Multicam Editing in Avid

Overview

With the advent of multi-cam in the 1950s, both production and post-production changed completely.  All principle shots (LS, MS, CU) could be captured in a single performance—in live or studio-recorded settings.  Hours of production time were eliminated because the scene didn’t have to be re-lit and re-set for each take, and directors were able to call shot switches on the fly.  Further, editors were able to edit a scene without the typical host of continuity issues that are common in single camera shoots.  Over the years, there have been numerous phases of popularity of multi-cam for television shows, but it has remained a staple for event videography and editing. Let’s take a look at how multi-cam is shot, and then we’ll take a look at how to set everything up in Avid Media Composer.

Setting up for Multicam Editing

Multicam Mode

  • Activate MultiCamera mode by choosing Composer > MultiCamera Mode or press Command+Shift+M (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+M (Windows).

Display

  • By default, the monitor will display four monitors, called a Quad Split. 

  • If you need to view more than four shots (Avid can display a maximum of nine at a time), you may change this via the Command Palette.  You may map the Nine-Split button (Tools > Command Palette > MCam tab) to your keyboard.

  • To switch to an additional bank of four or nine camera angles, map the Swap Cam Bank button (Tools > Command Palette > MCam tab) to your keyboard.  (You can swap banks on-the-fly while playing in Quad Split mode, but not in Nine-Split mode.)

 

Keyboard Customization

  • Make sure you have the appropriate MCam keys mapped to your keyboard.
    • By default, the MCam keys are mapped to F9-F12 and Shift F9-Shift F12. If you’re using a traditional keyboard, this will work fine, but if you’re on a laptop, you may want to remap these, as F-keys can behave differently on some laptops.
  • To remap your MCam keys, just open the Command Palette, and open your customizable Keyboard (Settings > Keyboard). Then, map M1, M2, M3… etc. from the MCam tab via Button-to-Button Reassignment to your keyboard.

 

Grouping Clips

  • Create a new bin for your grouped clips and label that bin, “Group Clips”
  • Load the first clip into the Source Monitor and mark an IN point at the exact moment where the clapsticks come together (or at a distinct moment in your audio or footage). The purpose of this is to have all the IN points of your clips to be at the exact same point in time. Continue to load each take into the Source Monitor and mark an IN at each point of sync.
  • Command-click all the clips in the bin that you’ve synced with IN points.
  • Choose Clip > Group Clips, or press Shift +Command+G (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+G (Windows).

“Sync Clips Using: Inpoints”

  • Click OK. A group clip is formed at the top of the active bin, with the name of the first clip in the group, followed by Grp.n.
  • Move this Group Clip into the Group Clips bin and label it appropriately.
  • Continue to group each set of takes.

Editing Multicam

  • Create a new bin called “Group Clip Sequences.”
  • Create a new sequence
  • Load your group clip into the Source Monitor. Mark an IN and an OUT to define the clip (or section of the clip that you want to edit).
  • Splice the group clip into the timeline.
  • Play the sequence. A green line will underline the active monitor (which means this shot will be edited into the timeline).

  • Press the MCam buttons to switch the camera angle that you wanted edited into the timeline, or click on the desired shot in the MultiCam monitor (formerly the Source Monitor).
    • A cut is made starting at the position indicator each time you press an MCam button or click in the MCam monitor
    • Cuts usually made “on the fly” while playing through the sequence
    • The Timeline will update when playback has stopped.
  • After you’ve edited the sequence, you should go through and fine-tune your sequence.  Usually, dual-roller trims are key (since you can change the transition point without breaking sync or interfering with the audio track). Dual Rolling is done by clicking at cut between two clips. Two purple rollers will appear.
  • *Slipping and sliding are also very useful during this stage.*

 

 

  • During the fine-tuning process, you can change any segment in the sequence to a different camera angle.  There are a couple of ways to do this:
    • Right-click on a segment and switch the camera angle by changing the check-marked clip.

    • Map Next in Group and Previous in Group (from the Command Palette > MCam tab) to your keyboard.  Park on a shot and use these buttons to shuttle through the various MultiCam shots.  (Make sure the Record Monitor is active during this process.)

 

  • Once you’ve gone through the sequence a couple of times—usually at least one pass to tweak your edit points using Dual-Roller Trim and Slip/Slide Trims, and at least one pass to adjust any of your shot choices—you can finalize your shot timing, and start to work on the finer details of your sequence.

Audio & Multicam

In Multicam, you need to decide how you want to cut your audio.  Sometimes, you want the audio of each clip to be edited with the video on every cut.  Other times, you want one camera’s audio to act as the audio for all camera angles.  Avid Media Composer lets you do either of these methods.

  • By default, when you cut between one camera angle and another, the audio does not switch.  (You can switch it later, but it doesn’t change on the fly.)
  • The Audio Follow Video option allows you to switch both the audio and video for each camera angle. This overrides the Timeline track selectors and switches audio in track A1 only.
  • Click on the Multi-cam icon above the Source Monitor to see the drop-down patch menu.
  • Select Audio Follow Video, which is the first selection in the list.  (You can also use this list to set up any combination of Audio/Video patches that you want.)