Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Avid Film / Media Composer 11.2 Tips / Notes / Bugs

by David Augsberger 12-22-2004

System: Avid Meridien 11.2.5, Mac OS 9.2.2

Storage: Unity, 648 gigs

Three / four machines, Macintosh G4s with single 867 MHz processors
1 Gig of RAM, with 750 Megs assigned to Media Composer

Keywords: Avid 11.2.5, Unity, EDL Manager, Time code, Bugs, Screen refresh

Supplier: Runway Sales Contact: Rick Lee

Support Staff: David, Shawn, Lupe

While our experience has been mostly positive, here are some things to be aware of:

From the first, before you even launch the application, there’s something different: the project files -- at least if you’re set up for shared projects -- are not on your local computer, they’re on the Unity storage. This means that backups should be done to the local computer, not simply to a Unity workspace. It also means that if you open the Composer up and don’t see any projects in the startup dialog, then you’ll have to use the pull down menu, to first select “shared projects” (or whatever you name the workspace that contains the projects) from the volumes directory, and then find your project there.


** Warning: a bin can be opened on multiple machines at the same time.

While running Unity with a shared project, if an editor opens a bin already in use by another editor a cryptic message appears: "This bin has no lock file, changes will not be saved." The editor has the choice to not save their work or to create a new bin and save the changes there.

Another message repeatedly appears at the auto-save interval if the editor continues to work in the bin: “This bin “opened_bin_name” is currently opened on “other_editing_system” changes will not be saved.

If you’re using the bin to access dailies, or to copy a sequence to another bin, you simply ignore this message and choose “Don’t Save.” This won’t affect the other editor’s use of the bin.

Actually, there should be nothing confusing about this; you don't want to have two or more editors making changes to the exact same sequence at the same time. When you are the first to open a bin you will see a green icon of an open padlock at the bottom of the bin, you now have exclusive permission to alter the sequence or material in this bin. If you open a bin already in use, a red icon of a closed padlock appears at the bottom of the bin. (more under bugs)


A side panel of the Audio Tool now has the mono, stereo, direct out setting as well as the channel assignment. These were previously in the audio mix tool.

There is a setting for Media Creation, which is where you can assign a workspace to receive various kinds of renders.


If you like to work with larger icons and a more easily readable environment, i.e. with a screen resolution lower than the application's minimum (768 pixels in height) you can do so, but there is a penalty in the speed it takes to redraw the screen; this is a real nuisance with bins which contain large numbers of clips

(On two of our editing systems we were set at 832x624 75 Hz and 800x600 75 Hz, for the bin and editor monitors, respectively.)


Often the screen will not entirely refresh; you'll lose the scroll bar on the right of the window and/ or you'll lose the tab buttons at the top of the bin. If you have the window shade mode enabled you can simply click on the bin's title bar to close and then open it again; this will correct the problem. (The window shade can be enabled within the Mac software's Appearance setting under the Apple Menu. Apple Menu/Control Panels/Appearance/Options/ select “double click title bar”)

In Capture Mode (digitize) the screen will not refresh to clear a dialog box before beginning to batch digitize, this leaves a gray box, which might coverup your audio tool levels. You can move the dialogue box off its center position before you click to start digitizing.


Duration, as displayed in the center window above the source and record picture heads is on occasion way off; maybe even a negative number. Changing momentarily to another mode using the pull down menu, e.g. time code to footage might correct the problem. (Restarting the application does not, however.)

After an assembly the master time code, if displayed above the record picture head, often appears to be incorrect, possibly reading the beginning of the sequence. It can be corrected by moving off the frame and back again.

During import of music or sound effects from CD, the previous target workspace is used, even if a new one is selected. You can begin a single import and cancel using command-period, then resume the import; it will now use the correct target.

Sometimes a bin appears as if it is locked even after it has been closed on the first machine and after quitting the application. When an editor is the first to open a bin an .lck file is created, e.g. Sc 24.lck If these files remain after the editor has closed the bin (not normal), they must be thrown in the trash, to make things normal again.


You can no longer use file names for bins that start with empty spaces (which sort to the top), or use "/" or many other special characters. You can however write a date using periods, like 12.13.04

(Note from Harry: be extremely careful how you name files. Since the advent of MS-DOS, I have used the following rules in nameing: use ONLY letters, numbers, and ‘–‘ (dash) and ‘_’ (underscore). No spaces, no other symbols. Avoid ‘.’ (period) except preceeding and extent like ‘.pdf’ or ‘.doc’. This is the only safe system compatible with all platforms)


Master time code can be read in several different types, regardless of the sequences true time code. Your sequence might be drop frame, but you can look at your position as if it were ndf or in 24 fps TC. If the master time code is left in another position when you were trying to get a frame accurate timing, you might get a wrong reading. It's best to set the master time code to TC1, the true time code of the sequence.

Bins now have a new display mode "brief," in this mode you lose the pull down menu where you can select different bin views; this is because brief is not customizable. You can of course still select “text” mode to get at the pull down menu.

The EDL Manager allows you to change the source and record time code after an EDL is generated. Even though the options are set to produce an EDL using sound time code, with sound roll numbers, after generating the EDL you need to check that sound time code is selected; you may find it will be set at LTC, which is the time code of the telecine master. Also, the EDL Manager seems to remember the previous setting of these pull down menus; you might generate an EDL with all sorts of errors because the last setting was for a sound EDL, but now you're making an EDL which doesn't have sound time code. You then must change the pull down selecting your source time code as LTC and the numbers are recalculated.

The Capture Tool and the Digital Cut Tool have a host of new settings; it's best to leave them in their default position.

Digital Cut has a radio-button setting for “local” and “remote” ; if local is enabled the record channels disappear on the tool.

Digital Cut is way too sensitive about what the frame cadence is even for low resolution (non-broadcast) outputs; an error message can easily be overridden if you’re recording the entire sequence, but if you need to do a pickup segment, it is less forgiving. You’ll be adjusting the frames of the start and stop to get it to agree to perform the pickup.


The dialog box messages that appear when an editor opens a bin that is already being used by another editor are confusing, and they need not be. At first they seem like some sort of error has occurred. It would have been more easily understood if the message had been: This bin is in use, save your changes in another bin. Furthermore, it would be better if you were not allowed to start editing a sequence before this new bin was created. There should be nothing confusing about this

Fix the EDL Manager, so the the choice to alter a currently displayed EDL’s time code type (sound, address, drop, non-drop) is a less accessible option and make the EDL generation always default to the settings in the options panel.

Make any time code value displayed above the picture heads, or in the time code window, which isn’t a sequence’s original setting, appear in red characters.


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