Over the this series, I’ve explained how your Pro Tools system needs to be set up to work to picture, and how to get audio and video into a Session using an OMF or other source file. Next we are going to look at what happens in the audio post-production workflow once we have imported the OMF into our Session, and the typical steps you might go through to get from this OMF to finished, mixed programme audio. So what’s next?
Take a look at the two screens above, (this are old screenshots, you forget sometimes how much the Pro Tools GUI has changed). Both are screenshots from the Edit window of a TV audio post-production Session. The first is how the Session looked immediately after importing the OMF file into it and the second is from the completed programme. Notice that the former consists of just mono tracks, like a Pro Tools Session from the days before we had stereo tracks. The track names are generic (A1, A2, A3 and so on) and those tracks that appear stereo don’t always contain stereo material, as with A3 and A4 in the middle of the window: there is audio on A3 that isn’t on A4.
To get everything in order, I look at how the tracks have been laid up by the video editor and start to rearrange them to suit my way of working. I create a batch of stereo tracks and name all the tracks to help navigation. I knew from the video editor that in this case tracks A1 to A4 were original sync sound. That is sound that was acquired ‘in sync’ with the original pictures. Note this may, or may not, be any use. The sync sound may have the director talking all the way through the shot, it may have been badly recorded, if there was no specialist sound recordist on the shoot, or it may simply be unusable because of unseen extraneous noise like a lorry passing just out of shot. In this example most of the sync sound was ‘dual mono’ where the same signal was recorded on both tracks. However some scenes were ‘twin mono’ where a different mono signal was recorded onto each track — in this case, the camera mic on one track and a personal radio mic on the other.
Having rearranged my tracks, I start working through the Session looking at what has been laid up by the video editor. Some choices are easy. For example, I move all the music onto stereo tracks and label them Music, Music 2 and so on. I do the same with any Commentary track too. I also create some stereo sound effects tracks ready for the extra sound effects I will add later, either to replace poor sync sound or to cover non-existent sync sound.
I check each region in the Session to find out what it is and how useful it is. If the sync sound is ‘dual mono’, I get rid of one half to save cluttering up the session. If it is ‘twin mono’ then I listen to each track separately and decide which one to use; alternatively, if the shots are cut so there are both wide shots and close-ups, I may choose to keep both tracks and mix between them to suit. Even if the sync sound is unusable I will listen to it to help me select a suitable sound effect to replace it with.