Starting a Project in Avid

Creating a Project

  • Launch Avid Media Composer.
  • Select "Shared" from the options listed.
  • Select "Create New Project", and enter the name of your film. You must also input your resolution and frame rate to proceed. If you aren't sure what format you shot in, you can check by opening a clip of your footage in QuickTime Player, hitting CMD+I for info, and checking the values listed there.
  • Select "OK". This will generate a new project folder in the Shared Avid Projects folder on the desktop of your computer. You must copy this folder onto your external hard drive at the end of each editing session. Renaming old versions (i.e. "ProjectName_01-23-16") is good practice, as having backups of previous versions of your project can be useful.

File Management

Your project should be saved in the Shared Avid Projects folder on the desktop. Within it, you will find your project folder, which has all of your bins, settings and project file.

The .avs file is your settings file. This is where everything you find in the settings tab is saved.

The .avb file is your bin file. Each new bin created in Avid has a corresponding .avb file.

The .avp is your project file. This is where your cuts and other edits are saved.

Keep in mind that none of these files, nor your project folder, contain any media. They simple reference ("point") to media on your hard drive. This makes project folders very small in file size which makes for quick transfers and easy backups of earlier edits.

Avid is very particular about where it stores media files. Avid will convert all imported media into MXF files (Avid's preferred format) and store those files in one place: your Avid MediaFiles folder on your external hard drive. Also included in those files are .pmr and .mdb filed. These are database files - they help Avid keep track of where all the MXFs are - and can be deleted without repercussions. Deleting these files is advisable if Avid is not recognizing your MXF media. Doing so will force Avid to re-index the drive, frequently discovering the media that you want it to find. 

If you consistently receive errors that you cannot seem to fix, try deleting the database files and letting Avid re-index your hard drive.

Setting Media Creation

  • Navigate to the Settings tab in the Project Window and open “Media Creation.” Click on the “Import” tab.
  • Select your desired resolution - this will be what your media is transcoded to for use in Avid. Higher quality DNxHD codecs have larger numbers (such as DNxHD 115). Then select your external hard drive from the drop-down menu.
  • Click “Apply to All” to make sure that all media created within your project is saved to your drive at this resolution.

For an idea of what the various Avid media formats equate to, reference this rough equivalency table:

Approximate ProRes equivalents:

(All codec bitrates are calculated at 1080p 23.98 fps)

DNxHD 36 - ProRes Proxy
DNxHD 80 - ProRes LT
DNxHD 115 - ProRes 422
DNxHD 175x - ProRes HQ
DNxHD 440x (444) - ProRes 4444 (although ProRes 444 is actually closer in bandwidth to DNxHD 220)

Backing Up Your Project

  • When you have finished editing for the day, save and quit Avid.
  • Open the “Shared Avid Projects” folder and find your project. Copy the entire folder to your hard drive (or isilon space).
  • You may want to create a”older versions” folder where you keep each day’s project folder as a backup before overwriting the folder with the most recent version of your project. These folders take up very little space and this will make your life much easier if something goes wrong with your project in the future.
  • At the beginning of your next editing session, copy this folder into the Shared Avid Projects folder and open this version in Avid. You are less likely to run into problems if you work from the Shared folder than an external drive.
  • Note: If you rename your project, Avid will no longer be able to find it. Be sure to keep the name of your project folder consistent.