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In the late 1980s, the first computer-based nonlinear editing systems emerged, providing revolutionary alternatives to cutting physical film by hand or using linear tape-to-tape editing machines. Avid Technology led the nonlinear revolution with the release of Media Composer in 1989, an editing system that—along with Avid Film Composer— soon became Hollywood's favorite tool for cutting TV shows and films in the 1990s.

The cross-platform Xpress Pro system, intended for editing both DV and uncompressed video and graphics, is the next step up from Xpress DV and the first tier in Avid's new Digital Nonlinear Accelerator (DNA) family. Avid Media Composer Adrenaline is the second tier, for editing a broader range of standard-definition video, and Avid DS Nitris is the top tier, for editing HDTV and standard-definition formats.

All members of the Avid DNA family are compatible with one another and have similar interfaces, so, for example, if you own a postproduction facility, you can buy one copy of Avid Nitris for high-end finishing and multiple copies of Xpress Pro for offline-quality editing of the same project on laptops.

If you have ambitions of becoming a professional editor, owning Xpress Pro or Xpress DV is an entry into the scalable world of Avid products—from a company that in 2002 boasted that 90 percent of all prime-time TV, 85 percent of all feature films, and 80 percent of TV commercials were created using Avid products for postproduction.

Who Should Use This Book

If you have had any experience with some kind of video-editing application, you are ready to use this book to learn Avid Xpress Pro. If you come from the world of tape-to-tape video editing or film editing and have never used any nonlinear editing software, you may want to spend a few days with a very basic program like Pinnacle Studio (Windows) or iMovie (Mac); then, once you've grasped the essential concepts of nonlinear editing, you can move to a more professional-level product like Xpress Pro, with this book as your guide.

How to Use This Book

This book's chapters follow the general chronology of editing a video or film project, from capture and logging, through editing and effects, to final output of a finished program. However, even though you can traverse this book linearly from cover to cover, many readers will prefer to employ it as a reference—you use it when you need it.

For example, when you're working with effects and wonder “How do I apply a transition effect?” look for that topic in either the index or the table of contents; you'll be directed, in this case, to the steps labeled “To apply a transition effect to an edit point.”

Most of your task-oriented queries and needs should be answered by the step-by-step instructions that form the core of this book. You'll also encounter the following features:

  • “About . . .” sections introduce important concepts, definitions, interface elements, and background information that you need to know before diving into related task steps.

  • Tips either provide cool tricks and shortcuts or caution you about potential hang-ups related to the task at hand.

  • Sidebars include real-world strategies for using what you are learning, extended tricks of the trade, background information, or additional information about a complicated concept or topic.

A Word about Customized Buttons, Menus, and Keyboard Commands

The step-by-step tasks in this book teach you how to use Xpress Pro by referring to the application's default layout of keyboard mappings, buttons, and menu commands. However, Xpress Pro is an extremely customizable program, and you may be using a system in which you or somebody else has reassigned the default keyboard commands, moved buttons, and made other customizations to the interface.

If this is the case, the default keyboard shortcuts and placement of buttons described in the text and shown in the graphics may not always reflect your particular system. For this reason, this book always includes references to the buttons and keyboard commands on the Command palette, because the Command palette itself cannot be customized. If you are ever in doubt about where to find a button or what a keyboard command is, you can always find it on the Command palette.

In fact, many people like to keep the Command palette open as they learn the many often obscure and hidden features buried deep within the Avid interface. For example, to learn about every kind of manipulation you can perform with a 3D effect, open the Command palette and click the 3D tab.

(For more information on using the Command palette, see “Mapping Buttons to the Keyboard and Interface” in Chapter 3.)

Learning Xpress DV with This Book

Although this book is primarily about using Xpress Pro, you can also use it to learn Xpress DV since the two applications are so similar. Some illustrations in this book show some (usually minor) differences between Xpress DV and Xpress Pro windows. If you come across a task that teaches a function that you cannot immediately find in Xpress DV (for example, replace edits), there's a good chance that it is an Xpress Pro–only feature.

The following features are in Xpress Pro 4.0 and not in Xpress DV 3.5:

  • Mojo support: For more information about the Mojo box, see Appendix B, “Postproduction Extras.”

  • Replace edits: A replace edit is a special kind of edit that does not require In or Out points and allows you to easily replace one Timeline clip with another. (For more information, see “Performing Replace Edits” in Chapter 6.)

  • Extend Edit button: This button enables you to lengthen a shot, essentially performing a double-roller trim, without entering Trim mode. (For more information, see “Extending Edits” in Chapter 6.)

  • Mixing different resolutions in the same Timeline: For example, in Xpress Pro you can mix DV video footage with uncompressed titles in the same sequence.

  • 24p support: You can use Xpress Pro to edit 23.986 fps footage (the application supports the Panasonic AG-DVX100 24p camera).

  • 24 video and 24 audio Timeline tracks: Xpress DV allows only 8 video and audio tracks.

  • J-K-L trimming: Xpress Pro allows you to trim with the Play Reverse, Pause, and Play Forward keys. (For more information, see “Dynamic Trimming with the J-K-L Keys” in Chapter 7.)

  • Clip grouping and ganging: If you shot a live show with multiple cameras, you can use Xpress Pro to synchronize clips for easy editing between angles. (For more information, see “Grouping Clips and Multicamera Editing” in Chapter 6.)

  • 3D effects and 3D tools: 3D effects give you the ability to move and manipulate images on the Z axis, as well as on the standard X and y axis. ((For more information, see “Working with Xpress 3D Effects” in Chapter 9).

  • Timewarp effects: Xpress Pro provides some preset motion effects (including speed ramps) on the Effect palette. (For more information, see “Timewarp Motion Effect Presets” in Chapter 9.)

For the most up-to-date information on Xpress DV and how it differs from Xpress Pro, consult the Avid Web site (www.avid.com).

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