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What software and/or hardware is best for suround editing?

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ljCharlie
What software and/or hardware is best for suround editing?
on Feb 28, 2007 at 6:12:02 pm

Will anyone give me their opinion on DigiDesign Pro Tools versus Steinberg's Nuendo? I'm looking for a audio tool that will allow me to import the video footage in and edit the audio track. I am also looking to have suround sound export capability. What are my best options?


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Stephen Muir
Re: What software and/or hardware is best for suround editing?
on Mar 1, 2007 at 5:00:24 pm

Pro Tools is the industry standard in audio post-production, but Pro Tools HD systems are quite expensive. I'd reccomend a PT LE system such as the Mbox2 or the Digi 002, which give you almost the same functionality at a fraction of the cost.

One of the biggest advantages of PT LE is that your sessions can be easily loaded onto the PT HD systems found on most dubbing stages. Essentially, you can edit and premix the show on an Mbox 2 (under $500), and then take it to an outside mixing theatre for the final mix.

There are two major disadvantages to going the PT LE route. The first is that PT LE does not allow you to use surround tracks, limiting you to mono and stereo only. This isn't a big deal if you're outsourcing your mix (which you should, since a propperly designed mixing theatre is a costly investment), since you can still lay out your surround material in groups of four tracks (two mono for C and LFE, two stereo for L-R and LS-RS) and quickly move them to surround tracks during the final mix. Although the Mbox2 is limited to stereo outputs, other LE products such as the Digi 002 will give you enough outputs to monitor surround with a little creative bussing. The other major disadvantage of PT LE is that you will be limited to only 48 active tracks (you can have many more tracks in the session, but you'll have to switch off their voices).

To import sessions from FCP into Pro Tools LE (typically via OMF), you'll need the DV Toolkit 2 option. The good news is that this handy plugin bundle comes with lots of great tools (convolution reverb, DiNR noise reduction, Vocalign, timecode and feet/frames functionality, as well as digi translator). The bad news is that DV Toolkit 2 costs more than the Mbox2 hardware. Its also important to note that DV toolkit 2 is for Pro Tools LE, not for Digidesign's low-cost entry-level "M-Powered" products.

I can't speak to the features available in Steenberg Nuendo, but I can say that it will complicate any outsourcing you do in your audio post. Contact the mixing facilities at which you'd be mixing, and find out if they can even load Nuendo sessions.


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ljCharlie
Re: What software and/or hardware is best for suround editing?
on Mar 5, 2007 at 6:13:40 pm

Many thanks for your response. I'm greatly appreciated. I've contacted DigiDesign on the difference between the LE and HD and what hardware is needed to run the software and so far I have not heard from them so your response is very helpful to me. Can you give me a price range of the LE and the basic HD version?


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Stephen Muir
Re: What software and/or hardware is best for suround editing?
on Mar 7, 2007 at 5:41:11 pm

As long as you have a computer that's up to spec', $500 will get you a shiney new Mbox2. Add $1,295 for the DV Toolkit 2 (SMPTE timeline, OMF import/export), and $150 for a set of Sony MDR-7506 headphones and you're ready to rock. If you shell out another $300 for a DV transcoder (like the Canopus ADVC-110), you'll be able to stream DV/DVCpro quicktimes out the firewire port and onto a standard NTSC television for video playback. Despite the modest price tag, I've found this particular setup to be incredibly flexible and stable.

PT HD... that's another matter. As the saying goes "if you have to ask, you can't afford it." Joking aside, the basic HD-1 system lists at $7,995. DigiTranslator (which will allow the import and export of OMF files) adds another $495 to the price tag. I don't know off hand how much the SynchIO (SMPTE timecode peripheral) costs, so I won't go into the requirements for slaving to external video devices via TC or machine control. You'll still want a way of getting the quicktime file in your timeline out onto a TV screen, so don't forget about pricing a DV transcoder or one of the AV output options listed on the Digidesign website. I strongly advise against going this route unless you either have extensive experience setting up and working with Pro Tools HD systems, or else you have an experienced Pro Tools Tech on your side. If you want to actually monitor 5.1 surround, you'll have to start pricing 5.1 reference monitor kits, as well as accoustic treatment and rennovations for the room in question.

Bear in mind that although PT HD systems will give you the ability to work entirely in 5.1 surround, it won't do you a bit of good if you aren't working in a propperly set up monitoring environment. The DIY route is tempting, but the studio setup and renovation costs associated with surround sound mixing are far beyond those associated with setting up a stereo editing room. Unless you can keep that 5.1 mixing room busy with mixing work 7 days a week, it will likely be more cost-effective to cut the sound in-house on a PT LE system and contract an experienced mixer at an established mix house to finish things off.

The Digidesign website will give you full breakdowns of the various product lines. Find someone in your area that retails digidesign products and visit their showroom, just beware the hard sell.


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ljCharlie
Re: What software and/or hardware is best for suround editing?
on Mar 9, 2007 at 4:04:42 am

As always, thank you so much for your experienced explanation. I'd appreciated it a lot. I'll take your suggestion into consideration when I actually putting things together. I'm NOT very experience in Pro Tools let alone PT HD.


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