If you are like me, when you hear a company say “hey, we mix and match formats and frame rates, all in real time and all at broadcast quality,” you ask, “how on God’s green Earth can you do that?”

I mean, how do you take a 1080i sequence full of 1080i XDCAM clips, then add a DV clip, and have it all play at broadcast quality.  WHAT broadcast quality?  Is the DV clip now XDCAM quality?  Or is it now playing DV quality out of the system?  And how does Media Composer handle the frame rate issue?  Not the way FCP does it with 2:2:2:4…oh please no.  And really?  Mix 25p and 1080i 29.97?  Really?  HOW!?

Well, I got to ask those questions.  And here are the answers.

Your sequence setting is what you tell it.  1080i, 720p, 525i…whathaveyou.  And whatever clip you add to that that ISN’T that format, gets scaled to that format…using a filter called a MOTION ADAPTER.  This add interpolation to match the sequence settings, and this is added automatically when you add new footage that doesn’t match.  And there are all sorts of interpolation modes…these are all user selectable.

AND you can change your sequence settings to match something else later.  Like, lets say that you started out with a 1080i sequence as most of your footage was HDV, then you add some DV and some betaSP footage.  But then you find out that you will master to SD only.  So why blow up the SD to HD?  Just change the sequence to SD, then your HD will scale down, which is better than scaling up SD.  Simple!

Another example of how useful this is.  Let’s say you had two cameras on a shoot, and the camera guys didn’t communicate well, so one shot 1080i and the other shot 1080p Advanced.  So you have 23.98 and 29.97.  I mean, who HASN’T been in that position? No problem, Avid Media Composer takes this in stride.  No transcoding, no converting.

And if you want the interpolation to be more robust, more…well…better.  Then you can “promote” the motion adapter to a full blown TIME WARP (that has been there for many years) and the footage will benefit more.

Now you might have the question in your head that I did in mine:  ”Is this hardware dependant?  I mean, do I need to have a Nitris DX or Mojo to get this to work.”

Nope.  Works in the software only version too.

BUT…the performance you get is all dependent on the usual factors:  What computer are you using? What graphics card? What drive array is the footage stored on? What are the sequence settings?  How many streams are you trying to work with?

And now, before you do the final output, do you need to transcode? Render?  Believe it or not, no.  Avid’s high quality scaling is so well done that rendering is not required to achieve full broadcast quality.  Well, this is dependent on your computer…the hardware is very involved in this process. The 8 core machines (Mac and PC) are pretty darn powerful, and they handle the heavy lifting.  Playing full res Mix and Match sequences require a decent processor, depending on the resolution of the media.  So what will be full res without rendering on an 8-core machine might require rendering if you are on a laptop.

The editor does need to have certain “switches “ turned on to see the highest quality output, such as:

-Full Quality 10bit output

-HQ RT Scaling Decoder

-Advanced Polyphase image interpolation.

Unbelievable.

For a quick first look at Avid Media Composer 4.0, and a look into how this Mix and Match works, Avid has put up two web videos for you to watch.  I posted the intro to Avid 4.0 at the top, but they can be found at www.avid.com/mc.

Advantage: Media Composer.