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Suggestions needed for better audio workflow on feature

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Uli Kunkel
Suggestions needed for better audio workflow on feature
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:24:49 pm

I am currently finishing up a feature film in FCP and sending my reels off to sound. But this process has gotten me thinking about how I could have better handled my audio during the editing process.

The film was shot on the Red camera with dual-system audio, and the majority of the audio was synched manually with the clap of the slate rather than synched timecode. At times there were as many as 8 mics playing at once in a scene, and all of those audio tracks playing simultaneously in my timeline got a little cumbersome not to mention bogged down performance.

I am aware that some editors like to edit with 2 stereo LR mixed down tracks that are later conformed, but there doesn't seem to be any really good way of doing an sound conform like this in FCP, especially when timecode isn't in sync or there is no timecode at all. This product is pretty cool, but only seems to work when there is matching timecode between picture and sound.

Has anyone used Cinema tools in your workflow to handle audio? Has anyone ever used it for audio change lists or conforms?

Your insight is appreciated.

Uli


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Alan Okey
Re: Suggestions needed for better audio workflow on feature
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:39:53 pm

[Uli Kunkel] "At times there were as many as 8 mics playing at once in a scene, and all of those audio tracks playing simultaneously in my timeline got a little cumbersome not to mention bogged down performance. "

I find it hard to believe that 8 audio tracks bogged down your system, unless you have a really old system. Try turning off audio waveforms in your timeline if you're having lag issues.


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Uli Kunkel
Re: Suggestions needed for better audio workflow on feature
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:42:12 pm

Playing back 2K ProRes proxies in realtime, merged with 8 audio tracks, plus 10 more audio tracks under that bogs down my system in a program that is neither multi-threaded nor addresses more than 4GB of RAM. Thanks for your input, but you didn't answer my question.

Uli


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Alan Okey
Re: Suggestions needed for better audio workflow on feature
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:45:02 pm

[Uli Kunkel] "Thanks for your input, but you didn't answer my question. "

Thanks for adding the relevant details of your project that should have been in your orignal post.


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Uli Kunkel
Re: Suggestions needed for better audio workflow on feature
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:46:23 pm

My original post wasn't about my system bogging down, it was asking about how to conform audio and edit with a stereo mixdown. Please stop this.


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Andreas Kiel
Re: Suggestions needed for better audio workflow on feature
on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:09:05 am

Playing back 2K ProRes proxies in realtime, merged with 8 audio tracks, plus 10 more audio tracks under that bogs down my system in a program that is neither multi-threaded nor addresses more than 4GB of RAM.
So use another program ?


The film was shot on the Red camera with dual-system audio, and the majority of the audio was synched manually with the clap of the slate rather than synched timecode.
No professional idea.

... there is no timecode at all
an even worse idea.

Has anyone used Cinema tools in your workflow to handle audio? Has anyone ever used it for audio change lists or conforms?
Yes. You should read the manual to figure out what CT is good for and what it does or can do.

Thanks for your input, but you didn't answer my question.

My original post wasn't about my system bogging down, it was asking about how to conform audio and edit with a stereo mixdown
I think at least me missed that original question.
Anyway, if you used a professional audio HDR you should have the mix down already.

Andreas

P.S.
...Please stop this.
Was no polite reply to Alan - Please stop this.


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Alan Okey
Re: audio workflow
on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:03:21 am

[Andreas Kiel] "Was no polite reply to Alan - Please stop this.
"


No, it's OK - I misunderstood Uli's original question and then I was a bit snippy in my reply. No harm intended and no offense taken.

Uli, I hope you're able to find a satisfactory solution. It's sometimes difficult to process questions on this forum because of the mix of beginner and advanced questions. Clearly you're in the advanced category, and as such it can sometimes take a little longer to get a reply form someone with the necessary level of experience in the specific area of the question. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be of much help.

I would also like to know how others are dealing with many tracks of unsynced audio on features.


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Jussi Lehto
Re: audio workflow
on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:08:52 am

hi

If your sound post has Protools 7.4 the workflow could be like this.
- when recording audio to multitrack wave files on field - do stereo mix to tracks 1 & 2 (this is work-mix to editor)
- log and sync normally except sync only the tracks 1 & 2 to picture (all the other channels remain in multitrack file)
-edit
-send omf-file to sound post (with original multitrack files)
-protools can reconnect to multitrack wave-files and replace the work-mix with the separate channels)

and read protools manual before trying this I might have forgotten something.

