Anyone tried AVID Media Composer?

I have found a free version of AVID Media Composer to download and install. It’s a heavyweight NLE (the *.zip for windows install is nearly 4Gb) and as such is similar in features and scope to Da Vinci Resolve.

I got it because may be working with ProRes or DNxHD files in the future. Meanwhile I’m staring at it with about as much understanding as a sheepdog presented with a saxophone. Does any one have experience of using it?

I used to use Avid extensively in a previous life. As you surmised, it is a very powerful NLE, and is or at least was one of the big industry standards.
I’m surprised it’s available free now, it used to be a very expensive package, but perhaps they have moved to the freemium model that lightworks has.

In very basic terms, after creating a new project, you first need to import your media into a bin (or multiple bins, depending on how organised you are).
You then create and open a timeline for your edit to live on (you can have multiple timelines within one project, which differs significantly from some other systems that only have a single timeline or edit per project).
You can then open a piece of media from the bin on the left hand source monitor, and set in and / or out points.
The clip is then sent to the timeline with a couple of different modes. Typically I would set an in and out point in the source, and an in point on the timeline and use an insert edit, but you can work from in and out on the source, plus an out on the timeline, or have both in and out on the timeline, and either an in or out on the source.

You can slip and trim from the timeline, and that’s where you would achieve J or L cuts.

A few useful shortcuts from the top of my head: J/K/L controls playback in reverse, pause, and forward directions. I think there are shift or control modifiers that increase or decrease speed.
Arrow keys step by frame.
Page up and page down jump to the start and end of a clip.
Space starts and stops playback.
I sets an in point, either on the source or timeline, depending which monitor you have selected. O sets an out point in the same way.
V and B send your clip to the timeline. I think B was insert edit and V was an overwrite edit, although it’s a very long time since I used it, and I might have conflated them!
Transitions are inserted by selecting the cut on the timeline and pressing /

It must be 12 years since I used Avid, so I’m very out of date, but I doubt that they have changed the base operations massively.


I didn’t want to cast aspersions without checking for myself :laughing:

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Seems there is multiple versions with one being free to use so might not need to be a um… pirate to try it…

I can’t though say how good the Free one is though…

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I used to use Media Composer a lot, but this is going back 20 years - it was the industry standard then for TV and feature films (and it’s probably still the platform of choice for feature films). My personal opinion is that it’s great for editing narrative/stories due to it being approx 95% keyboard, 5% mouse, making it very fast once you have got to grips with it, especially when trimming and slipping dialogue. For short projects like promos, adverts, drone reels etc. it lacks extra bells and whistles to add finesse to projects - you have to pay extra for anything but the most basic features because it comes from a pro environment where different tasks are expected to be done by different depts. - sound is mixed in the dubbing suite down the hall, colour grading is done in the Symphony suite downstairs etc. Avid is not an all-in-one solution unlike Resolve, FCPX or Premiere.
Also, Avid systems are very hardware dependent and very fussy with how the system is built (what PCI slots you put the cards in etc.) you may have to fork out a fair bit of money to get a decent gfx card to run it efficiently. System Recommendations for Feature Performance
I don’t want to put you off because Avid is a tried and tested platform, it’s good and if you ever intend to work as a film editor it’s an essential skill to have.

If you are already competent with DaVinci Resolve you’ll pick Avid up in a few days, but if you find it a bit daunting you’ll likely find Avid has a steep learning curve.

No piracy involved. It’s Media Composer First which I downloaded from Avid’s own site - a 3 Gb file. It seems to be similar to Resolve in that there are a few items that don’t appear in the free version but those items are likely only of interest to professional users and not to an intrigued pensioner like myself.

Media Composer | First

Media Composer | First 2023.8.1 Win (ZIP) 3.52 GB
Media Composer | First 2023.8.2 Win (ZIP) 3.52 GB

I am familiar with the basics of Resolve which in itself was a heavyweight introduction to digital film editing, my previous experience being with celluloid, cement and a manual splicer.

I’ll be giving it a try over the next few weeks as I am semi-confined to barracks due to DVLA objecting to my medical condition. The money I’m saving through not running a car are outweighed by the cost of home heating during the day. I’m shooting some B roll on my daily walk with a Panasonic GH4 which will soon be paired with an Atomos recorder to give 10 bit 4:2:2 ProRes or DXnHD via HDMI direct from the sensor.

Thanks for your advice guys!