Avid Finally Drops Free Media Composer Software — Here's What to Expect

Avid Media Composer | First
Avid has released Media Composer First, a free editing software for filmmakers. 

Here at No Film School, we've been talking about Avid's free version of Media Composer for a couple years. First announced in 2015, the trimmed-down version, dubbed Media Composer First, is aimed at "aspiring video professionals, video enthusiasts, and students" as a way to introduce them to the Avid environment. Finally, it is now available for download. 

"People using Media Composer First are going to get the full Avid editing experience, but in a way that is more approachable than ever before​."

At NAB 2017, Avid keyed in on some of its features, including 4 video tracks and 8 audio tracks, a simplified user interface, and bin support. No Film School reached out to Matt Feury, Director of Product and Segment Marketing for Pro Video at Avid, to find out more about its inception and functionality. 

No Film School: Media Composer First was teased a few years ago. Obviously, development and research takes its toll on the calendar, but what was the biggest obstacle in getting this release out?

Matt Feury: There wasn’t any one obstacle in particular. It was more the realization that for Media Composer First to succeed, it needed to be more than just a stripped-down Media Composer that we offered up for free. Media Composer has been refined for almost 30 years by professional editors all over the world. It’s a really deep and powerful toolset—one that can be a little intimidating for new users. 

Since announcing our plans for Media Composer First back in 2015, we’ve been working hard to take what has become the gold standard in Hollywood and make it appropriate for someone just starting out. And that’s a lot more work than just turning things off in the codebase. But I think it was well worth the effort. People using Media Composer First are going to get the full Avid editing experience, but in a way that is more approachable than ever before.

NFS: What type of codec/resolution can it import?

Feury: It can link to anything (UHD, 4K, etc.) and can encode all of the same codecs that Media Composer can encode, with the exception of DNxHR. First can only create SD or HD rasters, however, so anything with a raster greater than HD will need to be reframed using FrameFlex.

NFS: And on the export side?

Feury: Export is a QuickTime Movie either H.264 or DNxHD of HD raster (1920x1080) 59.94fps. 

NFS: Can you export to any video container other than QuickTime?

Feury: Not at this time. You can export QuickTime Movie to your desktop or you can also publish directly to YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo. 

NFS: Will Media Composer First play well with H.265/HEVC out of the box?

Feury: No.

NFS: What kind of editing tools are included?

Feury: Since one of the big points in making Media Composer First was to give beginners a fun way to learn Avid editing, the timeline functionality was something that we wanted to keep as faithful as possible between Media Composer First and Media Composer. We’ve been showing Media Composer First to Hollywood film and TV editors and they all asked the same question: “What isn't in Media Composer First? This works just like my Media Composer." Other than the track limitations, I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head that would distinguish the editing model of MC First from Media Composer.

NFS: That's really great to hear. As of now, Media Composer First projects do not open in Media Composer. When do you think this functionality will be added?

Feury: While we do intend to allow First projects to be opened in Media Composer in the future. We are still investigating the circumstances and workflows that require such functionality. Based on these findings (which we’re gathering from customer requests, beta feedback, and eventually Media Composer First users), we’ll develop a method for migrating projects that makes the most sense both technically and practically. We do not have an ETA for this functionality yet.

NFS: Is there any simplified communication between Media Composer First and Pro Tools First projects?

Feury: For now, users will need to export .wav from Pro Tools First and import into Media Composer First. We’re investigating more integrated workflows via Cloud Collaboration in the future.

NFS: Speaking of, when do you think Cloud Collaboration will be included for Media Composer First?

Feury: Later this year or early next year.

NFS: Avid Studio for iPad was once a free alternative editing app to iMovie and later sold to Pinnacle Studio. Do you see First parlaying into another app for Avid?

Feury: That’s certainly a possibility, but there are no plans for that right now. Media Composer First is worth considering if you're new to editing or even a seasoned vet on other NLE platforms. Knowing the Avid environment and understanding the way it works will only aid in advancing your skills as a filmmaker. As with most software related products and companies, Avid will gauge the community's response from this release and offer future updates for better performance. 


  • Free (email required to download)
  • 4 Video Tracks
  • 8 Audio Tracks
  • Export either Quicktime Movie H.264 or DNxHD of HD raster (1080x1920) 59.94fps.
  • Can link to any media (4K, UHD, HD, etc) 
  • Projects can have up to 5 bins

You can now download the free software here (or compare each version here). Avid has also included a set of tutorials, starting with Episode 1.      

