Sunday, March 16, 2008

Soundtrack Pro Round Trip

NOTE: I originally wrote this with screenshots of every step but stupid blogger's picture management made the pics unsuable. So I am just going to publish it without the pics.

Nance and I have just finished our current project. Nance used both Apple Color and the FCP 3-way corrector tool in the onlining process and I did the music, voiceovers and audio cleanup.

I thought I would blog a little bit about some of the processes that we went through. Nance kept copious notes on Color and I will be using those to post an article about that experience. Today, I will focus on Soundtrack Pro. Specifically, how to do roundtrip editing in conjunction with Final Cut Pro and following that, how to do some simple audio cleanup using Soundtrack Pro (hereinafter referred to as STP).

You must be trippin, dude!

We’ll start with the roundtrip process taking an FCP project, sending it to STP and then sending it back to FCP.

In the FCP file menu is the Send To option.

Note that if the Soundtrack Pro Audio and Multitrack project options are disabled, it is because we need to select either a clip from a sequence or a sequence itself from the project window.

Once I have selected a clip in the timeline, the STP Send To options are no longer disabled in the send to menu. For our purposes, I am going to send a full sequence to STP.

With my sequence selected in my project window AND my project window is the active window, I now have the option to send this sequence to STP as a multitrack project.

Having selected that option, I am prompted for a name for the project that STP will use and I have the opportunity to specify where I want to save it. Save it in an appropriate folder and let FCP create the STP project. Note that FCP suggests a filename that includes the sequence name and (sent) appended to it. I usually just accept this option.

Once this process is complete, STP is launched automatically and our new project is loaded into STP.

Let’s assume that you have now gone in and added tracks and put in music / foley / VO, or whatever. Now it’s time to send it BACK to FCP. From the FILE menu we select EXPORT.

We are presented with the file browser screen to specify a location for our file that is going TO FCP. But, here we have to come up with a name - I generally use the original name (without the (sent) portion) and add (Sent to FCP) and then select an appropriate location for the file to be saved.

Now, we have a number of options that we can choose from in terms of how the audio will be treated when it is sent to FCP. Under the Exported Items, we have a few options:

MASTER MIX generally means that STP will take ALL of your tracks and do a final mixdown into a singe stereo pair and sent that to FCP. All Tracks, on the other hand, will retain all of your original tracks in FCP.

Unless I am COMPLETELY satisfied with the final mix and I know I will not be doing anything more with it, I tend to pick the All Tracks Option. This way I can still tweak a few discreet audio elements inside of FCP.

You can also use the Selected tracks option so that you can selectively include and exclude what tracks are going to be sent to FCP.

Now, following this you can select audio bitrate and format options. Set these to whatever is appropriate to your project (24 bits makes a larger file and few devices out there can play 24 bit - A CD is 16 bit for example).

And Finally, the last option allows us to tell STP that we want all of this audio deliciousness to end up in FCP. So set the After Export option to Send Files to FCP Sequence.

Once you hit the Export button, STP will begin the process of exporting.

Now, if FCP is already running and it gets a signal from STP telling FCP that there is a new file for it to process. FCP then prompts us for what to do with this new file.

We are offered the option of creating a whole NEW project in FCP for this file or we can just add it to the current project as a new Sequence.

Most of the time you will just be adding this as a new sequence and not creating a new project. Once we click OK, FCP imports our new STP sequence into our existing project.

Once that process is complete we will have a new sequence with the name that we gave it in the export process inside of STP and we can then continue on with our project. This naming convention allows you to quickly see what sequences have been sent to FCP from STP

Final Notes

Once in a while, when I send a sequence to FCP, FCP gets into a weird state where the dialog box that asks if the files should be a new project or a new sequence becomes hidden. In that instance, I will bring up another application over the top of FCP and then click on the FCP icon in the dock and that seems to straighten it out.

A lot of folks like to work in STP a clip at a time instead of as an entire sequence. The process described here is basically the same. Play around with this. Make a test project and play with sequences and clips back and forth until you are comfortable with the workflow.

I will publish Part 2 of this article this week. That will focus on cleaning up audio in STP including accurately replacing noise with room tone and not affecting sync. Stay tuned!


Mike Lowther said...

thank you soo much!

ajophoto said...

Thanks for this. I have trawling the web for some answers on STP.

I have been having trouble getting my head round STP to be honest. I am running some tests on voice overs and have been trying to clean up some v/o recorded using the FCP v/o tool.

I have followed your instructions to send the multitrack back to FCP from STP, but the edits I have made to various audio files do not seem to have been returned.

I thought I might need to save the changes I have made to each audio file as well as the over all track? When I click to save the individual audio file, it tells me I need to render the file...all very confusing...

If you have any thoughts on this I'd apprciate it.


Tavi said...

thanks for a very thorough concise explanation! amazing how the right information at the right speed smooths out the learning curve...

Anonymous said...

Still useful after all these years. Thanks. FCP7 and STP are still great.

Charlotte said...

This is gorgeous!