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Media Composer: January 2014 Archives

This lesson focuses on learning the basic Media Composer interface windows, and how each window functions.


Avid Media Composer consists of three main interface windows.

These are, the project window. the Composer window, and the timeline.


The project window is the heart of Media Composer.

At the top of the window, it has several tabs, which include a list of bins, settings, and video effects.

The project window is where you will organize your video and audio content by creating bins.

The Composer window is where you’ll view your content.  It has a source side, and a record side.

The source side is where you can view individual clips, and the record side is where you view your sequence.

A sequence represents your edited program, and a sequence is always displayed as clip segments within the Timeline window.

Now, all of these windows can be minimized or hidden.

So, for example, I can minimize the timeline window.

Side Note: If you are running Media Composer on a MAC, using the current release of Media Composer 7.03, I do not recommend minimizing the project window.  When you bring the window back, the Media Composer software get's confused. You may ecnounter a situation where you cannot access the functions within the window.  The solution is to close the project, and re-launch Avid Media Composer.

To bring back an interface window, navigate to the tools menu.

I recommend that you learn the keyboard shortcuts to bring back any hidden interface window.

So as you can see, command 0 will bring back the timeline window.

Now for an important note:  Even though the project window can be hidden, it must always remain open.

If you close the project window, it will close your project.

You will then have to re-open your project again to get the project window back.

Okay, so now you’ve got the official names of the three main interface windows.

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

When it comes to video editing, there are some important decisions to be made before ingesting media.  You may find that you will save time in pre-processing your media ahead of time.  This is especially true if your camera shoots in an AVCHD format, or similar equivalent.


Seasoned video editors will agree that this workflow applies to most video editing systems including; Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, or Final Cut Pro.  However, there are some exceptions to this theory, because transcoding your media ahead of time, does require extra time.

What is AVCHD?
AVCHD is a popular video container that contains highly compressed media.  The quality of AVCHD is surprisingly good when you consider the amount of compression used. 

AVCHD has become very popular amongst consumers / prosumers because of its high quality video image and small file size.  Only problem is, it's very difficult to edit with.

Since AVCHD is a highly compressed format, it requires extra processing power if you want to edit the media.  Therefore you may need to convert (transcode) your AVCHD media to a different format that provide full frame compression.  This will make the media much easier to edit with.  

Examples of some full frame media types include:

Unfortunately, there is quite a price jump in the cost of a camera that does not shoot in the AVCHD format.  Look to spend upwards of $4000.00 to $8000.00 for a video camera that does not shoot in the AVCHD (or similar) format. 

However, don't worry.  If you have the time, you can save yourself a lot of stress by converting your AVCHD media to a full frame compression type before you begin editing.

Should you always convert AVCHD media?
I’ll be blunt,  the only reason to keep your media within an AVCHD format container would be if you do not have the time to convert the media. As an example, a news organization where video editing is done in a time sensitive matter would qualify as a good example of not having time to transcode the media ahead of time.

Critics of my opinion will argue that converting AVCHD media to a full frame compression format will increase the file size.  However, with the low cost of large external hard drives, I don't feel that is a valid reason for keeping your media inside an AVCHD container.

What is an .mts file?
In some cases, the AVCHD container may contain .mts files.  These .mts files contain the high definition media.  Unfortunately, .mts are not easily playable without third party software.  If you need to directly play an .mts file, try VLC player. 


If you’ve tried working with an AVCHD container that has .mts files, you will immediately notice the following drawbacks.

Final Cut Pro X: Extremely slow processing times when importing .mts media.

Adobe Premiere: Provides immediate access to .mts files, but with a very annoying audio conforming process that decreases system performance until finished.

conforming process.png

Avid Media Composer: It is unable to directly import or link to .mts files.  You must transcode the media ahead of time.

Avid AMA Link Error.png

So with that being said, transcoding your media into a friendlier video format will provide the following advantages.

  • faster import times
  • improved playback performance (i.e, multicam playback)
  • more real-time effects
  • faster render times
  • faster export  times
  • cross editing platform compatibility
  • better for archival storage

There are many third party software products that convert AVCHD media and/or .mts files into a different format.  For this article, I successfully tested some conversion software called Brosoft.


In the above example, I successfully converted five .mts files from within an AVCHD container into a single Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime movie.  Converting 10 GB of media took approximately 1 hour to convert using a Mac Book Pro Retina.

Once the conversion process was finished, all three software editing packages (Adobe Premiere, Avid Media Composer, and Final Cut Pro X) had a much easier time dealing with the ProRes media.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Media Composer category from January 2014.

Media Composer: December 2013 is the previous archive.

Media Composer: February 2014 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.