Avid Agility — Third Edition

Avid Agility is my book covering all things Media Composer, designed to help both newbies and advanced editors get up to speed quickly and easily. The just-released third edition has been extensively rewritten and contains nearly 50 pages of additional material, including a new chapter on Script Integration and ScriptSync. It now focuses squarely on MC 6, and all illustrations reflect that version.

The book represents a large fraction of what I know about Media Composer, learned over a period of two decades, during which time I worked closely with the folks at Avid, helped my peers become fluent with the system, taught hundreds of editing students, ran a magazine about editing, and in general, got neck deep in all things Media Composer. For advanced editors, it contains in-depth, easy-to-read material on critical subjects you may have glossed over in the past; for those moving to MC from other platforms, it offers clear, well-illustrated explanations of basic concepts. If you’re looking to get more out of Media Composer, this is the book for you.

The first edition covers Media Composer 4 and 5. The second covers MC5.5. The new third edition focuses on Media Composer 6. You can get it from the publisher, CreateSpace, or from Amazon. Enter this code when you check out from CreateSpace and you’ll receive a 20% discount off the list price: HGDQXDTN.

The third edition is also available as a beautiful Kindle ebook. It works on all Kindle devices, but looks especially good on tablets with color screens, such as the iPad or Kindle Fire. Owners of the Kindle book can read it on their Macs or PCs using the Kindle reader application.


“The most ambitious and comprehensive book on Avid Media Composer I’ve read. This is much more than an operating manual or how-to — it’s like having a seasoned pro sitting next to you, revealing his trade secrets. If you’re a Media Composer editor, rookie or old pro, Avid Agility will make you a better editor, guaranteed.”
Jonathan Moser, Post Magazine

“The quickest path to becoming a Media Composer Jedi Master. Editor and teacher Steve Cohen has written a clear, comprehensively-illustrated, and easy-to-understand guide — a bible on advanced editing with Avid Media Composer 5.x. For anyone who works regularly on an Avid and has a desire to take their skills to the next level, this book is essential reading.”
Lawrence Jordan, Editor and Founder of 2-pop.com and HollywoodReinvented.com

“Very rarely is the reincarnation of a classic pulled off successfully, but Steve Cohen’s done it. It’s an easy read, logically laid out, and useful to novice and experienced editor alike. I highly recommend this book.”
Frank Capria,
Consulting Designer, Media Composer, Avid Technology

“A comprehensive guide to making the Avid fade into the background when you’re working your editorial magic. Cohen’s book will guide you to the next exciting level of the art of editing.”
Edgar Burcksen, American CinemaEditor Magazine

“Avid Agility is very much a definitive book about the Media Composer environment. [It] may well be the ultimate book on customizing Avid’s unique capabilities for individual creative editing.”
Ray Zone, Editors Guild Magazine

“Some of the material takes my breath away—simply because ‘I didn’t know that!!’ A superb gift for any Avid editor, student or pro.”
Loren Miller, Editor, Teacher, and Creator of KeyGuide Keyboard Shortcut Pages.

“An amazing work — for both new and old Media Composer users. I’d recommend that each and every one of you who are editors order the book.”
Norman Hollyn, Head of the Editing Track & Professor, USC School of Cinematic Arts

“Steve Cohen has taken his DECADES of experience editing on Avid and distilled them into a very readable, INCREDIBLY illustrated book. [It] consistently delivers magical little tricks that make you say, ‘I wish I’d known THAT yesterday!'”
Steve Hullfish, Avid Master Editor, Colorist and Author of Five Books

PDF Samples (best in Adobe Reader):

Table of Contents

Interface Fundamentals (first pages)

Advanced Keyframes (first pages)


CreateSpace // Amazon // Kindle


31 Comments on “Avid Agility — Third Edition”

  1. […] great aids are Steve Cohen’s new “Avid Agility” and Martin Baker’s “Final Cut Pro Killer […]

  2. Gary Bradley Says:

    Thanks for all the detail artfully combined with executive summary. Worth the price: use Bin Script View to re-order clips. (I’ve been putting them in a dummy bin, then bringing them back in reverse order.)
    Here’s one for you: in effects mode, you apply a re-size to make a camera zoom to marry the adjoining shot… do the speeds match? To play across the cut, you don’t need to exit effects– just click on an empty track and play through. OK, back to wrestling with Smart Tool.

  3. Steve Says:

    That’s a good idea. Thanks. And I’m glad you like the book (please post a review on Amazon if you can).

    Regarding the Smart Tool, check out these posts:

    More on the Smart Tool

    Tweaking the Smart Tool


  4. Jason Adams Says:

    When will a Kindle version be released so we can keep this on our iPads for quick reference?

