New Features in Media Composer 4


Avid unveiled Media Composer version 4.0 today (press release). The headline feature is what Avid is calling Mix and Match — the ability to combine different frame rates in the timeline and play them without rendering. The demos I’ve seen are impressive. It’s so simple that there is almost no user interface. You just bring the clips in and play them. When you cut them into a sequence the mismatched clips get tagged with a frame rate in parentheses (similar to motion effects) and you see a tiny green realtime dot in the middle of the clip. And that’s all. The clips just play, and for the most part they look quite smooth. If you want to get fancy, you can change the interpolation method, and you can render. But generally, you don’t have to.

AMA got a few tweaks and stereo video editing got some improvements, as well. Neither of these will affect the majority of users, so I’ll leave them to others to discuss. More important to me, there are several useful editorial improvements, as follows:

  1. 16 tracks in the audio mixer.
    Yes, it’s true. You can finally see as many tracks as you can play. It seems like small thing, but every time I look at that big mixer I get a warm feeling inside.
  2. 100 Undos
    This will be a boon to anybody doing visual effects, where you seem to run out of undos all the time. (That’s because if you change a parameter by hitting the up or down arrow key a few times, every key press is remembered as a separate undo.)
  3. Auto-cropping in the stabilize effect
    You used to have to laboriously crop a stabilized shot. Now the effect will do it for you.
  4. Easier number entry on laptops.
    You no longer have to use Number Lock.  Just tap the control key twice, and you can use the number row.
  5. And the pièce de résistance — Transition Preservation.
    Briefly, this is a set of timeline modifications that make it possible to do three things:

    • Move clips around in segment mode without losing dissolves.
    • Edit from one sequence to another even when a dissolve is involved (no more error messages about breaking a transition effect).
    • Drag the edge of a clip through a dissolve and have the dissolve reattach itself.

Avid has been adding editorial features like these in each release and though some of the changes might seem minor, they have large implications for editors. And they’re beginning to add up.

More later — that’s just an overview. The official release date is September 30. (And for you students out there — upgrades to v4 are free.)

Explore posts in the same categories: Avid, Laptop Editing

15 Comments on “New Features in Media Composer 4”

  1. Grant Says:

    I would crawl over hot coals for Transition Preservation alone. The 16 channel mixer just seals the deal.

  2. graham Says:

    Any other little features you can tell us about Steve?

  3. Steve Says:

    Well, I guess I did leave one out. You can now use the numeric keypad to cut multi-cam live. It seems like a small thing, but it’s much more intuitive because the keys are laid out in a rectangle like the quad split or nine split is. You press the key that visually corresponds to that quadrant and you cut to that angle.

    There’s also a new clip color dialog box for the timeline. There are more and clearer choices for coloring clips and, regarding mix and match, you can colorize anything that’s not at the project frame rate.

    I don’t know if Mix and Match works with Adrenaline, but it works on a laptop with no hardware, so I imagine that Adrenaline can handle it, too. Realtime performance will presumably vary based on your hardware.

  4. Jay Cassidy Says:

    Don’t forget to mention “local frame counts” on the Timecode Burn-In tool. I know it’s a small thing but it’s a wonderful thing.

  5. Jay Cassidy Says:

    Steve asked me add some details. If you place the Timecode Burn-In tool between two cuts on a timeline and then check “local frame count,” the count will begin from the cut, not from the beginning of the sequence. This is very useful for adding frame counts to shots for VFXs, etc. The count starts from “0” but it is easy enough to back the cut up one frame if your counting convention begins with “1” on the first frame. And, multiple Timecode Burn-In’s are possible on one timeline, all with local frame counts.

  6. michael Says:

    i want a proper “realtime” audiomixer so you can mix the audio on the fly not like in “auto” were you have a milion key frames:)

    It would save a lot of time if the timeline didnt stop everytim you will change audio levels.

  7. l'Editor Says:

    These Avid systems…Just when you thought you can’t get any better…

  8. Sean Albertson Says:

    Hey Steve-

    We are in the middle of Director’s cut with what will be a long post process. I want to upgrade to 4.0 now, but the rental facility is suggesting we don’t do it in the middle of a show sighting “It has a laundry list of bugs and, more importantly, you have to update all the codecs on all the systems if you want to use it and it is problematic to back if you don’t like it.” For me, the upsides of the new features are worth a few bumps. I would love your take on this.


    • ronn Says:

      What version are they upgrading from? I just upgraded today from 3.5.4 to 4.0.2 and it went smooth as silk, no new codecs. And it’s never that big a deal to downgrade – especially if you set a recovery point before you upgrade. I’d love to see their laundry list.

      • Sean Albertson Says:

        We would be upgrading from 3.1.2. We stayed away from the 3.5 release because of problems with bus errors (3.1 is certainly not immune) and general lethargy of basic functions we were hearing about. We are working with 3.1.2 Nitris DX, cutting at DNxHD 36 . The rental house’s concern is backward compatibility (mostly concerning effects) if we are not happy with the performance of the system and want to go back. They have not found the bugs yet. They are “putting it through it’s paces,” but the real test is putting it on a show. The question is whether I want to be the guinea pig. Usually I do… and with the benefits of this update, I am leaning in that direction, but I want to do my research first as they are loath to switch mid-project.

  9. Loren Says:

    “Commit multicam edit!”

    Essentially collapse a multigroup cut into a single track. That should help playback on challenged machines. (FCP has had it for a couple generations now.)

    Transition Preservation is a great video clip, thank you, Steve, and indeed the feature is the cat’s meow. MC4 awaits my install. But does it always happen on the left the way it shows here ?

  10. Rob Cloyd Says:

    Just loaded MC 4.05 and it looks like it supports 1080/30p. Literature says its only on Symphony but Media Composer has it project settings also. Yippie

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