This isn’t just any old list of shortcuts. For many of them I explain exactly how they work and how I use them everyday as a professional editor.

If you’re just getting started, no worries. You can take this lesson and circle back to the previous lessons. You can find all the lessons here.

This lesson focuses on modes, trimming and slipping.

Lesson 5 Keyboard Shortcuts in Avid
Lesson 5 Shortcuts — Modes, Trimming and Slipping

Modes and Trimming Keyboard Shortcuts in Avid

Source/Record Mode

Source/Record Mode
Source/Record Mode

Shortcut: Y

Source/Record Mode is the mode you’re going to be in for the most part. This shortcut doesn’t do much unless you are not in Source/Record Mode. This shortcut will leave whatever mode you’re in and put you into Source/Record Mode.

Trim Mode

Trim Mode Keyboard Shortcut in Avid
Trim Mode

Shortcut: U

The first of the Trimming keyboard shortcuts in Avid is Trim Mode. Hitting U will enter you into Trim Mode putting rollers around the nearest edit point to the Time Position Indicator on the selected tracks (did you follow that?). By default you’ll have the double pink rollers. This means when you add to one side you subtract from the other.

Another way to think about the double pink rollers is that you are not adding any time to the track and/or sequence (see Lesson 4’s section on Locked vs. Unlocked tracks).

Note that hitting U again will exit you from Trim Mode.

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Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 4: Editing

Mastering Media Composers Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 4 on Editing

This is the fourth lesson in a series on mastering Avid Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts and it’s on all the editing keyboard shortcuts. Each lesson tackles a handful of shortcuts. By the end of the lessons you should be flying through your editing sessions.

This isn’t just any old list of shortcuts. For many of them I explain how they work and how I use them everyday as a professional editor.

If you’re just getting started, no worries. You can take this lesson and circle back to the previous lessons. You can find all the lessons here.

This lesson focuses on editing. By editing I mean putting clips in and removing clips from the timeline. There’s only a few shortcuts in this lesson but they’re some of the most valuable and useful functions in Media Composer.

PS – There’s a pop quiz that I need you to give me an answer to at the end of the lesson.

Lesson 4 Shortcuts -- Editing
Lesson 4 Shortcuts — Editing

List of Editing Keyboard Shortcuts in Avid

Here is a quick rundown on locked and unlocked tracks. It is important to understand how this works to fully grasp the keyboard shortcuts in this lesson. If you are familiar with these already then skip ahead. If not, I recommend reading this section.

Locked vs. Unlocked Tracks in Avid

Watch the video and/or read below 😀

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

There’s a rectangle on each track in between the track name and the monitor box (see image). When it’s highlighted and there’s a black slanted rectangle thing in it then the track is locked. If it isn’t highlighted and there isn’t a black slanted rectangle thing then it is unlocked. Tracks are unlocked. by default

Locked vs. Unlocked Tracks in Avid
Locked vs. Unlocked Tracks

When you “lock a track” in After Effects 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.

Locked vs. Unlocked Tracks Scenario

Here’s a scenario. Clips are on V1 and V2. 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 a minute (or a couple weeks) to wrap your head around it but IMO it’s the safest, quickest and best way to edit. Confused about anything? Leave a comment.

Okay, ready for the keyboard shortcuts in Avid Media Composer for editing?!

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Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 3: Moving

Mastering Media Composers Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 3 on Moving

This is the third lesson in a series on mastering Avid Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts and it’s on moving inside of Media Composer. Each lesson tackles a handful of shortcuts. Those shortcuts should be practiced until the next lesson in a few days. By the end of the lessons you should be flying through your editing sessions.

This isn’t just any old list of keyboard shortcuts in Avid. For many of them I explain how they work and how I use them everyday as a professional editor.

If you’re just getting started, no worries. You can take this lesson and circle back to the previous lessons. You can find all the lessons here.

This lesson focuses on the moving keyboard shortcuts in Avid. By moving I mean having the Time Position Indicator (the blue bar in the timeline) go from one frame to another frame. There are a bunch of different keyboard shortcuts that do this for us faster and more accurately than clicking the mouse around the screen. Let’s get started!

Lesson 3 Keyboard Shortcuts - Moving in Avid
Lesson 3 Shortcuts – Moving
Number pad with keys highlighted that are used for moving in Avid
Like my coffee-stained number pad?
Time Position Indicator...this is what we're moving in Avid
Time Position Indicator…this is what we’re moving
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Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 1: Tools

Hey! This is the first lesson in a series on mastering Avid Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts and it’s on Tools. We’ll go through pretty much every keyboard shortcut in Media Composer in this series.

If you’ve taken either of my quizzes (Quiz 1 and Quiz 2) and/or you are interested in becoming a faster, more efficient editor than this series is for you. Each lesson we’ll tackle a handful of shortcuts. We’ll go through what the shortcut is and for some I’ll comment on the tool, function or whatever the keyboard shortcut does based on my experience using Avid Media Composer hour after hour over the past decade.

