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Old July 30th, 2008, 01:44 AM   #16
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Despite all the negative feedback here, I have successfully used STP 2 to mix a 2-hour feature film in 5.1, and several short (~20min) films. Here is the workflow that works very well for me.
- The FCP timeline was broken up into many sections of the film. Into 5-20 minute segments, each in it's own sub-timeline. Obviously, we had to make sure that each segment of the film was clean at the beginning and end, in other words, there could not be any transition sound or music between those scenes. Some sections were very long connected by music cue after music cue. Some were short and sweet.
- As each section was locked for picture, that segment was exported to a STP project file. This way if the picture did change, at worst we would only have to re-mix a small portion of the film.
- Each segment was mixed in STP, 5.1 surround. When completed, a 6-channel wav file was generated.
- Back in FCP, all the sections of the film were nested in a master timeline configured for 6-channel audio. The first two tracks were mapped to a stereo audio pair and played the stereo audio from the nested timeline. Then I mapped the next 6 tracks to the 6 channels of the 5.1 outputs.
- As each final 6-channel wav file was finished, I would disable the stereo pair for that section of the film, and drop in the final audio on the 6-channels.
- When everything is done, I export a Quicktime or send to Compressor.

So it can be done, and overall I think it went very well actually. Now, STP did crash several times, but I did start to sense when things were getting sluggish and proactively restarted STP as needed. And, there were some wierd issues with rendering, where panning effects or bus effects were incorrectly rendered. But a few re-renders magically "fixed" it (I still don't know why).

Attempting to mix this as a single 2-hour film would have been impossible, but due to the way we were cutting the film, our post-audio workflow worked out perfectly.

One final note, after you've been mixing in STP you'll drop your final WAV back into FCP and when you play it back it sounds like someone put cotton balls in your ears. I haven't looked into it, but I have a feeling FCP doesn't play the full dynamic range of the audio in order to save bandwidth for the video. When the final video is rendered from FCP, the full dynamic range of the audio comes back again.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 01:48 AM   #17
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Obviously, given this thread and general word of mouth, Soundtrack Pro has some issues. As soon as you mention Soundtrack to most people working in post, they generally just say "it's useless, it crashes all the time". Now this might be true! But what I find strange is that when you click "Search" on this program and type "Soundtrack Pro crash" you get no results. Google returns a lot of results on this topic - but when you do a bit of investigating through various forums, blogs and websites there seems to be no conclusion as to why the application is crashing. People just give up! But by the same token, there seems to be a lot of people that are using Soundtrack Pro without any problems. So what's going on? Well either the people successfully using Soundtrack Pro are only doing simple tasks or are lying about doing complex jobs, or that there's something that's conflicting with the software (i.e. software, hardware or driver conflicts, etc.). I've had a couple of people tell me that they hate Soundtrack Pro and that it keeps on crashing on them. When I try to recreate the problems, I never can. And it's not that I'm running on super amazing hardware either - I'm still on a G4!

Personally, I think one of the reasons why Apple isn't urgently rushing out massive loads of bug fixes is because, like me, they are having recreating the problems. That's not to say that the bugs aren't there - they no doubt are - it's just that you must need the right combination of things to happen to cause these serious crashes.

Keep in mind, that I'm purely talking about the random CRASHES here. The other issues of course are (and I quote) the "bad interface", it's "unintuitive", "clunky", etc. But I think a lot of this comes down to personal preference. Personally I found Protools to be unintuitive! It's certainly not a piece of software you just can sit down to without any prior knowledge and just make work (unlike Final Cut Pro). Of course, once you work out how it functions, and you learn all the shortcut keys, then it's super stable and amazingly fast. But it does take time. I'm not sure if people who try out Soundtrack Pro really take the time to get past the initial stumbling blocks.

Again, I'm not writing this to claim that somehow Soundtrack Pro is the world's greatest software package, nor am I writing this to say that everyone's lying about Soundtrack Pro crashing. As I said, I don't use audio editing/mixing software on a day-to-day basis, nor am I an expert in the field. But I do wonder why, if Soundtrack Pro is really as bad as everyone makes out, why more people aren't complaining. Surely if it was crashing non-stop, then Apple would be being inundated with requests, and there would be a lot more software updates than there currently is (...and yes, I understand that sometimes Apple is a bit slow in fixing certain things - just look at some of the bugs that stuck with Final Cut across multiple versions, but you get my point).

What I would REALLY like to see, is that when Soundtrack Pro DOES crash, that people report it to forums like this so discussions can be had to work out what the problems are, and how they can be fixed. Maybe it's a very simple conflict issue. Obviously I don't think Soundtrack Pro is perfect, but it will never get any better if people don't actually report issues when they pop up.

