Avid Capture Tool Tutorial

September 15, 2010

Digitizing in Avid. If you’re a producer, editor, post-supervisor, production assistant or wannabe, here’s how to get tapes into a computer using Avid.

Once you have the application launched…

Go to “Tools” -> “Capture”. Make sure your deck or camera is hooked up properly, the tape is cued to the point you want it at, all deck & Avid settings are how you fancy, and hit the big fat red button with a white circle!

Capture Tool


“…make sure your deck or camera is hooked up properly…”

Connect a 9-pin or firewire cable from the deck/camera to the computer, set the settings on the deck the way you fancy, and make sure Avid is getting audio, video & timecode (if you want all 3).

Here are some cables you might find useful:



“…make sure Avid is getting audio, video & timecode (if you want all 3)…”

Video - Audio - Timecode Tracks

If you want the tape’s timecode, make sure you have deck control and the timecode track enabled in the capture tool. If you don’t want the tape’s timecode, disable the timecode track or click the deck icon (toggle source icon) at the top of the tool so that it’s disabled (the picture above is disabled and will ignore the timecode on the source tape).

To get deck control, click the settings tab on the project window, double click deck preferences, and add a channel. If the deck is connected firewire then select “firewire” & “ohci”. If the deck is connected 9-pin then select “direct” & “keyserial1”. Click auto-configure and the channel should acknowledge the deck. If it doesn’t, make sure the deck is on, check the cables, try different channel options such as “direct” & “usa19h3d1p1.1” or any other options until it finds the camera or deck. Click Apply!

Deck Configuration

If you want audio, select the audio input type in the capture tool, turn on the audio tracks you want to capture, and verify that you’re getting audio into the Avid (check levels in the audio tool, Cmd+1).

If you want video, select the video input type, turn on the video track, play the tape and make sure the video is coming thru.


“…make sure all deck & avid settings are how you fancy…”

Go to the Project Window -> Settings Tab -> Capture. Change the settings to your desire. I like to “capture across timecode breaks”, and I don’t “stop capture if a bad frame is detected”. My maximum capture time is “90 minutes”.

Capture Settings

Download the deck or camera manual from the manufacturer’s website and go thru the menu and settings for that device. If using a deck, going composite out into a monitor (super I believe), will allow you to view a deck’s menu on a monitor. If using a 9-pin deck, you want to make sure the deck has reference from a blackburst generator, and that the “reference alarm” is turned on in the deck’s menu. If you want to upconvert or downconvert the video then this is the place to do it!

Are you digitizing 4×3? 16×9 full frame? With timecode burn? How many channels of audio are on the tape? I recommend going SDI out of a deck into the Avid if you have the right equipment, it allows for the video and audio to all travel through one cord at the highest quality possible. Firewire is fine if your tapes are HDV or Mini-DV.

Back in the Avid Capture Tool, fancy your settings there as well. What bin do you want to digitize to? What resolution? What drive? I prefer a 2 second pre-roll if I’ll be upresing with a 9-pin connection. I digitize at 10:1m for offline if I’ll be grouping, 15:1 if not, or 1:1 if space allows! What is your tape name? If you haven’t been asked already, specify the tape name now. For example, mine is “UB100913A01”

Capture some footage!

If you have tapes to digitize and not the time or means, I’m available to work. Check out my services and contact info here.

-Matt Rittorno


One Response to “Avid Capture Tool Tutorial”

  1. mini-dvs are great but digital video recorders are even coolerbecaue they are more compact ;’-

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