I’ve recently been working part-time uprezzing an hour-long series for Animal Planet, which involves a ton of batch digitizing. When you’re staring at a computer screen for hours on end, waiting for the Capture Tool to do its thing, it’s very easy to get annoyed at little deficiencies in the software that would make my job easier and maybe even save a lot of time. I have no idea if the Capture Tool is undergoing any changes in the new version of MC, but here is my list of gripes that seem like they could be fixed without too much effort.

  1. For the love of God, please allow me to abort the capture at any stage of the process, rather than just when it’s in the middle of digitizing a clip. Whenever the deck keeps searching and searching for a timecode I know it won’t find, I have to switch the deck into Local mode to confuse the Avid into asking for the next tape. Nothing else seems to work.
  2. I wish there were an option for the Avid to attempt increasingly shorter prerolls whenever it can’t find the preroll point due to a timecode break. As anyone who works on multicam shows knows, with time-of-day timecode, there can be dozens of timecode breaks on a tape. If you’re attempting to capture a clip that starts right after a break, the Avid will try several times and then give up, forcing you to abort the batch capture to manually override the deck configuration settings with custom preroll.
  3. It is tremendously inconvenient that the message bar (which indicates what the Capture Tool is currently doing) is limited to 2 lines, and everything else gets cut off. Anytime it’s working on a clip with a long name (which is frequently), it’s impossible to see how much time is left in the batch capture (see screen capture below). Couldn’t they put this vital piece of information (as inaccurate as it usually is) somewhere prominent and permanent? Or at least make the message bar 3 lines…
  4. I always like to keep my bin of master clips open so I can see how many clips are left on each tape (this is useful when planning quick jaunts to the bathroom or refrigerator). However, you cannot access the bin when a batch capture is running. Meaning every time I want to scroll down to see more clips, I need to stop the batch capture to do it, then restart it again.

To avoid sounding like a total whiner, I will now espouse the many virtues of the Capture Tool. I love how it instantly calculates how much media you can fit on each drive at every resolution. I love how it estimates how much time is left in your batch (even though I routinely have to inflate the estimate by about 90%). I love that you can easily auto-configure a deck and set custom preroll right from the Capture Tool. With a few improvements, the Capture Tool could be unbeatable. Seems that way with a lot of Avid’s features, doesn’t it?