  5. Steve Says:

    I’m working on it, but it’s not as simple as it might seem. The illustrations, all 500 of them, are complex and getting them to look good isn’t automatic. Kindle is black and white, too. The book is in color because so much of the MC UI is color-dependent.

    But thanks for asking —

  6. jason Says:

    Please make a kindle version, i dont buy paper books anymore.

    But remember that kindle means kindle app not just the amazon kindle. I have an ipad and use the kindle app that supports color!

  7. Steve Says:

    Okay guys, as of today, the Kindle version is available from Amazon. Check out this post for details:

    Avid Agility for Kindle

    Thanks for asking — I hope you like it.


  8. Peter Stewart Says:

    Hi Steve,

    Is there anywhere that you know of in the UK where Avid Agility is available to order?

    I have found the kindle version on Amazon UK, but I’d rather have a printed copy.


  9. Steve Says:

    It’s a long story, but your only choice right now is Amazon USA. The Kindle version is the alternative.


    • Ewa J Lind Says:

      I was also looking for a UK source. Didn’t find it, so ordered from Amazon.com, which turned out to be a much simpler and quicker way than expected:) Though even if I’d had to wait it would have been worth it.. Have always been allergic to manuals, but the intelligence and simplicity of this book makes it most brilliant and a real pleasure to read… Avid is mad not to include it as the help manual, whatever cost:)…

      Thanks Steve for your efforts and real generosity in communicating your knowledge,


  10. G B Says:

    Is this available as an epub for Sony eReaders? Thanks

  11. Alex Says:

    Brilliant book Steve, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us all.

    There was one point I though might be worth picking up on – Adding filler at the end of a sequence, you suggest making a Black title.

    In fact all you need to do is add a new video track > add edit > enter trim mode and trim however many frames of black you need onto the end of your sequence.

  12. Frank Dima Says:

    Hi Steve – Will there be an update to reflect MC 6 anytime in the near future ? Thanks.

  13. Yes, will there be an update anytime soon?

  14. Steve Says:

    The third edition was released this morning. For more info, check out this page https://splicenow.com/avid-agility-available-now/

    You can buy the book today from CreateSpace. It’ll be available from Amazon in another week or two.

  15. Ordered on Createspace and even the middle shipping option is estimated to take a week! I sent them a message and asked if they are delivering via burro. There should be a pdf download in addition to the dead tree version, particularly if they are going to take a week.

    It’s 2012 in case folks did not realize.

    On the other hand, thanks to Steve for updating the book as most others are 5.5 or earlier. I looked a few hours ago and a big Barnes & Noble in an upscale Houston area had NO Avid books. FCP, FCPX, Adobe CS6 whatever, but no Avid books.

    Robert A. Ober

  16. Steve Says:

    For what it’s worth, they overestimate the shipping time. The “standard” option takes a week. “Expedited” will take about 3 days.

  17. Thanks Steve,

    I figured it was conservative. Still, 2 day would be nice since then I would have it by the weekend when the phone and the email aren’t so active.

    Take it EZ,

  18. Daryl Campbell Says:

    Hey Steve think you can encourage the Avid team to include alternate edit from newscutter to MC?

  19. Sung Moon Says:

    Entering AFI, I’ve been introduced to Avid for the first time – well, I used it a few times before but this is the first time I REALLY EDIT on Avid. I looked through a book at the library and I am going to buy this one for sure.

  20. Andi Meek Says:

    Hi Steve, I just want to say thanks for writing such a great book. I’ve got it next to me now and can honestly say I find it invaluable! It’s saved me so much time on the feature I’m currently working on and has made me look way smarter than I am on many occasions! Cheers,

  21. […] podcast) as well as publisher of the Motion Picture Editors Guild Magazine. Avid Agility also has rave reviews from top notch post folk and if thats not enough to convince you, check out the massive contents list […]

  22. Now that Avid has announced MC7, will there be a new Edition of Avid Agility? If so, I’ll take 3.


  23. Daryl Campbell Says:

    Steve, I just got your book (third ) edition. I’m on page 7, and I’m already confident about, futher understanding this incredible Nle….A world of thanks from Nashville Tn.

  24. Hello Again,

    So will there be an update for MC7/Sym option?

    Need all the help I can get! :-)

    Robert A. Ober

  25. […] Avid Agility: Working Faster and More Intuitively with Avid Media Composer, Third Edition (Steven Cohen) […]

  26. vincent Says:

    Hey steve will you.be updating to 7 any time soon. I have edition 1 but want to hold off buying until a new one drops I think. Any eta? I know 8.1 will be testing soon as well

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