February 1, 2014

The Ins & Outs of Avid Media Composer 7: Getting Started with the Industry-Standard NLE

We all know that the editing software you choose has little to do with how good of an editor you are. However, if you're looking to edit as a profession, especially on a freelance basis, then an in-depth knowledge of multiple NLE's can help you maintain gainful employment. Not surprisingly, the NLE that is still the standard in most corners of the industry, especially now that FCP7 is finally being phased out, is Avid's Media Composer. Learning the program can be a bit challenging at first, but the benefits are tremendous. Luckily, Avid has teamed up with Toronto-based editor and educator, Kevin P. McAuliffe to create a series of videos that will get you up to speed in no time. Check it out.

For editors new to Media Composer, one of the most intimidating things about Avid is how it deals with settings. In this first video, McAuliffe shows you everything you need to know about starting a project, customizing your settings, and dealing with bins in the most logical and practical ways possible. From my personal experience, these are some of the most important things to know about Avid.

In this next video, McAuliffe goes over the various ways to import footage into Avid, whether it's a direct import, which transcodes your footage on the spot to DNxHD, or AMA linking, which simply allows Avid to work with your media files in their native format without any lengthy transcodes. He also goes into detail about how to manipulate resolution with the Frame Flex tool, and talks about one of Avid's best new features, background tasks. And for those of you who still work with a tape-based workflow (a good portion of the broadcast industry), McAuliffe also talks about Avid's powerful capture tool.

While these videos don't cover the nitty-gritty of actually editing in Avid (we'll cover that in a future article), they do provide a foundation for all of the work that you will eventually do in the program. Without understanding some of the core philosophies of how Media Composer imports and organizes your footage, as well as the way in which settings are manipulated, it's quite difficult to work within the program. However, once you've mastered these core-concepts, the rest of the program is very easy to use, and not to mention insanely powerful.

What do you guys think of these Media Composer 7 tutorials? What are your import workflows, and how do you configure Avid to work best for you? Is it important for young editors to learn and become proficient with Avid? Let us know down in the comments!

Link: Avid -- Vimeo

Your Comment

34 Comments

Better late than never. I can go out there and find tons of tutorials and help for FCP7 and Premiere. Good luck finding that for Media Composer.

February 1, 2014 at 10:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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moebius22

Look at the Creative Cow series, "Learn Avid's Media Composer" which is also taught by Kevin P. McAuliffe. It's extremely comprehensive.

February 1, 2014 at 2:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4503

TY

February 1, 2014 at 7:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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moebius22

The NLE previously known as the Industry-Standard NLE.

February 1, 2014 at 2:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tulio

Definitely still is. Without any doubt whatsoever.

February 1, 2014 at 2:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4503

Depends on which "industry" you're in. If it's blockbuster motion pictures, it's definitely Avid. If it's indie shorts, then that apple $300 NLE is pretty "standard."

February 1, 2014 at 5:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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ronn

Indie shorts aren't really an industry, though. Avid is still king in most feature filmmaking (with the exception of the low budget stuff), and just about all broadcast and television. Until the other NLE's catch up to Avid's media management capabilities, it will likely stay that way.

February 1, 2014 at 6:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4503

Even though there seems to be a huge filmmaking presence here on NoFilmSchool, most people on here forget that there is quite a bit of video production going on in the private sector. And in the private sector, they invest in Avid and Isis, not FCP or Premiere. Those companies don't invest in FCP mainly because it's $300 (and Apple might kill it), and/or there's no media server system in place (like Isis).

As much as I love thinking about making a film, investing in an NLE that gets me paid decently is pretty important.

February 1, 2014 at 6:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Stop saying bullshit please, there is server solution for FCP X. Also FCP X and Media Composer have a lot in common, the trim mode for example or the ability to move a shot easily in the timeline. They both also manage very well multichannel audio but its more simple in FCP X.
For me in order its 1)Avid 2) FCP X 3) Premiere. It's Premiere who has to catch the first one.

February 1, 2014 at 7:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Larry Max

I hear what you're saying, but the point is that large companies aren't going to invest in a software that is relatively young, and may or may not stick around.
What about old projects in FCP7 format? Can FCPX open them natively? Should a large private company go with FCPX if Apple may change things around in 10 years? With Avid they don't have to worry. Even the old Meridian projects open.

