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Old February 18th, 2009, 03:44 PM   #1
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Production Sound Mixer Delivery Formats

I just wanted to find out what the most common file types are for audio recorders. It seems as if BWFs are used quite a bit but they require a conversion tools such as BWF2XML to preserve the metadata. As an editor are there other file types that I should be aware? What are the requirements in post? Thanks, Ryan
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Old February 18th, 2009, 04:14 PM   #2
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Ryan,
There seem to almost as many different approaches as high end recorders. Some are more proprietary than others and different post NLE's seem to deal with them differently. BWF seems to end up being the most common to end up with in NLE. Some record Polywave and some don't

Sound Devices has this posted on their website File Format Overview|Sound Notes|Sound Devices, LLC

Fostex is similar to Sound Devices with BWF and Polywave

Nagra "The NAGRA VI records using Broadcast Wave File (BWF) format and is iXML compatible for the metadata making the files compatible with all modern post-production equipment."

Aaton Cantar "AES31 BWF Monophonic tracks for instant use by any computer or mixing console with no de-interleaving nor decompressing treatment"

Zaxcom has software to convert their .zax files to whatever you want. From the quick start guide "To convert a TRX900 or ZFR100 .zax file, do the following (this process is the same for Mac OS X
and Windows):

1. Open the ZaxConvert program.

2. Insert your MiniSD Card into your computer.

3. Choose the settings for the output file.
You need to choose the file output format (MP3, BWAV Poly, or BWAV Mono), Bit Depth (16- or 24-bit),
Number of channels (2, 4, 6, 8, or no limit of channels), and if you need to force 48K stamps
for the DV40.

4. Choose the import folder location.
This is usually on your MiniSD card and contains the ZDIR and ZAX0000 files.
A list of segements appears.

5. Choose the output folder location.
Ensure that you do not have MiniSD card choosen as the output folder location.

6. Click Translate Files."
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Old February 18th, 2009, 08:29 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for the info! You don't by chance know where I could get some sample BWFs do you? I downloaded a trial version of BWF2XML and have been testing it out but I don't quite understand how to to work with the Data Mapping function. Any additional info in this regard or possibly a link to some BWFs would really be appreciated. Thanks again, Ryan
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Old February 19th, 2009, 04:47 AM   #4
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Ryan:

One thing to be aware of, is that every BWAV file is slightly different. Also, you can have mono or poly BWAV files by this, I mean that every channel can be it's own file (mono) or a BWAV file can have all the channels placed into one file (poly).

When I'm doing music recording, I mirror in mono but that's because of the limitations of Digital Performer which I use to master the recording. When I deliver to producers/telecine they get a DVD RAM disc with poly files on it. They can drop these into Avid or FCP and all the channels are separated out for them automatically.

The best option for you is to find out from the person you are delivering the files to what works for them (if they know), if not do some testing with them prior to the shoot.

Also, just to clarify one point, the .zax format has been turned into format by Zaxcom, but it was initially not intended to be used for delivery purposes. It was designed to reduce the file size of audio on the wireless recorders. They have developed it into a format that allows me to take my hard drive in the DEVA and instead of mirroring the data, simply drop it onto my computer hard drive and convert it to BWAV files.

As far as samples go, I'll post a few from the DEVA tonight. I have to get ready and run to a shoot.

Wayne
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 01:02 PM   #5
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Why do you think you'll need to use BWF2XML .....?
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 06:10 PM   #6
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I would use the BWF2XML in order to keep the timecode intact but the problem is the more I read about BWF2XML the more I become skeptical of whether it will work. What are productions doing to keep timecode intact when recording BWFs? How is it done when shooting 23.98 NDF HD video with 29.97 NDF sound (48kHz)? Also, is the process different when shooting 23.98 video and 23.98 sound? As long as I can keep the timecode intact I'll be able to sync everything in FCP and then pass a usable OMF to post sound... I think. Thanks, Ryan
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 05:47 AM   #7
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The BWF2XML thingy was a good thing to have in ancient times. FCP reads TC nicely now - there is no need for those things anymore. When camera runs 23.98something you can run sound at either 29.976 or 23.98 - it doesn't matter. I always run 29.976. Never got a complain ever - and I've been around the block quite a few times.
Still don't know what you're actual problem is, if there is any? What did not work? If you're running sound why are you fretting about OMF files - that's really not your job. There are other folks out there who have to make a living too ;-)
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Old March 5th, 2009, 10:41 PM   #8
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To my knowledge FCP still doesn't completely support BWF metadata but oh boy would I love to be wrong. If what you're saying is true then I can just drop all the BWF clips into the timeline, sync them up, and export my OMF without any need for conversion or loss of timecode? That seems too easy! Regarding my role, I'm the editor. Right now I want to understand everyone's job to the best of my ability so that I know how to ask for what I want and deliver what they need. My other question is... do audio files retain their names in the OMF even if you merge/link clips in FCP. If you happen to have an answer to that question it would be a huge help. Thanks, Ryan
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Old March 6th, 2009, 03:48 AM   #9
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Ryan, there's theory and there's the real world. Let's just figure out the real world. Metadata is such a big word that can mean whatever. What 'metadata' do you really need besides TC. Also, what project are you dealing with. Was it shot video or film and how many frigging audio tracks do you actually have to deal with. How were they recorded (which recorder, how many tracks) and ..., but not least who is actually doing sound/dialog editing and what do they want - what software are they working with and on and on. Is it feature length, how much footage did you get, what's the supposed final length (this to know how big or bloated your export files are going to be) etc.

I understand that you're somewhat new in this business and you seem to make it more complicated than what it is. Just a reality check: I'd say 80% (or even more) of Hollywood studio productions are shot without TC - without any metadata and somehow they manage to go through post.
Do a test edit, line up your audio iso tracks (how many can that really be?????? on a low budget video shoot) and send a test file to the person doing sound editing. Voila, no?

You're keeping quite a lot of forums busy with your endeavor - did you actually start editing?
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