Learn the simple workflow for exporting projects from Avid Media Composer and importing them into Premiere Pro.

AAF: The key ingredient

Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) is a file interchange format designed for video post-production and authoring environments. It is used for exchanging project information across applications that don’t ordinarily read one another’s native project formats — such as .prproj for Premiere Pro and .avp for Avid Media Composer. AAF was created by the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), which works with the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and other standards bodies.

Seamless importing

By design, AAF files only contain a single sequence. If you want to export multiple sequences, you’ll have to export each one separately. Furthermore, project data (including bins) don't export but if you place all clips of one bin in a sequence, you can export that sequence. Standard editing features such as speed changes, picture-in-picture effects, cross dissolves, and audio level adjustments will translate just fine.

Keep in mind that the AAF workflow exchanges only sequence data. Your media is untouched and remains where it is. In fact, if you migrate from Avid Media Composer to Premiere Pro on the same system, all linking happens automatically.

Premiere Pro natively supports the .mfx media files used by Avid Media Composer. These files typically work with a version of the DNxHD codec. No transcoding is necessary.

Migrating across platforms

An AAF file from Avid Media Composer on a Mac can be imported into Premiere Pro CC on a Windows machine without difficulty. Because Premiere Pro supports a wide variety of formats natively, your media will play back fine after linking. Still, it is a good practice to test the playback.

For greatest compatibility across platforms, however, avoid using "special" non-alphanumeric characters — such as : / \ ¢ ™ $ ® € . , [ ] { } ( ) ! ? | ; " ' * < > — in folder names and filenames. Also avoid using spaces at the end of a filename or folder name.

Exporting from Avid Media Composer

Adobe Premiere Pro can’t read native Avid Media Composer project files directly, so you’ll need to use Avid Media Composer to export an AAF file for the sequence you want to send over. Strictly speaking you don’t need access to the media at this stage if you plan to link the media later. Watch the accompanying video to see the process in action or follow the steps below:

  1. Open the project in Avid Media Composer.
  2. Select the sequence you want to export in the project bin.
  3. Choose File > Export.
  4. In the Export As dialog box, click Options (see Figure 1).
Settings for exporting XML from Avid Media Composer
Figure 1. Settings for exporting XML from Avid Media Composer

  1. In the Export Settings dialog box select AAF Edit Protocol, Include All Video / Data Tracks in Sequence, and Include All Audio Tracks in Sequence (see Figure 2).
  2. If you want to limit your export to the section between In/Out points, select Use Marks.
  3. Click the Video / Data Details tab and select Link to (Don’t Export) Media.
  4. Click the Audio Details tab and select Link to (Don’t Export) Media. Optionally, select Include Rendered Audio Effects as well.
  5. Save the AAF file in an easy-to-find location.
Export settings for video (left) and audio (right)
Figure 2. Export settings for video (left) and audio (right)

Importing into Premiere Pro

After you’ve exported the AAF file from Avid Media Composer you are ready to import it into Premiere Pro:

  1. Open a project in Premiere Pro or create a new one.
  2. Select the Project panel and choose File > Import.
  3. Locate the AAF file you exported earlier and click Import.
  4. Premiere will probably show you a notice about the Translation Report (see Figure 3). You will need this report later as a checklist. Click OK.
 An alert for possible translation errors
Figure 3. An alert for possible translation errors while importing into Premiere Pro

A new sequence is created in the Project panel with the name of the AAF file and a bin containing the media used in the sequence. You’ll also find a FCP Translation Results file if any translations issues occurred.

  1. Double-click the sequence and scrub through it to make sure everything is working as expected.
  2. To read the report, double-click FCP Translation Results in the bin. The file will be opened in TextEdit on Mac or Notepad on Windows. It lists how Premiere Pro dealt with any effects, titles, or transitions that did not translate.

Lost in translation

Although the AAF workflow is a big help in collaborative workflows, it does have limitations. These mainly involve effects, transitions, and plug-ins. Therefore, the AAF workflow described in this article works best during the early stages of a project.


Contributor: Joost van der Hoeven

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