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Your Comment


I'll be honest, I've never enjoyed using AVID(bare in mind I'm a cinematographer first not an editor). That said, Adobe has really been frustrating me lately. Lots of glitches with Panasonic GH4/5 footage, issues with auto save and frequent crashes, the recent update that horrifically erased many users OG camera files on their hard drives, and many more problems. I'm at a point where I'm considering making the leap to AVID or Resolve, which I'm also impressed with but also takes a lot of wrapping my head around to get comfortable with. I love Premiere and know it like the back of my hand, but have been so deeply frustrated with it over the last year.

All respect to AVID editors, who when I watch edit in it I am always impressed...that program just intimidates the hell out of me.

What are you all feeling?

June 29, 2017 at 10:37AM

John Haas

It really depends on the work you're doing. Avid is the standard in most professional post houses where the work never leaves the confines of the office.
Trying to do freelance work with Avid can be such a huge pain though. Especially if you're not the one doing the online work and your client is in another city.
I would say that if you're using an NLE just to ingest and review footage, I would use either DaVinci or Premiere. In my opinion those would work best for your situation.

*Side note* If you haven't updated your premiere this month, you should give it a shot. It might fix some of your issues.

June 29, 2017 at 11:33AM

Alex Alva

I've been religious about updating Premiere, with high hopes that it will fix my issues, but it seems as they fix one issue, something else pops up. And I've been editing in Premiere since 2006. So I'm mostly just bummed and holding on because I'm comfortable with the software. But I've constantly had so many problems with it. Great advice though. Thank you :)

June 29, 2017 at 9:19PM

John Haas

I totally feel your pain. Which is why I'm still at 11.0.2, which is stable as hell on my PC. :)

Adobe'll figure it out at some point. It's not a great business model but for the kind of work I do (shooting, editing, color, and delivery on a tight turnaround) their system works perfectly.

July 3, 2017 at 2:19PM


Couldn't agree more! I loved Premiere, I work so fast with it, but ever since 2015.3 it's been hell. Might look into what DaVinci had to offer.

June 29, 2017 at 12:32PM

Michael Willer

Look into FCPx. Apple screwed up with the 2011 launch but over the last 2-3 years its hands down become my favorite NLE especially with Red Footage

June 30, 2017 at 2:32PM

Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker

I made the move from Premiere to FCPx about a year ago, hated the magnetic timeline at first and then start to love it. It is a really capable and stable NLE which is very impressive on the resource optimization side (does not not need a powerhouse to run smoothly)

July 3, 2017 at 2:45AM

Thomas van der Straten

I don't see an argument compelling enough for me to make a switch. Especially since I have to invest time in learning a new tool whose function is more than met by my current tools such as FCPX and Premiere. Except of course "It's a gateway to Hollywood" stuff. But I think I'll download and try it out anyway. Never know what one might discover I guess.

Dear Adobe, please add audio lanes to premiere. I've been using it on FCPX and I love it.

June 29, 2017 at 11:58AM

Sahit Anand
Director and Co-Founder of DO. Creative Labs

Funny thing, that headline. There was a time when a developer dropped software it meant it was no longer being developed. Never mind, I'm going to go bust an edit. ;)

June 29, 2017 at 12:39PM, Edited June 29, 12:39PM

Craig Seeman
Editor / Camera Operator


I am considering switch from FCP X to MC First, and I have 3 questions about MC First:

1. Is it more demanding from hardware than FCP X? On my MBA 2011 (i5/4GB) I was able to edit 1080p without problems and render it quickly, how about MC First?

2. Does MC First have some color grading tools?

3. Is First version able to perform on footage, actions like:
- reversing clips
- slowing down or fastening clips
- smoothly desaturating clips

Thank you all, have a nice day!

June 30, 2017 at 2:48PM


So far I've tried Premiere and Lightworks for bigger edits and they've both worked very well - Premiere being a little heavier and less stable, Lightworks being a little less intuitive but very stable and fast. I just saw this post and decided to try Avid's Media Composer for the first time ever. I've recently switched to the Mac for work and I've been looking for a video editing software to commit to (Final Cut is also an option, but I haven't tried it yet). If anyone has any thoughts about these (and their performance on a MacBook Pro), I'd love to hear it!

June 30, 2017 at 9:15PM

Diego Lopes Silveira
Diretor / Writer

It does seem a little brave to leave off UHD delivery when Resolve free already does that... H.265 is also not an ideal omission. I do understand it's free, and they want to sell a non-free version, but for a newbie without experience of these tools choosing between that and Resolve may well go on a couple of headline features rather than a deep dive. (BTW for anyone tempted to try Resolve after I wrote that, get 12.5.6 not 14 beta 3 as it'll just bite holes in your computer and really isn't that stable.)

July 1, 2017 at 1:42AM