Apple’s attempt to push Final Cut Pro editors to Final Cut Pro X has made it necessary for most FCP editors to consider “switching.” The obvious choice is Avid’s Media Composer because it is widely accepted as the most powerful and, more importantly, the most reliable non-linear editor.

Unfortunately, Media Composer is notoriously difficult to learn to use. Equally unfortunate, books that teach Media Composer force editors to unlearn FCP while learning “the Avid way.”

And, why would we expect long-term Avid professional editors not to try teach you exactly what they know? You too may think of your own editing skills in the same way. You see yourself as an FCP expert.

However, you know something deeper—how to edit. And, your deep editing skills will transfer to any NLE. The key is to recognize that when you edit with most OS X or Windows applications, you inherently understand how a trackpad or mouse is used for all editing tasks: setting-up capture and import, trimming media, creating a Sequence, adding and removing media from a Sequence, trimming within a Timeline, applying video/audio filters and transitions, creating titles, and exporting media.

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To switch to Media Composer you need a step-by-step guide to accomplish all these tasks—using your drag-and-drop editing skills. And, that is exactly what The Switcher’s Guide to Media Composer provides.

You may be wondering why you need a guide to transfer your editing skills to a Media Composer. To understand why, you need a bit of Avid history.

When I first visited Avid headquarters some twenty years ago, I could only dream of having my own Avid. The typical late `80s Avid buyer was a Hollywood studio, a major post-house, or television network. While everyone expected prices to drop over time, I’m not sure anyone foresaw a day when an “Avid” would sell for $2500. However, the greatest change over the past decade is “who” is using non-linear editing.

Because an Avid was so expensive, only full-time experienced professional film and video editors had access to one. Avid designers expended great effort to create an editing experience that matched the needs and skills of these professionals. To this end, Avid designed its human interface to emulate both film and video editing processes. Thus, Avid software is replete with film concepts (e.g., splice-in) and video concepts (e.g., overwrite). Moreover, because Avid buyers typically did not use computers for email, documents, spreadsheets, or even graphics or sound editing, Avid designers did not implement a mouse-driven interface that was fully compatible with Mac application conventions. (In fact, Avid initially wrote their application for an Apollo workstation that used a version of UNIX.) Avid focused on the use of the keyboard as though it were Steinbeck controls or a CMX VTR computer-based controller.

Today, Avid’s marketing situation is radically different in several ways. First, many professionals edit as only a part of their work. Unlike Hollywood editors, these professionals do not edit 12 hours a day. Maximum button-pushing speed is not required. What is required is an application that does not require memorization. By using Media Composer’s Toolbars, you eliminate the need to memorize dozens of obscure keyboard and menu commands.

Second, potential Media Composer buyers have been using computers since they were kids. These prospects expect application interface conventions (whether Mac or Windows) to be fully implemented. To better meet the needs of these prospects, Avid has, over the years, enhanced the traditional Avid user interface to better support a trackpad or mouse. The latest enhancement is a pallet of Smart Tools.

These enhancements now make it possible for you to transfer your fundamental editing skills to Media Composer so you can be immediately productive. Over time, if you want, you can to learn to drive Media Composer using a keyboard.

The Switcher’s Guide to Media Composer covers Media Composer Version 5.0, 5.5, and V6.0 OS X and Windows.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Getting Started with Media Composer
Modifier Keys
Real-Time Performance
Effects Computation
Render Precomputes
Delete Precomputes
Chapter 2: Working with Projects
Starting a New Project
Open a Project
Delete a Project
Chapter 3: Working with Bins
Creating SuperBins
Bin Modes
Clean-up a Bin
Text Bin Headings
Close a Bin
Bin Objects
Delete a Bin
Chapter 4: Media Import
Import P2
Import Media Files
Import AVCHD (version 5 and 5.5)
Import H.264/AVC
Checking Installed codecs
Access Volume
Importing Audio under OS X
Importing Audio under Windows
Chapter 5: Source Trimming Clips
Create Subclip
Find a Clip’s Bin
Add Comment to a Clip
Finding Specific Clips
Alter a Clip's Speed
Create Freeze Frame
Delete Clip or Subclip
Chapter 6: Sequences and Timelines
Create a Sequence
Record Controls
Record Track Locking
Record Track Monitoring
Source Tracks
Enlarge or Reduce Track Size
Define Timeline View
Save Timeline Settings
Open a Sequence
Delete a Sequence
Insert a Sequence into a Timeline
Composer Display Information
Chapter 7: Ripple Insert into Timeline
Drag-and-Drop Insert
Precision Insert
Insert Gap
Chapter 8: Timeline Operations
Play Clip
Moving within a Timeline
Skip to Beginning or End of Sequence
Skip to Previous or Next Edit Point
Position Indicator (PI)
Match Frame
Add Edit
Real-Time Fades
Find Black Holes
Chapter 9: Ripple Delete
Quick Clip Delete
Delete Segment
Delete Gap
Chapter 10: Non-Ripple Place Clip into Timeline
Quick Place a Clip
Precision Place a Video Clip
Precision Place an Audio Clip
Fit-to-Fill Video Clip
Chapter 11: Non-ripple Erase
Erase Clip
Erase Segment
Chapter 12: Timeline Trimming
Quick Single Ripple/Non-ripple Trim
Quick Dual Trim
Multi-track Dual Trim
Dynamic Trimming
Top and Tail Trimming
Skip to Previous Edit-point and Trim
Skip to Next Edit-point and Trim
Slip and Slide
Using Slip
Using Slide
Chapter 13: Moving Clips
Ripple Move
Non-ripple Move
Chapter 14: Color Correction
ChromaCurve: Color Adjustment
ChromaCurve: Black Compress/Stretch
Save a Correction
Paste a Correction
Save a Correction Effect to a Bin
Modify a Correction
Move to a Previous or Next Correction
Delete a Correction
Chapter 15: Working with Video Filters
Add Video Filters
Filter Keyframes
Modify a Filter
Delete a Filter
Add Additional Filters to a Clip
Modify a Nested Effect
Delete a Nested Effect
Chapter 16: Using Transitions
Replace a Transition
Setting Transition Color
Smart Transition Tool (V5.5 and higher)
Adjust Duration
Move Transition
Remove a Transition
Chapter 17: Working with Audio
Rubberband Audio Gain
Three-band EQ Tool
Chapter 18: Adding Titles
Create a Title
Place a Title in a Timeline
Modify a Title
Fade-in a Title
Fade-out a Title
Remove a Fade-in or Fade-out
Chapter 19: Export to File
QuickTime DNxHD Export
HD QuickTime Codec Export
SD QuickTime Codec Export
Appendix A: Composer Settings
Toolbar Setup
Creating Toolsets
Source Edit Toolset Setup
Effects Edit Toolset Setup
Audio Editing Toolset Setup
Color Correction Toolset Setup
Appendix B: Version 6 Overview
Appendix C: Timeline Settings
Appendix D: Capture DV, HDV, and DVCPRO HD
FireWire Setup
Create Tape Bins
Capture Toolset Setup
FireWire Capture
DV Settings