If you are not already familiar with Soundminer as the best Sound Library Management program out there (in my humble opinion), then I’d suggest you leave right now and go to www.soundminer.com.
Simply put version 4 of Soundminer is a slick and capable library management tool that just keeps getting better.
Reasons it’s great
- Justin Drury, the lead developer is about as responsive as you could hope from someone you are paying your money to to help you manage your workflow.
- Open platform means you can send your files to any all industry standard DAW’s or dump them externally of your preferred application if you prefer to do more work than is necessary :)
- Groupware - as of version 4 if you have the Pro version you can collaborate with your fellow editors, save spotting panels etc to a central server and generally employ Enterprise level access controls
Okay enough mindless gushing.
What’s this got to do with being an assistant. Well, about 2 years ago while at Soundelux London we were faced with a daunting task of managing the production sound rolls on Green Zone. The Dialogue team were more than familiar with Paul Greengrass’ style and demands for the Production Mixer from their work on United 93 but this was going to be something else. For this show the mixer had been asked to record discrete tracks for every character, which doesn’t sound that bad until you realise that means 18-20 discrete tracks per take, on a shoot that was split into multiple periods. The production rolls for this shoot were over 1TB.
We approached Justin with a question about harvesting the iXML data from the sound rolls into Soundminer, a feature that didn’t exist at the time. Less than 48 hours later he provided us with the Dialog database format. This enabled Soundminer to read and write to all of the iXML fields that we required. To be able to search across the entire shoot for a specific character’s takes/scenes and there was better to come.
Assembly of these production dialogs was a mission, even with Titan performing it’s tasks there were still gaps in the tracks where Timecode data wasn’t matching etc. A quick search for scene/take info in Soundminer and then quickly spot them into Pro Tools across the 20 tracks that were available meant that for the most part the Dialog sessions were at least completely assembled. Trying to do this in the Workspace in Pro Tools would be nearly impossible and pulling 1TB of data into a Pro Tools Session is NOT a good idea at all. (Yes I’ve tried it, no I would not do it again).
So what else?
Metadata in Production Recorders now comes in many different flavours. Generally the on-set mixer does a great job of setting Scene/Take information accurately along with Track Names etc but it is almost never perfect. Slates get miscalled, Id is left till the end board at which point you may move directly onto the next take with little time to adjust the data, your time is better spent fixing that hum on the leading lady’s mic. Whatever the reason, things will be mislabelled.
Soundminer makes verifying and renaming these files easy. 90% of the task can be done with key commands too which is superb. It’s large waveform display along the bottom of the window mean that navigating to the slate ident is a no brainer. Let’s assume that it is an incorrect slate, simply click in the scene/take panel, hit E and input the correct info.
Now you want that reflected in the filename? Easy, Right-click on the Filename field and choose Field Build. You are presented with this dialog:
It is simple to rename a file based on Metadata fields.
This process works as well on individual files as it does on the whole database. Filenames are changed but if you make a mistake they are ‘undoable’, not something that can be done with automatic file renamers and the like.
These are two very quick examples of how I use Soundminer Pro everyday in my role as an Assistant Sound Editor. If you’d like anymore details or have further questions please feel free to ask in the comments or drop me an email.