Media Composer Tips & Tricks

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Of the non linear editing systems I blog about, I rarely discuss Avid, unless I’m comparing it to other NLEs or highlighting new features in updated versions. I decided, that for this article, I want it to be Avid-centric with tips and tricks because there are a ton of them available. In fact, I can honestly say there are more tips for using Avid Media Composer than there are for other editing software. I’m going to highlight a few that stood out to me while using the program. Professionally, I’ve only used Avid about five times, and, in most situations, it was because it was a freelance job that required it. Currently, I don’t use it as much, but I have a lot of respect for those who do, considering it is used to edit major episodic television shows and Hollywood feature films. So, let’s learn some tips and tricks of using Media Composer.

Create Quick Transitions Bin

In this quick tutorial, Genius DV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how easy it is to create a bin for commonly used transitions. First, choose a transition of your liking and apply it to your edit point. If you want, you can customize it in the Effect Editor window. Next, navigate to the Bins tab and create a new bin called “Quick Transitions.” Make sure you type this out case sensitive or else this process won’t work. In the Effect Editor window, drag the custom transition into the Quick Transitions bin. With that in place, you can click on the Quick Transitions button, click on the drop down menu, and you’ll see you custom transition there.  I have to say that this is one feature I wish Premiere and FCPX had emulated. I know in Final Cut Pro 7 you could create favorites bin and put effects/transitions there, but to have a button able to call them up whenever you’d like would be a timesaver.

Batch Rendering Sequences on Export

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This is a handy tip for those projects that have multiple sequences that need to be rendered. With the work I do for a living, multiple sequences are an every project occurrence. To batch render sequences on export in Media Composer, select all your sequences in their respective bin. Open the Export Settings window and select Quicktime Reference Movie. Click on the Render All Video Effects and hit OK. Now, all your sequences will be rendered in a small Quicktime file to check if things are correct or need to be fixed. You can create a preset out of this in the Export Settings window to save time in the future.

Mapping Editing Workspaces

In this informative tutorial, editing guru and Lynda.com instructor Ashley Kennedy breaks down how to map the Media Composer workspace to your needs. She shows us how to create a custom editing workspace, as well as a workspace for audio editing. Saving a timeline view is as simple as a click at the bottom of the timeline, clicking on Untitled, and choosing Save As. From there, you are presented with a dialog window where you can name your timeline view. She goes into detail explaining how managing the Settings tab can assist in workspaces you may use at various stages of the edit. In my opinion, this is a great video to reference for the times when you step away from Media Composer and forget how to manage workspaces effectively.

Overall, this is a small collection of tips and tricks you can find out about Media Composer. With their active forums and user groups across the internet, you can easily get more acquainted with Media Composer than most NLEs out there. In my opinion, it pays to know Media Composer if you have plans to edit episodic television or major feature films. It is still the dominant editing platform when it comes to delivering those type of projects, and for good reason.

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Standard and Multi-Pass Rendering in Cinema 4D

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Once you have created the 3D model, lit it just right, created the background, and animated a camera in the scene, it is now time to render out our creation. For some, rendering is the end of their journey and the rendered file will become the final video of their project. Others render from Cinema 4D, which is just another step in the project. Commonly, After Effects CC is a compositing program that works well with C4D files for further developing a creation. Regardless of which avenue you may be taking, rendering is an inevitable necessity of learning the software, and I am here to shed some light on the process.

I will show how to render out your C4D projects in two different methods:

  • Standard Render – method used if the project is finished and this is the last step.
  • Multi-Pass Render – method used if you intend to import your work into another program for further revision.

STANDARD RENDER

The standard render is the method to be used when your project is finished and you are looking to create a final Quicktime video of your image sequence. To create the standard render, you will first need to select the WHITE CLAPBOARD furthest to the right on the toolbar.

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You will then be presented with a window that looks like this.

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Keep the first option, GENERAL, at its default option, FULL RENDER.

In OUTPUT, choose the preset that best fits your needs. For me, I create a lot of content for film and video and render at HDV 1080 29.97. Depending on your needs, these numbers may change. Towards the bottom, you will want to input the frame range your render will be taking place (remember that the sequence starts with 0, not 1).

