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Mixing Aspect Ratios with Avid Media Composer

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Avid Media Composer has some great tools when it comes to mixing and matching different media formats.

It can become tricky building a project that is compatible with both the older Standard Defination television sets and the newer widescreen HD sets.

The trick is to build two versions of your sequence.  Build one for your 4x3 audience, and one for your Widescreen audience.

For example, let's say I have three different media types which are:  

Standard Definition 4x3 media.  Standard Definition 16x9 anamorphic media, and High Definition footage.

Go ahead and import your media into Avid Media Composer (read more...)  

In this case I'm going to use Avid's Link to AMA files feature which is located under the file menu to import my clips.

If you're new to using Avid's AMA feature, the clips will turn yellow indicating that the Avid software is referencing the clips directly.

For my first example, I'm going to drag all these clips directly to a new Standard defination sequence.

You can verify your format settings by clicking on the format tab within the Project window.

If I drag through my sequence you can see the first two shots that are supposed to be widescreen are stretched into a 4x3 frame.  

Instead of applying the re-format filter to every single segment, I'm going to apply the reformat filter to an empty track above all the segments.

Hold down the option key and right click within the grey area of the timeline window.  

This will allow you to create a new track with a specific track number.  

I'm going to place an add-edit on my V10 track to separate my 4:3 media from my widescreen media.

Apply the re-format effect to the empty track area.

Move this monitor icon to the top most track so you can see the filter modification.

Now, for this SD clip, even though the aspect ratio is correct, it may look strange that the other segments have been letter boxed and this segment is full frame.  

I recommend applying a 16x9 mask to match the rest of the sequence.

Now, you may end up with a situation where you've clipped off part of the frame.  

To fix this, apply a resize effect to the individual segment.  

To make adjustments, make sure the V1 track is the only track that is turned on.

Then click on the effects editor button.

You can then adjust the horizontal or 'Y' position slider to choose the area of the frame you want to display.

Okay, now the media looks correct for a Standard Definition 4x3 television.

Next, let's reformat the same clips for a High Definition 16x9 screen.

Navigate to the format tab within the Media Composer project window.  

Change the project type to 1080i with a raster of 1920 x 1080.

Apply a resize filter to first clip in the timeline.  

Park over the segment and press the effects editor button.

Then stretch the X axis a value of 135.

The last clip needs to be re-sized and cropped in order to fit a 16x9 aspect ratio.

Apply the blowup filter to the last clip in the timeline.

Enter into effects mode and adjust the field parameter to a value of 5.

If you've chopped an important part of the image you can use the Y position parameter to adjust the video image.

For more tips like these or to enroll in a certified Media Composer training course.  Visit GeniusDV.com
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Google SketchUp and using Face-Me components was the previous entry in this blog.

Aspect Ratio Calculator for Video Formats is the next entry in this blog.

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