Every week seems to bring new challenges to an editor. There is never a dull moment on this job. With the virtually complete migration towards non-linear, a whole new set of problems beg for solutions. Over the next while I will be searching for tools that may not have a lot of glamour but are great solutions to everyday problems.
The first tool in the "Non-Glam Editing Series" is MediaMover, from Random Video. This is a third-party utility written by an editor, Tony Black, specifically for a need unique to Avid systems.
One of Avid's biggest strengths is in its Media Management. At the same time, it has a few pitfalls.
Avid's media management strengths lie in its ability to maintain one of the most robust databases of any non-linear editing system. Through the Media Tool you can effortlessly delete unused media and effects as well as consolidate media. What this means is basically duplicate or move media from one hard drive partition to another. The real power of consolidation is the ability to duplicate only a portion of a media file that is actually used in a sequence. With consolidation you can keep the two seconds you used from a 30 second clip and toss the rest away to free up disk space. Every media file on Avid has the project it belongs to embedded in the file so you can work with only your media and not accidentally delete or consolidate another project's media.
Another great strength of Avid's media management is that media remains linked or is easily unlinked and relinked from the clips in a project. It is merely dependent on the presence of the tape number and time code and a matching project flag to link media to clips. But these are not absolute. You can modify tape names and time codes after digitizing. These features open incredible possibilities. Avid's media management is itself a non-glam tool that is indispensable. You know just how important it is when you work on another system that irreversibly loses it's links even between audio and video belonging to the same clip.
There is some weakness to the Avid system of media file management, though. Every file from every project at every resolution resides in the same folder named OMFMediafiles. And to add to the confusion, the media file names are in hexadecimal code making it almost impossible to discern what they are at the Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) level. All you can really tell is the tape name and whether it is audio or video. If you are really astute, you can also figure out which video and audio files make up a clip. The other weakness is that the Avid has traditionally been very indiscriminate as to what partition it will digitize or render to. Currently, there are choices, but they are often overridden, requiring manual resetting. Avid always favours the emptiest drive. I saw promise of changes in this area when I was at IBC in September. I am waiting for the arrival of Xpress 4.0 any day now and I am hopeful that this Media 100-like feature made it into the final release.
Here is the biggest dilemma MediaMover will solve even with the changes implements by Avid. Since Avid stores media files for multiple projects in the same folder (OMFMediafiles), I have traditionally managed multiple projects by making another folder on each partition named for the current project. When I am done for the day, I drag the OMFMediafiles folder into the project named folder to hide the media from the Avid. A new Avid project will automatically create new OMFMediafiles folders. The reasons for doing this are many. First, by keeping project media separated, it make it very easy to back-up the only that project's media files to AIT or DLT. If you never do back-ups, there is still a good reason to keep media separated. All media on all drives residing in OMFMediafile folders are seen by the Avid and kept in an active database. This consumes resources. You may be working on a 30 sec spot while and find the Avid running slow because there is also an hour long show on line with a lot of video layers and effects consuming memory.
The manual method works well until you either forget to put away your media or you need media from another project. Now things get messy.
The solution is MediaMover. This is the one tool every Avid system requires, whether you are off lining or on lining with your Avid. MediaMover can see the project name embedded in each media file and can separate the media from different projects into different folders. This is also useful when it comes time to rez up to online quality from an offline, particularly on the Xpress models which lack the decompose feature of Composer and Symphony. If you want to keep the offline resolution as a reference, simply move all the media offline with MediaMover and now your sequence is all offline. Batch digitize what you need and then move back your old offline media as a reference.
MediaMover's interface is very simple. In the left side are the hard drive partitions and you merely add all or the ones you want to move media on. MediaMover searches the OMFMediafile folders on these partitions and lists the projects found. Then you highlight which projects you want moved offline and in seconds, your hard drives are organized. To move media back, simply select ìMove Media Backî and select the projects your want to bring back on line.
A nice feature found in MediaMover Meridien that was not available on earlier versions for older Avids is the ability to move only locked media. Locked media is defined in your bins as clips that cannot be deleted from that bin. This Avid feature in tandem with MediaMover can make it easy to save only specific clips (such as non-time coded clips) for archiving or for moving only low rez images off line in preparation for batch digitizing in online.
Occasionally there will be media files that MediaMover does not move because there is no project assignment on the files. This can happen with imported edls that have not been properly linked to the project in advance of digitizing. Other than this, MediaMover only has trouble with media files that are consolidated into one project from another. Remember, the project name is imbedded when the clip is first created. Avid is flagging the project change in it's database, not in the clip, so MediaMover sees it as belonging to it's old project. This can be overcome with a little manual innovation at the Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) level.
The only fault I can find with this product is that Avid does buy this software and include it in their goodies folder as Discreet did for a similar third party product that locates all the elements in Edit* projects.
Overall I give this a rating of 10 out of 10. If you edit on Avid, once you have tried MediaMover, you will not be able to live without it.
You can try MediaMover at no cost for 30 days by downloading it from http://www.randomvideo.com . After thirty days, you will need a licence for the product to run.
-- Dennis Kutchera
Dennis Kutchera's online work in support of editors worldwide began in the early 1990's and in early 1997, he founded all of The WWUG's (wwug.com) Avid and Discreet editors resources. Today, Dennis is an active and honoured part of the leadership of CreativeCow.net, a user's resource targeted at support services for media professionals. Dennis is an award winning editor whose work for the noted PBS series "Shining Time Station" still airs around much of the world. He has a long career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and today runs Dennis Kutchera Post Production in Halifax, Nova Scotia.