Avid workflow summary

Shooting

Date and time

Time code

(In case you need to make or fix a TC cable, this very old page (in French) for Lemo and XLR TC pinouts may still be useful: http://alma.ch/film/tc-cables.htm)

Clip naming

Audio

Of course, folder names for audio and video files must not contain special characters (like / \ & # : " ' etc.). And it's better if they contain no spaces ("-" or "_" can be used instead). (Cantar file names do contain (many) spaces. That's OK. Just the folders should rather not)

Avid import and sync

Settings

Picture import

Since transcoding is a long process, after transcoding the tests and the first day of rushes, make really sure with the DoP that everything looks right (LUT, framing, ...).

Audio import

Cantar

Audio from Cantar has separate mono files for different tracks.

If you can import the ALE but the "Merge events with known master clips" option doesn't work as expected, an alternative is to just import the ALE, select all and relink. Then discard the original audio bin and use the relinked clips for sync and edit.

Sound Devices

Nothing special with BWF-P (poly) files from Sound Devices. Only if you get an ALE with additional info, import it with the "Merge events..." option as above.

Sync

To make editing comfortable, and exporting to audio post-production simple, the point is to have:

Achieving these goals is straightforward through Avid's AutoSync if you have correct timecode :

Autosynced clips may be one frame off (in my experience, external audio is often 1 frame earlier than camera, but that may depend on many factors). They would be corrected manually in the sync clips when necessary (when the picture or sound editor notices, but that tends to happen on only very few clips).

Editing

Preparing bins

This is to be discussed with the editor.

Accessing other audio tracks during edit

To access more audio from an edited clip in the timeline:

Export to sound design

Since the timeline references the original audio, there is no need to replace audio on the timeline before export. And a feature of PT 10 allows skipping the tedious manual work of adding the missing split audio tracks in the Avid. PT 10 can find them automatically.

If sound design has trouble re-linking to the original audio (depends on their software), it may be necessary to add all the audio from the Avid: the whole "OMFI MediaFiles" folder. If the audio was imported as "PCM (MXF)" into the "Avid MediaFiles\MXF\x" folders, see note 4.

If "Link to (Don't Export) Media" doesn't work for the sound design department, then:

See also this paper about it

Export check

It is certainly a good idea to assemble a short sequence with a few clips to check the workflow with sound design.

If different recorders were used during the shoot, include at least on clip from each for testing. Also include at least one "iso" track (one of the non-mixdown tracks). 

Importing in ProTools 10 HD

When Sound design has the AAF, the "OMFI MediaFiles" or "Avid MediaFiles" folder with all original audio files, plus also all the original multitrack BWF-P .WAV files, relinking to the originals with all tracks should be easy in ProTools. It can then automatically add the missing tracks for each audio on the timeline.

PT10 will not relink directly to the .wavs, because the timeline actually links to the .mxf files. However, it can automatically find all the tracks of each clip (even the tracks not used in the timeline but present as .mxf in the Avid MediaFiles folder). So it iss easy to expand the clips to show all the tracks.

Here is an excerpt from a post in the Avid forum about this:

“In PT 10, they need to mark your tracks as Field Recorder Guide Track, then they can select one or more clips and choose FindField Recorder Originals.

i've done this in several projects over the past 18 months. My production sound would have one or two tracks contaning a production sound mix, then anywhere between 2 and 6 unmixed ISO tracks. My AE would import all of them, then sync only the mixdown. That way, I did have access to the individual tracks whn needed. Sound editorial gets whatever tracks I included in the sequence, but can make PT link back to all related tracks of the original BWAV (so if I only spliced in A1 or A3, they would instantly be able to expand that region/segment to the same segment/region on all 8 original tracks).”

Conclusion

As with any workflow, test it with everyone involved (shooting crew, editing, audio post, picture post) before the start. Things change every few months, and what used to work might suddenly not, or differently, or you can have nice surprises that stuff which needed a lot manual work may not be needed anymore.

