Insider Tips: Color Coding is Key to Staying Organized in Media Composer

Every week, Insider asks one of our expert contributors to share a tip, tool, or technique that they use all the time and couldn’t live without. This week, Chris Tennant sorts out his AVID Media Composer project using color coding.

How to Color Code Media Composer for a Faster Workflow

Color coding your Media Composer timeline is a useful way to quickly understand a complicated edit. It also opens up organizational strategies, since you can select all color-coded clips at the same time.

To do it, first duplicate your sequence into a new empty bin. Select Bin->Set Bin Display… and enable “Show Reference Clips.” Press OK, and your bin will populate with all source material used in your sequence.

Next, select Bin->Sift Bin Contents… The Custom Sift window will appear, which lets you filter clips in the bin. You can filter your clips by metadata in any column based on your project organization. For example, you may filter clips with the .exr extension to find all VFX, clips on your SOUND EFFECTS drive to find all sound effects, or clips created on a specific date to narrow down a group of dailies.

Once you’ve filtered for a specific type of clip, you can color code them in your timeline by right-clicking in the Color column. Repeat this process for each type of media in your bin, and your timeline will update automatically. (If your timeline doesn’t update, select your timeline’s fast menu->Clip Color. Make sure “Source” is enabled.)

Here’s how I color code my media:

VFX: Tan

Titles: Grey

Dialogue: Pink

ADR: Dark pink

SFX/Ambience: Mint

Music: Brown

Selecting a color-coded group

To select all clips in a color group, right click on one of them and press Select->Clips with Same Source Color. You can drag the color-coded clips onto a new layer in your timeline, copy them to a new timeline, or delete them entirely. This is particularly useful when turning timelines over to different vendors in the finishing process.

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Chris Tennant

Christopher Tennant is an IATSE Assistant Editor who’s worked on features and TV for Sony, Netflix, Legendary Pictures, Blumhouse, and others. He lives in Los Angeles and writes a blog featuring post-production guides.