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Old January 18th, 2016, 09:04 PM   #1
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Getting documentary audio master professionally

I'm self funding and self producing a historical documentary and I am at the final stages of the project after a years culmination of work ...smiley face here :)

Over the course of the year I used dvinfo for advice on how to record the auido and what equipment to use. Apparently everything I have done was right and the guy I am hiring to master the film said its of a very high standard and that there is very little to be done to iron out any creases pop etc. So thanks to everyone who advised me so far.

In the end I decided to pay to have the film mastered because I have no pro auido tools knowledge and I want the finish product to be of a broadcast-able standard.

The problem I am having is in relation to the very strict picture lock and the cost of ANY re-edits. I am working in final cut and my sound guy is working in pro auido tools. I understand that there would be syncing issues if I was to cut anything out. However my sound guy has said even if there is a slight change everything from that edit onwards would basically have to be remastered from scratch again and that would obviously be reflected in the cost. So the cost of re mastering twice in effect.

Cost is an massive issue for me, I am basically spending money I don't have to get this film finish and a good bit of that budget is going toward my sound guy. My question is.....Is there any sensible work around that would allow a better work flow and make the sync less of a nightmare to keep cost a re-edit down?

I've been told that once its finish I will get one WAV file back with everything in one auido file but he also mentioned that I could have my music and my effect and my talking heads all on different layers. My brain as been thinking of a work around and if all my mastered auido is on different layers and if I was export those files back to him surely this would minimise the work and help with syncing?

Obviously from the kinds of questions I'm asking I am a sound novice. But this must be a problem that comes up time and again so hopfully there is a more sensible work around. I am asking this question now before I get my sound guy to start as I want to see if there is a better solution to this hugh syncing issue/cost issue.
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Old January 18th, 2016, 10:04 PM   #2
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re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

Audio post usually commences after the picture is 'locked', since a video edit would trash the audio/video sync from that point on. Otherwise a project could be done in locked sections.. but that must be decided upon prior..
Your sound person probably means 'stems', which are usually separate dialog, music and S/FX files. This is typically in addition to the master mix file, in case a foreign language version or mix minus version is needed. It's also not uncommon for broadcaster's to demand audio stems in their submission specs. Creating stems is relatively fast and easy and should be included whether you need them or not.
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Old January 18th, 2016, 10:54 PM   #3
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re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

Hi Rick

So I can assess that 'Stems' won't help in terms of me been able to cut auido or help minimise the sync problem.

I really am at a picture lock stage and the only thing I would possible for see is maybe two sections coming out. The reason for this is because I'm awaiting image copyright approval and I can't hold up the masting any longer as I have people who want to see the end product and that's obviously important.

If I was to cut sections out is it a case that everything from that point on has to be remaster?This is obviously a fair bit of work and also massive cost factor.


Also I found this application that helps sound guy pin point exact changes Conformalizer - The Cargo Cult is this package something that most auido editors use?
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Old January 19th, 2016, 02:12 AM   #4
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re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

Stems will help a great deal if you have to re-version and we do it all the time in broadcast.

My workflow is as follows using FCP 7 and Pro Tools for audio dubbing:

1: Picture and basic audio track lay and edit in final cut pro.

2: Export OMF audio to Pro Tools for final mixing and addition of sound extras.

3: Final mixes and stems as below within Pro tools using virtual automated mixing to produce mixes and stems via groups and main outputs.

a: Stereo Final Mix (c,d+e below)
b: M&E mix (music and effects (d+e below)
c: Dialogue stem
d: Music stem
e: Effects stem

4: Export final mixes and stems from Pro Tools to audio files.

5: Re-lay final mixes and stems from audio files onto FCP timeline.

6: Export final graded pic and sound masters from FCP as required.

If you follow these steps you will then have everything on your FCP timeline so if you then do any further re-edits you will be able to use the stems to produce the re-versions. I usually produce a new FCP edit sequence for each mastering version to keep things neat and tidy.
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Old January 19th, 2016, 03:46 AM   #5
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re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

Hi Gary

This is the kind of work flow I was thinking off between FCP and Pro Auido. I have no issue with creating new omf files and a new picture lock. Then I assume my sound editor just opens it as a new file and deals with the cuts.

