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Soundtrack Pro Rocks NAB

Final Cut editors have been waiting for this By Peter May

A few weeks before NAB wed been out of town on a shoot. Rather than lugging gear, we chose to rent locally. As I unpacked the unfamiliar RF mic, it became clear that the last crew who rented it had used the sender as a hockey puck. The unit didnt sound any better than it looked and even after all the cord wiggling and receiver relocation, there was still a great deal of interference and random, unexplained clicks. There was no choice but to assume a fix-it-in-post attitude and roll tape.

A week later I was sitting at my Final Cut bench paying the price of that rental. I spent a couple of hours I didnt have identifying clicks, buzzes and hums and doing my best to chase them out of my waveform. Coming off that taxing fix, I was especially vulnerable to the elation I felt well up inside me when I witnessed Apples introduction of the their latest software creation, Soundtrack Pro at NAB.

In front of an audience of about 2000 Mac-ficionados and press, Apple demo artist Phil Jackson sounded nearly as excited as I felt, walking us through the applications capabilities starting with one called Find-and-Fix. The example he used was a clip from a movie trailer -- a dialog clip with a couple of noticeable and offensive clicks and pops. Using the contextual ?right click menus, he moved the clip from FCP into Soundtrack Pro, creating a new STAP (Soundtrack Audio Project). The clip automatically opens in the ?Waveform Editor. He chose the command ?Analyze which instantaneously generated a waveform where irregularities and issues were marked in red and a problem log was created. While Phil chose to deal with clicks and pops, the program is equally able to find and correct power line hum, DC offset and phase problems.

He choose to visit the problems one by one but, theres also a ?Fix All option. Once the problems were corrected, the waveform and problem log were updated to reflect the revisions. Once saved, the clip goes round trip and is updated in the Final Cut Pro timeline. It really couldnt have been easier or more amazing to me! Im not an audio editor so I cant attest to the uniqueness of the Find-and-Fix function but I can say Ive never seen anything this effective and just plain every-day useful integrated in any NLE software Ive used (yes, Sony Vegas users, I know). Just watch this demo and tell me you wont be opening STP in every session. Youve got to see this function to believe it.



The audience was clearly enthralled with the abilities of this new software as a sound design tool as well, repeatedly interrupting Phils energetic presentation with rousing rounds of applause. He illustrated Soundtrack Pros utility by tackling a common situation faced by video editors; needing to add sound to silent animation in this case a logo flying in past the camera and landing hard on a background. Silent, it simply fell dead. The move definitely cried out for audio support. Phil began by choosing a sound, one of 5000 sound and music effect loops included with Soundtrack Pro and searchable in the familiar Soundtrack browser window. He typed in the word ?thunder and located three possible loops. He chose one and dragged it to his timeline, saved it and double-clicked to open the loop in the waveform editor. It was a good first step but the move begged definition at the ?point of impact. Soundtrack Pro allowed an elegant solution. He chose the first few frames of the thunderclap prior to impact and reversed them, literally playing those frames backward. The waveform reacted, visually indicating the reversal. He added a fade in and the waveform changed shape again. Now it showed a quick rumble building up to the point of impact, followed by the original, long decay. Still not satisfied, he found another loop called Crash Metal, copied and pasted it onto the waveform using a function called ?Paste mix." He continued to lay in sound after sound, some stretched, some pitch shifted, each adding subtle enhancement to the action on screen. Each paste mix, indeed, every move Phil made was not only reflected in an updated waveform but recorded in an ?Action menu. To a chorus of ohhhs and ahhhhs we watched him reorder, bypass, adjust, defeat and edit the actions, all of which are saved in the STAP file so, any time in the future, you can revisit those actions and make adjustments. It wasnt lost on any editor in the room, the power of not only being able to carry out wild audio experiments, but to still be able to control and, if necessary, kill the monster audio before it harms your finished product.

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?Look at that beautiful waveform! Phil implored, as he wrapped up his demo with a satisfied nod and the appreciative audience cheered.

Following Sundays introduction I was able to spend a few calmer moments with Alec Little, Apples Audio Product Marketing Manager. Ill admit, I was still buzzed about the product and the place I saw it occupying in my edit life. I told him the story of my recent evening spent removing pops and clicks from that field audio, keyframing around each spike and dragging it down to infinity. Implicit in my story was the assumption that the Find-and-Fix function did the same found problems and potted them down. Alec corrected me. We listened carefully to sample-level areas of the audio timeline where the clicks had once been. There were no gaps or scars. Not only had the click been removed, the appropriate audio was restored.  

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Related Keywords:Peter May attended Apple?s NAB event and witnessed what was called ?the world?s first public demo? of their newest software. Maybe it was early NAB euphoria, maybe it was jet-lag or maybe this is the audio editing software he?s waited for half his life. In any case, he?s just dying to share his enthusiasm for Soundtrack Pro.DMN?s Peter May attended Apple?s NAB event and witnessed what was called ?the world?s first public demo? of their newest software. Maybe it was early NAB euphoria, maybe it was jet-lag or maybe this is the audio editing software he?s waited for half his life. In any case, he?s just dying to share his enthusiasm for Soundtrack Pro.


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