Adding Color Bars to Avid Media Composer Timelines

When you finish your editing project, you may be asked to add color bars to the head of your timeline. Avid makes this very easy for you, but there are some steps that you should take before simply slapping them on.

Step 1: Timing

You will need to find out how long you should have the color bars on the screen. In this case, we will assume that they want 30 seconds of bars and tone, followed by 30 seconds of black, then the sequence. Whenever you have a sequence, you should always have it start at a timecode of one hour. In media composer, this is the default starting timecode for any new sequence. In Xpress, the default is 30 seconds. Either way, you will want to change the timecode so that the sequence starts at timecode 1 hour, even after the bars and filler.

Step 2: Timecode

With 30 seconds of bars, and 30 seconds of filler, you will need to start your timecode one minute before 1 hour. To change the timeline, start timecode; right click on the background of the timeline window. Select the option for "Timeline Settings" and hit the "Edit" tab. Where it says "Start Timecode", type in "00590000". Avid will automatically add the colons or semicolons to indicate that this is zero hours, 59 minutes, zero seconds and zero frames. Now you are set up to add one extra minute of footage to the head of your sequence.

Step 3: Load Bars

Avid comes with color bars; you just have to find them. Click on the bin that you would like to import color bars to, then go to File and select "Import". When you get the map of your computer, you will need to go to "Program Files" in windows or "Applications" in mac. Enter the "Avid" folder, then the folder for your version of Avid, for example "Avid Xpress". There should be a folder called "Supporting Files", then another folder called "Test Patterns". Here, you will see all kinds of .mov files and the one that you want is called "SMPTE bars". Double click it, and it will be imported into your bin. Mark out 30 seconds of this in the source window, then splice it into all tracks at the head of your timeline.

Step 4: Load Filler

Filler is much easier to come by than color bars. Since it is essentially blank space, Avid does not actually need to import video. However, the process of adding it to the timeline will be the same as adding any video clip. Go up to "Clip" and select "Load Filler". In your source window, you will now have a black video clip. Mark out 30 seconds, then splice it in to all tracks right after your color bars. When this is done, you will not see a clip, but blank space in your timeline for those 30 seconds. Now your sequence should again start at timecode 1 hour.

Knowing how to add color bars to the head of your timeline is important. These standards are important constants in the post production process.

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