From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 06:25AM
Has anyone undertaken work on an Avid when their up-til-then full time editing axe was FCP? How did you bring yourself up to speed in the shortest amount of time, how did it work out? How similar did you find the cross-over or comparison of the two programs? Which tutorials bought you up to speed quickest and to what level?

I'm ripping vids off youtube but am also curious regards first-hand experience from other FCP majors, although being aware there's no substitute for time spent with a piece of software.


Cheers,
Bluey
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 04:29PM
I guess I would largely fit into that category, but my transition to Avid was more gradual. And it took a job offer on the Avid to really force me to learn to operate it with sufficient speed. I remember spending a week trying to recall everything that I have previously picked up in parts over the years and putting them together before I took on that job. A friend passed me a Class on Demand DVD which was a series of Avid tutorials targeted at FCP editors. That was quite helpful, because the trainer would speak in FCP terms, which is what FCP editors will understand best. After that, I was reasonably fluent with basic editing functions within Avid from an FCP perspective. I still wasn't as fast as I was in FCP at that time, because I have been using FCP day in day out for quite a few years. After that, I started getting up to speed on the effects in Avid and also started wrapping my head around the media management that Avid does.


>How similar did you find the cross-over or comparison of the two programs?

Initially, there seems to be differences, then after a while, you notice that they are also in a way quite similar.

The Avid is more modal. Eg. Segment mode, trim mode, source/record mode, effects mode, overwrite mode, insert mode, etc.. In FCP, you're largely in overwrite segment mode with trim tools. You can also see how FCP perhaps got more Avid-like over the years with dynamic trimming and the trim monitor.

Avid uses a track based editing paradigm, but it is probably the most optimised track based system out there. Eg. Auto patching, also notice how the tracks automatically get selected when a clip is selected, track level monitoring, etc.. FCP in comparison is more object/clip based. Eg. Enable, disable a clip, blade a clip, select a clip to add a transition, etc...

In FCP, a large part of media management is handled by the FCP database and FCP uses media in the Quicktime container, which also stores certain media metadata. Avid also has media management, and works with media in the MXF container. FCP uses XMLs as an interchange format, Avid uses AAF as an interchange format.

Effects... Avid has a tracker, and the animatte tool. It also supports adjustment layers, or rather, they don't call it adjustment layers, but you can add an effect to filler. It's also marginally more versatile with color correction than in FCP (excluding Color). However Avid is quirky with effects at the same time. It is a great environment for editing, but maybe not so great for effects. It does not support clips with premultiplied alpha channels, and it needs BCC effects for many of the more useful effects such as blend modes. Also, there are some effects that apply to the entire image, not just the clip that has the effect. Eg. Using the resize effect on a lower third may resize the entire image not just the lower third. You'll need to resize the lower third from another parameter.

FCP has Motion, which is like a poor man's After Effects especially with Motion costing just $50 these days. Legacy FCS also comes bundled with Apple Color and Soundtrack Pro. FCP used to interchange pretty well with After Effects and you could find 3rd party scripts to translate the XML into something AE can understand, while Avid needed Automatic Duck (this was in the days when Automatic Duck costs $$).

What is unique to each software?

Avid has very well developed trim tools. You can do stuff like marquee lasso edit points to toggle trim sides, and you can very easily select multiple edit points. You also have commands such as heads/tails, extend edit that doesn't require mousing around, select A/B trim sides. Also, when you do a slip edit in Avid, you get a 4-up view, and you can selectively preview the side you want to watch by clicking on the preview window.

A lot of Avid commands are centered around putting something in the source monitor and putting that into the record timeline. Eg. if you want to copy and paste a clip, you hold option and press copy, which will make a copy in the source monitor. Then you insert edit that back into the timeline. FCP is more timeline driven in this sense. To copy and paste a clip, you can simply hold option and drag the clip(s) you want to copy to wherever you want that clip to go. You can also copy and paste transitions the same way.

In Avid, you have the toggle source/record timeline, which is a little like having 2 sequences open in FCP and copying shots from one sequence onto another, except that you can see images in both the source and record monitor.

Avid uses RAM a LOT more efficiently than FCP. Avid doesn't care about the idea of a "project" as much as it cares about bins. If a bin is not open, it doesn't take up RAM. With such built in behavior, you won't likely crash Avid unless you are working on a very large project with everything in one bin. FCP on the other hand, loads everything from within a project into memory. If you have multiple projects open, everything goes into RAM. Once it hits the 2.5/4 GB RAM limitation, FCP crashes.