Okay, enough talking. Let’s get into our first lesson!

Avid Media Composer Keyboard Shortcuts for Tools Recap

There are a bunch of tools in Media Composer. There’s the Audio Mixer, Audio EQ, Composer, Effect Editor, Media Tool and more. Ten (10!) of them have simple shortcuts. In this lesson we’ll cover them.

Audio Tool

Audio Tool in Avid
Audio Tool

Cmd+1 (Mac) | Ctrl+1 (PC)

The Audio Tool shows the audio levels (how loud or soft it is) in visual form. Once you hit play the Audio Tool goes up and down based on the audio that’s being played at that frame. There’s a small sideways Audio Tool at the top of the Timeline. However the normal Audio Tool makes it much easier to see. I tend to always have this tool open.

Calculator Tool

Calculator in Avid
Calculator

Cmd+2 (Mac) | Ctrl+2 (PC)

Did you know Media Composer had a calculator? This isn’t your ordinary calculator either. This calculator counts timecode!

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23 Posts about Video Production, Post Production, Avid and More

23 Posts on Post

I’ve been writing for my friends over at ScreenLight for…well…a long time. It’s been over two years and in the Internet world that’s a really long time. Over that time I’ve been able to stockpile a bunch of writings that I want to share with you today. 23 of them to be exact.

The posts range from Media Composer tips to the Pomodoro Technique for time management to Apps for Editors and so much more. I’ve broken them up into a couple of categories. At the very top are a few of my favorites and ones I think you should definitely read.

My Favorite Posts

The Edit Bay – A Romanticized View of One Editor’s Relationship With Four Walls

Video Editor is Not a Synonym for Motion Graphics Artist

Editor: The Amateur vs. The Professional

How to Setup a Video Company on a Realistic Budget

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NLE Marker Workflow

UsingLocatorsForRevisions

This article is on how to establish an NLE marker workflow. It describes how to use markers, sometimes referred to as locators, in your video editing processes. An NLE marker workflow can be used in Avid Media Composer, Premiere Pro, After Effects, or any editing software that uses markers.

Markers play a crucial role in post production workflows. I use them for a variety of reasons but mostly for revisions. This article covers what markers are, how to use them in a revision workflow, and some tricks when using them.

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The Power of Presets for Avid Media Composer Editors

Presets will make you a faster editor. Period. Putting systems in place for often-used tasks makes you a more efficient editor. Presets are some of these systems. You can preset many aspects of your NLE, especially Avid Media Composer. Below I discuss four of my favorite areas you can use presets.

This post focuses on presets in Avid Media Composer but some concepts should be able to cross over into other NLEs like Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X.

Workspaces/Toolsets

Workspaces are the arrangement of tools on the screen.

Workspaces are preset arrangements of your tools on the screen.

There are 3-5 Workspaces (sometimes referred to as Toolsets – different but essentially the same thing which I’m not going to get into today) you should customize, save and map to your keyboard. These are preset arrangements of your tools on the screen.

The first is obviously Source/Record Editing. This is your bread and butter Workspace, which you’ll most likely spend the bulk of your time in. You use it for your standard editing – laying in shots, moving them around, manipulating time, etc. Why do you map this to your keyboard? Anytime you are done in another Workspace or you have random tools open, this will put you back in your default editing setup.

If you want the Timecode Tool, Markers, Audio Tool and Audio Mixer open while you are editing in this Workspace like I do, make sure the Source/Record Editing Workspace is selected under Windows > Workspaces. Then open all the tools you want and position them on your screen and hit Save Current under that same menu.

If you want to see a tutorial over on my YouTube channel let me know in the comments section!

Audio Editing is the next Workspace to setup. Besides setting up my audio tools where I want them, I like to tie this together with my Audio Timeline View, which will be discussed in the next section. To do this, go up to Windows > Workspaces > Properties… then type in “Audio.” If you have a Timeline View named “Audio” it’ll automatically switch to that view.

02-AudioLink

Color Correction is another Workspace that should be setup. I’ve found that the only real things you need to adjust are the location of the monitors and Color Correction Tool along with what goes into the monitors by default. I tend to like having the left monitor being set to Previous, the middle monitor set to Current and the right monitor set to RGB Parade.

03-FullScreenSettingsIf you don’t have a traditional confidence monitor or work solely on a laptop/single monitor system like I do at times, the Full Screen Playback Workspace should be mapped to your keyboard. FYI – sometimes Full Screen Playback won’t run on the monitor you want it to if you are running two screens or switch between 1-2 screens often. If that happens, go to Settings > Full Screen Playback. Then move the dialog box to the monitor you want to be full screen. Then click Select Monitor and click OK.

