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Now that I have my Surround Sound mix, what do I do with it???

Surround sound is a great way to add a new level to your production
Surround for DVD
This process is actually easier than most people would think. Once your mix is locked, and ready to be dropped into your DVD project, simply select FILE>EXPORT (or CMD+E). Next, select Dolby Digital Professional, under the FILE TYPE drop down menu.

You can tweak the settings in here to your own personal preference, but for newcomers, you can leave everything on it's presets, and once you click export, the file is ready to be taken into DVD Studio Pro, and dropped onto your desired track.  One thing to make absolutely sure of before you do this is that your Submix channel is set to "1-6", to make sure that all your surround tracks are being exported.

One thing that I also want to mention is that even though this is an article about surround sound, in most cases for DVDs, you would want a stereo downmix to go along with your 5.1 stream, and creating one is as simple as changing your output configuration on your submix from 1-6 to stereo 1-2.



At this point, you're done, and your DVD is set to go for both stereo and surround sound!

Surround for Television pt 1
Here's where things get a little complicated, as television and DVD are two totally different games that have different rules.  First, Dolby Digital 5.1 files are no good to you here. In television production, surround sound is normally handled one way, and that is by taking your 5.1 channels, and running them through a Dolby E Encoder, and converting your six channel audio mix (or eight channel if you include stereo left and right, which some television stations require) into a two channel data file that is normally put onto channels 3&4 of your video tape. Something important to keep in mind is that for six channels to be embedded into the Dolby E file, you will need to make sure your audio is set to 16-bit, and for eight channels, 20-bit.  Also, you will need to have a capture card that has AES outputs. Here is how I would suggest taking your mix from STP2 to Final Cut Pro to output using a Dolby E Encoder, and we are going to assume that you only need to deliver the surround mix with six channels. First, our non-surround listeners will need a stereo file. Once your surround mix is completed, creating a stereo version is as simple as changing the "1-6" output in your Submix channel to "1-2" (just like in our "SURROUND FOR DVD" section).

STP will now create a stereo downmix from the surround mix you just finished. Once you have done that, simply select FILE>EXPORT (or CMD+E), and export your file as a 16-bit, 48 kHz AIF file. Your stereo file is now complete, and now it's time to focus on your surround sound mix. You can export this mix from STP one of two ways. First, you can simply switch your Submix back to "1-6", and then export your surround mix as a six channel AIF file.  Some people prefer to do things this way, but I'm not big on having all my tracks mixed into one file. For me, I like to export with "Create Multiple Mono Files" selected.

This way, I have six files. One for each of my surround tracks. This is a personal preference, as you could always split your tracks up after the fact in Final Cut Pro. The other thing that is great about outputting this way is that STP2 tags the files with an identifier to the name, so you can easily pick out which file is which. Personally, I would rather have STP call the files 1, 2, 3, etc, instead of L, R, C, LFE, etc, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Now that we have both our stereo and surround sound mix as individual files, we are ready to import them into Final Cut Pro, and drop them into our timeline to sync up with our picture. Now, we have an eight channel project with the following configuration:

Channel 1 : Stereo Left
Channel 2 : Stereo Right
Channel 3 : Left
Channel 4 : Right
Channel 5 : Center
Channel 6 : Sub (LFE)
Channel 7 : Left Surround
Channel 8 : Right Surround

Excellent, we're done.....or are we?  There is one last EXTREMELY important thing to keep in mind when outputting for Dolby E, and that is when working with Dolby E, there is a one frame delay in the encoding process, and a one frame delay in the decoding process. What does this mean for you, the editor? Well, it means that to keep everyone happy, and to keep your sanity when trying to get your sound approved by the broadcaster, take channels 2-8, and move them two frames early in your timeline. That way, you are compensating for both the encoding and decoding delay. At this point, you are ready to patch your AES channels 2-4 (which covers channels 3-8) into your Dolby E Encoder, and you can patch AES one (channels 1-2) into your VTR, and you are ready to output in both Stereo and Dolby E.

Surround for Television pt 2
What I talked about in the previous section was how to output using a Dolby E Encoder so when your show is done outputting, you are ready to send it to the distributor. What if, you are like most editors out there, and you don't have access to a Dolby E Encoder? Well, you are not totally shackled, but you will need one very specific piece of equipment, and that piece of equipment is Sony's SRW-5500 VTR.  

Most people right away would say that they don't need an SR VTR, as they are not working in 4:4:4, but Sony's SRW series VTR does more than just record in 4:4:4 (an add-on peripheral board). It also records in 720p (on HDCAM SR tape stock), and it will let you record in 1080i, 4:2:2 with twelve channels of audio (on SR tape stock), and that's what we want it for! You can probably see where I'm going with this! We now have a way to output not only our stereo and surround mixes, but we also have a way to add four more channels of audio, ideally for music, FX and narrator split channels (for international masters). The only requirement to output this way, is to be working on a system with a higher end capture card (AJA's Kona 3 or BlackMagic's Decklink High Definition), as we need support for twelve channels of SDI audio. This method is how most editors, that do not work for a large post house, will be outputting their shows. Here is how I would suggest configuring your timeline:

Channel 1 : Stereo Left
Channel 2 : Stereo Right
Channel 3 : Left
Channel 4 : Right
Channel 5 : Center
Channel 6 : Sub (LFE)
Channel 7 : Left Surround
Channel 8 : Right Surround
Channel 9 : Narrator (for International use)
Channel 10: On Camera Dialogue (for International use)
Channel 11: FX (for International use)
Channel 12: Music (for International use)

At this point, once your show is mixed, imported into Final Cut Pro, and dropped into your timeline, you are ready to output.

Surround sound is a great way to add a new level to your production, and editors shouldn't shy away from it because it seems intimidating and complex. When you sit down and think things through, every one of your productions from now on should be heard in beautiful surround sound.


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]


Related Keywords:audio , surround sound, sound track pro

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  • Now that I have my Surround Sound mix, what do I do with it??? by DMN Editorial at Jan. 29, 2008 10:32 pm gmt (Rec'd 4)

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