Organize your Avid Media Composer Project by Story Beats

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 shares how to optimize your Avid Media Composer project by story beats.

Organizing your Avid Media Composer project by story beats

By default, Avid sorts footage alphabetically in bins, which may not be the most effective way to organize your scene bins. Instead, you might want to consider organizing your bins by story beats to more easily understand the flow of a scene and how it all goes together.

First, switch your bin to Frame View Mode using the control at the top of the bin. You’ll see thumbnails for all your clips. You can zoom in or out on the thumbnails using the slider at the top of the bin, or by using Ctrl/Cmd+K or L.

If you’ve just brought in this footage, you’re probably looking at a bunch of slates in your thumbnails—not very helpful! Advance your clips’ thumbnails by selecting them all and holding the keyboard shortcut for Step Forward 8 Frames. (By default, this is the 2 key.)

Get organized

Drag these clips around into clusters that match your scene’s rough story beats. For example, my scene begins with an establishing shot before going into shot/reverse shot coverage of two actors. A third character appears towards the end of the scene, and the scene ends with a wide tableau shot of everybody.

If things get messy, press Ctrl/Cmd+T to snap everything back to a grid. (According to Avid, the T stands for “tidy up.”)

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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.

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