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Using OMF and AAF files, video editors can send edited and synchronized audio track to Pro Tools, maintaining the original track's clip in and out points, levels, panes, and crossfades. Audio handles can also be included, so the audio editor can still trim and add crossfades to the audio. For this movie, we will show how an OMF export works in Final Cut Pro, but the concepts we see here are very similar for Avid Media Composer exporting as well. So, here we are in our Final Cut Pro project. The first thing we want to do is make a duplicate of the sequence, just for safety.
So, I am going to right-click on the sequence and select Duplicate. So, let's work off this duplicate copy as we export. If the sequence is very long and there is a large amount of audio content, consider cutting it into smaller sections, or reels. OMFs have a file size limit of two gigs, so if all the media you are including goes beyond that quota, it won't be created at all. A good rule of thumb is to have each reel be about 20 to 25 minutes long; any longer than that, you might exceed the two-gig quota. So, next thing what we want to do is make sure the timeline includes the two pop on all tracks, exactly two seconds before the action.
So, here we have the very beginning of our sequence. We do have a two pop. It is on all the audio tracks, and these two pops will ensure sync is solid when we bring it into Pro Tools. The next thing we want to do is make sure all the audio tracks, in this case there's four tracks, have a green speaker button next to them. That means they're currently active, and they will be included in the OMF. AS you can see here, we've got some audio automation with this pink line going across each track. That's volume automation. Some people choose to just wipe that out.
I like to leave it in just so that the audio editor has a reference of where you though the track level should be on the video side of things. So, now we are going to actually go ahead and do the OMF export. So, we will go up to File > Export > Audio to OMF, and we get the Audio OMF Export dialog window. Here, we can choose the Sample Rate, which we are going to leave at 48, which is the video standard sample rate. Bit Depth is usually 16-bit, but if you were recording with a camera that could record 24-bit audio and that's what you're working with, you can go ahead and keep that at 24-bit.
For this one, we are to leave it at 16-bit. Then we have Handle Length, so right now it's set to 5 seconds, but Final Cut Pro defaults Handle Length to 1 second. I like to keep it at least 5 seconds, and that gives our audio editors a lot of room outside the boundaries of each cut to work and crossfade and that sort of thing. Below that we have three more options, one is Include Crossfade Transitions. I can see we have a couple of crossfade transitions in this sequence. I usually uncheck that box because we are going to make any crossfades we need to make on the Pro Tools side of things.
So, I am going to keep that unchecked, and also historically there was some sync issues coming from Final Cut Pro if you did check this box. But here, we also get the option to include levels and panning, which I do like to keep checked. Again, it's to give the Pro Tools editor some reference of where you thought the level should be. So, once you hit OK, It's going to ask us where to put them. For now, I will put them on the desktop, and we will call it Sequence NTSC OMF and, we will hit Save. It's a pretty fast process. It does its thing. It goes through each track, and we are done.
So, the last thing we need to do in the transfer from Final Cut Pro to Pro Tools is to export a video reference movie. So, here we are going to go up to File again, and we are going to say Export > QuickTime Movie. And we are going to look at the Settings here. This is the codec we are going to be using. I prefer to choose the DV NTSC codec. It's going to be a bigger movie. It's not compressed, but that's the ideal type of movie for Pro Tools systems, because when it's in that codec, the Pro Tools editor can send the movie out via FireWire to an external monitor.
If you do have a file size concern and DV NTSC is too big, you can choose a codec like H.264. You want to go down to the Custom option and here under Compressor, you can choose say H.264, which is a fairly good compression scheme to use for exporting a movie, but for now we are going to keep it on DV NTSC. I do also always include audio and video. That way the reference QuickTime Movie has a scratch audio track that can also be brought into Pro Tools as a reference, and we wan to make movies self-contained.
I mean then here, we will just export this sequence, took off the copy, and we will export it also to the desktop. We will hit Save, and it will do its thing. So, we've now navigated the simple but crucial steps to properly bridge the gap between the video edit system and Pro Tools using OMF. I know you might not be a video editor yourself, but it's good to be well versed in these steps, and I also make up a detailed document containing this info if I can't be around during this export.
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