Replacing Dual Mono Tracks with Stereo Tracks in Media Composer

I am working on a feature right now that I brought over from Premiere into Media Composer as it transitioned from one crew to another.  Our lead editor requested that some tracks be converted from dual mono to stereo tracks. I know that some of us in the editorial community have looked for an automated way to do this conversion, but the dual mono clips, as two single files (not a true dual mono file), cannot be converted into a stereo track. Here is a tutorial I wrote out for the process. I hope it helps as many of you as it can and good luck! Please let me know if you have any tips to improve the process.

Screenshot 2016-06-18 11.08.54
Setup your timecode tool in the Avid to have as many tracks that you will need in order to cover one of the dual mono audio tracks.
Move all your dual mono tracks that you want to convert into stereo tracks into a designated area on the timeline. In this example, they cover A22-A33.
If you have brought in new stereo tracks to replace the mono ones (if your audio was from an OMF or AAF, that will need to be the case as you cannot make stereo clips out of an L and R pair without doing a mixdown), bring those into the same bin as your dual mono SFX and before you sort them all together, color them all the same color so you know by sight which ones are stereo clips. I’m coloring mine light blue. I don’t have the dual mono colored at all for now. When that is done, sort the sound effects by name. You should see the Stereo sound effect, the L channel sound effect and a R channel sound effect in the bin now. They may be in a different order, but they should all be there.
Create some stereo tracks on the timeline. I only create one at a time so I don’t need to create more than necessary. The shortcut for this is Command + Shift + U. The track will go at wherever the last track left off. Like, if you have Track 1-10, 15-20 (because you deleted 5 tracks at one point), the new track will go to A11.
Only highlight one/two tracks at a time, basically whichever your SFX clip to replace is on. I’m starting at A33 and working my way up. I’ve set a keyboard shortcut for F2 – Match Frame, F4 – Find Bin and Tab to Toggle Source/Record. T is already set to Mark Clip as a default. Also, having audio waveforms on the timeline helps as a visual check to make sure they look like the same effect as you replace the files.

Screenshot 2016-06-18 11.18.23
With A32 & A33 as the only tracks highlighted, I move the curser to the first frame of the clip I am going to replace. I hit T so it marks an in and out on the clip I want to replace. I see the first frame of the SFX clip is 1:00:04:02. I hit F2 (Match Frame) and F4 to Find the Bin where it is at. You can see in the image that there is a Stereo Clip (in light blue) and the L and R channel file for that sound effect. I load the stereo/blue clip in the source monitor (fancy way of saying double click).

Smart DX – Tracking Takes and Creating Markers Live

I’ve been working on a several animated projects in the past few years (Tron: Uprising, Kung Fu Panda 3, an upcoming feature produced by Paramount Pictures among others) and one thing that has always been difficult is the manual process of breaking down dialogue. I’ve learned to become very fast at it, but it’s still very time consuming and always seems to happen when there is already a crunch going on in editorial.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to streamline the process and I grabbed some friends and colleagues and have come up with this application called Smart DX. It helps you track takes while you are in the recording session and lets you change marker colors (circle takes vs. false starts vs. producer picks) as you go.

I’ve created a KickStarter page for the project. I’ll post some tutorials in the next coming weeks as to how this can be useful for one man band shops, small companies and bigger budget features. Take a look at the project and if you the project would help you, reserve your copy.

The Week of Anticipation

In a week I will be downloading Avid Media Composer 5.0. I’ve been delaying all edits of H.264 files. I have a batch of XDCAM files ready to test. I already have a client convinced we will use Avid on the next project instead of FCP because it is being shot on a 7D and the workflow will be faster. What other new tricks will I be able to conjure up in the “old dogs” software known as Avid.

On a small shoot yesterday, a client called me in to make sure this camera crew she hired was getting all the coverage and types of shots she wanted to see during our edit. I asked them about software preferences in editorial. It’s all FCP. All HDV. That sounds just like a big headache to me. Why not move with something faster workflow wise to save time and money? You know, the opportunity cost of the workflow?

I had lunch with an agency in Salt Lake City two weeks ago. After talking about a small piece I had edited, I showed them the piece on my laptop. “Is this color corrected already? It looks great!”

Avid Media Composer 5.0 Features I’m Excited About

I work from home about 50% of the time. I do all of that work off of a MacBook Pro. I would love to invest in a nice Mac Pro setup, but whenever I do hard core work I get brought into an office with a nice Symphony system or FCP suite. All in all, I am very excited about the new Media Composer software because it gives me a few reasons to tell clients that it would be more efficient to use Avid instead of FCP for once.

Now, I am not going to dive in deep to analyze everything possible, as I was not able to attend NAB and therefore have not tried the software out myself. These are just some thoughts I’ve had over the past couple days.

1) Editing H.264 and ProRes. HDSLR footage, come my way please. I tend to edit 1-2 pieces a week shot on the 7D and this just makes me excited. I can spend more time on the editing and less time on converting the footage to Pro Res before it comes into the system. Good feature for us flat rate payment guys. And then ProRes, really? Great. I’ll take it. I usually use ProRes as something to convert footage that isn’t editing well (H.264) on timelines so I only use it when its HDV or shot on a HDSLR.

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