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Post-Audio Workflow for Documentary

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Stephen Brock
Post-Audio Workflow for Documentary
on Feb 12, 2014 at 4:42:12 pm

Hey everyone, I’m working as an AE for a feature-length doc and I am wanting to gather some direction before we get too far down the rabbit hole in our post audio workflow.

Like most docs, we are shooting on a variety of formats but at least 85% of our production workflow is C300 footage and 5-channel mono from a Nomad field mixer/recorder. Other times we have 5D’s, GoPro, iPhones, and even some Alexa from scripted segments.

With exception to the Alexa footage, we are transcoding all footage to ProRes 422 HQ. But before we begin that process (475+ hours of footage), I wanted to find out the best workflow for audio.

We have a variety of situation/scenarios, such as Broll, formal interviews, variety(reality-style), events, etc. During formal interviews, a mix down was sent to cam A direct input while cam B had a scratch audio mic. During variety and broll the cameras were either scratch-only or no-audio, while the nomad was relied on separately. Timecode is helpful but unreliable since the crew was often in stressful situations and had no opportunity to jam.

All this being said, whats the best practice since we plan on handing off a picture-lock to a post-audio house for mixing?

Here’s my current guess:
1) Import all assets into premiere
2) Set up sequences as 7-channel mono for cam-audio and nomad combined
3) Sync audio to correlating footage (combined techniques of plural eyes, PP multi-cam, timecode, and manual claps)
4) Rearrange channels to ensure consistent assignments (boom on ch3, lavA on ch4, lavB on ch5, etc)
5) Export to ProRes 422 HQ. Keep original audio settings—48khz, 24-bit, 7-channel mono.

This workflow is likely going to be my life for the next couple of months…lol

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Ty Ford
Re: Post-Audio Workflow for Documentary
on Feb 12, 2014 at 4:53:17 pm

Hello Stephen and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I like your thinking here, but would welcome what Peter Groom might have to say.


Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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John Fishback
Re: Post-Audio Workflow for Documentary
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:34:29 pm

Makes sense. My only question is why ProResHQ? Not that audio post doesn't like good-looking picture, but those are extremely large files that add nothing to audio quality.


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Stephen Brock
Re: Post-Audio Workflow for Documentary
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:36:10 pm

Oh, that's only the master files for my lead editor to cut with, once we deliver to post audio, it'll be AAF with a small prores lt or h264 as a reference.

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Peter Groom
Re: Post-Audio Workflow for Documentary
on Feb 13, 2014 at 3:27:02 pm

Im writing this in a hurry as Im sitting on a plane awaiting take off.

Ultimately unless you want to cost yourself a LOT more than necessary in the post audio, then you need to invest the time and effort in importing all the audio assets into Premiere (if you must) and then working with those audio assets in the cut.
An AAF ir OMF is what the sound mix will be looking for ultimately and thats going to involve them in the least amount of effort = time = cost.
Picture wise Id speak to the post mix house and ask them what their preference is for a picture file.

id also strongly suggest that the editors place any useful wild track / atoms track on the sequence on a sep track where the sound post guys can easily find them = quick = cheaper.
Other than that I think youre generally on the right track. just make sure that everyone in your edit team is aware of the modus operandum youre adopting and everyone keeps to it religiously.

You could do worse than speak to the sound editor / mix engineer and ask him how hed liek his tracks laid out. You could thentake your final edit, duplicate it and organise it for him, lessening time and cost.

Off skiing now!

Post Production Dubbing Mixer

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Jean-Christophe Boulay
Re: Post-Audio Workflow for Documentary
on Feb 13, 2014 at 4:04:20 pm

Hi Stephen,

Your overall workflow makes perfect sense to me but, as a mixer, that's quite a lot of audio tracks to receive. Don't be too hesitant to make decisions and scrap audio clips that would obviously not be of use in the mix. I'm thinking mainly of scratch audio or any clips that were recorded but are at unusably low levels or contain no audio.

Remember that any time spent parsing the AAF in the mix process is on the clock, so making a few decisions while editing could be financially beneficial as well. Sorting four stacked clips of audio is pretty standard on doc projects, seven could be a bit much. Unless all audio material is pristine and/or relevant, then choice is what we like.


JC Boulay
Sound Mixer
Studio SFX
Québec, Canada

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