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The Avid Assistant Editor's Handbook: 1 Paperback – 8 Nov 2011

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About the Author

Kyra Coffie, an editor for over a decade, has worked for companies that produce programming for TLC, MTV, VH1 networks, The National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel. A native of Washington, D.C., Ms. Coffie took positions as an assistant editor while breaking into the Los Angeles market, and her editing background allowed her to make assistant editing processes more standardized, efficient, and easy to learn. The Avid Assistant Editor’s Handbook is a product of her time in L.A., and it’s her hope that any individual wanting to learn Avid will be able to do so with her book. Check out her website at

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beyond the Manual 24 May 2012
By Previous Reviewer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a review I posted previously on my site [...]:

REVIEW: The Avid Assistant Editor's Handbook: The go-to-guide for assistant editors learning about Avid and their jobs.

I always find reviewing books about editing, particularly books about the technology we as editors use, difficult. They aren't difficult to read, its just once you've read one book on the technology there isn't anything new that you can learn from reading another book on the same technology.

This is where Kyra Coffie's book The Avid Assistant Editor's Handbook: The go-to-guide for assistant editors learning about Avid and their jobs comes in and alters my view. Coffie has found a unique niche, the assistants need for technology knowledge specific to their roles. Many Avid handbooks simply regurgitate the users manual that comes with the software. Coffie, is an experienced assistant editor in Los Angeles and host of the Avid Assistant Editor's blog, a blog that focuses on helping educate the next generation of Assistants, is giving knowledge needed for the assistant to do their job well.

The information contained in her book goes beyond the usual manual and into actual tricks and techniques Assistants need to know. (*AHEM* *Cough* Assistants! Might want to purchase this). Here's an example of her knowledge based on experience.

In Appendix 2: Deck Configuration, Coffie, describes configuring decks with your Avid system. But she goes beyond the manual into the editing room when she breaks down the potential reasons that Avid might not be seeing the deck and how to work around them, a small but time saving element, not referenced in the Avid manual.

Many a time, I've seen young first time assistants wasting time on small issues that Coffie helps the reader prepare for, those pesky last minute problems. It also includes elements that many MANY books ignore, for example preparing for online editing, which she wrote with the help of Josh Petok, an online editor and colorist.

Many schools (Note: Not all but many) these days have become hyper focused on the technology and in particular getting students up and running for their projects. This usually leads to issues such as students not knowing simple things like preparing and exporting for sound or setting up for online. Kyra's book is extremely useful in this instance.

I always want to put my technology through the paces so I felt it was important to do the same with this book. I brought in a former student of mine, Eamonn O'Connell, who I was helping teach Avid to, and had him use this book while cutting a small project for Eamonn was cutting a small video he and I shot about one of the founders of the Canadian Cinema Editors, Paul Day.

Here's what Eamonn thought:

As a new editor it's hard to come to terms with getting "up to speed" on the latest technology in NLE systems. When one feels moderately comfortable on one system more often than not, especially as a student, there's a change. Floating between Final Cut Pro or X, Adobe Premiere and Avid has challenges.

As a frugal student I constantly assess the need for more books, when most resource material can be found online. I've long operated on the when-I-need-help-I'll-Google-it mentality, allowing me to for-go shelling out several hundred dollars in text fees. That said, I still find my bookshelf playing host to those that I've felt are necessary and better than their virtual counterparts. Between my Calvin & Hobbes and Far Side Collection tomes rest three equally valuable film books. 1) The Filmmaker's Handbook 2) How to Make It In Shorts and 3) The Avid Assistant Editor's Handbook.

Let's crack the cover on Kyra Coffie's latest then, shall we?

Like many editing texts before Coffie's, hers starts with the common "Introduction" and "Getting Started" chapters. But that's where familiarity and comparisons can quickly end. Coffie expands and remains focused on the tasks of an Assistant Editor (AE). Nothing more, nothing less - making The Avid Assistant Editor's Handbook (AAEH) a Welterweight Champion text; trim and lean, offering a knockout punch in the need to know purview of an AE.

AAEH offers several indexes and tables giving timely direction to the AE who's sweating under the ticking clock. The pages are thick enough to thumb through effectively rather than fumble with, like the flimsy pages of the latest edition of Oxford's Dictionary. Coffie's advice is quick to the point but motherly too - careful to point out hazards like, "confirm" and "make sure" before you move on to the next steps of your work. Coffie then makes you look like you're ready to take on the next feature film as Editor, not "Why is this guy in the union again?"

