Step 1: Create a Single Folder for All Files
Organization is key to any workflow, and that applies even more so to file-based workflows. The following steps are good for any QuickTime that contains timecode and/or tape name. If no tape exists, the user can create one within the MetaCheater application. The following steps are for QuickTime reference files created by RED ALERT! available from
To begin, it makes the most sense to put all files referenced by a single ALE file (as created by MetaCheater) within a single folder. This makes it easier for the batch import process that happens later on within Avid Media Composer, as described in my earlier tutorial (
Step 2: Launch MetaCheater
Once you launch the application, you’ll see the main interface. After clicking the Select QT’s button, navigate to the folder containing the QuickTime files. You’ll see the files listed in the main window. All metadata extracted from the file will be shown.
Step 3: Create the Header of the ALE File
The next step is to go to the Settings button at the top of the interface. This is where you’ll select the values that will make the header portion of the ALE file.
Depending on the project type you’ll be using in Media Composer, select the frame rate and project type. The film section can be left as the default 35 mm.
Step 4: Track DPX Files
To the right of the screen is the VFX/DPX section. Since both RED ALERT! and REDCINE applications can export DPX files, this setting can create the metadata needed to track those files as DPX by file name. Clicking on DPX will put the metadata into the Avid DPX metadata column. Select Default Frame Start to be Frame 0.
Step 5: Create a Unique Reference for Your Files
Go back to the main interface by clicking the Make List button. You also need to use the full file name as the Tape Name. This lets you give all your files a truly unique reference, rather than the more limited 4-character default used in the original files. The upper right-hand area has radio buttons; click on Use Filename as Tape and process. The updated metadata will appear in the fields below. Tape Name is now the complete file name and there is a DPX column with filename/frame count. Although it may never be used, it is a nice piece of insurance to have this reference as a backup in case the tape or timecode gets corrupted somewhere in the post process.
Step 6 Create the ALE File
Once all the settings are complete for the project type, click on the Save List button to create the ALE file.
In this case, the name of the ALE file will be the same as the folder used for the organization of your dailies. Consistency in naming makes the postproduction management much easier. Every production will have its own preferences and nomenclature, but consistency is one of the key elements.
Step 7 Import Your ALE into the Avid
At this point, the ALE file is imported into the Avid editing system and is ready for the merge process. Remember to click on the Donate button and show Jabez some monetary appreciation for a great little tool.
Tools Used: Avid Media Composer, MetaCheater and RED ALERT!
Your Guide
Michael Phillips
Solutions Manager, Content Production
Avid Technology, Inc.
Michael Phillips joined Avid Technology, Inc., in 1990 and was responsible for the design of Avid’s Media Composer, Film Composer and Symphony product lines, which offer professional digital online and offline editing and finishing. Michael currently interacts with customers as a solutions manager for the content creator.
Michael Says Keep in Mind…
MetaCheater lets you extract timecode and reel ID metadata from QuickTime movies and save it out as an Avid Log Exchange file (.ALE).
MetaCheater lets you select one or more QuickTime movies, and through a variety of settings, you can work with any number of workflows, depending on the metadata extracted. It’s a great way, for example, to work with QuickTime files associated with a RED Camera workflow, as I explained in my previous tutorial in the April issue.
ALE, as many of you know, is an Avid log file format that has become a defacto standard in the post industry. It is a text-based metadata exchange format used in telecine to standalone logging applications and is supported by many NLEs on the market today. The Avid Log exchange format is based on a TAB delimited file format and is therefore easily extendable.
MetaCheater runs on both OS X and Windows XP. It was created by Jabez Olssen and is offered as a shareware application from his site at:
Avid Technology, Inc.
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Tewksbury, MA 01876
ph. 978.640.3281