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Importing Media Avid Media Composer

This lesson focuses on importing media.  It also demystifies how Avid Media Composer manages media.


There are three main methods of accessing content within Avid Media Composer.

These methods are:

- Ingesting from a mechanical tape machine.

- Importing from a physical file.

- Or, you can link directly to a media volume or movie file.

This particular lesson focuses on importing a file.

So, with that being said, no matter which of these methods you choose, you will end up with at least one clip in a bin window.

In this example, these are clips that have already been imported.

Double clicking on a clip will load its contents into the source side of the composer window.

It’s important to note that a clip is simply a reference to the physical media.

When you import a clip into Avid, it will always reference media inside the following structured path.
Avid MediaFiles / MXF / 1

And, the Avid will create an Avid MediaFiles folder on each drive partition that it sees.

Now, the names of the raw media may not make sense to you, but this is how the Avid software operates in order to prevent any two files having the same name.

This .mxf file type it what allows the Avid to store important information or meta-data about the clip.

If you highlight a clip and press the delete key, you will notice that deleting a clip will not delete the associated media unless you tell the Avid to do so.

And if you’re curious, since a clip may contain both video and audio, it may reference multiple files that contain the video and audio elements.

It’s very important that you verify your project format before importing media into Avid.

To verify the project format, navigate to the project window and click on the format tab.

The project format will affect how the media is ingested upon import.

So, if the file you are importing is of high-definition, make sure you select the appropriate format before importing the file.

To import a file, highlight a bin window, and navigate to the file menu.

The choose import.

Within the import dialogue box, click on the options button.

The import settings window will appear which has choices that will affect the import process.

This first area deals with files that do not match the exact format of your project.

So, for example, if someone gives you a small legacy multimedia movie that’s only 320 x 240, you might tell the Avid to import the media based on its original size.

The next area deals with how the colors of your video files are mapped.

If you are producing for multimedia content, I recommend that you choose Computer RGB.  

However, if you’re project is going to be broadcast, you will want to select this option for broadcast video levels.

Okay, in this area, under normal circumstances leave the field ordering option as the default.

The next area deals with options for importing an alpha channel.

An Alpha channel is an area within a still image or video file that is transparent.

When using a program like Photoshop or After Effects, transparent areas of a file are usually indicated with a checkerboard pattern.

If you have an animated logo or graphic that needs to be superimposed over another video layer, make sure you choose the ‘Invert on Import’ option for the Alpha Channel.

If your file does not have a transparent background, choose ignore.

Now, if you are importing a still image, you can choose a duration that your clip will reference.

Press the okay button after you’ve made changes to the import settings.

Okay so now we’re back to choosing the files to import.

There’s one more pull down menu to be aware of.  

It’s this resolution pull-down menu.

This menu displays various codecs that will be used encode your media.

Please note, the choices that you see here will depend on your project’s format settings.

And without going into extreme detail about the various choices here, if you’re not sure which option to select, I recommend 1:1 MXF as a safe bet.

And finally, click here to specify which hard drive for where you want the media to go.

Then, after you’ve selected the files to import, press the open button.

The Avid will begin the import process.

After the import process is finished, you will see clip icons within the selected bin that now references the media that you’ve imported.

Okay, now you have the basics of imported media files into Avid Media Composer.

And don't GeniusDV, also offers classroom and flat rate onsite Avid Media Composer training.


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Managing Bins in Avid Media Composer was the previous entry in this blog.

Avid Media Composer Capture from Tape is the next entry in this blog.

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