Avid's bin/project structure also facilitates sharing of bins and bin locking. This lets multiple editors work on the same project file and prevents one editor from accidentally overwriting someone else's work. FCP is kind of DIY in this regard, and editors can overwrite each other's work, resulting in corrupt project files if you are editing in a collaborative environment and you are not careful.

FCP on the other hand, uses Quicktime. Quicktime is quite widely supported. Avid's MXF format scatters audio and video across multiple files and isn't as well supported across softwares. With Quicktime, we're used to doing stuff like transcoding rushes in Compressor on a separate machine or letting it transcode in the back while you still do work in FCP. In Avid, the world stops to watch an ingest. Kind of. Things are starting to change for Avid in this area, though.

FCP also has better search/database tools. You can do a search in timeline, in the bin, across multiple projects, etc... In Avid, you couldn't search across multiple bins until MC5.5, which was like 2011. Also, in FCP, because the media is stored in Quicktime, you can easily do a Finder level search for media. Avid is a lot iffier because it stores the files and the relationship between the files within Avid, so you cannot do a Finder level search for media in the same way you can when you work in the FCP paradigm.

That's what I can say about it in a nutshell.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 06:52PM
Strypes,

What a great overview.
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 08:06PM
Personally, I couldn't be happier going from FCP to Media Composer. Of course, I didn't see that much value in it until I started focussing on narrative. Certainly it has it's downsides, but overall I feel like it's more story focussed. It's so much smoother -- and more robust. FCP feels like it's part After Effects.

While the effects are sometime more awkward, the tracker, keying, and aggressive real time playback more than make for it.

Kevin P McAuliffe has no less than seventy-one video tutorials up on Creative Cow. You can subscribe to them on iTunes. There's also some very good tutorials on Lynda.com. Avid even posted a quick overview FCP > MC series. Once you get familiar with the rudiments, I suggest Steve Coen's book, Avid Agility.

A couple of tips:

1) Don't edit in AMA. Transcode it to DNxHD. AMA is just horrible for editing. However, transcoding is faster from AMA linked files than from importing.
2) Switch the default A and S keys from previous/next to rewind/fast forward. Previous and next throws you into trim mode. I swear this throws a lot of newbies off. I wish they'd change it.

Good luck!

- Justin Barham -
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 09:57PM
> I didn't see that much value in it until I started focussing on narrative.

And here is where Avid shines. Just the basic design of the 2-up (source and record monitor). Because they are rigidly always of the same size, you can very easily use it to match continuity and eyeline when you are digging through a stringout in the source monitor. Also, the focus on the on-the-fly trimming function, which still no other software does quite the same, makes Avid excellent for narrative editing where you want to polish up your cut points.


>While the effects are sometime more awkward, the tracker, keying, and aggressive real
>time playback more than make for it.

I won't say that it makes up for it. I was trying to do something simple like a very simple clone and reposition of a layer to hide an object in a shot. For some reason, there is no button to invert the mask (I guess I could step into the effects nest and drop an invert effect on the matte), but I also couldn't scale and reposition the top layer without repositioning the bottom image. I ended up swapping the layers around, making a hole in the top layer and repositioning the bottom layer. Totally non intuitive. And there is that limitation where sometimes you can't add an effect to 1 frame. It just doesn't work for some effects. There are a bunch of other quirks and Avid needs BCC effects if you do much effects work with it. Yes, Avid is the only NLE with a tracker and the roto effect (animatte), although animatte is no AE's pen tool and the tracker is no Mocha. That said, it is a great offline tool and these tools do provide flexibility if you want to do up effects without leaving the NLE, and sometimes not needing to round trip is the best thing in the world for some workflows.. Bad move by Avid to unbundle BCC IMO, especially since Avid is quite limited without BCC. And no one I know of personally uses Avid FX as their go-to mograph app.

Real time playback can still be much improved. It doesn't do non-stop playback, so if you hit a fader, playback stops. However it's cool that you can gang faders together. Adjusting audio levels is also where I kind of prefer FCP where you can keyframe in the viewer.

Waveforms is another limitation. In Premiere it's all instant because the waveforms are created on import. In Avid I find myself toggling the waveforms on a track by track basis so as not to cause the machine to beachball. If you work with AMA, it's even worse. A LOT worse. Avchd waveforms never show up from what I have read and simple ProRes QTs with PCM audio takes forever to generate waveforms. Don't even touch waveforms if you are working with AMA.

