Segment Mode in a Complex Timeline

The Media Composer has always done a better job when first-cutting than with re-editing. There are good historical reasons for this: most longform editors can’t or won’t do beta testing over the nine-month-or-more timeframe of a typical feature film, and Avid beta on a single product never lasts that long anyway. The result is that I find rearranging and inserting material into a multi-track and heavily overlapped timeline pretty cumbersome.

When recutting, my best friends are asymmetrical trim and sync locks. Segment mode is essential, too, but it’s frustrating — with a complext timeline it tends to require too many steps. To demonstrate this I’ll use a highly simplified example with just two clips, as follows.

Picture 1 - Orig

The goal is to interchange the blue and yellow clips. Interchanging picture-only is simple. Just grab a picture clip with yellow segment mode, hold down the command key for snap-to-heads, and drag. This is the result:

Picture 3-Drag Pix And Track

But I want to move picture along with sync sound, and both clips are overlapped at both ends. Here’s what happens if I drag picture and sound. Picture does the right thing, but sound gets broken up, with a hunk of the yellow clip’s audio floating free.

Picture 2-Drag Pix Only

To fix up this timeline, I have to rejoin the two yellow audio clips and I have to make room to do that. Not straightforward at all.

Instead, I wanted picture and sound to move together and intact. Like this:

Picture 8-What I Wanted

It takes way too many steps to get the timeline into this condition, where clips haven’t been broken up and can be re-edited easily.

As a partial solution I’d accept the ability to insert black into an overlapped timeline, like this:

Picture 9-Insert Black Into Overlapped Tl

In Media Composer, there’s no easy way to do that, either. FCP allows you select all clips to the right of the cursor. You can then drag them over and open up space. But that’s an incomplete solution to the problem posed here — you still have to move the clips, and that takes several more steps. What I really want is the ability to directly move only the clips I’m interested in — without cutting anything up. Neither MC or FCP make that easy.

(For more on this subject, see this post: Segment Mode in a Complex Timeline, Part 2.)

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3 Comments on “Segment Mode in a Complex Timeline”

  1. Shane Ross Says:

    Hear hear. When things are overlapping the way they are there, moving things about like puzzle pieces requires a bit of work. I would LOVE it if Avid allowed to add filler like that, or move stuff to the right.

  2. Norman Says:

    You bet Steve. This is a constant issue for me as well. I find that every situation requires a slightly different solution, but each version takes many steps. One solution for me would be if Avid looked to the longest clip that you’re dragging, hooked that up directly to the adjacent track, and created fill everywhere else to keep sync. Then I could decide how to make the overlaps work best for me.

  3. Martin Baker Says:

    If you delete the audio crossfade first then it’s not too bad on FCP:

    – Drag yellow shot up to V2 (audio automatically moves to A2) so the end of audio snaps to end of audio on blue clip
    – Drag blue shot earlier so audio snaps to end of 19E-1’s audio
    – Hold down shift and drag yellow shot down to V1/A1 again
    – Tidy up V1 edits

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