The Working Pro

Avid Media Composer 6.5 is the industry-standard NLE and provides 64-bit performance that can achieve real-time, uncompressed, multi-track HD video without external devices.

While other NLEs claim to ingest wide flavors of camera footage, MC 6.5 achieves a level I haven’t yet seen. For instance, I couldn’t get Sony Vegas to import an entire BPAV directory of XDCAM EX footage from a Sony camera’s chip without a workaround. In MC 6.5, you simply select "Link to AMA Volume," select the BPAV directory and instantly MC 6.5 links to all the clips in the volume and they appear in a selected bin. AMA links are always changing, but Avid continually works to keep the list of plug-ins from both Avid and third-party sources up to date.

Avid’s method of AMA linking allows a wide range of media types, including native R3D files, to be loaded quickly and edited in real time. A green dot (all by itself) on a clip means that the native frame rate of the clip doesn’t match the frame rate of the sequence, but the clip is being interpolated to play back at the proper frame rate in real time. Later, as the editing process reduces the amount of footage needed to complete an assignment, the links can be transcoded into the MXF AS-02 mastering format onboard hard drives.

One great new feature in MC 6.5 is that it allows linking over a wireless connection when connected to an Interplay Production Server through Avid’s new Interplay Sphere technology. An editor in the field can remotely pre-edit a show using local camera sources and archived footage from the studio. The final edit is then transmitted back to the head end, where staff can transcode the entire edit for air.

While editing in MC 6.5, it’s wise to begin a project by specifying the output parameters in terms of format, frame rate, color space and aspect ratio. Once done, Avid creates a special storage repository, or "attic," where all volumes, files and EDLs are kept as a comprehensive backup tool. While the retrieval process is still a bit cumbersome, an editor can rebuild any previous version of an edit after suffering a wide range of computer catastrophes.

Although traditional three-point editing is the standard, MC 6.5 allows for simple "drag-and-drop to the timeline" with various settings for overwrite and ripple-push. Once in the timeline, the ends of clips can be dragged to trim. Traditional picons are available, but only one picon/frame per clip is shown regardless of the length of the clip. However, a myriad of display options are available for each clip on the timeline.

Grouping and manipulation of clips en masse are supported, but now, in MC 6.5, the clips need not be contiguous—a great feature for cutting repetitive sequences requiring updated interior cuts.

MC 6.5 features multi-cam editing with up to nine separate sources in the trim window. Obviously, the visual resolution of the screen real estate begins to drop beyond four views, but users with large monitors can enjoy simulating a live tech-director’s cut of their footage using the number pad to identify each cut-to.