Using Markers with Avid Media Composer and Screenlight

This article will teach you how to use Markers in an Avid Media Composer workflow. You’ll learn what markers are, some reasons to use them, workflows to use them in then finally how to use them with Screenlight.

What are Markers?

Markers are a convenient way to leave comments on a timeline in Media Composer. They’re a colored dot attached to a track and a timecode. Write a note, message, reminder or task to do on a Marker. It’s such a simple thing but with everything that goes on in post production having these little reminders easily accessible can make the difference in hitting your deadlines. 

To add a Marker, hit Add Marker. A Marker will be added to the topmost selected track at the Time Position Indictor. A box will pop up where you can type your note and select it’s color.

Add Marker can be found in the Command Palette by using Cmd+3 (Mac) or Ctrl+3 (PC). Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use the Command Palette to add Add Marker or other actions to your keyboard or interface if you need it.

Why use Markers?

Here are a few reasons to use Markers:

Track things to do on the timeline

While editing you might come across something you should or need to do but aren’t at a good time to do it. Instead of writing it on a sticky note, add a Marker and jot down what needs to be done later.

Track client, producer and director requests

When you receive a laundry list of requests from your client, producer or director add them as Markers. Put them in one color then as you complete them change them to another color. You’ll be able to go back and see what you did weeks, months or years ago.

Note anything important or different about a project

Jot down reminders about anything that is out of the normal for a project. For example if there’s something different about the final output than 99% of the projects you edit, add a Marker somewhere on the timeline so you remember the next time you open it up. I like to use red Markers for this and only use red for this reason. 

Markers allow another editor (or producer or director) to see the status of a project

If you add Markers for things to do and/or requests from the client then another editor, a producer or director can see the status of a project without you there. They just need the Media Composer project. If they want to take a peek to see how many changes have been done they can open up the project even without the media to glance at the timeline to see where you are at with it by looking through the Markers.

The best assistant editor I have had would jump into my projects after I had added all my Markers then start gathering assets for me. For example she would go edit the lower third that needed to be changed, create a new file to import into Media Composer and send it over to me before I was even ready to start looking at it.

Markers serve as your memory

Coming back to a project months or years later and having a timeline filled with dots is a welcoming sight for me. I can see exactly what revisions I made when and why. This has saved me time and time again.

Workflow with Markers

Markers can be placed on any track. I find it best to put all markers on the topmost track. Make a new video track by using Cmd+Opt+Y (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+Y (PC). Select a high track number like V20. Rename the track to your name and the date by right-clicking the track name and clicking Rename.

If you’re on your initial cut before anyone has seen it, this track will serve as a place for you to remind yourself about things. “Go back and remove the um’s from this interview.” “Add in his lower third.” “Check to see if this music will work.”

If you’re onto the revisions phase, mark the client, producer or director’s requests here.

Use different colors of Markers too. Use one color for outstanding things to do and one color for things that have been completed. I like using cyan for incomplete and blue for complete. Once something is completed write DONE, your initials and the date.

Example: DONE JMS 020516 – Move sentence about giant killer bees here

Use the Markers Tool under Menu Bar > Tools > Markers to see all your Markers listed in one place. From here you can right-click on a marker and change it’s color or track. If you double-click it the Time Position Indicator will jump to that Marker. 

The Marker also appears in the Record Monitor. There will be a small Marker icon with the note in the Marker displayed on the screen. Click on the Marker icon in the monitor to open up the Marker. From here you can edit the text or color as well. This is where you’ll write DONE, your initials and the date then change the color if you’re following the revisions workflow laid out above.

Markers and Screenlight

I’ve been using Screenlight for over five years to get comments from my clients, producers and directors. Once the reviewer would leave me their comments I’d fire up Media Composer on one screen and have Screenlight up on the other. I’d find the first marker at let’s say 00:07:20:10 in Screenlight then go over to Media Composer and find that time there. I’d add a new Marker and type in or copy over the text from the reviewer. This has worked just fine the past five years. Well Screenlight recently went ahead and made this wayyyy simpler.

You can now import comments directly from Screenlight to Media Composer as Markers!

Let me repeat.

Comments in Screenlight → Easy import to Media Composer as Markers.

Here’s how to do it:

Go to your video on Screenlight. Find the “Edit this project” icon and click it. If you’ve never been here before you can change the name of the video and set a custom thumbnail. Now you can also set the starting timecode of the video.

Find “Video start timecode”. If your video starts at 01:00:00:00 in Media Composer, write that number here. If it starts at 02:44:20;15 you can write that too. Click Save.

Back on your video’s page find the Print icon. Click it and select Avid Media Composer. Select the track you want to export to (remember you can change this in the Markers Tool in Media Composer) and click Export. This will download a .txt file.

Go to the Markers Tool in Media Composer. Right-click inside it and choose Import Markers. Find the .txt file that was downloaded and click Open.

The comments from Screenlight are now Markers in Media Composer! If you want to change the track or color of the Markers first highlight them. Then right-click one of them and choose Change Color or Change Track.

Screenlight also wrote up some instructions here too.

Summing Up

Markers can play a vital role in the post production process if you let them. They are simple to use and can track what you need to do, track what the client asks you to do, note anything important or different with the project, allow another editor to work on a project without you and serve as your memory for weeks or years to come.

Find a workflow of using Markers that works for you. That could be putting them on track V20 and using specific colors to mean certain things like me or could be something completely different that works for you.

You can now use Screenlight to import all those comments and requests straight into Media Composer so you can get finish projects faster and get paid quicker.