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About audio components, channels and compound clips

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Oscar Santamaría
About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Sep 15, 2015 at 12:06:25 am

Hi there!

I've been a fellow reader of this always helpful place for a long time but never actually written a post. I'm doing it in search of understanding and support

I'm in the process of editing an indie feature film on FCPX, this is my first long project on this amazing yet sometimes disappointing software.

The issue concerning me is that I'm working with up to four audio sources by clip. My assistant has synced this in compound clips and everything seemed fine until I wanted to mix some of this sources.

Let's take an example of a clip with 4 audio clips connected to it (2 booms, 2 lavalier). If I open this clip in a timeline it reveals the four audio clips connected to it, but if I expand components it will not. In the inspector it shows two stereo channels (one the original camera source which is muted and another one I strongly believe a mix of all the other audio). Obviously this is the same that appears when components are expanded. The frustrating thing is I can't seem to find a way of manually assign channels or anything similar. Even when in the information pannel it recognizes to have 4 mono, the audio tab shows those two mentioned channels.

This may not seem such an important thing but it really is because the only option left to mix is to actually get into the clips timeline in order to set levels, faders, etc... My first idea was to break apart items once the picture was locked in order to do a proper mix but if I do so, every j cut or leveling, etc gets lost as it ain't no longer a manipulation of the compound clip but the content of the compound itself.

I have already talked to apple and i'm a aware of the workaround to make a clip representing the four channels, but it means to sync all the audio content into a clip and then sync this clip to the video creating a new compound that properly shows the four channels. This could have been and option if we were aware of this at the beginning of the process but I already have about a thousand takes already labeled and organized which will we lost if I do create this new clips. Even if it wasn't the case it's really frustrating not being able to manually set channels or at least break apart the audio sources without losing all the determinant edits already done.

I know there are gonna be several things I could have done but I'm much more interested in what it's possible to do now. My final intention is to properly role-label all this audio and make an aaf out of fcpx for sound post.

I'm breaking my head to figure a solution out of this. Any help would be deeply appreciated.

In case of no solution, what would you recommend? Breaking apart sound once picture locked and redo all fades and levels? Recompound all clips in order to have audio channeled when expanded? What are your experiences with sound and feature projetcs in fcpx?

I'm working on proxies of Scarlet, 4k, FCPX version 10.2.1

Thanks very much for this and every single post I've ever read!


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Emmanuel Tenenbaum
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Sep 16, 2015 at 2:10:43 am
Last Edited By Emmanuel Tenenbaum on Sep 16, 2015 at 2:16:37 am

Oscar

Maybe my answer is completely out of place but... since you're editing a feature, you'll have to go to Pro Tools, right ?

Why not doing the minimum of sound edit and let the audio engineer do the rest ?

That would be the normal process anyway. Don't forget that the audio engineer will "re-do" a lot of the things you've done yourself, but better than anything you will do in FCPX.

Emmanuel Tenenbaum
http://studiotenenbaum.com


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Oscar Santamaría
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Sep 16, 2015 at 9:40:04 am

Hi Emmanuel!

Thanks for your response, that's the case and precisely my concern. If the clips in my storyline are showing just two channels but one of those is actually a mix of three different sources, do you think X2pro would handle to output those sources as different files or will output a mix?

Even in that case there as a bit of the mixing I would rather do myself and give some hints to the engineer of what i'm trying to achieve on a given scene. He would work pretty far away from where I am and I won't have the chance to sit along with him so my intention is to give him a soundtrack that sounds already close to how I want it.

There is another thing that showed up and I ask you in case you are experienced in sending stuff to protools from fcpx. I've found that if you use fade handles on expanded audio, this fade has no representation (even thought it is there) when you expand components and viceversa. So I'm wondering which is the proper place to fade in order to have this translated when sent to protools, on expanded audio or expanded components?

Thanks very much!


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Bret Williams
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Sep 16, 2015 at 7:10:26 pm

Do you have a screenshot? Sounds like you're just expanding the audio, or perhaps because you made compounds instead of synchronized clips that X is treating it differently.


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Oscar Santamaría
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Sep 17, 2015 at 3:41:34 pm

Hello Bret, Emmanuel and everyone around,

I think I've figured out what was actually going on. It seems that, for some strange reason, when audio is imported on fcp x it's somehow embedded into some sort of self container. So, it can be broken apart once it shouldn't have anything else to break apart. This is how I finally sorted to have a proper representation of channels in the inspector.

In this screenshot (ignore the amount of clips) it can be seen what I mean. The first clip is how audio components were being shown, even having four mono audio on the compound. And the 4th clip shows this 4 sources as components (camera audio has been erased) which is what I was trying to achieve.

Hope this is useful for anyone with the same trouble. Thanks for your attention guys.



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Bret Williams
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Sep 17, 2015 at 4:47:37 pm

You really don't want to break apart your audio. It's a mess and there's no need. I think the confusion might be that you created a compound, burying the audio into a clip into another clip. There proper method would be to use the automated synchronize clip function. But even so, show audio components will always show all the embedded tracks, even if they've been turned off in the inspector in an embedded clip. In which case the tracks will show, but they'll have no audio. So if you're not seeing tracks that you should be seeing when you show audio components, then somewhere along the way you've done something very odd.