Coffie adds some flare to a library that's predominantly text heavy - After all we're editors, visual people! Full colour screenshots, cartoons and great examples help to solidify new learning, making sure that you can focus more on making cuts, rather than remembering a page number.

Screen Shot

I must say there's something about the tangible quality a good text like Coffie's brings. There's a tactility, and pleasure from highlighting, dog earing and penciling pages that make me feel accomplished even though I'm still just a student. Finally, there's something to be said about keeping that second monitor free from a Google search window and using it more for what it was installed for in the first place - Bins!

As there's a bit of room on my bookshelf still and seeing as how FCPro looks like the Titanic, I can only hope that Coffie will write a similar book for Adobe Premiere. Then like my Calvin & Hobbes and Far Side - my film resource collection will be complete.

More About Eamonn O'Connell:

Eamonn is an avid and emerging filmmaker from Toronto, Canada. Having expertise in digital communications Eamonn has consulted with a wide range of companies including the Documentary Organization of Canada and Point of View Magazine. Eamonn's most recent film projects include the soon to be released, self-shot documentary "Solo", detailing his time spent in North Africa during the 2011 Arab Spring and "Valleys" a Kickstarter project, documenting the experience of a young adult cancer survivor.

In the Fall of 2011 Eamonn received two Peter Gerretsen Film Award Nominations for Best Picture and Best Editing.


Kyra is definitely on the ball when it comes to the future of books, Avid Assistant Editor's Handbook is available in print on demand with a digital ebook coming soon! What is great about this is the flexibility this gives Kyra to change and update the book. When Avid changes or upgrades elements she can easily update the book, upload the files to the print on demand site and the digital version.

Kyra's book is it is a living and breathing document, it is updatable through the print on demand and digital files but more importantly the book is an extension of her great blog:, with this blog she's constantly posting updates for how to execute things in Avid, even better though, she now has an "Ask Kyra" section, if it isn't in the book or on her blog you can submit the question!

If Kyra keeps this up she will be the Avid Guru that Avid needs!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Book Review from Post Magazine 10 Jun. 2012
By flashcutter - Published on
Format: Paperback
Before I begin this review, a few words about assistant editors -- they are the unsung heroes of post.

In the beginning, before nonlinear, generally assistant editors (except those involved in feature work) wore totally different hats than they do now. They loaded and cleaned tape machines, did layoffs for dupes, made copies of finished tapes, checked specs, slated and laid bars and tone, kept things manageable for editors and worked extremely long hours. But they usually didn't get deep into the editor's domain.

Today, they still work long hours, and still clean up after the editors they work with...but now, in the accelerated atmosphere of nonlinear, fast-turnaround and high-volume editing deadlines, they are our eyes, ears, (sometimes our brains) and our first line of defense. They prescreen, prepare and sometimes save us from ourselves.

In the dark of night, with ranks of producers, executives, changes and deadlines having taken their toll on an editor's health and psyche, the bond with their AE can be forged in blood. I've been there.

A good AE -- a truly good AE -- is hard to find and worth their weight in gold. They can spell the difference between a good edit and a great edit. Not enough can be said...they are my heroes.

Kyra Coffie is obviously one of those rare and extraordinary individuals, she is the AE's AE, and her new book is a painstakingly thorough, researched and exhaustive guide to how to achieve that valued stature of an editor's closest ally.

I have never seen a more detailed explanation of the AE's duties.


Profusely and intelligently illustrated with explanatory, full-color diagrams, Coffie follows the entire process of editing, going deep into areas not even many seasoned editors have ventured.

Running the gamut from capturing media to exporting, layout and slating to final outputting, with everything in between.

Coffie's methodology is intelligent and comprehensive, sometimes humorous. Having been an AE for over a decade, she knows what problem areas require elaboration, and in her thoughtful explanations throughout she provides a Did I Do This Correctly? section that painstakingly allows the reader to double check their work by asking concise questions (like a pilot's checklist) -- details that some seasoned editors can miss even after decades of experience. Her manner is warm and reassuring, and you feel her experience and knowledge. She doesn't just say how to do things, but why they have to be done that way, firmly guiding you along the way.

