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Cannot export correct AAF or OMFs for sound designer

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Jimmy See
Cannot export correct AAF or OMFs for sound designer
on Jan 9, 2017 at 1:20:38 am

I don't think I could be much more confused at this point.

I have a locked picture edit and it needs to go to sound for mixing. I initially created an embedded (untrimmed) media OMF and sent it to the sound designer but she has reported missing music as compared to the reference export of the lock picture cut and additionally reported a very strange configuration of the sound tracks whereby every even numbered track is missing. My Premiere timeline had a total of 10 tracks, and she has a total of 10 as well, except that her DAW reports the track names as 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19.

I'm trying to fix this, however I seem to be pretty stuck. Initially I thought this was related to an ongoing issue I'd discovered with merged clips however I actually managed to replace the entire timeline with its unmerged counterparts with correct timecodes. I generated an OMF and this time downloaded a trial of Adobe Audition just to be able to open it and check. First off, I was unable to have the embedded media OMF actually import in to Audition as a multitrack session, in fact it imports it as if it were a single sound file and the sound is simply various scratching and hissing and definitely not recorded audio. I tried an OMF with separate audio and had better luck, it at least seemed capable of understanding that the OMF represents session data and not a sound file in its own right, however it could not find the audio files it needed to link to and when I went to link media, I found that it allowed only one piece of media at a time to be linked, reset the file path after each successful linkage and also, despite having correct name data for the session, still gave each actual file on disk a random string of numbers of letters making relinks extremely tedious. I linked two files and cancelled the rest. The session opened, (albeit with media offline) and it appeared correct, however there was this bizarre preference for odd numbered track numbering again. This is a disaster and it's also quite embarrassing. This is my first time doing a handover to sound for a project that was done in Premiere and it's proving a surprisingly difficult enterprise.

Since I fixed my issue with merged clips, I also tried making an AAF, using separate (non-embedded) media. This media appears to be correctly named, however I can not import the AAF in to Audition because of the same issue where it treats the raw data as if it were sound media. I did try testing in resolve and found that the session initially LOOKED correct, however bizarrely, it arbitrarily couldn't link some media (about 2 or 3 clips in the whole project) and the media it thought it HAD linked, was either silent, or from incorrect source timecode ranges. Now I've really got no idea whether or not my 2nd attempt at the handover materials is in any way better than the first. It would certainly appear not to be, though I can't get a proper import of anything in order to check.

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John Pale
Re: Cannot export correct AAF or OMFs for sound designer
on Jan 9, 2017 at 3:36:32 am

If you have not already done so, duplicate your timeline and delete all the video. Export the AAF from an audio only timeline.

May not help, but easy to try. I had some completely different issues recently and was only able to export correctly from an audio only timeline

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Jimmy See
Re: Cannot export correct AAF or OMFs for sound designer
on Jan 9, 2017 at 4:34:29 am

Thanks John.

The sequence has always been free of any video so I'm afraid that wasn't the issue. I have in the interim figured something out that I'm pretty confident is the solution but I'll have to hear from the sound designer before I can proclaim this resolved.

What seems to have happened and what I've done are:

I manually replaced all clips with their unmerged counterparts as explained before. I noticed that the sound designer seemed to be getting only the odd numbered tracks and I realised it was related to the unusual way I setup Premiere. I migrated to using Premiere from Final Cut Pro 7. I found that I did not like the way Premiere handled audio whereby single tracks can contain multiple channels, I was used to each channel being a track and it confused me and annoyed me so often I decided to set up Premiere to behave as I thought FCP 7 would have. So I had my audio set to be interpreted as separate tracks on import, which has been working great for me, as when I put a clip with 5 channels on to a timeline, I see 5 tracks one underneath the other just how I like it. However I don't come from an audio background, and Premiere's sound handling is much deeper and richer than FCP 7 was and Avid too, sometimes I didn't grasp the implications of things. I had my tracks for my sequence setup as 'standard' and I think that was the issue because even though there oughtn't have been any stereo sound that wasn't split up to individual tracks (as it was all set to interpret to mono tracks anyway), what seemed to be happening on exporting OMFs was that Premiere would anaylse the timeline thusly: Timeline Track 1 = Standard type, so must be dual channel stereo, channel 1 will be one track, channel 2 will be track 2. Given that channel 2, which oughtn't even have existed, would always be empty I think Premiere concluded that 'track 2' of the OMF was empty and thus it discarded it as it does with any empty tracks when creating an OMF. So for every single mono audio track of every clip, it seemed to create 1 extra track, then delete it. After finishing with timeline track 1 it then looks at Track 2 and does the same thing, erroneously considering it to be dual channel, splitting the channels in to OMF tracks, then discarding the empty one. I believe this process resulted in my timeline tracks 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 turning into 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19,21. By this theory I assume that despite the confusion there shouldn't actually have been anything missing in the sound designer's DAW but it definitely isn't a good way of doing things and of course one would naturally assume something was missing if you can see track numbers getting skipped.

My solution to the track numbering problem then was that I needed my track types set as 'mono' but you can't do that after you've already created a sequence so I had replace every clip on the timeline yet AGAIN, but this time first creating a new timeline with the requisite number of 'mono' tracks. I also put my reference export on the video layer temporarily to check sync and make sure I'd not made any mistakes (deleted it again before any more OMF exports).

This logically fixed things but actually I was STILL experiencing issues with embedded OMFs and referenced OMFs just as before when getting them in to Audition (opening as sound files not sessions, failing to link to media except one at a time). I don't know if this was just audition but I didn't want to take any chances that the same would happen to the sound designer so I figured I had to be able to produce something I knew worked for me and my tools at the very least. Then I realised what I should have realised from the start, you can use Adobe's dynamic link to edit a sequence from Premiere in Audition and you can use audition to export an OMF.

I clicked edit > edit in adobe audition and everything worked beautifully, it uses an XML process and copies media over to a directory of your choosing to achieve this so it doesn't appear to work as smoothly as other adobe dynamic link applications but it does it all automatically at least. My timeline was replicated beautifully in to Audition and I was then able to export the OMF using audition which is actually dedicated audio software for these kind of tasks and that seemed to make all the difference because the resulting embedded media omf was openable no problem in audition after that.

So the problem is partly my fault but a lot Premiere's fault for some really weird implementations of standard professional workflows and for the ABSOLUTELY CRAZY way it handles merged clips coupled with there being NO WAY to unmerge them. In fact, if anyone needs to know how I even figured out which sound clips belonged to which merged clips, I had to export multiple EDLs (as each can have only 4 tracks) because that was the ONLY method I could find that revealed the original filenames of constituent media of merged clips.

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Amy Wilson
Re: Cannot export correct AAF or OMFs for sound designer
on Jan 9, 2017 at 5:20:11 pm

I'm about to start work on a film and come from the same school of thought as you as to audio track layout (used to a bunch of mono tracks in Avid or FCP). When you have the time, would you mind explaining a suggested timeline setup for starting my edit on the right foot to be able to export for mix at the end? Thanks!

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