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Avid Quick Tip: Bars and Tone

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Help! Where do I find bars and tone?


Ah, good old bars and tone. So necessary, and yet, so elusive. Let's get them into Avid Media Composer.

Avid comes with SMPTE Bars, but they're tucked away in the depth of your computer.

1) Create A Bars and Tone Bin

Create a bin for your bars and tone media. Be sure to file it somewhere that makes sense, such as in your assistant folder, or in the outputs or turnovers folder.

2) Import the SMPTE Bars

Fun Fact: SMPTE stands for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers

First, set your import settings

Select "Import Media..." in Avid.

At the bottom of the dialogue box, open up the "Options..."

In the Image Tab:

  • Set the Image Size Adjustment to "Image sized for current format"

  • Set the Color Levels to "Do not modify, treat as legal range"

  • Set the Alpha Channel to "Ignore"

  • Set the Alpha Encoding to "Uncompressed"

  • Set the duration. Be sure to exceed the duration needed in your specs. If the vendor asks for 60 seconds of SMPTE bars, I like to import 120 seconds so I have lots of room in case it needs to be extended at a later date.

  • Click OK

Locate the SMPTE bars by following the path below. Please note, they're different on a Mac and a Windows.

Win: C:\Program Files\Avid\Avid Media Composer\SupportingFiles\Test_Patterns\HD_1080\SMPTE_Bars219-2002.tif

Mac: /Applications/Avid Media Composer\SupportingFiles\Test_Patterns\HD_1080\SMPTE_Bars219-2002.tif

SMPTE Bar Path Shown on a Mac Computer
SMPTE Bar Path Shown on a Mac Computer

Make Sure You're Importing to the Correct Location and At the Correct Resolution

The resolution should match your dailies. If your dailies are DNxHD 115, then your SMPTE Bars should be imported at the same resolution.

Make sure it's going to the correct drive. If you have an Elements or Library drive that holds important resources for the assistant editors, this should be imported to that drive.

Click "Open"

Congratulations! You now have SMPTE bars. Now let's get tone.

3) Create the Tone Media

Avid can create tone media for you.

Avid Audio Tool

Open the Audio Tool.

SHORT-CUT: On a Mac, hit command+1 (⌘1) to open the audio tool.

In the upper right-hand corner of the tool is a button labeled "PH." Click on that button, and, in the menu that opens, select "Create Tone Media"

Create Tone Media

Set the number of tracks you need. (More on this below)

Set your target bin to be your Bars and Tone bin.

Set your target drive to the same drive where you imported your bars. For example, to the Elements drive.

Click OK.

Why Two Tracks?

I personally like to set 2 tracks of tone so I can switch it back and forth between mono and stereo as I need it. However, if your editor always works with the same number of tracks, you can set it to that configuration.


Your editor always uses 8 tracks of mono audio and 3 tracks of stereo audio.

  • Create 14 tracks of tone media.

  • Right click on the clip in the bin. Go to Modify > Modify Clip...

  • Go to the "Set Multichannel Audio tab."

  • Select your stereo channels.

4) You did it!

Nice and easy. Are you creating a turnover guide? Link to the page so you never forget how to find the bars and tone.

If you're interested in learning more Avid Tips and Tricks, join our mailing list, and check out the rest of the blog.

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