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  • Fri, Apr 15 2011 11:55 PM

    • dvasquez
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    • Joined on Mon, Oct 19 2009
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    7 Quick Tips for More Efficient Editing

    Editors are always being asked to do more in less time.  But the answer isn’t to just work faster; we need to find ways to work more efficiently.  Sure It helps us meet deadlines, but more importantly, working efficiently gives us more time for creative exploration.

     

    Here are 7 quick tips to make you more efficient:

     

    ­­1 Get Organized

    “A place for everything and everything in its place”, right?  We’ve heard that since we were children, but like it or not, it’s true.  Taking the steps to get, and stay, organized pays rich dividends.  It certainly saves time, and perhaps more importantly, it’s easier to maintain your focus and flow if you’re not distracted trying to find that shot, or running constant searches.

     

    In Media Composer, you’re forced to put everything into a bin. That’s a good start.  Now take the next step to create more bins – lots of them!  Name and fill them appropriately.  

     

    It’s best to establish a standard set of bins you use in every project:  Sequences, Music, Sound Effects, Effects Templates, Graphics, Titles, Output Sequences

     

    For your dailies (raw footage), create dedicated bins per source (card or tape), scene, actor, topic, location, etc.  Not sure which bin to put a clip in?  Put it in both. That way it’s easier to find.  (See Tip #3)

     

    Finally, organize bins of similar types into folders. 

     

     

    2 Good Names, Good Info

    Having a good name is everything – well, at least when it comes to finding that clip you’re looking for.  If you’re naming your own clips, establish a consistent naming convention.  There are some common naming conventions – MS for Medium Shot, WS for wide-shot, etc.  But what about the name of the interviewee, the location, keywords, etc – does all that go in the name?

     

    For documentary-style productions, consider something like:

    [Name of individual or b-roll] -  [action or keyword] [SHOT LENGTH] 

     

    For example, an interview with Robert Gibbs on current events might result in clips named:  Gibbs – Middle East MS; Gibbs – democracy CU; etc.  The choice to place the action/keyword before the shot length ensures that, if sorted by Name, all the “Middle East” bites line up together, regardless of where they came up in the interview, or the shot length in the clip.

     

    The Comments field is a good place to enter general log notes. Create custom columns to track additional info.  To create a custom column, simply click in an empty space by the Column names in Text view, and start typing:

     

     

    Useful custom columns include:

    • ·      Shot type
    • ·      Location
    • ·      Subject
    • ·      Keywords
    • ·      Good (Yes or No)
    • ·      Quality (rate with stars)

     

    All these metadata entries become search tags for Media Composer’s powerful Find tool, so the more the better.

    *Media Composer’s Find feature is a powerful search tool to search across all metadata in your bins, sequences, locators, scripts, and more.

     

     

    To novices, this may seem like overkill.  But experienced editors know it’s an investment that pays off well when they get deep into the edit. (Of course, it’s even better if you have an assistant who does this for you!)

     

     

    3 Make lots of copies

    In Media Composer, you can copy a master clip into more than one bin by holding Alt / Option when you drag a clip(s) from one bin to another.  More than just a copy, though, it’s more of a “clone”.  If you make changes to one of those copies in one bin, like adding additional info to Comments, the copies in other bins are automatically updated with this new info.  This simple feature is really quite powerful.  Make as many copies as you need for organization, confident that anytime you see that clip, you’re seeing all the information associated with it.  Especially when you’re working with other editors in a shared project, this is huge.

     

    You can’t make clones of sequences, but you should duplicate sequences often (Ctrl / Cmd + D).  Every time you reach a creative fork in the road, dupe your sequence.  This gives you an easy before/after comparison, or allows you to go back if the idea your exploring doesn’t work as well as you first thought.  If nothing else, dupe your sequence each morning before you start to cut. 

     

    It’s not hard to keep these sequences organized.  Personally, I use a bin named “$Current” for today’s work.  (Using a symbol at the beginning of the name keeps it at the top of the bin list.)  At the end of the day, I clean out the bin to contain only the current version of the sequence.  All other sequences go into a general Sequences bin.

    4 Treat files like tape

    File-based formats have created some terrific efficiencies.  In one way, however, they can be frustratingly less efficient.  Many editors are used to being able to scrub through a master clip that represents an entire tape or film roll.  File-based cameras, however, break the recording into separate files every time the camera is stopped.  To see all the footage from the card, the editor now has to click through each clip individually.

     

    To regain the efficiency of that single-clip-per-tape workflow, place the contents of each card in its own bin, and create a single sequence in that bin. 

     

    Sort the clips in the bin by TC, then drag all clips into the timeline.  Media Composer will assemble the clips in the order they appear in the bin, chronologically in this case. 

     

     

     

    When it’s time to cut from that material, you can drag this assembly sequence from the bin to the Source monitor and edit from it, giving y

    ou access to the entire card’s contents at the same time.

     

     

    5 Cut in Isolation

    I’m not suggesting you throw the Client or Director out of the cutting room, for as much as we’d all like to sometimes.  Rather, as you get deeper into the edit and the timeline becomes more complex, it is often easier to pull a scene out and isolate it into a new sequence to make changes.  Recut the scene in this temporary sequence, then cut it back into the master sequence.  (See the article on using the “Magic Modifier” for detailed info on how to do this.)

     

    For scripted projects, many editors will cut each scene individually in a dedicated sequence before assembling these into a completed master. 

