Avid Media Composer 4 review
The biggest news with Media Composer 4 is that it can mix media formats much more freely. It’s now possible to combine virtually any frame rate and resolution on the same timeline. However, this is something most self-respecting, non-linear editors – particularly Grass Valley’s Edius and Apple’s Final Cut Pro – have been doing for some time.
Media Composer now has the facility to mix frame rates, which Avid calls ‘Mix and Match’. This could lead to undesirable results, such as jerkiness, as different frame rates clash with the underlying rate used by the project. Nonetheless, it’s an important feature, particularly when you have to use footage that’s already been shot, regardless of whether uniform frame rates have been used.
Thanks to Avid taking its sweet time to deliver the feature, Media Composer 4 doesn’t have the same problems with mixing frame rates that some of its rivals do. Avid claims mixing can be done in real time and with much higher quality. Instead of simply dropping frames or applying a quality-reducing pull-down to conform the rate, each clip has an effect called Motion Adapter, which is applied automatically when you add it to the timeline. This uses frame blending to ensure motion is as smooth as possible at the target rate of the project.
You can configure how the interpolation is performed to suit the look you require. You can even promote the Motion Adapter and use the FluidMotion option to create smooth, slow motion or make interlaced footage look like 24fps film.
If you need to use a pre-edited sequence in a new project with a different frame rate, you can use the Modify option to create a duplicate of that sequence, conforming to the rate and format you are now using. The Motion Adapter filters for each clip in the sequence will then be adjusted accordingly, as will keyframes for any effects applied.
We found that Media Composer 4 performed its Mixing and Matching adeptly, blending 30, 25 and 24fps footage together smoothly and with high visual quality. Scrubbing is also very smooth indeed. This is fortunate, as version 4 doesn’t have many other major new features.
Besides mixing frame rates Media Composer 4 offers just minor tweaks. Still, if you do find yourself frequently having to combine footage shot at numerous frame rates in one project, it’s the smoothest and most versatile platform for doing that.