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In SAVE, you can now designate where you want the file to save by selecting the ‘…’ option to the far right of ‘File.’ Using the FORMAT drop down menu, you can select the file type of your choice. For example, if you are looking to create a video, you would want to select QUICKTIME VIDEO. On the other hand, you may want to create an image sequence, in which case, you would choose JPG or TIFF, depending on your preference.

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At this point, you can close the render settings window and then select the MIDDLE WHITE CLAPBOARD on the ORANGE BOX. This will initiate the render sequence. The program will then go frame-by-frame, mapping out the sequence until it creates the final output.

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MUTLI-PASS RENDER

A Multi-Pass Render is a multi-layer file that stores all of the data so it can be imported into another program and manipulated further. For example, say I wanted to place my text and shadow in the middle of the road somewhere and eliminate the background. If all the data is from a multi-pass render, I would be able to control those individual characteristics of the file, eliminate the background, and composite my text appropriately. If I felt that the shadow was not dark enough, but everything else looked fine, I can just go into the multi-pass render file and adjust the shadow’s contrast… instead of going back into the master file and rendering out a whole new sequence.

A Multi-Pass Render utilizes all the same key points mentioned above in the STANDARD RENDER with a few added adjustments thrown into the mix. After setting your OUTPUT and SAVE settings, go towards the bottom of the SAVE menu and open COMPOSITING PROJECT FILE.

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Turn on SAVE, RELATIVE, and INCLUDE 3D DATA. Select the compositing program of your choice (I chose After Effects).

Go to MULTI-PASS and check the box to the left in order to make the multi-pass options available.

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Now, select the MULTI-PASS button next to EFFECT at the bottom of the sidebar. It will open a drop down menu with numerous selections. Select the first one on the list, ADD IMAGE LAYERS.

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By doing so, all the layer options will appear in the side bar. In most cases you will not be using the vast majority of them. It’s important to know what your image is composed of, which will help decide what options are necessary. For example, I know I used SHADOW in my project, so I want to keep SHADOW checked. The same applies for AMBIENT, DIFFUSE, and SPECULAR. After I go through and select/deselect the options that are necessary/unnecessary, I am now able to close the render settings window and render out my final sequence.

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Color Correcting with Adobe SpeedGrade CC for Beginners

 

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Are you interested in learning color correcting and recently subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud? Well if so you’re in luck! Among the numerous programs you can access with the vast Creative Cloud subscription service you will find a relatively new program to the Adobe lineup called SpeedGrade CC.

SpeedGrade CC (Sg) is a dedicated color correcting program that works in a similar layering fashion as all the other Adobe programs you have come to love. Conceptually, think of color correcting with Sg the same as you would with adding an adjustment layer to your raw footage in After Effects, or even Photoshop. You start with your raw footage as the base and add either a Primary Look, Secondary Look, or Custom Look layer (or a combination of the three) to create a final image.

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I am going to show you how you can take your raw footage from ‘meh’ to ‘amazing’ in 3 simple steps:

  • Importing Your Footage
  • Adding Your Look Layers
  • Rendering Out Your Footage
  1. Importing Your Footage

Once you have the footage you want to correct safely logged on your computer and saved into a folder, open up SpeedGrade, and take notice of your drop down menus in the upper left corner of the program:

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If you have a good filearchy in place you should be able to navigate to your footage by using a series of drop-downs starting with DESKTOP. For me it looked something like DESKTOP >> MEDIA >> VIDEOS >> FREELANCE >> TEST SHOTS. Once you find your folder containing the footage select it and you will see your window populating with the appropriate clips:

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Hover your cursor over the first clip you want to correct and select the plus button in the lower right corner in order to add the footage to your timeline.

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Once your footage is in your timeline select the COLOR tab in the upper right corner.

 

  1. Adding Your Look Layers

 

To add a look to your footage navigate to the LOOK tab in the lower left corner of the program:

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In the look window you will see in the lower left corner +P (Add a Primary Look) +S (Add a Secondary Look) and + (Add a Custom Layer). Outlined as follows is the overview of what each Look layer type is used for and how it operates.

