Ear Candy Tracks Changes With Pro Tools

Dec 3, 2003 12:00 PM


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Picture changes, almost on a daily basis, have become the norm in Hollywood, and not just for heavy visual effects films. Sound editors and mixers, therefore, must keep track of massive amounts of units and stay up to the minute in order to feed first the temp mixes, then the predubs and then the final mix. At Ear Candy, an independent editorial/mix facility in Burbank, Calif., they've worked out a few shortcuts in Pro Tools.

"The way schedules are these days, we have roughly two to three weeks to get ready for the first temp mix, then it becomes mostly keeping up with picture changes," says Perry Robertson, a Texas native who, after seven years as an editor with Soundelux, teamed up with supervising sound editor Barney Cabral to co-found Ear Candy. "One of our favorite things about Pro Tools these days is that we can come in and make 5-channel predubs here in our facility, then take them for the temp and through to predubs. Later, with all the changes, we can unravel for the final because we've kept the tracks separate."

"Changes are nonstop these days, and the physical act of making changes is tedious," says sound designer Scott Sanders. "There are programs that do it automatically, but most people still do it by hand. Most editors are working with digital picture and one or more video guide tracks. One thing I suggest while making changes in Pro Tools is to always include the old version's video guide track with the material you are conforming. This way, you can always check sync by comparing the conformed video guide to the new video guide, making sure they phase.

"If the change notes are messy or there are reel re-balances, I will use the change notes as a rough guide and conform by comparing the new video to the old," he continues. "I do this by first setting up my conform session with a blank track layout that matches the track layout of the material I will be conforming. Then, I import all the material to be conformed. Lets say I'm conforming reel 1 and the new version of reel 1 includes parts of reel 2. In my conform session, I will import all of the old reel 1 material -- which will start at 01:00:00:00 in my timeline -- and all of the old reel 2 material, which will start at 02:00:00:00 in my timeline, etc. Then I create some 'video-only' Pro Tools sessions: one for old reel 1 video, one for old reel 2 video and one for new reel 1 video. These sessions contain only the video for their respective reels in sync. Now I can open my conform session and use the Import Track function to import any in-sync video from my 'video-only' sessions and reference the material I need to find for my conform. If I need material from reel 2, I import my video track from my reel 2 'video-only' session and presto -- reel 2's audio and video are in sync at 02:00:00:00 and in my timeline. I find what I need, copy it, import new reel 1 video from my new reel 1 'video-only' session, find where the old reel 2 material needs to be and paste into my blank tracks."

Ear Candy, which opened in November 2002 with the onset of editorial for the feature film Open Range, houses six Pro Tools MIXPlus and HD systems, networked through Mac Ethernet server software and supplied by RSPE. "When we opened, three or four of us were out buying equipment when we hooked up with Dan Flaherty at RSPE," says Robertson. "Their support and delivery has just been amazing. They drive gear over the day it becomes available. Dan even hooked us up with a 21-inch flat-screen monitor that he heard someone else wanted to sell cheap!"

Other equipment at Ear Candy includes Digidesign Control 24 control surfaces and Genelec 1030 surround monitoring, with two Genelec subs. The company's extensive sound effects collection reside on mirror-image 720-gig SANcube units, so that one can be easily transported to the final mix.

Ear Candy is currently at work on Love Don't Cost a Thing for 2004 release. For more, visit www.earcandypost.com.

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