My Soundtrack Pro rant aside, and getting back to the original point - Jack is right on the money. Why does your sound mixer/editor want to use Soundtrack Pro in the first place? Is it purely the fact that the integration between Soundtrack Pro and Final Cut is SUPPOSEDLY quite good? If that's the case, then as Gary pointed out, the integration between Protools LE and Final Cut is quite good as well. Always keep in mind that all of these software packages are just TOOLS. You need to use the right tool for the job and the artist. My suggestion would be to work out which software package will give your audio editor/mixer the most creative control and freedom, and then ask questions and investigate how you develop the workflow for this package. There's ALWAYS a way to get from Software Package A to Software Package B. Sometimes it just takes a bit of creative thinking to work it out...

Good luck!
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Old July 30th, 2008, 07:09 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Chris Hocking View Post
... I find strange is that when you click "Search" on this program and type "Soundtrack Pro crash" you get no results. Google returns a lot of results on this topic - but when you do a bit of investigating through various forums, blogs and websites there seems to be no conclusion as to why the application is crashing. ...
If I do a Google search for '"soundtrack pro" crash' I get many results. I can cause it to crash pretty easily. Software only editing, no third party hardware interfaces in the loop. Maybe it's a software driver conflict. Who knows. You are welcome to come visit my edit suite anytime :-). I don't have the patience to be a beta tester when I'm trying to get work done. I think many other people are in the same boat as far as STP goes. Keeping projects as short as you can does reduce the likelihood of crashing in my experience. I "report" most of my crashes to Apple. I wonder what they do with all those crash reports. And where I'm coming from, a big fan of Final Cut Studio 2, I really wish this was not so.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #19
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Opps! Correction... I meant to say:

But what I find strange is that when you click "Search" on this FORUM and type "Soundtrack Pro crash" you get no results.

All good points David... And you're 100% right - if you're a full time professional, obviously you simply do not have the time to use software that isn't stable and reliable. But what I don't understand is, why aren't all the film schools and educational facilities around the world screaming about Soundtrack Pro crashing all the time - or are they? There are countless courses and training packages around the world focussing on Soundtrack Pro. Are they all suffering the same issues? Sorry - I'll stop pushing this now, but hopefully you can see where I'm coming from. Obviously it's not working for you, and many other PROFESSIONAL users around the world. But I'm just curious as to what the actual cause is, and how we convince Apple to fix the issues - because obviously, Apple doesn't seem to think there is much wrong with the software...

Given all these interesting posts, I'm really interested to see what you end up doing Christopher! Keep us posted!
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Old July 31st, 2008, 01:42 PM   #20
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[...] But what I don't understand is, why aren't all the film schools and educational facilities around the world screaming about Soundtrack Pro crashing all the time - or are they? There are countless courses and training packages around the world focussing on Soundtrack Pro. Are they all suffering the same issues? [...]
I think the rigors of professional production and an educational environment are often different. I think Soundtrack Pro is fine for short things, I've used for a couple of two or three minute pieces. I like the interface. It's great for teaching. It's elegant. It does M-S stereo decoding (I sometimes use it for). But I think professionals do much more complex mixes, demand more, and are working under pressure, and thus they, as you suggest, have different criteria.

I actually think it's a brilliant software testing strategy, put it out there, and in two or three versions, it will become a rock solid performer. Anyone remember the first version of Final Cut Pro? It had all sorts of problems. Now Final Cut Pro is rock solid (for the most part) in version 6. I'm looking forward to Soundtrack Pro 3 and 4. In the meantime, my mission critical work flows through Digital Performer. Have you ever noticed how most of the tried, true, and rock-solid professional applications (except for Pro Tools) don't have the word Pro in them?

And in case it's not obvious, I only complain 'cause I really wish I could be using Soundtrack Pro 2 for more things. I hate buying two software upgrades when I could be buying one.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:14 PM   #21
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I've had Soundtrack since the first release. Even out of the blocks they are missing on some very simple, basic GUI things and functionality.

I agree with a previous poster; demos great, with some useful features, but gets bogged down. If it were combed out and made right it would be a LOT more useful.

Regards,

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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:35 PM   #22
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Wow, this post has exploded. Thanks for everyones valuable thoughts.
The sound designer wants to use it because he's read numerous books about STP and our deliverables MUST include a 5.1 mix (this is something that STP is shockingly fast at creating). Additionally, since the feature is living in FCP, all original media was provided via a massive G-Raid2 drive. He can always reference back to the original camera source audio (not second system) if he'd need to. In other words, he'll have the locked picture project file to reference for massive heads and tails on edit points.

The second question was workflow which will be short, 10-15 min segments. These segments are broken up from marker points in FCP and contain the locked bits of the feature (intro graphics and end credits omitted). Just picture to picture. Once these "chucks" are completed they'll have corresponding numbers and be dithered for inclusion into the master project. The big picture is output on HD-CAM SR containing 10 channels of independent audio (for international distribution).

