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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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Preparing for Vacation: A Quick Guide for Jet-Setting Video Editors

Preparing For Vacation

Soon I’ll be taking my first trip out of the United States and I’m making it a big one – I’m headed to Japan! In this post I’m going to go over what I’m doing to prepare for this lengthy vacation. I’d love for you to chime in too with your thoughts on what you do before going out of town. Thanksgiving for us in the US is right around the corner and the other winter holidays are fast approaching so I think the timing of this post is pretty ideal.

There’s nothing worse than being bothered on vacation or someone messing up your projects/media/hard drive/etc. especially when there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m sure I’ll come back to 1500 emails but I’m going to prepare my company and team the best I can for anything that can happen while I’m gone.

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EVF Tutorial – Quick Transitions in Avid Media Composer

I am SOOO excited. Today I’m launching my first ever product — an Avid Media Composer Bin with over 50 preset Quick Transitions. In the tutorial below you’ll find out how to create your own preset Quick Transitions. After watching the tutorial go here to get my Quick Transitions Bin.

As always I come out with a new tutorial every Friday. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and you’ll get an email when they come out. Let me know if there is something you’d like me to go more in depth on from this tutorial and if there are any tutorials you’d like to see in the future.

QuickTransitionsBin-Image2

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!

EVF Tutorial – Timeline Shortcuts in Avid Media Composer

This tutorial goes over some of my favorite timeline shortcuts in Avid Media Composer. I’ll go through how to zoom in, zoom out, zoom out to show the entire timeline and how to zoom to just a specific area.

Get the clips used in the tutorial on VideoHive! (affiliate link)

I come out with a new tutorial every Friday. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and you’ll get an email when they come out. Let me know if there is something you’d like me to go more in depth on from this tutorial and if there are any tutorials you’d like to see in the future.

Clip Color in Avid Media Composer

This tutorial goes over how to set clip color in Avid Media Composer. I’ll go through two ways to set clip color, how to remove it and how to be able to set it to any color outside the default options.

Recapping the Tutorial

Clip Color in Avid Media Composer is the color you can give to a clip inside a bin. The clip then appears to be this color in the timeline. This is super useful when you are trying to tell the difference between things. I use this for VO revisions or different days of filming. You may also like to keep all of your graphics one color or all of your titles one color. It’s up to you!

To begin, make sure “Source” Clip Color is turned on. This is so the clip’s color you set in the bin appears in the timeline. Otherwise it won’t appear. Go to the Fast Menu in the timeline and select Clip Color… Inside the pop-up box check the Source option and click OK.

Setting Clip Color Method #1

Select a clip in a bin. Then go up to the Edit menu and choose Set Clip Color… Then select a color. Your clip will now appear that color in the timeline.

To remove the color, go back up to the Edit menu then choose Set Clip Color to Default.

Setting Clip Color Method #2

The other way to set a clip color in Avid Media Composer is in the bin. Right-click on a bin column heading and select Choose Columns… Make sure Color is selected.

Find the Color column in the bin. Select a clip(s). Then right-click inside the blank rectangle in the Color column. Choose a color.

To remove the color, select the clip then right-click inside the blank rectangle in the Color column and choose None.

Let’s say you want more than these 16 default color options. There’s a trick you can do to choose any color you want. To do this hold down the Opt key if you’re on a Mac or Alt key if you’re on a PC and right-click the rectangle in the Color column. A new box will appear. Choose your color and click OK.


Additional Recommended Viewing: Paint Effect Tutorial in Avid Media Composer

Get the clips used in the tutorial on VideoHive! (affiliate link)

Subscribe to receive email updates to the website to make sure you’re the first to see them! Let me know if there is something you’d like me to go more in depth on from this tutorial and if there are any tutorials you’d like to see.

What marriage has taught me about my NLE

I’ve been married to my wife for nearly two and a half wonderful years. I’ve been married to my NLE, Avid Media Composer, for twice that. What I’ve learned over that time is that the two relationships are fairly similar. I’m going to explain to you how lessons learned through your significant other directly relate to how you should work with your NLE.

How's your relationship with your NLE? Photo by Christopher Michel on Wikimedia Commons

How’s your relationship with your NLE?
Photo by Christopher Michel on Wikimedia Commons

Learn and Observe

In any relationship there is a learning curve. A man or woman never writes a user’s manual for himself or herself. That’s where you have an advantage with your NLE. Everything you need to know about it is right in front of you!

When I began editing on Avid Media Composer I had zero idea of what I was doing. None. I sat there for hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t click a clip in the timeline and move it (this was pre-Smart Tool). Then one day digging around my edit bay I found the software manual. I took it home and after a couple weeks had read the entire thing. This didn’t mean I knew everything about it but it did give me a huge heads up because I knew what it could and couldn’t do.

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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!