  • Primary Look Layer (+P)

Your primary look layer is, well, your primary layer. This is the layer you add all general changes to tone, contrast, hue, and saturation. Your layers window will automatically have a single Primary Look layer present. To make color adjustments you will notice a series of sliders and wheels you can manipulate:

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Looking at the wheels from left to right: Offset is for Dark Tones, Gamme for Mid Tones, and Gain for Light Tones. You can click and drag on both the sliders and wheels to get the look you are going for. My footage is of some panning over strawberries and I was looking for a warm inviting feel to my footage. To achieve this look I first increased the contract and then pushed the Gamma and Gain towards the yellows and reds until I reached a nice overall warm tone without distracting from the core image.

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  • Secondary Look Layer (+S)

With my footage looking pretty good now maybe I will decide that I want to bring back some of the richness of the greens that were lost when pushing in more yellow and reds to the overall image. That is where the secondary look layer comes in. Think of them as ways to key specific colors for isolated manipulation — in this case the green garnish in my image. To do that first select the +S to add a secondary look layer to your layers window. From there use your +eyedropper and select your color you want to isolate.

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At this point you can change your GRAY-OUT viewer to COLOR/GRAY and play with your sliders until you isolate just the color you are looking to manipulate.

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Next, make adjustments to the contrast and hue until you reach the look you desire. When you are finished change your GRAY-OUT viewer back to NONE.

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  • Custom Look Layer (+)

To finish up, I want to really blow out the whites on this footage and give these strawberries a shimmering, almost dreamy, appearance. To do that I need to add a custom look layer. First, I will hit the + button under the layers window then, for me, select fxBloom — there are a ton of custom looks here to choose from and I encourage you to take the time to review them all. Once I add my bloom custom layer I will go into the sliders and adjust the INTENSITY, THRESHOLD, and BLEND to reach my desired effect.

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  1. Rendering Out Your Footage

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Now I am finished making my color corrections and I want to ready this footage out. To do this first head on over to the RENDER tab in the upper right corner. From there you will want to choose a folder destination and give your footage a file name under the OUTPUT section. In FRAMING you will want to keep the settings at FULL IMAGE and 1:1 (SQUARE) in order to maintain the same framing the footage was imported at. Finally select RENDER under the RENDER section to initiate the process. You will receive a notification once the render is complete.

 

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Create Render Templates in After Effects

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Have you ever been in a situation where you exported a file in a certain format and you forgot what settings you had? Here’s a tip for creating render queue presets in After Effects so you don’t run into that situation again as well when you have to do batch exports and save it to your drive.

I have a file I’m ready to export in my render queue. It’s set to render out in the default settings.

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Let’s click on the output module drop down menu. Select Make Template.
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Next, you have a dialog menu that gives you the option to name your template. I’m going to make a template for rendering a composition with transparency. Let’s name this PNG RGB+Alpha.  After you do that, click on the Edit button to change the settings.

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Since we are creating a PNG render template, we will keep the format at Quicktime Movie. Click on the Channels button and change it from RGB to RGB+Alpha. Keep Depth and Color at their default settings.

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Click on the Format button. Here we can change the codec we are using from Animation to PNG by clicking on the drop down menu. After you’ve changed the codec, hit OK.

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Now that we have our format settings the way we want them, hit OK to return to the previous menu. Hit OK again to create the template. Now, when you click on the Output Module drop down menu the new template will show up like in the image below.

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We have this template available for use now whenever we need it. If we were to export multiple compositions and wanted to do a batch render, here’s what I would do. Highlight all the compositions in the render queue. Click on the Output Module drop down menu of one of the compositions. Select your render template and it will appear for all your compositions.

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Another tip that is valuable to know is that you can save your render templates in case anything should happen such as reinstalling a program or trashing your preferences. Click on the output module drop down menu and select make template. In the dialog menu that pops up, click on the Save All button. Find a folder on a drive of your choice and save the .aom file.

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If you ever run into the situations as mentioned above, you can load the templates you created and were saved in the .aom file.

Aside from creating render templates, AEScripts provides scripts to help with your workflow in After Effects and has some great scripts available to assist at a moment’s notice. Some of them are free and others you will have to pay for but believe me it is worth the investment if time is valuable to you.

I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative. Thanks for reading.

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