The last Workspace you might want to setup is Effects Editing. To be honest, I don’t use this. I have my Effect Editor positioned in my Source/Record Editing Workspace. Do this by opening the Effect Editor, save the current Workspace, close the Effect Editor then save the current Workspace again. This tells Avid Media Composer “I want this tool positioned here but don’t want it open when I activate this Workspace.” From there, I map Effect Editor to my keyboard always staying in the Source/Record Editing Workspace with it open. The advantages of having the Effects Editing Workspace setup is that you might want more room for your monitors or the Effect Editor than you would with the Source/Record Editing Workspace. For me, I don’t find it that useful but you might.

Timeline Views

When you jump on someone else’s User Settings the first difference you’ll notice is their Timeline View if they have one setup. Some like to drag the timecode track between the video and audio tracks. You’ll definitely notice if they color their tracks differently (I like pale yellow-orange for video tracks and a light blue for audio). However you want to stylize your timeline view it’s up to you – just make it efficient for your workflow.

04-Timeline

There are four basic timeline views that I use and firmly believe every editor should use as well. Those are: Default, Audio, Tiny and Big/Stringout.

I wrote a post over on ScreenLight’s blog some time ago where I go into detail on each one and how to manipulate your timeline for each workflow. The gist of it is to change the track sizes, color and pick the data shown then save it at the bottom of the timeline.

Seriously though, if you’re interested in doing this (and you should be), read the aforementioned post.

Quick Transitions

Quick Transitions are great if you use any transition frequently, which I assume you do. This is the dialogue box that pops up with you hit the \ key to set your dissolves. Media Composer comes with Dissolve, Film Dissolve, Film Fade, Fade to Color and a few others as defaults. But do you know you can add your own?

Create a bin labeled exactly Quick Transitions. Then drop in your own transitions (wipes, flashes, etc.).

05-QuickTransitionsPreset

This Friday I’ll be announcing the first ever product for Edit Video Faster. It’s a bin full of over 50 preset Quick Transitions. You can get it along with more information here. On Friday I’ll be coming out with an in-depth tutorial on my YouTube channel on how to setup your own custom Quick Transitions Bin. You can find that tutorial here.

Get a head start on creating your bin with 50+ preset Quick Transitions here!

Export Settings

Each and every time you export a file from Media Composer you should save an Export Setting if it’s something different than you already have. Why? You can export a QuickTime movie at least a thousand different ways but you might not remember every detail (frame rate, key frames, compression type, etc.) of the handful of types of .movs you use.

Why try to remember every detail if you can save the settings with a detailed name each time?

06-ExportSettings01

When you export, click on Options under Export Settings. Adjust the parameters for your export then click Save As… Give it a unique name – ex: QT 1920×1080 30fps or QT-HQ-WebDeliveryForCompression. Next time you go to export you can find that setting in the drop down menu and won’t have to change any parameters. You can do this for any file that Media Composer exports (.pngs, .wavs, etc.).

 

Summing Up

Presets save you loads of time and only take a few minutes to setup. Workspaces, Timeline Views, Quick Transitions and Export Settings all do this. What are your favorite presets to create in Avid Media Composer or your NLE of choice?

Lastly – if you want to get a jumpstart on your Quick Transitions bin, head on over to this page. It’s simple, affordable and only takes a few minutes until you have 50+ preset Quick Transitions.

See you on Friday with a new tutorial!

The String Out Edit — 10 Ways to Edit Them Faster

This article discusses 10 methods that will improve your string out edits and have you editing them faster than you ever thought was possible. They are the first drafts of your video editing projects. These don’t need to be perfect and there are a ton of methods speed up how you create a string out edit.

I call the first cut of a video the “string out edit” or “string out.” Others may call it the “first cut,” “first draft,” “offline edit,” etc. This isn’t a rough cut — a rough cut is at least remotely presentable. The purpose of a string out edit is to see what you have, determine what you need (like more footage or graphics) and gather ideas on how you want to cut the piece together. Below are some methods I use to cut my string out time down as much as possible so I have more time to focus on the fine cut or other things that aren’t video editing that I enjoy like teaching my dog to balance a ball on her nose or going to the batting cages.

Note: The keyboard shortcuts and some of the methods below will only work for Avid Media Composer. However the tips, minus the shortcuts and some of the software features, will work for any NLE.

1. Read the script before starting the string out edit

Reading the script at least once will give you an idea of what is in store for you. You’ll start getting ideas of how you want to cut the paragraphs together and when you review the footage you’ll already know where you want those shots go. Many of the training videos I cut use the same basic script that I’ve read hundreds of times. I already know what to look for when I read through it. When I find new sections I get excited and apprehensive and have to bug the videographer to make sure he shot or will shoot these new parts.

2. Review all footage

Even if you shot it, reviewing all the footage is vital to having a quick string out edit. Play through at 2x or 3x the speed (just keep hitting ‘K’ to do this).