February 2, 2014 at 1:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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First of all, that hierarchy is just ridiculous. FCPX is clearly number 3 in terms of being a viable choice for any wide scale implementation in a company. Premiere has already won the transition from FCP7 users, albeit in the broadcast industry. FCPX is great for people who prefer that interface for editing, but it falls apart in any large scale workflows. Even Premiere fails miserably to cope with large studio feature workflows. FCPX is simply a new program and the high end post production application makers see no need to develop workflows with it. Also, there really is no possible justification for allegiance to FCPX for professional editors, since Apple made the change after analyzing market data which revealed they would make more money designing it as a consumer app and not professional one. This is not to say that FCPX is terrible, it is just a tool for a certain kind of project, the same way that Premiere is. AVID is still the industry standard for many reasons, many not even related to its specific capabilities as an NLE.

February 2, 2014 at 9:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nick

I don't think he's saying bullshit at all. Avid Media management and sharing is the reason it's number one in the industry. I work for a national television channel and the only solution out there that would fit our needs was Avid and ISIS. No other solution would interface with our MAM and metadata applications (eg. Ardome and IBMS).

The department I'm in runs somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30 Avids. The projects need to shared among multiple producers, editors, versioners, censors, media prep, transmission. There's still a few legacy FCP 7 stations scattered through out the building which no one likes to work on because they are cut out from that system. Anything cut on FCP has to be brought into Avid at some point so it can benefit from ISIS.

The only other solution that even comes close to ISIS is Editshare, but it doesn't have the MAM and IBMS integration we required.

I might add that Avid flew someone half way around the world to make sure their software integrated with our systems and workflow and provide training for it. I asked the Avid trainer what Avid's biggest upcoming competition was that might be worrying them, Premiere? FCP X? Lightworks? Vegas Pro?, etc... She just laughed and said they really weren't too concerned about any of those. She thought that Avid's biggest competition was maybe Grass Valley (and not because of EDIUS).

In essence, Avid makes money off of big contracts, not by selling copies of Media Composer. They excel in offering solutions and support for large scale operations.

As for comparing FCP X to Avid MC... I think the two are quite different. I've edited on both there are some things just too dumbed down about FCP X. For instance, in mutli-cam editing, I can only select one audio source. There's no way to use multicam and more than one source of audio at the same time. It's ridiculous. it's like they thought, who would possibly want more than one source of audio at the same time in their cut? How about when I'm using two lapels on separate cameras and they are talking at the same time?

Also, little things, like I'm using multiple storylines and I want to mark in and mark out and then extract or lift. Nope, won't allow it. As a work around, I have to go to my in and CMD-Shift-B (razor across all clips), go to my out and CMD-SHIFT-B, then select all the clips and then I can finally delete across all clips. It's again, as though they thought, who would want to cut across multiple tracks (storylines) at the same time? How about when I need to edit down for duration of the overall timeline?

FCP X is improving but it still has a way to go with making overall, consistent logical sense in the way it edits.

Avid has worked the same way since the 90's and though it could use a few modernizations, it at least makes sense and there's a logic to the way it operates. FCP X is convoluted at best.

It's not going to be replacing Avid any time soon.

February 2, 2014 at 10:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

I work in Belgiums biggest postproduction facility. We work on Avid, like most of the industry. It is horrible. Avids tapeless workflow is useless; over the years, the interface has become a mess; and even on HP Z800 the nle's are slow as hell. The amount of engineers we need to support the avids and storage is mind blowing. The only reason why we still work on Avid, is because every editor in the facility is trained on Avid. We edit faster on Avid because we are used to it. But that won't save Avid.

Last week, our technicians build an adobe anywhere test installation. For the first time in 20 years, we are looking at an alternative for Avid. It will be Premiere.

But, it doesn't matter. Because just as Avids, big editing facilities like the one I'm working in, are a thing of the past. Our software, hardware and storage has become to cheap. Very soon, you won't be able anymore to rent out an editing suite for 400 euro's a day. Which is the business post production facilities are in. The future is for freelance editors who get payed for the job they do, not for the system they work on.

So I would not be surprised if in the end, finalcut pro will be the NLE to take over the sector. Because it totally makes sence as a standalone editing system.

February 2, 2014 at 5:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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suuperjan

Well, the old FCP was in line and well on the way to supplanting Avid. Where I work, we had at one time planned to start replacing older Avid workstations with FCP. Then FCP X came out and they dropped FCP plans like a lead ball. It will take time but companies will start offering more support and solutions with FCP X as the base.

That's the difference between Apple and Avid. Avid does really well with customizing solutions (but for a high dollar price) and they have no problem sending over a team to get you set up and offering you support contracts. For the old FCP, it was individual consultant companies that were doing that and offering the customized support and workflows.

