Avid is Self-Aware – Fast Import

MKDC: michaelkammes.com

Avid is self-aware.

And while not in the Skynet sort of way, Avid is aware of it’s own. Commonly this is found in a shared user environment (Unity, ISIS). However, it can also be found in terms of raw media.

A little known feature within Avid is the concept of a Fast Import. This complicated term does exactly what is says – it imports media into your Avid faster than a traditional import. However, lately I’ve been frequently asked, “well, why not use AMA? No importing is needed!” Let’s address this before we jump into Fast Importing.

AMA in Media Composer 5 (or as I called it: AMA v 2.0) and above introduced a new feature to the previous incarnation of AMA: The ability to use QuickTime files in your Avid project WITHOUT having to transcode during import. While this is fantastic for instant gratification, it can cause problems during creative edit. Newer, highly compressed codecs (See: RED, 5D / 7D, etc) commonly cannot play in real time inside Avid. This can also lead to problems later – exporting and Digital Cuts are somewhat limited by AMA files.

Best practice is to convert all media into an Avid codec – for HD, it’s a flavor of DNxHD – during import. Avid is then dealing with their own codec. Aside from the excellent quality of their codecs, they also do not break down during post due to renders. So, for several reasons, working in an Avid codec – natively – is an excellent choice.

Back to smelling one’s own.

The straight import process into Avid can be a long one. Not only does the conversion of the file into an Avid codec take a while, it also effectively kills your use of the Avid. The Avid is unusable as the progress bar creeps across the screen. But, if we create a file that is ALREADY in the Avid DNxHD codec, Avid will recognize it as such and skip the transcode process.

Avid will still need to wrap the file into the proper MXF shell to be used effectively – however, this is usually 70% – 80% faster than a traditional straight import. read more...

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