And yes, I agree that editing native AMA has caveats. Big ones. Always consolidate to Avid media. Consolidating is like using Log and Transfer where L&T re-wraps to QT.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 10:18PM
strypes Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
Effects in Avid are definitely less intuitive. But that tracker sure saves me a lot of round-tripping. It's no Mocha, but for "proof of concept" temp VFX it's very handy.

I hear Avid FX is actually very good.

> Adjusting audio levels
> is also where I kind of prefer FCP where you can
> keyframe in the viewer.

Doing a quick mix in the timeline easier in FCP. As is waveform draw speed.


> And yes, I agree that editing native AMA has
> caveats. Big ones. Always consolidate to Avid
> media. Consolidating is like using Log and
> Transfer where L&T re-wraps to QT.

Good point. I still find DNxHD to be smoother and more stable, but consolidating alone goes a long way.

- Justin Barham -
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 10:22PM
So yea, to me, Avid is a great offline tool, if not the offline tool, and very effective as a storytelling machine, and on these merits, I agree with Justin.

But for soup to nuts work where the client expects finishing and effects, I won't argue for it's merits. It can do some of it, but that's not its strength.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 26, 2013 11:04PM
True. It's an offline-focussed NLE. A finishing solution it isn't.

- Justin Barham -
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 02:45AM
Good overview, Gerard!

MC 6 especially caters to classic FCP users, much as Premiere Pro 6 does, but MC remains a bit less modal than PPro.

There are some Smart Tools you can toggle to lose the Insert/Overwrite modes and essentially emulate FCP timeline behavior. Look up Smart Tools. Even FCP's track "magic line" is observed, although as I recall it's just the opposite behavior-- move above for Overwrite, below for Insert. But it speeds up segment editing. And you'll hold down Command to "gear down" a segment drag as you would in FCP.

Avid trumped FCP early on with "live" filler. You can apply affects and titles to filler voids. There is no "Slug." And you can even trim it by invoking Add Edit with the Option key held.

Beyond that, tho, the Trim Tools are worth learning; they are more powerful.
Revision on Avid can be a real delight. I have as much fun revising on most any major NLE tool but Avid has been around the block and addresses the needs. You have Top and Tail trim, you have Snap-- not only to head but alternately to Tail, with Command-Option held down, and etc.

Timeline audio rubberbanding and keyframing is more sophisticated. You can select the two keyframes in the middle of a 4-keyframe ramp to raise and lower the gained section on the gain line. Little niceties like that leverage lots of deeper development history at Avid, by about five years. And the ability to EQ clip audio during loop play is a godsend-- usually when I try to make live adjustments to a scratch mix on FCP7 I need to re-render the audio every iteration!

That said, I still use FCP7 a lot! When I do have an Avid assignment, I always have to gear up at home for half a day to warm up my body memory!

While MC isn't a complete finishing tool per se a lot of folks finish on it. It now has very nice software scopes and color correction tools included, including some from the higher end Symphony, such as Curves. And with "color buckets" available, you can save 8 or 8 settings to apply instantly to clips they were stored for. You cna get some finishing done.

I fully concur about AMA -- great for quick, single-layer edits from a single card, but for now it remains unsatisfactory for longform and most experienced editors counsel transcoding- which is accessed as an option in the AMA dialog if you come in that route.

Justin B writes above -
[ Previous and next throws you into trim mode. I swear this throws a lot of newbies off. I wish they'd change it.]

It is a big deal to tap a left or right arrow key to remove the trim rollers when you're done traveling cut to cut? That's all I do. I agree, it should be an option.

"Avid Agility" by Steve Cohen is your major MC reference; it's concentrated orange juice with Lots Of Pulp. A real triumph to see his legendary Tips n' Techniques (created with Basil Pappas) PDF which circulated a decade ago, now updated and profusely illustrated.

- Loren

Today's Media Composer keytip:
Loop Play In to Out with Control-6 (Alt-6 in Windows)

The Media Composer 5.x KeyGuide™: your power placemat.
Now available at
www.neotrondesign.com
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 05:13AM
Strypes, Loren ..

possibly the most helpful, concise in-context replies to any question ever asked on the internet. you're feedback is invaluable, most helpful to say the least.

Many thanks for your time in replying,
Bluey
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 07:58AM
>But
> that tracker sure saves me a lot of
> round-tripping. It's no Mocha, but for "proof of
> concept" temp VFX it's very handy.
>
> I hear Avid FX is actually very good.