Right now, none of those companies want to touch FCP X as their is a stigma associated with it that it's not a pro solution. Really, it took years and years for FCP to establish itself as serious alternative to Avid and with FCP X, all that work was undone overnight. The changes and radical approach they take in FCP X could have really been an inspiring thing if they had some sort of Beta program to vet it before releasing it prematurely.

As for premiere, yes, it's getting quite serious and Adobe is doing what it takes to get it up there. I haven't used it that much but the few times I've ventured into it since CS6, I saw it would be an easy transition if I were to start using it.

As for Avid having a cluttered interface, I'm not sure I agree. It has essentially the same interface it's had for more than a decade or so. The only thing I see on my timeline window that I didn't use to see is perhaps the Smart tool toggle, which I just don't use at all. We run it on a HP Z800 as well but with the Nitrus box, which I suppose helps speed-wise. I do have to admit though that I much prefer FCP X method of background rendering. I waste so much time waiting for transcodes and rendering (hours per week). But that ends up being a plus if you're paid by the hour ;)

February 3, 2014 at 12:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

@Nick : I've been an Avid editor for the past 20 years and I know that software like if I made it, there are many reasons why it is the number one and FCP X just made a simple copy out of Avid, this is why I've put FCP X as number 2 and Premiere at last place.

1) Premiere cannot handle multichannel audio, that's Avid territory and FCP X made it more simple.
2) Premiere cannot move shot easily in the timeline like you can do with the yellow arrow in Avid and the mouse in FCP X.
3) Multicam sucks in Premiere, it rocks on Avid and FCP X
4) Walter Murch favorite ability in Avid is to cut a shot while is playing, you can do it in FCP X not in Premiere
5) Finally, Avid and FCP X have a dedicated and precise trim mode this is the most important feature in Avid, it exists in FCP X and not in Premiere

So, like I said, First MC, then FCP X and the last Premiere Pro..

And FCP has things that none of the others have, the auditions for example, I'm in love with that when I'm on fiction.

You know, Avid is not that complicated, it's even very simple, and I've found in FCP X every single features that makes me and every editors in the world love Avid, why they are not in Premiere?

I've made the switch to FCP X because of that, and because Avid will unfortunatly go bankrupt.
Premiere is not up to the task for fiction, FCP X is.

How many feature have been cut on FCP X? For the moment 2, detective dee and the American Focus.
How many on Premiere ? Z-E-R-O because it's nightmare to handle audio tracks and not have a dedicated trim mode.

Also, FCP X and Avid both handle multi user editing, Premiere? No.

Period.

February 2, 2014 at 7:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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larry max

You've been an Avid editor for 20 years and you think FCP X is a simple copy of it? You're perhaps the only Avid editor in the world that might think this.

As far as the placement of NLE's, there's no question there are many more Premier users than FCP X. Thus it is definitely ahead of FCP X industry wise. I think you're just talking in terms of your personal preference in this list.

Also, I doubt you've been an Avid editor since 1994. Otherwise you would know the "yellow arrow" is actually called Segment Mode and the red arrow is called overwrite mode and both are equally useful at time for timeline manipulation with the mouse.

And for the record, Premiere has had a Trim Mode for at least the last 2 versions. I also have no idea what you mean when you say Premiere cannot handle multi-channel audio. It handles it fine, especially with more advanced options available since CS6.
As for moving clips in the timeline, maybe you need a tutorial:
http://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/premiere-pro-video-editing-tricks-workin...

...And Avid is a long way away from Bankruptcy. They are still have a good amount of cash and assets that would have to go first:
http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2013/04/whats-the-truth-about-avids-financ...

February 2, 2014 at 11:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

I'm glad someone with more experience than me called him on his BS.

February 3, 2014 at 11:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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moebius22

Thank you I know how the red and the yellow arrows names are. They are also part of the SmartTool Box Set if you want to learn more about the Avid....

What I said about PP about the multi channels is that Premiere can't do polyrotoscopy like Avid wich is to only edit with the mixdown instead of all the audio channel created by the sound engineer and then put them all in the timeline when comes time to transfert it to the sound guys. Avid can do ot and FCP X also.

February 3, 2014 at 9:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Larry Max

And before you answer, combining several audio track into a single one is not polyrotoscopy them

February 3, 2014 at 9:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Larry Max

Tell me honestly, is that a real word or did you just make it up? Google provided zero search results for it, which is kind of an accomplishment on your part to pull a word out of the air that's never even been made up before.

I used to do some sound design and audio editing and I've never ever heard of polyrotoscopy.