At the moment this is how my auido is layered

1 Speakers
2 effects
3 music (staggered onto two layers as some over lap).

If I get back these files in the same layered arrangement (stems/wav files) Then I can cut whats necessary and export a new picture lock and new omf file and direct my sound get to the changes but giving the time code. I am assuming that this action doesn't undo the mastering process in any way? and do these stems have to be converted back into WAV files?

I hope I'm fully understanding the work flow here as I want to be able to communicate back to my sound guy. Is this something that he would be already aware of?
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Old January 19th, 2016, 06:38 AM   #6
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re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

It doesn't matter how your audio is laid out in FCP as the audio guy will sort it into the stems as final mixes.

You then put them back on your timeline as I said so that if you do any further cuts you can use the mixed final tracks to sort any overlap problems.

Once the mixes are done you don't need OMF it is only there to export to the audio guy before final mixing.

For any project my final graded and locked off picture has the final mixes and stems with it so that if anything is cut out it is easy to take elements and re-adjust the delivery output.

Of course if you start adding new material it will need that to be matched to your final audio mixes but that is another problem altogether.

This is why picture needs to be locked before any dubbing but re-versioning to suit a different delivery spec is commonplace as different broadcasters may have various needs for transmission.

For Discovery etc you tend to deliver all the stems and masters and they just re-cut it all themselves.

The broadcaster should give you a delivery spec of what they need as doing it after can be very costly and you need to be careful that future specs don't eat into your profit margin.

You say this is self funded I would be checking that you can actually sell it as a completed project before you spend a lot of money on audio post as it may be that everything that you do could be re-edited and you will just waste a lot of time and money.

As for your sound guy it all depends on what skills he has, I see that your core business is wedding video's but with best respects delivering to broadcast spec with full masters etc is specialist work and if your audio guy is not experienced in broadcast delivery and levels etc you may be wasting time and money.
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Old January 19th, 2016, 07:18 AM   #7
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re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

It remains unclear why you can't wait for audio mastering AFTER you have all the edits complete? Especially if you are on a tight budget.

Remember the old saw: Quality / Low-Price / Speed, you can select only TWO.
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Old January 19th, 2016, 09:11 AM   #8
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re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ana Conlon View Post
So I can assess that 'Stems' won't help in terms of me been able to cut?
No, stems will not help with sync issues.
I have had clients wanting change a video clip after picture lock.. which is possible, and will
not screw up sync, if the replaced clip is the (exact) same number of frames.
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Old January 19th, 2016, 01:18 PM   #9
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Re: Getting documentary audio master professionally

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ana Conlon View Post
...I really am at a picture lock stage and the only thing I would possible for see is maybe two sections coming out...
Have you discussed this, specifically, with your post audio engineer?

With this info he/she should be able to give you some real numbers as to cost and schedule impact.

"The cost of remastering..." is somewhat loose and undefined. If you're able to tell him/her "This 2:10 might need to come out later; can you work efficiently around it? At what cost? How long would it take?"

As a producer of this project, you've no doubt had to make many decisions that balance cost and value. This is just another such decision. It happens to be audio, where you're not so sure of yourself, but, I'm suggesting that doesn't matter.

Get the quotes & estimates from your contributors, make a decision that balances cost, schedule impact, and value.

*********************
Any contributor worth their salt will encourage a producer to do things the right way. Locking picture before going into audio sweetening and mastering is the right way. But, also, any contributor worth their salt should be prepared to discuss schedule and cost of deviating, because "the right way" can't always be the right way for every project. The producer must balance all of this - in my opinion that's the producer's most important task.

And congrats on getting your project to this point! It means a lot that an audio pro has reviewed your edit and said that you did pretty well on sound. That's something in which so many indies fail. You're ahead of the game, leading the pack, if I were offered this project I'd want to work with you! Be straight with your audio guy/gal about this, he/she will want to work on your future projects.
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