Tjl



TJL


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Matt Lyon
Re: audio workflow
on Dec 15, 2009 at 5:29:44 pm

Hi all, thought I chime in with my two cents:

I agree with everyone who mentioned that your location sound recordist should do a work-mix on set, on ch.1 and 2 (or even just ch. 1). There is no point in editing with 8 channels of audio, I personally wouldn't even attempt it. Have the location sound person provide DVD-R backups of their files, for the odd case where you need to access the individual tracks for each mic. It is also asking for trouble to not have timecode on the audio files (and that's probably an understatement).

I should mention that I'm assuming here that once complete, you are sending your locked picture to an online facility and sound studio for conforming, color correct and mixing. If you are doing everything "in house" then that changes the game and my thoughts might not be applicable any more.

It's hard to say what the "best" workflow is because so much depends on time and money. Cinema Tools works fine in my experience, but it's primarily designed for scenarios where a lab is synching your rushes and sending you FLX or ALE files along with the synched media. Cinema Tools uses its database to correlate the video timecode to the sound timecode on the source tapes or digital files. As such, it REQUIRES your audio has timecode, or else it's output will be pretty much useless for the sound editors.

If you are manually synching the location audio in your timeline, then your sound files will maintain proper timecode from the source media (so long as it's there in the first place). Then you can edit with just the work-mix and output EDLs and/or OMFs for the sound facility that will have proper timecode. (Jussi's post explains this well)

I know this post is about audio, but I have to say, I'd be extremely weary about editing an entire feature in 2K pro-res. No wonder your system got bogged down. Most folks in my neck of the woods (and maybe Hollywood is different) are still cutting in standard def. Eventually, everything will be HD all the time, but for now, for the sake of speed, I'm happy cutting in SD, then sending the locked picture to an online facility for conforming and packaging. I need my timeline to be as responsive as possible for rapid creative iteration. Not to mention how much longer it can take to make screener DVDs and quicktimes from HD material (of course, this is highly system dependent).

HD or not, my preference is to have a lab sync the rushes and provide dailies tapes with burn in timecode for picture AND sound. At the end of the day, having a visual timecode reference is the best guarantee for getting a smooth, trouble free picture conform and sound mix.

Anyway, I hope this addresses the original question somewhat :-) I guess the bottom line is don't record sound without timecode!


Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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Uli Kunkel
Re: audio workflow
on Dec 15, 2009 at 5:54:00 pm

On the film I'm finishing, the production sound has timecode, it's just that it is not in sync with the picture timecode generated by the Red camera, thus all the dailies were synced manually.

What would the workflow be for tracking the relationship between the Red footage TC and the production audio TC in Cinema Tools? I ask because most people don't edit with the Red proxies and rather transcode the r3ds to a more manageable codec like ProRes. Perhaps after transcoding, you create a database of all the transcoded footage plus the production audio and import it into FCP via Cinema Tools?

Jussi's post makes a lot of sense, and my sound facility has the most recent version of ProTools, so I'm sure they could handle this workflow.

Matt, as far as cutting in 2K goes, you should really give it a shot if you've got a big enough machine to handle it. I just cut this feature in 2K ProRes created through the Log and Transfer window in Final Cut Pro. I think on the next feature I'll transcode with RedRushes to smaller size like 1280x720 merely for performance reasons. However, the 2K always played back in realtime and it was wonderful cutting with such a big, crystal clear image.


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Matt Lyon
Re: audio workflow
on Dec 15, 2009 at 6:39:10 pm

Ah, sorry Uli, I misunderstood and thought there was no timecode on the audio. In this case, I think making a Cinema Tools database would be overkill, since the audio in your timeline would have the proper timecode already. From FCP, you can already directly export an audio only EDL and/or OMF, rather then relying on Cinema Tools to do it.

But if really wanted to do it, I guess you could export a batch list of your transcoded media from FCP, import it into Cinema Tools, attach the media to each entry in the database then manually enter the corresponding audio timecode for each clip (In the "Sound" field). I haven't tried working this way myself, but it seems like it would be a cumbersome process. (but maybe there's a faster way to do this?)

I'd love to switch to HD editing, but as a freelancer, I'm usually editing in a rental suite somewhere and don't get a say in the system specs! Last time we tried HD editing, we had to switch back to SD because it was too cumbersome. But hopefully next time we'll have the budget for at least 720p.

Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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