Overall, I've been shocked (in the past) at the instability of STP yet there are huge advantages (for us) to using this application. We'll slug through these potential annoyances and get our mix.
Webb - I'll have some questions for you when we get closer.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 03:01 PM   #23
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I have recently been working with Soundtrack Pro 2 (and also with 3) and all I can say: avoid this program at all costs. It is clunky and crashes very often.

I shot a two hour theatreplay and was cleaning up the audio. I used send to Soundtrack to edit it there. First of all, you can't analyze the whole thing as Soundtrack Pro runs out of resources. Once you have analyzed it, you can't fix it anymore because the app crashes during the fix. I also tried doing it in parts but even like 40 minute parts already cause the app to crash. For a comparison, I used Adobe Soundbooth CS4 with an exported AIFF file. It managed to achieve the analyze/fix click/pop in like 9 minutes without stuttering. I tried the same in Soundtrack Pro. Export to AIFF again and import the AIFF into Soundtrack Pro. Now it went a little bit faster (no video preview) but the App still doesn't succeed in getting done what I want. And if it crashes, you have to analyze again. And if you run out of resources during the analyzing part, you can save but when you open you need to redo it again.

Really, how can one call this a serious audio application?

Apple really needs to get the other apps in the Final Cut Studio suite together. Because some of them are either really bad, not good integrated or not developed actively.

Common Apple, I know you can do it if you want to.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 03:14 PM   #24
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I have made overtures to Apple that they consider hiring me (or someone) to work with them in cleaning up STP so that it could be a vastly more usable tool. So far, I seem only to have hurt their feelings. This was not my intention.

At present, it remains quirky and feels like it is an audio software created by the IT department. Were it retooled to be more intuitive and functional in the way audio is usually handled, we would all be better served.

Regards,

Ty Ford

PS: Sorry to hurt your feelings Apple, but my offer is still open.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #25
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What are my options if I don't want to work with Soundtrack Pro?

Many of you use Pro Tools. I also read about Digital Performer.

I tried Sound Booth but I think that's more like an audio editor and not an audio mixer. I don't want to get to advanced in audio production... I want to find a good audo program to clean up audio (clicks/pops/noise/coughs/mobile phones/hums) and do some basic mixing etc. under video content. I like intuitive software (like Final Cut Pro). I have mac only studio so I need Mac compatible software. What do you guys use to clean up small audio files? And what do you guys use for final mixing under a longer feature?

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 12:00 PM   #26
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I am using FCP to track lay as much as possible and then export OMF to pro tools.

I have a 002 console running PT v8 with the DV toolkit, this gives me 128 tracks into 32 buses for final mixing to AIFF file that are then re-laid on the FCP master cut timeline.

I also work to a DV picture which pro tools can output via firewire to a third screen.

I used to use AMS Neve audiofile but pro tools is more suited to modern file based production.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 12:52 PM   #27
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I am using FCP to track lay as much as possible and then export OMF to pro tools.

I have a 002 console running PT v8 with the DV toolkit, this gives me 128 tracks into 32 buses for final mixing to AIFF file that are then re-laid on the FCP master cut timeline.

I also work to a DV picture which pro tools can output via firewire to a third screen.

I used to use AMS Neve audiofile but pro tools is more suited to modern file based production.
So you need a third screen to work with video? Or can I use my secondary monitor?

I know that Logic 9 also has a edit to video option... does anyone have experience with Logic Pro for doing this kind of work?
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Old August 16th, 2009, 03:40 AM   #28
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No you can use just one or two screens with pro tools and put the windows where you want, it also has the ability to run the DV picture down the firewire pipe to a third if you want to.
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Old August 16th, 2009, 11:53 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Floris van Eck View Post
So you need a third screen to work with video? Or can I use my secondary monitor?

I know that Logic 9 also has a edit to video option... does anyone have experience with Logic Pro for doing this kind of work?
Considering the cost/function ratio, Logic would appear to be a reasonable choice.
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Old August 18th, 2009, 10:12 AM   #30
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I've been dissapointed with STP too. I hoped to import OMF's in to it and then top and tail things before moving on to PTLE. It did not play at all well with Avid educational that an editor I know has. Waste of time.
Also it keeps resampling the last fraction of a second when I pause playback which then gives you a clicking sound constantly. It crashes.

You can not easily save files without going through the menus. I hoped it would stop me from missing Wavelab. The only thing I really miss with the Mac is Wavelab. I am now trying Audacity but Wavelab was my favourite stereo editor by far.

PTLE is so much better for eq and dynamics and editing. I would really like a native version of Pyramix but not sure what that would cost.

Thumbs down to STP. I agree with Ty that Apple have done a poor job with it. FCP has bashed AVID but they have yet to bash AVID's audio sibling ... Pro tools. Would be good if they tried harder.

Problem with pro tools is you need the DV toolkit and it's a grand £1000 approx
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