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Lesson 3 Advanced Picture Editing > Integrating Mixed Media

Integrating Mixed Media

There are many makes and models of cameras in the world, with as many different frame rates and frame sizes. More and more devices are gaining the ability to record HD video, including tablets and mobile phones. As their acquisition methods evolve, editors are presented with myriad sizes of video and they must be able to efficiently incorporate them into their sequences.

Media Composer’s Open Timeline is able to seamlessly integrate footage of various frame rates and of various frame sizes.

This section is about the techniques you need for mixing media in Avid Media Composer.

Frame Rates and Sizes Are Mixable

Video can be recorded in a variety of frame rates and sizes. A common example is NTSC compared to PAL video.

NTSC, mostly the standard in North America and some other parts of the world, has a frame rate of 29.97 frames per second (fps) and has a frame size of 720×486. PAL, the standard in Europe mostly, has a frame rate of 50fps and a frame size of 720×586, meaning it has fewer frames per second but more lines of image detail.

HD has a variety of frame widths: 1920, 1440, 1280, and 720, and even more frame rates.

Media Composer can mix any of them in the same timeline, at the same time, and it’ll take care of making it just work. There’s nothing you have to do. That is, nothing you have to do, normally. But there are things you can do to improve the image quality when you mix media, and you need to know how to convert a sequence to one format or the other, as you may be expected to produce a video in both a 16:9 and a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Mixing Frame Sizes

A sequence adopts the raster and frame size of the project. If a project’s raster, as set in the Project window, is 1440×1080, so are all the sequences in the project. When you change the raster or project format, the sequences are adjusted automatically to match.

It’s easiest to see this when you mix HD and SD video in the same sequence. If the project format is HD, then the SD clips in the sequence are scaled (up-converted) to HD in order to match the project format. The opposite is true too: If you place HD clips into a sequence while the Project window is set to SD, the HD clips in the sequence will be scaled down to fit the SD frame size.

The automatic scaling is very important because without it, you would need to adjust every clip individually, otherwise a portion of the clip would be cut off or a black border would be visible, as shown in Figure 3.20.

Figure 3.20 SD clips do not fill HD frames without being scaled.


When Media Composer reformats a clip to match the project settings, the original media is never adjusted. The conversion happens as though a hidden resize effect has been applied to the segment in the timeline: It only affects the segment in the timeline.

Aside from mixing NTSC and PAL, and HD and SD, you can also mix 3-perf and 4-perf film, and 8, 16, 35, and 70mm film.

There is a Reformat column in the bins that is used to control how Media Composer reformats video when the clip’s native dimensions do not match the current project settings. Use of that column is discussed later in this lesson, in a section called “Changing the Aspect Ratio” on page 148.

Mixing Frame Rates

When you add a clip to a sequence and the clip’s frame rate is not compatible with the project format, Media Composer applies a motion adapter to the clip. A motion adapter is a kind of private, internal timewarp effect that speeds up or slows down the clip so it matches the project rate and ultimately plays back as it would if the project rate and the clip rate were the same.

The automatic addition of motion adapters is very important because without it, non-conforming clips would play back at different speeds. A 60fps clip in a 30fps timeline would either play back at twice the speed, or it would play back at half the speed for twice as long.

Clips with motion adapters appear in the timeline with their original frame rate in brackets. When un-rendered, they also have a green dot/square, as shown in Figure 3.21.

Figure 3.21 Frame rates indicate clips with motion adapters applied; the green square indicates the motion effect is unrendered.


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