Post Production

Avid Gems #5

Avid Power User tips

Many of you know me from various listserves, and hopefully I have a reputation as someone who’s willing to help out people with problems.
 
Today’s Gem #1 is something I learned when I tried to help someone with a problem that I THOUGHT was going to be pretty easy to solve, but it turned out that I needed to learn some new tricks before I could be on any help at all.

GEM #1

For those of you Avid editors who’ve been using Avid for many years, you may not have had the need to use Automation Gain recently. Now there are two kinds of Auto Gain in Avid. One involved a tool that looked pretty much like the Audio Mixer and the other was Avid’s version of “rubberbanding” in the timeline.

Well, rubberbanding hasn’t changed since Avid started including it in the timeline, but the Auto Gain capability that basically works like “flying faders” on a high-end mixer is now QUITE different. If you used it years ago and find that you want to use it again now, you may be surprised to learn that you have no clue where your old Auto Gain functionality went.

Not wanting to lose any ground, I’ll tell you how to access the old Auto Gain feature in the latest versions of Avid software. I’m not quite sure when it changed, but I’m running MCSoft version 2.8.0 and the revised Auto Gain function is changed at least in that rev.

imageInstead of calling up a completely separate Auto Gain Mixer Tool, now you just call up the regular Audio Mixer from the Tools menu. To turn the mild-mannered Audio Mixer into the old Auto Gain Mixer, you just click on the button that probably says “clip” which is just to the right of the Group 1 button. (note the screengrab) If you hover over the correct button, your tool tip will read “Audio Mixer Mode.” Clicking on the button cycles it through three states: “clip,” “auto,” and “Live.” Clip mode is the normal mode allowing you to change the level and pan of a clip or group of clips. “Auto” is the Auto Gain mode. The Live Mix mode is analogous to an external mixer connected to the Avid editing system. Changing to another sequence has no effect on the Live Mix mode settings. While “Auto Gain” allows you to record level changes made to the sliders in a sequence “on the fly” as if you were mixing with a mixer with “flying faders. It records every move of each of the sliders as the track is playing back in real time and then – when you hit stop playback or it reaches the end of the sequence – allows you to see the level changes in the timeline in rubberband mode. (If you want, you can “filter” these changes to even them out by gradually removing the keyframes that were created by the Auto Gain.) Here’s what a timeline looks like that has been “Autogained.”

image

See what you learn when you try to help out a fellow editor!

GEM #2

Site settings. What are they good for?

imageIn your Settings list in the Project window, if you expand it out enough, you’ll see on the right hand side that there are three different kinds of settings: user, project and site settings. (see screengrab) User settings stay the same in every project for the same user (editor). Project settings stay the same in every project no matter who the user is. But site settings are magical settings that allow you to force almost any setting on all new users AND new projects. Why is that a good thing? Because site settings allow post houses or even “one man band” edit boutiques to always start off projects using certain settings and that can often help keep you from disaster.

For example: Let’s say that the default Media Creation setting is DV25, but you want most of your projects to be digitized at 2:1MXF. Or let’s say that the default Audio setting for Avid is generally to create all new projects at 44.1K sample rate, but you prefer to start projects at 48K. Well, sometimes you may be in a rush and forget to change these settings when you start digitizing for a new project and you find at the end of a long, stressful day that eight solid hours of digitized footage is now captured at the wrong resolution and sample rate. Ouch. That could have been prevented with the liberal use of Site settings.

To solve the example above, we need to create a Media Creation setting and an Audio Project setting with the preferred settings. These two settings are Project settings, so every time you create a new project you have to remember to change these usually. But if we save them in a new project (or even open a previous project that has the settings we usually like) we can save them in such a way that each new project will always open with those settings.

Step 1. Create the preferred setting, changing to 48K audio or 2:1 media or whatever you prefer.

imageOptional Step 2. You don’t have to, but it is wise to name your setting something descriptive. To do this, click in between the name of the setting (e.g. Audio Project) and the type of setting it is (e.g. Project) in the settings list and type a new name. In this example, I called my setting “48K 16 bit always convert” which describes the settings I chose. (see screengrab)

imageStep 3. Go to the Special menu and choose Site Settings. (see screengrab) This opens a very innocuous-looking completely blank window with Site Settings in the window title. Now you can drag and drop settings from the Settings list in the Project window directly into the Site Setting window. In this example I have added an Audio Project setting so that all new projects start at 48K.

imageI’ve added a Bin View, which is actually important for editors sharing projects, because if I create special custom headings with important information, the only way for another Avid editor to see those headings in his or her user settings is to either import them from me or to have everyone have access to them through site settings. The same is true for the Export setting. If I want all the editors on my system to have access to a specific Export setting, then I can do that through Site settings. I also gave all new users access to my color correction Keyboard settings and I forced all new projects to start at 2:1 captures going to the F drive. All of these settings can be changed or discarded by new users and in new projects, but it at least lets everyone start from the same spot. Setting up Site settings is something that helps manage Standard Operating Procedures for edit houses and systems because it’s kind of idiot-proof.

Conclusion
Well today’s gems were pretty lengthy, so we only had two, but hopefully you learned something – as I did with Gem #1 at least. If you like these tips, please subscribe to the RSS feed so you don’t miss any.


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Steve Hullfish has been producing and editing award-winning television since the mid-1980s. He has written six books, and edited four theatrical feature films (including two Number One New Movies in the US). He has lectured…

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