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Audio Post Workflow with Final Cut Pro X and Pro Tools
Illustration by John Hersey

Choosing sources and assigning tracks


From:

Audio Post Workflow with Final Cut Pro X and Pro Tools

with Scott Hirsch

Video: Choosing sources and assigning tracks

Now that we are set up in Pro Tools, it's time to organize our audio files. The transfer from Final Cut Pro is now frame accurate. But the differences in timelines Final Cut Pro and Pro Tools make it so there are a few discrepancies we need to work through. You may notice as you scroll around the timeline that audio tracks are kind of scattered around the timeline. In this movie we will work through how to organize them and make them easier to work with in Pro Tools. The most glaring of these discrepancies are the music tracks, or any stereo tracks you may have imported. As you can see, Pro Tools pull them on to single mono audio tracks and also panned them to the center.

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Audio Post Workflow with Final Cut Pro X and Pro Tools
57m 55s Intermediate Jun 21, 2012

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Transferring audio from Apple Final Cut Pro X to Avid Pro Tools and back can be a tricky endeavor when Final Cut Pro X doesn't support OMF transfers. But X2 Pro Audio Convert is a program that can make this exchange quick and easy. In this course, Scott Hirsch demonstrates how to transfer audio utilizing X2Pro Audio—an invaluable workflow designed to help optimize and finish the audio of your Final Cut Pro video project.. He imports the audio into Pro Tools and then demonstrates how to make a Pro Tools template for future transfer projects. The course also includes some key EQ and noise reduction techniques that can take your audio for video projects to the next level. The final chapters show how to mix down the audio and export it back to Final Cut Pro X.

Topics include:
  • Preparing the Final Cut Pro timeline for export
  • Exporting audio
  • Importing audio in Pro Tools
  • Choosing sources and assigning tracks
  • Adding sound effects and music
  • Enhancing the audio with crossfades and noise reduction
  • Exporting audio from Pro Tools
Subjects:
Audio + Music Video Audio for Video Post Production
Software:
Final Cut Pro Pro Tools
Author:
Scott Hirsch

Choosing sources and assigning tracks

Now that we are set up in Pro Tools, it's time to organize our audio files. The transfer from Final Cut Pro is now frame accurate. But the differences in timelines Final Cut Pro and Pro Tools make it so there are a few discrepancies we need to work through. You may notice as you scroll around the timeline that audio tracks are kind of scattered around the timeline. In this movie we will work through how to organize them and make them easier to work with in Pro Tools. The most glaring of these discrepancies are the music tracks, or any stereo tracks you may have imported. As you can see, Pro Tools pull them on to single mono audio tracks and also panned them to the center.

This isn't really how we should be hearing these stereo audio tracks. So we want these kind of files to reside on stereo tracks in Pro Tools, and each of the channel should be fully panned left and right to make it a stereo compatible file. So let's type select type Shift+Command+N to make two new stereo audio tracks. We will name these tracks MUS 1 and MUS 2 from music 1 and 2. They will be our two music tracks for this project. Before moving our audio tracks, we want to pan the top track left and the bottom track right of each of the source music tracks.

To do this, we will need to show the Pan automation for each track, and we will move the Pan line with the Trimmer tool all the way to the top, which is panned left for the top channels, and then we will go to the bottom tracks, and we will move the lines all the way to the bottom which is right. If there is any break points written here, we want to select them and hit Delete to erase them. Now we will go back to Waveform view on these tracks.

Now to pull audio into other tracks, you have to be very careful in Pro Tools to make sure it remains in its exact position horizontally. To prevent audio clips from moving left and right while you move clips around, you will hold the Ctrl key as you move them. When you hold Ctrl and drag these music tracks into the stereo tracks, you will see that you are not able to move them to the left or right. This is very important as we move forward, and we move clips from track to track. Now for dialog and B Roll tracks. I recommend making all new tracks and pulling audio from the original AAF import onto them.

This takes a little longer, but it's worth it in the end, because as you do this, you will be listening and getting familiar, and you will be able to assess each clip of audio as you move it onto its corresponding track. So let's make seven new mono audio tracks, again I am using Shift+Command+N. Once they are made we will name them, DIAL for dialog 1, DIAL 2, DIAL 3, DIAL 4.

Notice I am clicking Next just go to the next track to rename it. And then the last two tracks we will name B Roll 1 and 2. For the final track, we will name it Tones. That's where we keep our reference files like our 2-pop and our end pop. Great, so now we will start working through our imported audio, and we will pull those clips onto their appropriate tracks. The BD interview is an example of a multi-microphone source.

Here the INT BD clip of the farmer talking has more than one source track. Let's listen to each source. We will use the Solo button to isolate each track as we listen and compare. (male speaker: --about a hundred different herbs--herbs, vegetables--herbs, vegetables.) You will notice the top track sounds like a closer mic source like maybe a Boom mic or a Lavalier mic and the bottom two sound like maybe like a camera mic, a little bit more distant.

Here we will need to make a decision. Do we use both of these sources or just one? Sometimes it is helpful to use both tracks and blend them together, at other times you want to just pick the best sounding one and go with that. In this case, I will choose the top track the Boom or a Lavalier track, and I will disregard the other two. I will simply select the unused regions and delete them from the timeline by clicking the Delete key. Remember, we have a saved copy of our original AAF import in case we need to go back to any clips. So now I will pull this Boom track onto the dialog track 1, and I will continue with all the interview files called INT BD, since they all have the same source and similar sound.

Don't worry too much of some of the clips overlap as we pull them into their corresponding tracks because later we can edit and cross fade these to how we want them. So you want to continue this process with all the clips in the movie, pulling them onto their corresponding tracks. In documentary work like this, there's only a few principal interviews, so it makes sense to keep one interview source per track. This will allow you keep settings for each interview. In this project we really have two main interviews, we have the BD interview that we were just looking at, and then we have John in the kitchen.

We will use dialog tracks 1 and 2 for those. We will keep dialog tracks 3 and 4, and they will be shared and used for all the other interviews that happen in this project. So it is okay to share tracks when it makes sense. You may come across a scenario when it looks like there are two sources. But really it's the same source duplicated. You will find this happens often in a video edit. Sometimes video editors will do this just to make a track louder. The John Downey interview has this issue. It looks like these files might be separate sources, but let's pull the tracks next to each other to verify that.

Just click and drag on a track header on the left to reorder the tracks. Now as we zoom in, we see the waveforms are actually identical. These really aren't two different sources. It's just the same one duplicated because the waveforms are identical. So we will want to delete one of these, and we will only use one of these sources. It doesn't really make sense to have two copies of the same thing. So remember the interviews of the other people from the farmers market will share dialog tracks 3 and 4. For organization, it's fine to share tracks like this for the minor interviews, but it's good to checkerboard them if possible.

This will keep us organized and make the tracks easier to work with. So now we will continue listening, choosing, and organizing until we get through all of the clips. This is a good opportunity to really listen to each sound and get familiar with what you will be working with. I want to close this project and open a finished version. Now that we are in this finished project, you can see that all the audio clips have been pulled into the tracks we made. We are left with some empty original tracks that we started with.

Let's select these empty tracks by holding the Shift key as we select them. Now we can right-click in any one of the track headers and click Delete tracks. Great, now we are done organizing our session. We can continue working with audio from here on out.

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