     

    Media Composer doesn’t have “nested sequences” like Final Cut Pro.  Once you cut one sequence into another, they are now distinct copies.  Changes to one are not updated in the other.  Depending on your point of view, this can be positive or negative, but it’s certainly something to be aware of if you’re new to Media Composer.

     

     

    6 Build it once

    Media Composer allows you to save effects templates to a bin.  This is true for all effects, including transitions and plugins.  This simple little feature can save you lots of time.  While many effects are unique to the shot on which it is applied, many more can be reused.  Even if it means tweaking the template after it’s been applied, if it saves you two or three adjustments it’s worth it. 

     

     

     

    Saved effects in a bin can be used directly from the bin, but any open bin that contains effects will also show up in the Effects Palette.

     

    Effects that make great templates include:

    • ·      Custom transitions
    • ·      Color treatments and corrections
    • ·      Blowups (Resize)
    • ·      PIPs (Picture-in-Picture)
    • ·      Masks
    • ·      Pan-and-Zoom (for animating stills)
    • ·      Vignettes
    • ·      Blurs
    • ·      Chroma keys (from a particular set)
    • ·      Audio EQs

     

     

     

    Like any bin, your “Custom FX” bin can be shared between projects, using the File > Open Bin command.  This is a great way to create a long-term “custom effects library”.  Keep this bin file separate from other project folders on the OS, but open it into each of your projects.  Any effects templates you add to the bin will be visible in any other project.

     

    The same principle applies to settings.  Changing Timeline Views, Bin Views, Import and Export settings are common places that many editors waste time in repetition.  Create the setting once, and save it.  Timeline and Bin views can be saved through the corresponding menus; Import and Export settings can be duplicated and renamed.  For example, create an array of Import settings for your most common formats, i.e. 5D Stills, AE FX shot, Logo-Bug animation, etc. Then it’s a one-click change to activate the right setting.

     

    7 Finish faster with color

    Colors can be used for a variety of ways to expedite your workflow. One way is to assign a particular color to clips from the same source as a way to flag them for later processing – either for color grading or audio effects, for example.

    “Source Color”, the color assigned to the original master clip in the bin, can be displayed in the timeline. 

     

    Once enabled, the timeline immediately displays the colors assigned to the masterclips in the bin.

     

    The idea here is that once you correct the first shot from an interview, for instance, you can immediately see by the colors the others shots that need the same correction.  Save the template to the bin, then apply it to all the other clips with the same Source Color in the timeline.  Each shot may need a bit of further tweaking, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly the process can go.

     

    Learn More!

    To learn more about these techniques, and other ways to speed up your workflow, sign up for the class MC201 – Editing Tools and Techniques, available worldwide from Avid Authorized Training Partners.

     

  • Sat, Apr 16 2011 12:42 AM In reply to

    Re: 7 Quick Tips for More Efficient Editing

    Thanks for some good reminders on how and WHY we need to do the basics well.

    It could ne useful when postins something like this

    dvasquez:
    See the article on using the “Magic Modifier” for detailed info on how to do this.)
    that part or all of it has the link to the article attached

     

  • Tue, May 10 2011 12:59 PM In reply to

    Re: 7 Quick Tips for More Efficient Editing

    After FB also a Like here Wink

    Desktop
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    Larry as long as I live I will remember you.

     

    3 Heads Digital MediaVienna Frames

  • Tue, Nov 20 2012 6:09 PM In reply to

    • John
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Glasgow, Scotland
    • Posts 176
    • Points 2,100

    Re: 7 Quick Tips for More Efficient Editing

    can anyone help me with point 3 in this guide

    "3 Make lots of copies

    In Media Composer, you can copy a master clip into more than one bin by holding Alt / Option when you drag a clip(s) from one bin to another.  More than just a copy, though, it’s more of a “clone”.  If you make changes to one of those copies in one bin, like adding additional info to Comments, the copies in other bins are automatically updated with this new info....."

     

    I use this alot. I am currently working on MC 4.x and I have card media all over the place in bins prepared by another editor. The filing and naming of the cards is a mess and follows about 3 different naming conventions. So to make my life easier I have CLONED clips into a bin called Grouped, for those interviews which have 2x cameras running so I could group the clips, but now if I try to match frame it takes me to the Grouped bin not the original card bin.

    QUESTION ; is there a way of making grouped cloned clips link back to the very original bin they were cloned from?

    Thanks John

     

     

    Media Composer 6 on HPZ800, 12GB Ram, 2x Mac Pro MC 5 and 5.5 [view my complete system specs]
  • Thu, Aug 1 2013 4:11 PM In reply to

    • HamNCheese
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Los Angeles
    • Posts 358
    • Points 5,340

    Re: 7 Quick Tips for More Efficient Editing

    dvasquez:

     

    4 Treat files like tape

    Sort the clips in the bin by TC, then drag all clips into the timeline.  Media Composer will assemble the clips in the order they appear in the bin, chronologically in this case. 

     

     

    I just want to add a very important missing part of this instruction: before you drag the clips into the timline, highlight all your clips and press the clear in/out marks key.  That will globally clear any existing marks, and ensures that each of the clips get inserted in their entirety.  If you don't first clear the marks, any existing marks on a clip will be used and when the timeline builds, it won't include any of the source material that was outside the marks.

    freelance, I work on a lot of systems [view my complete system specs]
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