Almost everything comprising Media Composer is methodically explained and demoed -- from AMA to ingest to outputting, effects layering, and treating audio and video for export. Even the darker arts of transcoding, consolidating, managing the EDL manager, the dreaded Title Tool and it's style guides are covered. There's little that is not touched. It's all done in a systematic, well-explained and logical manner, wholly designed to make the editor's life easier and the job of show-building more efficient.

Coffie knows the relationship between the AE and their editor, and her vast experience is evident throughout as she explains why things must be done in certain orderly manners.


As I read through the book, I understood more about why things are done the way they are on the Media Composer. (Many older editors, like myself, came through the ranks from linear to nonlinear without the studied discipline those who started out on nonlinear did. We had to apply old understandings of tape-based to a new world, and a certain lack of organization came along with us.)

Coffie's methodology and conciseness allowed me to make sense of areas not fully understood as she explains why she does what she does.

One note -- if you get this book, (and I wholeheartedly encourage both AE and editor alike to do so), save Coffie's detailed explanation of multigrouping for last. It is intense and detailed (80 pages worth) and could discourage you in its length and thoroughness. Go through the rest of the book first and come back. With a detailed index, concise appendixes outlining useful exercises for skill building and myriad vital checklists, her comprehensiveness is clearly evident.

This is not a mindless instruction manual -- this is a working assistant editor's bible, built from experience and success. It will educate you, it will demystify a daunting subject, and it will allow you to become a valued asset, as important and marketable as the best editor.


If there was anything lacking in this book that I had hoped to find, it was in the all-important subject of how to truly organize a project from start to finish, implement a logical bin structure and methodology. With the massive amounts of material we routinely run into today, the AE's skill at creating a systematically organized, logical and understandable project tree is essential -- breaking down through a clear visual schematic all the material we need: interviews, b-roll, sound, iso's, OTFS, beauty, etc.

To be sure, Coffie's excellent breakdown of multigrouping was extraordinary and concise, and I am sure she organizes projects with the same precision and finesse, but I did miss her tips at how she organizes what we, the editor, must look at every day -- our workspace.

Another area to address (where perhaps she can use her excellent Website and blog: [...]) is setting up ScriptSync sessions -- importing and preparing script, a powerful tool for Media Composer.
Regardless of the bits that are missing, you won't find a better resource for assistant editing on the Media Composer. I just hope I can work with her someday.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A must have book 28 Jan. 2013
By busyatwork2000 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book, that I wish I had a long time ago. Its great for Editors as well as AE's. I love how Ms Coffie gives a step by step guide through the workflows. Not only does she give you the proper settings for various workflows but she explains their function. This book is extremely thorough. The only thing I wish it had was some examples of bin organizations, but I guess that will vary from post house to post house. For anyone wanting a mastery of MC this book is a must have. There are other great Avid books (Avid Agility) but they don't cover what is covered here. And the material covered here is essential.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Didnt meet my expectations 2 July 2013
By Mike D. Meagher - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I were an assistant editor and looking for a step by step guide on how to do multilgrouping, then this would be a good book. But I am not, I am just a newbie editor that was expecting guidance on areas such as file management, proxy files, transcoding, etc. I found the book to be weak in those areas, very weak in explanations of these topics. This book is is pretty much a lit of common "steps" with page after page of the "steps" of how to do various tasks, but it's weak in the "whys" you would want to do such steps. For example, there is an entire page on the topic of file naming; okay.. I get it.. anyone can figure that out. but on the topic of transcoding, there was only a couple of sentences as to why you would want to transcode and no real world examples. No real explanation, mp explaining the reasons one might want to transcode. Only the steps. You can find more information online at youtube than in this book. When there is some "meat" to any explanations, its mostly contained in the notes that are located in the margins. Frankly, I don't like having to read the margins to get to the good stuff. That should be in the body of the text. Also, this book is based on Avid ver 3.x. That's quite an old version.. AVID is up to 7.0 now. I would have expected the book to be up to ver 5 or 6, but was a bit disappointed that it had screen shots of a much older version.
Very Helpful 15 Mar. 2013
By DCP - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reads very much like a textbook and is based off of an older version of Avid, but that aside the book is very helpful for recent college grads who are starting work as Assistant Editors.
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