The closest it comes to making sense is if I replace the Y at the end with an E, and then I see the word rotoscope, which is a visual effect that has absolutely nothing with audio at all. I suppose it I were to guess from there, Poly-Rotoscope would be using polygons to rotoscope or something?

Please educate me further.

February 4, 2014 at 1:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

The polyrotoscopy is not referring to the image operation here, it's referring to the ability the Avid has to put back every single audio file coming directly from the set, you could also say it's an audio conformation but inside the avid without using other software like Titan

February 7, 2014 at 5:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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larry max

Thanks for the update. I have never heard the term Polyrotoscopy in context to audio but I'll give you that one since there are some obscure and weird post-production terms out there I'm sure.

Having been an Online editor and having done design editor I do have some experience with Audio conforms. I haven't used Titan but I assume you mean Avid can either use AAF or else just use Batch import to conform audio files. I assume you could do the same on Premiere by re-linking the media. Audio-conforming back to the NLE is kind of becoming an obscure thing these days would be my guess.

February 8, 2014 at 11:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

"Thank you I know how the red and the yellow arrows names are. They are also part of the SmartTool Box Set if you want to learn more about the Avid…."

Oh, yes, please teach me more about "the Avid".

From the way you talk, I suspect there is nothing you could teach me about Avid. I know you've been using it since 1994 and all while i've only been using it for the past 12 years or so but you make many bizarre claims and statements that would leave any Avid editor baffled.

Oh, and btw, it's just 'Smart Tool'. The "SmartTool Box Set" makes it sound like a DVD special edition of a Jason Lee TV series or something.

I don't really use the recently added smart tool although I do use the Segment and overwrite modes (Mostly overwrite mode).

The Smart tool was put in place to make the interface more friendly for primarily mouse editors (people who don't know the keyboard shortcuts). I leave it toggled off.

And are you saying you can't do an audio mix in Premiere? That's absurd. It seems you know nothing about the program. You can certainly mix multiple tracks with the audio mixer an output an OMF or a number of other audio formats.

February 4, 2014 at 1:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

It is simply ludicrous to say that Z-E-R-O features have been cut on Adobe Premiere.The biggest ones that come to mind are Act of Valor and Inside Llewyn David (Yes, The Coen Brothers now use Premiere), Waiting for Lightening, Monsters (possibly the new Godzilla, since it's the same director), and there are many more I'm sure, especially indie films. I have never heard of "Detective Dee" and "Focus" is only having its BTS cut on FCPX. Like Benjamin already stated, most of those features you are complaining about are actually there, you just may not have tested Premiere enough to use them. Multicam has also have a complete overhaul especially. I am involved in a systems integration company that is looking to implement Adobe Anywhere at some major facilities. Once they have fully developed the system, it will definitely solidify its place as a viable alternative to AVID ISIS. As a colorist, I have had nothing but nightmares working with directors and amateur editors who get FCPX for its cost once the edit is complete. Again, I am making no arguments over the actual use of the program as an editor, if that were the issue, AVID would be in last place, instead, this is an argument about how viable each NLE has within the industry. AVID is tried and true. Premiere has flourished where FCP7 once reigned and has also pretty much dominated indie DSLR filmmaking. FCPX has a growing base of loyal followers, but not much corporate confidence. I have yet to see any reasons for using FCPX over Premiere or AVID, other than for performance reasons associated with the new Mac pro, but that may change some day. I will say though that the program is pretty much a no go for me with its current MAM system and lack of a track based timeline.

February 3, 2014 at 3:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nick

Ger update please ! Yes the entire Focus movie is being cut on FCP X not only the BTS !
Detective Dee is the first feature using FCP X, it's on Apple site :http://www.apple.com/final-cut-pro/in-action/detective-dee/

I dont't think you can call them "amateurs"
Light Iron, one of the biggest post production house in the entire US uses all three NLE and defend FCP X ! They've created app for it ! Are they amateurs too?
The full sail university is teaching FCP X do they teach people there to become the futur amateurs of the industry?! No!

Radical Media, one of the biggest creative agency in the world is using FCP X, are they amateurs too? They are billionaires amateurs is that what you're saying?!

You all seems to forget here that Adobe has been hacked and that numerous confidential credit card numbers have been distributed to whoever wants!

Over that 100 millions adobe accounts have been hacked and their bank infos stolen.

THIS IS UNNACEPTABLE ! Has Apple ever been hacked? NO neither other great and good companies.
It's a SHAME that a company worth billions like Adobe has not been capable of protecting their clients data.
This is why the industry does believe in Adobe anymore, even for after effect we don't need it, Nuke can do the same.

And update yourself please !