3. Label and rate all footage

While you are reviewing the footage, go through and label and rate each shot. Give each master clip a unique filename.

Example: SanFranPromo-140923-001. That breaks down into ProjectName(or shoot name)-YearMonthDay(of shoot)-ShotNumber.

Go through and write a brief description for each shot in the bin. Start each description off with BAD, OKAY or GOOD then write your description.

Example: GOOD WS Crowded cable car going down street or BAD CU Sea lion roar out of focus

When you are done use a Custom Sift (find that under the Fast Menu, aka Hamburger Menu, then Custom Sift…) and search “good.” Then edit all those clips into your timeline. Repeat for the term “okay.” Once you do that you’ll have all your usable clips in your timeline ready for chopping.

Custom Sift in Avid Media Composer

Custom Sift in Avid Media Composer

4. Top and Tail

Top and Tail Icons in Avid Media Composer

Top and Tail in Avid Media Composer

Top and Tail are two very underutilized editing tools. In fact I didn’t start using them until a few months ago. I thought I could set In/Out Points (E/I and R/O) and Extract (X) faster than hitting F11 or F12 (my Top and Tail shortcuts). 3 keystrokes or 1…which is faster? What Top and Tail do is remove either the beginning or end of a clip based on where your time indicator is (that blue bar in the timeline). Top removes from beginning of the clip to the time indicator and Tail removes from the time indicator to the end of the clip.

Now that all of your footage is in your sequence, go through and cut out all the parts from the clips you don’t need. You are now left with the best parts of the usable footage.

If you didn’t know I also write over on ScreenLight’s blog. Here’s my post on Top and Tail that I wrote for them.

5. Templated sequences

A template sequence for a string out edit

Setup a templated sequence

Create a new sequence in a new project called Template. The sequence should be set up the way you like to have your tracks, timecodes, etc. Set the number of video and audio tracks and the starting timecode. I like to start with five video tracks, two audio tracks, and a starting timecode of 00:59:00:00.

Add Custom Numbered Track to Make Template Sequence for a String Out Edit

Add Custom Numbered Track

In my template sequences I add the V20 track (Command+Opt+Y for Mac or Control+Alt+Y for PC then select V20) as well then rename it to my name and the date. This track is used for my notes using Locators/Markers. V21 or more tracks can always be added if I have the need to create more session notes.

I also put a Timecode Burn-In effect (find that under Effect Palette > Generator > Timecode Burn-In) on V5 then roll it out until around 01:06:00:00. As you know in Media Composer your timeline ends at the end of your last frame. However, probably like you, I like to be able to see past my last frame. That’s why I do that effect. That track is unlocked and the rest are kept locked. I’ll get into locking tracks in another post. Anyway, once you get that template sequence set up, you can open the bin in any project, duplicate it then move it into your project. It takes about 2 minutes to set up once and you’ll have a consistent base to start with every time that would take you 2 minutes to set up anyway.

6. Templated slates for the string out edit

Template Slate for a String Out Edit

Template Slate

Go ahead and make a slate template in the Template project. You can even add it to your templated sequence (and I have idea why I haven’t done that yet). This way you can open up the bin, duplicate it, re-create the media for it if it’s on a different hard drive/workspace and you’re ready to go. Why create a new slate for every project when you can just use one and modify it each time?

7. Locators/Markers in the string out edit

Okay, I know Avid started calling them Markers in Version 7 (or earlier) but I still like calling them Locators. #OldSchool. As you do your initial cut add Locators to your sequence, preferably in that top track I described in the Templated Sequences section. Make notes of what you have or need to do.

Example: “Fade in music,” “add lower third,” “insert map graphic,” “reshoot reaction shot,” etc.

8. Placeholders for the string out edit

When you have gaps because there’s video still to be shot or graphics to be made throw in a placeholder like a title that says “STILL NEED” or something to that effect in big letters. Add it for the approximate duration of what’s needed. You can even put this on V3 or V4 so it stands out visually even more than just seeing the Locator you added too.

9. Just edit video (no audio, FX or graphics)

Don’t start adjusting audio levels, adding music, creating transitions or making graphics in the first cut. Simply note where these elements go and move on. Get this first cut done and then evaluate your priorities.

10. Remember…it’s just a string out edit. It doesn’t have to be perfect

This cut shouldn’t be shown to many people if anyone. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even good.

“Something done is better than perfect.”

You are trying to find out what you need and what you want to do with this video. Nail that down with the string out edit and you will be editing the rest of the video faster.

Parting Thoughts

Getting your footage on the timeline, cutting out the bad parts and figuring out what you have to do to complete the video will greatly speed up your workflow. Above I shared many of my tips for putting together the string out edit but I’m sure you have your own. What do you do differently? Share your tips below in the comments section!