By Brady Betzel
During my four years as an assistant editor and my two as a full-time editor, almost all of my work has been on the Avid Media Composer or Symphony.
Over the years I have collected a few shortcuts that I love to use and wanted to share. I hope you find them helpful.
Replacing the default “A” + “S” Go to Next/Previous Edit with Fast Forward and Rewind
When you open the default keyboard settings in Avid Media Composer, “A” and “S” are used as Go to Next and Go to Previous edit. While this serves its purpose of going to the next edit in the timeline and going into Trim Mode, I prefer it to be used to just jump to the next edit (regardless of which track is selected) and not go into Trim Mode. To do this you need to go into the Command Palette (Tools > Command Palette or CTRL + 3 or CMND + 3). You should also have the keyboard layout open (under settings in the project window > Keyboard).
In the Command Palette under “Move” you will find Fast Forward and Rewind. Click button-to-button reassignment on the bottom and click and drag Rewind and Fast Forward over “A” and “S,” respectively. In addition if you want the playhead to stop only at the head, only at the tail, at markers, ignore which track you have selected when forwarding to edits, or a combination of any of those, you need to enable it under the Composer Settings > FF/Rew. I love to ignore track selectors because then you fast forward to the next edit point regardless of what track is enabled or selected.
Add Quad and Nine way splits to your keyboard
If you work in multi-cam a lot you should map the Quad and Nine way split shortcuts to your keyboard. You will find the splits in the Command Palette under the MCam settings. I like to use Shift + “N” and “M,” but obviously choose the best placement for you. This really helps when watching line cuts or entire days worth of footage and you want to quickly jump between single view and a split.
To use Shift when adding shortcuts you need to press Shift while dragging your shortcut to the Keyboard layout.
Add Select Right and Select Left Select Right and Select Left are very useful to me when wanting to move a lot of clips at once without using Trim Mode. I find Trim Mode the most useful tool inside of Media Composer (generally speaking), but when I need to move everything to the right or left of a certain point (using the overwrite tool) I use Shift + R for Select Right and Shift + L for Select Left. Truth be told, I use Select Right 95% of the time, but it doesn’t hurt to have the Select Left shortcut there as well. You can find Select Left/Right in the Command Palette under the Edit menu.
As a bonus if you are using Avid Media Composer 6.5.2 or above you can select right or left ignoring Filler (a huge benefit) by also holding Alt when selecting right or left.
Segment Mode Tool
One tool that is overlooked and is often used by Final Cut Pro editors migrating to Avid Media Composer is the Segment Mode (Red Arrow). It allows you to quickly select a clip in the timeline and move it freely. You can even snap the selection by holding CTRL while dragging a clip.
To do this assignment you can either go into the Command Palette and drag the Segment Mode arrow from the Edit menu or drag the red arrow from the menu left of the timeline onto your keyboard layout. I map it to “B” because that is also the shortcut to perform an override edit. Moreover the Segment Mode allows you to select a clip in the timeline, drag over another clip and replace it. If you use the Segment Mode (yellow arrow) it will splice the clip and push everything after it down. If you don’t have sync locks turned on it will push everything after the clip out of sync (you’ve been warned).
One of the newer shortcuts I discovered is the Extend Edit. In short, it allows you to set an in or out point on a track (or more) and then click Extend Edit and it will trim the clip to the in/out point or as far as it can. If you set the in point it will extend the clip towards the in point, if you set the out point it will extend the clip to the out point.
You can find the shortcut in the Command Palette under the Trim menu. I put the extend edit on Shift+C. I do this because if you click the extend edit by accident with many layers selected it can extend clips that you don’t want to be extended. In addition, Avid won’t tell you what you’ve done. It can be dangerous but also extremely valuable when you understand exactly how it works.
One group of shortcuts I didn’t put on the list is a set that is used by assistant editors constantly. It is the multi-grouping set of shortcuts: Set In/Out, Go to IN, Matchframe, Go to Out, Set Out, Subclip, Fast Forward, and my own Add Edit. I map these to my “Function” keys on the top of the keyboard (F1-F8 on Mac, and F2-F9 on Windows – F1 on Windows is the Help file (you will get really mad when you hit it by accident if you haven’t already). You will use these after you sync your footage and create multi-groups. If you are unfamiliar with grouping or grouping with auxiliary timecode and want to learn check out this link for an in-depth tutorial.
In addition, The Super Grouper is a gold mine jackpot for assistant editors who need to multi-group hundreds of hours of footage — it uses a program called QuickKeys (Mac only) to automate grouping (they work very hard to iron out the bugs in this program, but keep in mind it may have some bugs and to always backup your projects regularly — don’t always rely on the attic).
In the end don’t be afraid to take a few minutes and look up what each tool does in the Media Composer Command Palette, you may just find a tool that will save you tons of time!
Brady Betzel is an editor at Bunim Murray Productions, a reality television production company. He is one of the editors on Bad Girls Club. His typical tools at work are Avid Symphony, Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Photoshop CC. You can email Brady at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.