February 7, 2014 at 7:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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larry max

Alright, I can see that there is no more need to argue, since you have chosen to fight an argument I didn't make. I did not say that FCPX is only for amateurs. I said that the clients I have has who used it where amateurs. Very big distinction. I highly respect Light Iron and several of the companies you listed and in no way think they are amateurs. I will concede that it I may be wrong about "Focus", but only time will tell. Yes, Adobe was hacked, but that has no impact on the quality of their product. To make that argument is to say that you choose not to use it "in spite" of its quality.

February 8, 2014 at 7:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nick

"The full sail university is teaching FCP X do they teach people there to become the futur amateurs of the industry?! No! "

Evidently, yes, because if you want to work in features or broadcast, nobody cares what your film school taught you, they want you to work hard, have a positive attitude, and learn the technology that's being used at the moment. Which in this case has been Avid for the past 20 years.

February 9, 2014 at 1:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Patrick

Interesting arguments all. Different segments of the market use different tools. My concern about avid would be its continued existence, whether its an industry standard product or not. As a company, you can only loose money for so long before you cease to exist as a company.

Any other major company who would be doing a major install, wouldn't be doing due diligence if they didn't look up the companies financials. I took a look and they haven't posted a profit since 2006 and even those quarterly profits were wiped out by the quarterly losses in the same year.

While I am not in the Avid camp, it is a valid NLE and is the standard editor for many segments. Unfortunately I don't see it lasting much longer. Perhaps it will be like Kodak and studios will make a commitment to delay the inevitable, but I doubt it. Likely BM will buy it up and incorporate its technology into their editor….

February 3, 2014 at 6:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Allan

It's true their business model worked much better in times past when software sales were married to the hardware solution. They still have plenty of cash in the bank and valued assets. The brand is not valued as much as it used to be though. The reason FCP (legacy) took off like it did was people were sick and tired of the old corporate model that Avid Adhere's to.

In saying that, there are still a lot of corporate entities that do buy into that. Why my company would throw down 800,000 (btw, that was the discounted price which originally was over a million) to purchase 40 MC seats along with ISIS, I can't imagine. Well, actually I can. It's because we are stuck using Ardome and IBMS who are major corporate players in the game and Avid plays "nice" with them.

Well, actually Quantel is starting to integrate quite nicely with Viz as well. They usually win of the NEWS network contracts.

Anyway, Avid still has to burn through a lot of cash and assets to reach bankruptcy. Their Pro Tools brand alone is a real value.

I am always interested other NLE's. Since I use Avid for 8 hours a day, five days a week, it's nice to escape it at home and for personal projects.

Lately I've been using Lightworks a lot, which has a lot of similarities with Avid and the older school of thought with NLE but somehow has a nicer feel to it than Avid. Lightworks 11.5 is now cheaper than FCP X as well. And then there is the roadmap to make it opensource, which would be awesome.

February 4, 2014 at 6:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

Oh, and I forgot to say, no way could BM afford to buy out Avid.

But in regards to BM, I tried the latest resolve to test out it's editing features. Those guys could actually make a viable NLE based on that if they put their minds to it. It's still overall a bit of a 2nd thought unfortunately. There was no ability to customise keyboard shortcuts and I found one of their default maps had a conflict with two different editing functions mapped to 'V' which meant nothing happened when you pushed the shortcut.

But anyways, they could and would be able to iron the winkles I think if they thought there was a good market for it.

February 4, 2014 at 6:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

In all this discussion there is hardly a single mention of LIGHTWORKS - which is now available at no cost - yes, it's FREE and has been used to cut numerous Hollywood blockbuster movies. Surely someone has an opinion on this ? It looks like Lightworks is quietly creeping up from behind and will smack the living daylights out of all the other mentioned NLE systems. Do a Google search on this and be prepared to be surprised.

February 7, 2014 at 5:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Derek

Yes, I'm a fan of Lightworks. As soon as the Mac port is done I'll probably buy a copy.

February 8, 2014 at 11:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Benjamin Forrest

Sorry I'm late to answer, but I was on Aaton website to buy a Aaton Cantar (you know, the world most used audio recorder in all the filmmaking industry) and guess what ? Oh they're talking about Poly-Rotate, the thing I talk you about and that you never heard of because you're not a real professional.

http://www.aaton.com/store/cantar-x2

April 25, 2014 at 5:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Larry Max

I just mostly disregard this comment because of its childish use of profanity. Just because you can type any words you want, doesn't mean you should. It shows a disrespect for this amazing website and forum, which has given me more information than my entire tenure at film school.

July 20, 2014 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Noah