Avid Media Composer 4.0 rolls out, properly mixed frame rates possible?

Studio Daily By Scott Simmons

Avid Media Composer 4.0 Mix and Match Open Timeline

Avid has continued on their path of regular, usable, functional updates for their popular editor Avid Media Composer. Last week at IBC Avid surprised many when they rolled out version 4.0. Is this version (to use a tired cliche when talking about software upgrades) a revolutionary upgrade or just an evolutionary update? I think it depends on who you ask or what your needs are.

While 4.0 doesn’t include anything as (seemingly) revolutionary as Avid Media Access it does include one feature that had to be added … a feature that any modern NLE needs to compete in 2009: the completely and totally open timeline. That is allowing the mixing and matching of frame rates as well as resolutions.

The addition of this open timeline is a feature that in one sense could be seen as the dumbing down of the application to accommodate the masses. But that’s what any relevant NLE has to do in this world of Flip cameras and DSLRs that shoot video as well as the amateur filmmaker that’s attempting to work in a professional world.

Let’s be honest here … mixed frame rates are something that you really want to avoid in your production if at all possible. It’s not that you can’t mix frame rates and have a good looking product in the end but once you being mixing frame rates (as opposed to frame size, as in resolution) you are asking for trouble. A perfect example would be a job I recently had to fix where a major label band had, apparently, decided to shoot their own music video. An uncompressed QuickTime was sent over for color grading but when output much of the motion in the piece was bad. Jitter and stuttering throughout the whole video. Upon requesting a drive with the project file and media it was easy to see why. The project combined 23.98, 29.97, 59.94 and 24 fps media. To make matters worse the editor had cut the piece in a 24 fps timeline (that’s true 24 fps and not 23.98) even though the 24 fps media only composed a tiny fraction of the total media used in the edit. To make matters worse he had never viewed the edit on anything other than his Mac’s computer screen and the QuickTimes used for approval. Needless to say it was not a quick process to fix the problem shots. read more...

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