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4K Workflow with Avid Media Composer

Check out this short tutorial for ingesting 4K Media within Avid Media Composer. This tutorial is for the novice who is working with 4K media the first time. It purposely avoids the many advanced and customized workflows associated with 4K Media.

Media Management.png

Editing workflows that require a full 4K final exported movie will make your head spin.  There are all sorts of things to consider, which include:

  • Storage Requirements for 4K media (working with proxy media)
  • Computer Processing Power
  • Bandwidth requirements (high speed disk arrays / solid state storage)
  • Organizational Structure of Media
  • Software Project Settings

play_avid_tutorial.pngPlease note, in order to work within a 4K project you You must have Avid Media Composer 8.3 or higher

Also, the new Avid DNxHR codec is for ingest/import only.  For 4K export, I recommend using the Pro-Res Codec.

*If you are running Avid Media Composer on a PC, it get's a bit tricky sharing 4K media, because you cannot export back out using the Pro-Res codec. 

If you are are on a PC, and it's an absolute must that you maintain the 4K frame size, you can try exporting your movie using the JPEG codec. This will create 4K movie file that's compatible with most other editing systems.  The one major problem will be the amount of time it takes to export.

If have you 4K media that is wrapped within a file extension of .mp4 or .mov, it may be using a codec called H.264.  It uses a high compression algorithm to optimize video playback. 

However, the H.264 codec is not good for video editing.  Even with a high-end workstation with a hard disk array, you will encounter performance issues editing with 4K files that use the H.264 codec. 

Disk_Array.pngTo avoid this issue, use a codec that is optimized video editing, such as Avid’s DNxHR codec.  The trade-off is it will have a large file size compared to H.264.

Now, for final delivery you may still want to export back using H.264 and that’s because for playback purposes, it’s hard to notice a quality difference H.264 and a codec that’s optimized for video editing.

When you start a new project in Avid Media Composer, it’s critical that you pay attention to the project format settings.  Choose a format the fits the majority of the media that you are ingesting.  In doing so, this will improve playback performance, and/or the time it takes to import media.

Avid 4K Project Setting.pngSide Note (not in video tutorial)
In Avid Media Composer, There are close to 40 different variations of 4K frame sizes, and frame rates.  If you're looking for something that matches the standard consumer 4K television, use the Ultra HD format at 29.97 frames per second.  It's listed as 3840x2160p/29.97.

In Avid Media Composer, you have two methods of accessing media. You can either import media, or reference the media directly.

To reference media directly, navigate to the file menu and choose AMA link.  Then navigate to a camera card volume, or to an individual movie file. 

Media that is linked via AMA (Avid Media Access) is indicated with a link icon inside an Avid bin window.  From here you will have immediate access to the media, and you can begin editing.

AMA Link.pngIn this example, I’m playing back a clip that’s referencing a 4K QuickTime movie file using the (H.264) codec. You can see that within the Avid Media Composer editing interface the playback performance is poor. 

Fortunately, you can improve playback performance by turning on the proxy option with the format settings tab.

proxy menu.pngPlease note:  If you choose to link to files directly using the AMA functionality, you may still experience sluggish playback performance even when using the proxy feature.  

4K_strategies.pngIn general you should avid using the link to AMA functionality if you are working with larger shows that contain large amounts of media.

For larger shows it is better to import or transcode the media using Avid’s DNxHR codec.  In doing so, you will experience better playback performance while editing.

To import media, use the same steps as before by linking to your media using the AMA functionality.  In this example, I’ll link to three QuickTime movie clips.

Select a clip or clips that you would like to transcode and then navigate to the clip menu and choose consolidate / transcode.

Click on the transcode button, and select a target drive.

Click on the video resolution pull down menu.   You will see choices for the amount of compression. 

transcode.pngThese choices stand for:

  • Low Bitrate Offline Quality
  • Standard Quality
  • High Quality
  • High Quality 10-bit

In this example, I’m going to choose standard quality.

After the import process is finished, you will experience improved playback performance vs linking to media directly via (AMA).  Clips that are imported will have a standard clip icon, vs a link for AMA clips.

Okay, fantastic! Now you have the basics of using 4K media within Avid Media Composer.

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