To recap, you should always try to get an embedded OMF, which will provide you with all the audio files and edit information in one large file. The only other file you will need is the video — which, in a nutshell, can be in any format you like as long as it is a QuickTime movie and preferably a DV movie.
I have often been asked what format is best for Pro Tools as a .dv movie produces large files. Actually although .dv movie files are large they actually put less load on the computer but be awae that the .dv files iMovie produces are dv stream files and they don’t work with Pro Tools.
So here are some tips on choosing video codecs to play well with Pro Tools.
- Always choose intraframe codecs (DV, Motion JPEG-A, Photo JPEG, etc).
- Avoid interframe codecs (H264, Sorenson, etc).
Interframes codecs demand much more brute force from CPU than intraframe codecs. Intraframe codecs only compress the data of one frame regardless any adjacent frame. But to decode a simple interframe stream of frames (like H264) the CPU of your computer will dedicate a lot of its cycles just for that simple moving image because it must to compute differences and similarities between frames.
Whatever the format you choose, it is very helpful if it includes ‘burnt in’ time code so you have a continual visual read out of the time code on the video screen.
First, import the video, following the instructions described in Part 3. You can position the video at the session start, at the cursor (selection) or Spot it to a specific timecode. Your Session will now contain a Video track and a Movie. Go to the start of the Session and view the first frame of the video. Look at the burnt-in time code and set the Session Start Time in the Session Setup window to the same time code value as the first frame.
Alternatively, you can set the Session start time to a value before the video start time to leave space for line-up tones and the like. To do this, Change the Session Start time in the Session Setup window to the desired time; when you hit Enter, a dialogue box will come up. We need to make sure the video stays at the correct time code position so select Maintain Time Code and you will see that the Session now starts earlier but the video has remained at the correct time code.
Then put the cursor at the end and check that the burnt in timecode (BITC) is the same at the Pro Tools counter timecode.
If they don’t match it could be there are missing frames in the video or the timecode settings in Pro Tools. Go to the Session Setup window in the Setup menu and check the timecode settings are correct. You can also use the Inspector window in Quicktime Player to check the frame rate settings in the video file is the same, in this case 25 frames per second.
We can now import the OMF into this Session to bring in all the audio that has been laid up by the video editor. Since Pro Tools 9 it hasn’t been necessary to have additional software, both Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD can read and import OMF and AAF files.
Select Import Session Data in the File Menu of Pro Tools and the usual navigation window will open. Select the appropriate OMF file, click on the Open button, and a variation of the normal Import Session Data window will open, showing a list of the audio tracks as they were in the video editing package. Leave all the tracks set to New Track, but before you click the OK button you need to look at some of the tick boxes and pull-down menus.
Take a look at the bottom left-hand corner. For instance, I tend to change the pull-down menu from ‘Ignore clip-based gain’ to ‘Convert clip-based gain to automation’. I also untick the ‘Pan odd tracks left/even tracks right’ box as I find these defaults are more often wrong than right, and anyway I tend to rearrange things on to different tracks very soon after importing the OMF into my Session.
Then take a look at the left-hand middle section, set the upper pull-down menu to ‘Copy from source media’ so that Pro Tools creates new audio files in the Session’s audio files folder. This way, the Session doesn’t remain dependent on the embedded OMF file, which may get lost if the Session is moved around to different drives and/or systems later on in the work flow. You can ignore the Video pull-down menu, as embedded video files in OMFs are not supported by Pro Tools and anyway you already have your video file on its track in the Pro Tools Session.
Finally, you can click OK. Pro Tools will start copying the audio files across and they will appear on the Edit window as each one is done.
Now you can start work. One the first things I do, is to re-organise the track allocations making new stereo tracks where appropriate. I move all stereo material across on to stereo tracks and re-organise the other material on to tracks that suit my way of working.