Fixing Fades

Picture 5 As part of my little home movie session Sunday I needed to apply a couple of fades.

In iMovie this is trivial. You simply add a fade to a clip. If it’s a fade out, the effect appears at the end of the clip. If it’s a fade in, it’s applied to the head. That matches my understanding of what a fade is, namely that it’s a segment effect that only applies to a part of a clip. Avid doesn’t have a model for applying segment effects to a portion of a clip. So, early on, fades became transition effects — special dissolves. And therein lies the rub.

Let’s say I’ve put two complete clips into the timeline. I want to fade out the first and fade in the second. I apply the “dip to color” effect. This should work, but it doesn’t, because both clips are used in full. Overlap shouldn’t be necessary, but because I’m really making a special kind of dissolve, the MC insists on it.

The workaround is to manually insert a little black between the clips and then create a pair of fades. But, depending on how you do it and how much black you insert, that’s going to take several steps and hit you with one or more “Insufficient Source” dialogs. Worse, if you go this route, beware of removing the black. If you extract it, you’re liable to have trouble removing your fades.

Bottom line: fifteen years into the digital revolution, creating this completely routine effect is still awkward and buggy and doesn’t match my intuition about the task I’m trying to accomplish.

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3 Comments on “Fixing Fades”

  1. L.R. Pebler Says:

    I giddily dove into Final Cut Pro to confirm that this isn’t a problem for it, so that I could gloat here.

    Alas, FCP’s as bad as Avid. The bottom line is that software engineering is all about writing the most general code possible, maximizing its modularity and reusability. The people that write code for rock-solid, stable performance in these programs are not the same people that make iMovie user-friendly.

    Creative endeavors like filmmaking are, naturally, all about the “special cases”, the mortal enemies of programmers. Here’s hoping the Final Cut (and Avid!) teams can borrow the iLife usability people someday soon.

  2. Steve Says:

    A significant amount of the Final Cut interface was copied from the Media Composer. Nothing wrong with that, but when you copy a problem, well, you copy a problem.

    And iTunes has plenty of bugs, too!

  3. Martin Baker Says:


    I couldn’t find an email address on your site but I thought you’d be intersted in a site we launched today:

    There’s a link to Splice Here of course!

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