I'm working on an interview now that has 2 channels of camera mic audio, and an external recording as wav. In the event, I select the two and right click and choose to create a synchronized clip. The resulting clip looks like this in the inspector and the timeline with show audio components...



I don't want the camera audio, so I simply deselect it in the inspector and it doesn't show in audio components...



Even if I were to now bury this in a compound clip which it sounds like you may have done, I suddenly see the two audio tracks I turned off again. BUT, that's just because they haven't been turned off in this new compound clip. It respects that there is no sound for the tracks because I turned them off in the embedded clip, but since I haven't told it to turn them off in the inspector of the compound, it can still see them, but not hear them. So burying things within something within something can quickly get convoluted. I wouldn't suggest using a compound for this. Although you should still see all the tracks available in the inspector, even if showing them doesn't make them audible...



The last thing is that my audio I want to use is still tagged as stereo. If I want to get down to the 2 individual channels, I simply change it to dual mono in the inspector. I guess yours would be quad mono or something. If your clip is compounded, you'll have to enter the compound and make this change within the embedded clip since the compound naturally has to follow what it's source files are. Below I've ditched the compound altogether (which was just for demonstration) and just gone back to the synced clip and changed the stereo track to dual mono, and turned one of them off, leaving me with just one mono track of the interview. Nothing has been deleted anywhere and nothing has been detached. In fact, this should all optimally be done to a batch of clips at the same time in the event.



Now I have my clip with only the audio I need. I try not to keyframe or do much editing or fade handles within audio components, but sometimes, like at a round table discussion multicam with multiple mic sources, it's the only way to go. But even then, you can make a cut to the video so that you can turn on and off the components, then do a J or L cut with the audio. All much cleaner and all key framing and audio fading can be done at the clip level, and not buried in audio components where you could end up with key framing on top of key framing, which can get confusing just like burying a clip within a clip can.

HTH!


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Oscar Santamaría
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Oct 24, 2015 at 12:34:47 am

Thanks Bret for such a detailed response and sharing your set up. Sorry by the way for such a late answer but I've been really busy cutting this and trying to fix this issue I'm having. I've found many things on my trip to audio hell but haven't figured out how to properly solve it. I understand everything you say and see how it works but I guess the main difference in our set ups is the way fcpx handles raw mono audio when they are a few.

Camera audio is no issue since it's already part of the clip and connecting one more source to that seems to work pretty fine, that's your case. My case is 4 mono with no audio from camera and even thought it seems weird to me having a clip with one video "layer" and 4 audio connected to it doesn't results in a clip with one video and four audio components as it should. That was the main point of my problem. The only way of having this 4 sources represented as 4 components was to actually break apart audio from it's own container (even there is nothing to break apart it does break apart adding an underscore to the name of the clip) This way clips finally show the 4 components but if you blade, copy or do any manipulation things just go messy and then component 1 sounds on component 2 and some other crazy stuff. I ended up creating a compound clip with the video and the first component (boom 1) which is the one I use the most, and at least this way this component doesn't get mixed up with the others. The others have been placed as well into a compound clip (seems like the only way to make'em show up along with the other compound) but they keep messing between each other. I'm gonna try to make it work by placing every audio into a compound clip as it seems the only way fcpx knows to handle stuff and this not just my opinion but I've read about some people noticing troubles when handling raw mono audio which is not part or a compound or anything.

I know this is too weird, and I'm feeling like I'm the only one having this problem so I guess there is something pretty wrong I may have done at some point. I've gone from desperate to giving up, I can't even recall how many times I've tried to set this project properly and I promise it takes a loooong time each time so I'm not looking for help anymore, I gave up. I'm just posting this in case somebody ever has the same problem can have a work around or at least don't get this feeling I'm having of editorial loneliness :)

Thanks for reading this!


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Scott Parker
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Oct 31, 2015 at 9:16:29 pm
Last Edited By Scott Parker on Nov 1, 2015 at 12:11:23 am

I'm having a similar issue to the OP. Very helpful info shared here but I'm still battling.

I have shot a short documentary using dual system sound. I imported the audio clips and the video, then used FCP's synchronize clips function (I didn't make compound clips). All worked well. If I open the synched clip using Open in Timeline, all 4 audio tracks are there (plus the stereo track that is attached to the imported video).

When I edit that clip into the timeline and use "expand audio", I see the stereo pair from the video file, and ONE audio track. Only ONE not FOUR.

OKAY it's sorted out now at least on my side. I needed to use WaveAgent and turn my mono wav files into a polyphonic wav file, then synch THAT polyphonic file to the video clip. Then, when I edit the clip into the timeline and use Expand Audio everything works fine.

I wonder if this contributes to your problem that you are using mono files that have not be wrapped together as polyphonic?

Anyhoo, glad for all the help on this forum that's for sure!


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Scott Parker
Re: About audio components, channels and compound clips
on Nov 1, 2015 at 12:45:43 am

Well, might I just note that this whole syncing of multiple mono channels has been a real pain in the ass. What a crock of a system this is to sync multiple mono audio tracks.

Little wonder I am growing to so dislike this software. Way too many issues over the past 4 months.

Total waste of a day getting this sorted and still at it.

Yeah yeah gripes department is down the hall...


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