The Avid Media Composer Export Guide (Part Two): Exporting Projects

In Part One we looked at how to export a sequence as a video from Avid Media Composer. In this part we’ll look at how to export project sequences as-is to third-party software for finishing.

There are three ways projects can be exported from Avid Media Composer:

  • OMFI (Open Media Framework Interchange)
  • AAF (Advanced Authoring Format)
  • AFE (Avid File Exchange)
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I won’t be covering OMFI, since that is not available for HD projects. AFE is useful to transfer projects to Avid DS (another system that is nearing the end of its life cycle) or other Avid applications. There aren’t any options, and you normally use AFE in its default mode.

Therefore, we are left with AAF, which is widely used and supported by many third-party software. This is your best bet for anything.

The Avid AAF Workflow

There are two ways you can export AAF:

  • Embed the media (one AAF file with media in it), or
  • Link to the media (AAF file will link to media on your drives, similar to how XML works).

There are many issues with using the embed method in AMA. I recommend using the link method instead.

In the Export Settings, select AAF in the Export As: drop down.:

Avid AAF Export Settings

Under the Export Method drop down, select Link to (Don’t Export) Media if you just want to link to your media.

If you want to transcode your footage for some reason, check the Transcode Video To box and choose a codec from the drop down. This is beneficial if you’re having problems getting the export process to work with AMA and codecs that need plug-ins to work. However, I don’t recommend transcoding because it defeats the purpose of AMA.

If you’re exporting just for grading or authoring, you might want to check Render Video Effects to ensure all effects are baked in. Since Media isn’t changed, the Media Destinations options will be greyed out.

If the third-party software specifically supports AAF Edit Protocol, you must check it. In Avid’s words:

The AAF Edit Protocol specification supports interchange of metadata that describes edit decisions, audio and visual effects, and embedded non-AAF files. This option only appears when Export As is set to AAF.

Check the Include All Video / Data Tracks in Sequence, if you’re exporting the sequence to a finishing application like After Effects, Resolve, etc. These applications don’t need separate audio tracks so you’ll most likely leave the Include All Audio Tracks in Sequence box unchecked.

However, if you’re exporting AAF to Pro Tools, then you’ll check both. In this case, you’ll choose Video Mixdown in the Export Method drop down.

If you only want to export selective tracks, you can check Use Enabled Tracks. If you have Marks that can be read by another software, choose Use Marks.

AAF is a format that supports most of Avid’s features and effects, within reason. However, other software applications don’t always play ball (why should they?). Typically, you should render all effects and titles, consolidate media and clean up your mess within Avid prior to exporting AAF. The best workflow is the simplest one.

Finally, we have three more choices:

  • Under Export Method, ‘Copy All Media’ – To copy all media to another folder or drive, usually an external drive.
  • Under Export Method, ‘Consolidate Media’ – To consolidate media (explained in Avid Media Composer: The Basics)

If you choose either, you’ll have the option to choose your Media Destination. Under this, there are three choices:

  • Media Drive – the drive the media resides in.
  • Folder – a different folder.
  • Embedded in AAF – our second AAF option, which I don’t recommend unless you know it well. There’s a reason why it is hidden this deep!

Avid to Pro Tools workflow

The other major Avid software that is an industry giant is Pro Tools. Avid makes it easy to move sequences with audio into Pro Tools for audio work.

You can save the sequence and media on a drive and then take to a facility with Pro Tools, or you can directly export a project to Pro Tools connected to the network within the same facility. Go to File > Send To > Pro Tools > Quicktime – Consolidate Audio:

Avid to Pro Tools Export Settings

Here’s a note from Avid:

Avid recommends that you use the default options in the Send To templates wherever possible.

This is especially true of Pro Tools. You can also use the Link method via AAF in the previous section, but this is faster. You create a Quicktime movie (I prefer Quicktime because most Pro Tools machines are Macs, and Quicktime is almost always there) and also consolidate your audio separately. Note the content in the Export Setting 1 and 2 Summary boxes.

Depending on your source media, you might want to make a few changes. Avid recommends you standardize the Audio Sample Rate prior to exporting, which is why it is kept at 48,000 Hz. However, there are cases where you have different source audio at higher rates or bit depths, and your sound engineer will not look upon you kindly if you lose that.

Finally, the Auto Launch drop down allows you to select an application that must launch when this export is over. In this case, it is Pro Tools.

Here’s a video from Avid that explains the Media Composer to Pro Tools workflow in greater detail:

Before we wrap up, there’s one more export option available in Avid Media Composer.

AMA File Export

I don’t know much about this, but in Avid’s words:

The Avid editing application supports the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) AS-11 specification. This specification is used in broadcast environments. The specification defines a set of rules that constrain the specification. AS-11 is an OP1A MXF file format for the delivery of finished programming. This specification requires program segment markers. Program segmentation defines specific regions of a show, for example a segment marker for the A-block, B-block and C-block.

If you find this thrilling, head over to page 436 of the manual, which explains it in greater detail.

That’s it for the Avid Media Composer export guide. We’ve only barely scratched the surface, but this should get you on your way to Avid mastery!

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.