I went into it once and the UI seemed kind of convoluted, and I didn't see a need to pick it up as I prefer working on industry standard tools where I can pass on a project to someone else if I need to. Also, in AE, I know there are great plugins I can fall back on. I also see little point in round tripping to Boris FX if I can round trip to AE, just that there are times I just want to do an add mode and not want to have to round trip to any software to get that done. And BCC effects is one of the reasons I'm on a Symph instead of MC.

But that said, I haven't used Avid FX, so these are just my uninformed assumptions.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 09:41AM
I would make a plea to investigate AVID's workspaces function.
When I do the work of setting up timeline views, window arrangements, keyboard shortcuts and bin views and link them all by workspaces it's seamless to switch between, say, a story/picture based set up (big viewers, small timeline tracks, no waveforms) and an Audio set up (small viewers, big audio tracks, waveforms and rubberbanding keyframes).
I also colour code the backgrounds and track colours to suit the function so that it's easy to tell what mode I am in and what keyboard shortcut setup I have selected.

The slow drawing of waveforms in AVID also makes it necessary to be able to switch away quickly from a waveform timeline to a non waveform timeline if you've accidentally zoomed out to see the whole of a 90 minute, 24 track monster timeline.

Something I really miss in FCP is the ability to change all the UI to customized settings in one keystroke.

ak
Sleeplings, AWAKE!
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 11:23AM
>Something I really miss in FCP is the ability to change all the UI to customized settings in one keystroke.

You can do that in Avid. Bring up Command Palette (Cmd 3), check menu to button reassignment, then click on an assignable button in the Composer window or on the keyboard palette, then click on the menu function. That will set a shortcut or hot button for a customized menu setting.


>I would make a plea to investigate AVID's workspaces function.

Meh. I use the color correction workspace quite often on the last show. It's no DaVinci Resolve. The software environment and processing design is so different between a dedicated color correction machine and a creative editorial machine, same goes with finishing or audio mixing. Today, you have ridiculously powerful tools at such low prices, there simply isn't a reason to keep plugging away with the wrong set of tools and tell your clients "it's not great, but it can be done". Use the right tools, master them, and make magic happen.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 11:25AM
Yeah. That is what I use Workspaces for in AVID. I just wish they would bring it to FCPX.

ak
Sleeplings, AWAKE!
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 02:45PM
strypes Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> But that said, I haven't used Avid FX, so these
> are just my uninformed assumptions.

I haven't either. I've just heard of VFX editors using it because it's somewhat integrated with Avid. "There is no need to export shots from your timeline or import rendered files from a 3rd-party application: Avid FX works within your timeline and enables you to create rich content".

Otherwise, AE is hard to beat for the price. I find that Adobe Production Premium complements Media Composer really well.

- Justin Barham -
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 04:36PM
AE is very hard to beat for price and quality. It comes with Keylight, Mocha, CC effects, and it works in linear light full float with color profile management. Also, it has a very large user base with loads of 3rd party plugins.

>I find that Adobe Production Premium complements Media Composer really well.

I agree with that too. Render to DNxHD QTs and fast import or AMA/Consolidate.


**AMA doesn't take embedded alpha channels.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 27, 2013 05:22PM
strypes Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> AE is very hard to beat for price and quality. It
> comes with Keylight, Mocha, CC effects, and it
> works in linear light full float with color
> profile management. Also, it has a very large user
> base with loads of 3rd party plugins.
>

Production Premium is pretty much a no brainer these days (AE, PS, Encore, Audition, etc) whatever you prefer to edit with. I feel like it replaces FCS (FCP, Compressor, DVDSP, Motion, etc) in that respect.

- Justin Barham -
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 29, 2013 11:35AM
If you are mainly a cutter only, you can use what ever makes you comfortable. BUT...those of us that are FX / COMPOSITE-heavy, AVID is not the best option IMHO. I have learned to bounce from FCP7 to AE quickly over the years but if you are switching away from FCP, there is no better set-up than Dynamic Link from Premiere Pro to After Effects.

...and I am currently evaluating Smoke smiling smiley

When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 29, 2013 02:34PM
All great info people - just wanted to chime in with a thank you ...
Bought Avid but have found it easier to jump into Premiere as Joe said - the AE connection for those of us used to vfx ing in FCP Suite has been an easier transition for me personally.

I'll need to take this thread as an inspiration to dive in to MComposer a little deeper.

thanks again ...
Re: From FCP to AVID - your experience*
March 30, 2013 12:18PM
If you come from Fcp you can leave "a" and "s" as they are ... but switch "up" arrow to "Fast Forward" and "down" arrow to "Rewind" .

In "Settings" / Composer / FF/REW thick " Ignore Track Selectors" ... it will behave like Fcp under your fingers.
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