Tech Corner -Work Like it’s 2018

Adoption of the latest version of Avid Media Composer software has been at a snail’s pace. Many editors are perfectly happy with the version from 2018. It works very well for their needs. It is familiar, having been built and refined over many years. The interface was very customizable. Each component was in its own independent window which could be moved anywhere you had screen real estate. And it has a title tool that actually works.

 (AMC) 2019 introduced a ‘host panel,’ or full-screen panel in which every other window resides. And to most everyone’s surprise and chagrin, all the windows in the interface are tied together: resize the timeline, and you are resizing everything else. Ack! Since 2019, Media Composer has introduced a lot of very useful new features (more on that later), so upgrading to AMC 2022 is certainly worth it. So, here are ways around the 2019 design faux pas, to get your Media Composer to look and feel (mostly) like 2018.

After the 2018 release, Avid massively changed the look and feel of the interface, and a lot of ways the interface worked. Surprise! Avid Media Composer

First: In the pulldown menu Windows, select Workspaces, and choose ‘New Workspace.’ Call it, say, ‘Classic.’ This will be the workspace that will have the look and feel of 2018.

Second: In the Windows menu, select ‘Float All Panels.’ This releases all windows from being interconnected. Be sure to go to Window and ‘Save Current’ to remember the new Classic workspace. At this point you can arrange the Timeline and Composer windows as you like. And Save.

 

Next, we’ll set up the Project window to be mostly like 2018. Media Composer defaults to showing a panel with folders and bins, but this isn’t really the Project panel. That has to be opened. Under ‘Tools,’ choose ‘Project.’ Voila, you now have the Project panel opened. I put mine in the upper left corner of the screen. Close any other panels with folders and bins. (And remember to save!).

What is lacking from the project window to mimic 2018 are tabs for Effect Palette and Settings. First, in ‘Tools’ open ‘Effect Palette.’ That gives you a floating Palette by Option+mouse clicking on the left side of that panel; drag the Effect Palette to the left side of your Project panel, and release. That adds a Tab to your Project window. Next, under ‘File’ choose ‘Settings,’ which opens the Settings panel. Again, optionclick the left side and drag to the left side of the Project panel. The resulting panel looks like this. The left side tabs can be reordered if desired.

The last thing to change is on the right side, where Avid introduced the ‘Workspace Bar,’ which to me is a waste of important space. At the bottom of the Bar, there is a clickable icon, where you choose ‘Hide Workspace Bar.’ At this point you’ve basically restored the interface to look and feel like AMC 2018. What can’t be changed much is the choice of color schemes as 2021 only has four interface brightness settings and four highlight colors.

And 2019 introduced a look where everything is flat. And 2018 had the feel of 3D buttons, with more shading. And there is the big Host Panel, that takes up the entire screen. It can be minimized by dragging the lower right corner up and to the left. But once you restart Media Composer, it comes back like a bad cough. I’ve come to terms with its existence. Despite me asking, it isn’t going away. I’ve created a tutorial for the above modifications at youtube. com/watch?v=8ZLzdg08i7Q.

And now for some fun new features in Media Composer that I love, and which make the upgrade more than worth it.

 

Tool Palettes: AMC 2018 had a series of buttons in the center of the Composer window. In the middle was a button to open a small Tool Palette. It had about 8 buttons, and would close as soon as one was clicked.

What you can now do with 2022 is create several Tool Palettes, add tons of buttons and save the size and position of each Palette. This is a brilliant improvement. And you can add a Tool Palette into another window, such as the Timeline. In this Tool Palette, I’ve expanded the default
buttons to include four timeline views and four workspaces. Along with several other buttons I find helpful to display.

Note: The lowest button reads ‘CP.’ That is for ‘Close Project.’ You can no longer click on the red X in the Project window to change projects. You must specifically choose it from a pull-down menu. But that can be rectified by using the Command Palette’s ‘Menu to Button Reassignment’ mode.
Yes, Media Composer is getting more complex. But it is important to keep learning to take advantage of useful tools. Some of the best new features include turning on a grid in a bin which clips will ‘snap to.’ They can be on, off or triggered by holding clips until the grid appears. In addition, if your bin is very big, you can turn on the Bin Map (upper right corner) and move all around the bin easily.

 

 

The Timeline has a similar map, which can play in its own window, which allows you to navigate the timeline easily. And, a new timeline scroll type has been added, where you can keep the timeline’s blue bar in one place, and the timeline (Figure 7: Tool Palette button) scrolls underneath.

2021.12, the latest release, also includes up to 99 audio and 99 video tracks, support for the M1 Mac systems, improved and faster exports, a very customizable Audio Mixer, a status bar in each bin and … Farsi in Phrase Find (and who wasn’t waiting for that). Yes, the Titler+ tool continues to be a hot mess, but they are actively trying to sort it out.

 

Other tech odds and ends
Apple has made another dramatic release, as it continues to impress with its return to making serious computers. The Mac Studio: It is said to be as powerful as their previous tower release, the Mac Pro of 2019, with an Intel main processor. The Mac Studio is similar in dimensions to the Mac Mini, but taller. And it can be configured with two of Apple’s new line of M1 chips, the M1 Max and the M1 Ultra. The M1 Max chip in my MacBook Pro has performed very well. Exporting a timeline takes half the time of my Intel Mac  Mini system. Render times aren’t improved, which I suspect is AMC’s inability to use a computer’s GPU.

The Mac Studio can be configured with up to 128 GB of RAM, and an 8TB internal SSD hard drive. It has multiple ports on the front and back, including Thunderbolt 4, USB A, Ethernet, and HDMI. The good news is it starts at around $2000. The bad news is if you fully expand all options, it costs $8000. And what you buy is what you have: there is nothing internally upgradable. I can wait a while for this device. But I’m definitely getting one. And, in the last tech article, I mentioned you need to get Thunderbolt 4 cables when using the USB C type connection. The USB C connectors can carry data, at different speeds, and/or power, at different levels. The cables generally aren’t marked, so there is no indication of what cable is capable of what speed or power. Only Thunderbolt 4 cables carry the highest speed and power. Tech writer David Sparks has recommended OWC’s Thunderbolt 4/USB-C cable. It is $24, which is expensive, but it does carry everything.

Finally, although my new MacBook Pro is a champ in performance, it is adapter hell with all my drives and devices having everything but USB C connections

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