Mastering Media Composers Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 4

This is the fourth lesson in a series on mastering Avid Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts. 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 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. Let’s get started!

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


Before we get started I want to give a quick rundown on locked vs. unlocked tracks. If you are familiar with these already then skip ahead. If not, I recommend reading this section.

Locked vs. Unlocked Tracks

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. There are a handful of times where it’s more useful for me to unlock them but 99% of the time they’re locked.

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

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.

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 a minute (or a couple weeks) 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.

Okay, ready for shortcuts?!

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