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FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?

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Joe Shapiro
FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?
on Mar 22, 2012 at 7:51:18 am

Hi Folks
I'm editing a micro-budget feature and the audio, while quite clean, is recorded at very low levels. I want to make the track inside FCP7 and be able to export it via OMF for mixing. 12db of automation won't get the levels to a reasonable place and duplicating tracks to boost levels is a nightmare. Finally, as far as I can tell I can't get a filter (i.e. Gain) to render to OMF. So...

Does anyone know of another way to boost audio inside of FCP7 so that it'll stick in the OMF?

Alternately, does anyone know of a tool to batch normalize multichannel BWF files while preserving their multichannel-ness, timecode, etc? I'm on a low budget so I can't make any big purchases but I'm still hopeful...

Thanks for any suggestions
Joe

------
Joe Shapiro
Director / Producer / Editor
206-420-6411

imdb.com/name/nm1497731/
twitter.com/JoeSh


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Bouke Vahl
Re: FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?
on Mar 22, 2012 at 9:12:12 am

I don't know of an app. that does this, but there probably is one..
Nevertheless, the sound was recorded low for a reason. 24 bits has a HUGE dynamic range. The recording was probably made with that in mind, to avoid clipping at sudden peaks.
My suggestion is to check with sound post. Chances are they have no problem adjusting the levels.
For you that means lowering the rest of the sound to get a good sounding mix, no matter the levels. (And of course stay in 24 bits!)
For screeners, just gain the mixdown...

hth,

Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Joe Barta IV
Re: FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?
on Mar 22, 2012 at 2:15:37 pm

You can "Send To" the audio directly from the FCP7 timeline to Soundtrack Pro and use its Normalize function in the Process menu.

You may be able to batch process all your files, but you'll have to figure that out I haven't done it with BWF files.


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Michael Gissing
Re: FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?
on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:35:24 pm

Please don't do this. Sound post systems will have no problem with those audio levels. Normalising will cause clip match issues so atmos and apparent loudness levels will vary all over the place and create a lot more work for sound post.

In my Fairlight system for example, I have almost unlimited gain at the clip and track level. It is all done with high bit rate floating point calculations no just some dumb gaining. For editing, just add multiple gain plugins which will not effect the OMF but help you cope in FCP where audio is very much offline.


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Joe Shapiro
Re: FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?
on Mar 22, 2012 at 11:55:08 pm

Thanks folks for the replies.

Bouke and Michael - I appreciate your point-of-view that the sound post facility will have tools and expertise much more appropriate to the task of creating a really good track. That said, my experience to date with post houses is that their rates are such that they can't possibly spend enough time on my project to give me a really good result. The old triangle of "good, cheap, fast - pick any two" bites you.

Like many (most?) micro budget productions, the whole budget has already been spent during production. They'll manage to raise some more funds I suspect - but not enough to pay a topnotch audio guy enough to do a credible job on a feature-length film. If you know otherwise then please point me at folks who will.

I'm sure you're both way more knowledgable about audio than I am, but I'm not exactly a newbie either. I've edited seven features so far, and have never had an experience where the audio post house could spend enough time to make a good track. With our budget, the only way we have to make a quality product is to spend the time (our time) rather than the money.

So the "scratch track" I make in FCP needs to be really quite good and needs to translate to the OMF with high fidelity. If it doesn't then the post house's time will be burned up recreating what I already did but with far less time in which to do it.

I'm in no way saying I'm better at this than the "real" audio guys. I'm not. Just that I have the advantage of time and really caring about the project.

So - I'll truly appreciate any help you can give me. If you want to work on the project for next to no money that's even better. But telling me to leave the real stuff to the post guys has never worked for me at these low budgets so I'm loathe to expect otherwise for this one.

------
Joe Shapiro
Director / Producer / Editor
206-420-6411

imdb.com/name/nm1497731/
twitter.com/JoeSh


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Bouke Vahl
Re: FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?
on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:28:48 am

What is so wrong with the approach om making a good mix with the levels as they are, and the amount of play you have in FCP?

The way i see it, it's just a matter of putting your monitoring a bit louder, and you can forget your build in audio meters (which you don't need anyways, as you'll be mixing on your ears without any risk of overmodulating).

If the mix is nice, most of the work is done...
If you must amplify your sound, as Michael said, don't normalize, but amplify. To retain TC, put the BWF's in a QT container, add timecode and process that.

Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Joe Shapiro
Re: FCP7: Normalize multichannel BWF files so that the new levels will show up in OMF export?
on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:46:18 am

Hi Bouke
Perhaps you're assuming the levels are more consistent than they are. There isn't, as far as I can see, a "base setting" such that the ambiances would match in any way. If I did a simple amplify I wouldn't have any idea how much to do it by. Some places I've had to double the tracks and boost by 12db to get a decent level. Others I've had to make 5 copies of the tracks and boost by 12db. So it seems the safest thing to normalize and then listen and adjust from there.

------
Joe Shapiro
Director / Producer / Editor
206-420-6411

imdb.com/name/nm1497731/
twitter.com/JoeSh


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