If you have corrections or other suggestions, you can use the comments of this blog post, or email me (mi at alma dot ch).


Notes

1. Sony time code

Actually, Sony knows that their generator is crap, and even has the honesty of warning you in the F55 manual: "When the connection is removed, the timecode advance may shift one frame per hour with respect to the reference timecode." !

2. MS track names

The MS tracks (5 and 6) may be named differently: "...==-5.WAV" instead of "...==_5.WAV". It should be fixed before import by batch renaming these MS tracks. Otherwise Avid makes 2 separate clips.

If this is the case, rename these tracks with your favorite renaming tool or with these 2 Terminal commands (edit the first command to specify the correct top-most audio folder):

dir="/Volumes/DiskName/Audio"
find "$dir" -iname "*==-[0-9].WAV" | perl -ne 'chomp; $old=$_; s/-([\d]+\.WAV)$/_$1/i; rename "$old", "$_" or warn "ERROR renaming $old to $_\n"'

That will find any files under the given directory (including sub-folders) which need to be renamed. If all goes well, the command doesn't print anything to the screen.

3. ALE import PAL/1080

If the ALE gives an error on import, it may because of a wrong "VIDEO_FORMAT PAL" header.

Open it in a text editor, and replace "PAL" with "1080". Be careful to keep the tabulator character before "1080", without replacing it with spaces.

Or if you are lazy and fond of copy/pasting long command-lines (all on one line; replace the path after `find` with the correct one):

find /Volumes/Disk/path-with-ales -iname "*.ale" | while read f; do if egrep -l "^VIDEO_FORMAT.*PAL" "$f"; then perl -i.bak -pe 's/^(VIDEO_FORMAT)\t.*/$1\t1080/' "$f"; fi; done
4. extracting audio files from "Avid MediaFiles/MXF/x" folders

If the project was not started with the Audio FileFormat set to "WAVE (OMF)", then it defaults "PCM (MXF)" and Avid writes audio files into the same "Avid MediaFiles\MXF\x" folders as the video files. To extract the audio files only, the easiest and fastest solution, if they are on a Mac, is to use Bash commands in Terminal.

If you selected "Copy All Media" in the export, you may need to add all other audio files (all unused tracks) to that export folder, because Avid will only copy the audio files of the tracks actually used in the timeline, not the other "ISO" tracks.

When creating .mxf files, Avid keeps (the start of) the original file name, appending "Axx" to the name(where xx is the track number), and it's own ID after that. If the field recorder used short file names, they can be easily searched for by looking for files like "*.WAVA*", and copied to the destination if they are missing.

Here is an example which copies all files like "*.WAVA*" from a source folder to an export folder if they are not there already:

source="/Volumes/edit/Avid MediaFiles/MXF"
export="/Volumes/audiodisk/Avid MediaFiles/MXF/1"
find "$source" -name "*.WAVA*" | while read f; do b=$(basename "$f"); [ -f "$export/$b" ] || cp -v "$f" "$export/"; done

If your audio files are more difficult to identify, here is another version. It looks for all files in the export folder, and then searches all mounted volumes for the additional tracks which need to be copied: files like "*Axx.*.mxf" (uppercase "A", 2 digits, dot, some_id, .mxf).

export="/Volumes/2TB-Sam/special_exports/test4audio/Avid MediaFiles/MXF/1"

find "$export" -name "*.mxf" \
| perl -nle 'if ( ($n,$id) = m!^ .*/ (.*?) A\d\d (\. [^\.]+) \.mxf $!x ) { print $n."A??$id.mxf"; }' \
| while read name; do \
    echo $name; \
    find /Volumes/*/"Avid MediaFiles"/MXF -name "$name" \
    | while read f; do \
        b=$(basename "$f"); \
       [ -f "$export/$b" ] && echo OK $b || cp -v "$f" "$export/"; \
     done; \
  done

Yet another approach would be to use mediainfo to find only the audio .mxf files...

Next time, set your Audio Import settings correctly, and you will be able to just copy a simple folder instead of having to bother with these arcane commands ...