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Multi-track vs. Multi-Channel...

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Tyson Birmann
Multi-track vs. Multi-Channel...
on Jul 6, 2012 at 10:36:48 pm

I've done some searches within the forum and don't see anything that applies to this...
I'll do my best to keep it short.
I'm a DIT and work on set making Dalies and transcoding for the film and TV industry using ASSIMILATE SCRATCH LAB. I was working on a set with a recordist using the Tascam HS-P82 and he handed me his CF card to use. It had 5 TRACKS of audio on it, but when I imported them, i was only able to find 2 channels. after an email to the people at SCRATCH they said that it only supports Multi-Channel recording not multi-track. I am not an audio guy, but since I'm sure this might come up again, I'm trying to get to the bottom of it. Is there a way to better use the Tascam HS-P82 to create a multi-channel recording?
I'm a bit hazy on the whole track vs. Channel thing, but have found some posts that are helping. At this point, I'm looking for a way to help avoid this in the future without some complicated conversion process. I already find myself short on time in a day as it is and don't want to add another conversion to the process. I'm sure I could figure that part out if I had to, but would rather have the proper format in the first place. Any help you could offer would be great.

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Peter Groom
Re: Multi-track vs. Multi-Channel...
on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:33:17 pm

Did you ask the sound man how many sep tracks he recorded?

Like you, Im at a loss to explain any real difference in the terminology you explained in the context you are working.

I think its "likely" that the sound mans recorder is set to make a multchannel recording , but hes probably only sending 2 tracks of media to it?
Id start with him.


Post Production Dubbing Mixer

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Jean-Christophe Boulay
Re: Multi-track vs. Multi-Channel...
on Jul 9, 2012 at 3:24:24 pm

Hi Tyson,

While I can't help specifically with that recorder and software combo, the terminology and workflow can be cleared up a little.

A channel is one mono audio feed. A track is a container for audio, used to keep different sources separate. A track can contain any number of audio channels. For instance, a stereo audio track contains two audio channels, as it is comprised of a left mono feed and a right mono feed. A 5.1 audio track contains six audio channels. On most recorders, you can set up your tracks with differing numbers of channels.

Your problem is that your Scratch software can only read one track. That track can contain many channels. Any subsequent tracks are ignored. If you see two channels, it's safe to assume his first audio track contained two channels, so it was a stereo track.

One solution to your issue would be to have the recordist assemble his different inputs into one multi-channel track, 5.1 or 7.1 for example. That would just be wrong, though, as that creates a nightmare for the audio guys and editors ingesting these recordings and, let's be honest, their work has a more direct impact on the final result so should be the priority here.

Many recordists will record their different sources to specific tracks on the recorder but also do a rough mix on set and record that to a stereo track. If your recordist does do that and pipes the rough mix to the first track on the recorder, you should have all the audio that was recorded import into Scratch. You won't get the separation but I think I understand you don't really need that. You can output dailies with all the relevant audio and the audio guys get their separate tracks when the whole card is ingested for edit. Also, the editor has a complete audio landscape to work with easily by monitoring only the rough mix but the separate audio tracks follow his edits.

Off the top of my head, I think this would keep the workflow efficient for all departments and get everyone what they need. This may well be what the recordist is already doing, you'll have to check with him. If I misunderstood the workflow, please elaborate a little.


JC Boulay
Technical Director
Audio Z
Montreal, Canada

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