Miscellany - Some thoughts and tidbits

It’s been 5 months since I last wrote anything on this site. My absence has been multi-faceted. 


  1. I’ve been busy and learning an awful lot
  2. I like these thoughts to be my own thoughts and learning doesn’t necessarily rule that out but it also isn’t easy to filter other peoples ideas.
  3. Various NDA’s have made writing tough at times. 


On with the Miscellany. 

Virtual Katy - After a reorganisation on the business side VK have released version 4 of their flagship product. VK 4 Premium which now works with Pro Tools 10 and has been tweaked in it’s conforming algorithms to improve speed and accuracy. It’s no secret that I am a big fan and am really pleased to see the product now operating on PT10 and look forward to developments continuing. 

Ediload - Mark at Sounds in Sync has released an incredible update to his utility application which now creates a conform reference track for use with Pro Tools Field Recorder functionality to assemble production sound rolls for editorial. First time I used it it’s accuracy brought tears to my eyes. In my testing I needed to do very little nudging of the assembled material to bring it in line with the AAF material the one caveat is that it does rely on the Pro Tools expansions, which are getting much better but can over-do the expansion when compared with Titan (Tip- Expand tracks before importing AAF materials). Clean up of the Assembled session is fairly quick once you get used to it and should get better as PT improves this aspect of it’s functionality. 
The second impressive feature of this new version is it’s ability to build a change EDL from a conformed session. Why would I need this? The way I’ve taken to using it is in combination with VK. I’ll import the guides and do a conform using VK, fix any problems, heal where appropriate etc and then import that into Ediload. This gives me the best of both worlds a kind of personal change list but with the Project Management of VK.

The descent of Apple - If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll know about a growing frustation with Apple over issues such as customer service, disregard for ‘international’ customers, lack of updates to Mac Pro, dumbing down in general. Am I suggesting that they are going to disappear? Absolutely not but if they continue to irritate me they are in danger of losing at least one customer. Then yesterday (June 18th) something truly interesting appeared. 

Microsoft Surface - A few years ago Microsoft first demonstrated a product called Surface it was about the size of one of their ‘phones’ ie coffee table sized. It had some tremendous features: Multi touch was the first, wireless transfer of files between devices that were layed on it amongst other things but it was a coffee table. If you’re in London and want to see it in action make your way to HSBC/Barclays (?) in Piccadilly Circus where they use it for customer information. 
Yesterday they shrunk that to a couple of models of tablet/ultrabook. The RT model doesn’t really interest me as it requires specific apps to be written for it and Apple has that market all but sewn up. The Pro version however will run standard Windows applications in addition to custom designed apps. It also has an full USB port also known as an “oh look I could put my ilok there” port.  Pro Tools on a touch enabled tablet just slightly larger than an ipad? Sounds nice. Let’s see how this progresses. 

Oh yes, then there were Track Presets in Pro Tools which is exciting.

That’s all for now. 

Edicue Group Buy - ADR Cueing Software

I’ve long been a fan of many of Mark Franken’s Programs. Ediload is a go to tool for fixing all manner of issues with EDL’s that make both Titan conforms and VK autoconform’s much smoother. 

Mark has just launched a group buy for his ADR cueing software Edicue. Not being an ADR editor I haven’t had much call to use the program in anger but when I have used it I have been deeply impressed. As of v2 he has added the ability to ingest a PDF of the shooting script and the program then analyses for Scenes, Characters, Lines etc. These can then be used to spot correctly formatted region groups onto the PT timeline. 

Tracking of cues across multiple versions has also been improved from v1. If you already use another ADR tracking program Edicue will probably be able to export to it (ADR Manager, Filemaker etc.)

At time of writing the cost is $540 US but as with all group buys this figure decresases as more people come on board. Current listed discounts go to $300 which would be an absolute steal for this program. 

Cost of entry to group buy is $120 and upon completion (March 23rd) coupons will be sent out for you to complete the purchase by making up the difference. 

Edicue Group Buy

Pro Tools 10 - The "Post" release

It’s long been the trend that Digidesign released one version that was primarily music and then one version that was primarily post focussed. Yesterday’s announcement of PT10 was very definitely a Post focussed release. Why do I say that? For a start it wasn’t the 64bit release the music guys were hoping/calling/craving, the RTAS engine didn’t see a massive overhaul and it was clearly defined that it wouldn’t be. 

This version has a feature set that as a Post guy made me incredibly happy. 

1-Clip Gain

I spent yesterday with a group of video editors discussing workflows and such. During the conversations PT10 was announced and I was able to say that for the first time I relaised what on earth that clip gain function was supposed to do on OMF/AAF import. Instead of “converting clip based gain to automation” I can now import both and get a true representation of what they were trying to achieve. For years I’ve had AAF’s come in that clearly had both in and the clip gain has been overwriting the volume automation resulting in messy and confusing AAF’s. Opening an AAF in PT10 I saw that actually the picture team weren’t being sloppy, it was part of the translation process that was. 

Of course the feature is much more powerful than just that but as someone dealing with turnover’s more often than I am being creative.


The screenshot to illustrates the difference. The top tracks are imported using the new PT10 feature set where as the bottom set have been imported into the session after opening the AAF itself in PT9.0.3

Don’t know about you but I like the top version better. 


2 -  Disk Cache

The disk cache feature is the 64 bit part of PT10. Basically it runs as a seperate process outside of Pro Tools which pulls your audio files into the RAM Cache and then presents itself to Pro Tools as a playback device, all in the background. Your timeline is read a little ahead of the playhead and a little behind whilst in caching mode or when you need to refill the cache (if you only had 3GB of RAM and a 5GB session for example it would dynamically cache the data rather than slow down after the 3GB has been played.)

This is a fairly small session for dialog predub. Using a 2GB Disk Cache you can see that it fills the cache but the timeline is 100% loaded into RAM. I have run a large FX session for testing over a wifi connection with media on a G5 machine and recorded predub stems on my laptop, this is powerful and transparent technology. 

Note: The indicators only appear when you have a fixed Cache Size enabled, otherwise it operates in Normal mode which is a very small cache. 

I have 8GB of RAM in my laptop so I can have a fixed cache of up to 5GB, 3GB is reserved for OS and PT operations3 - Bus interogation.

This feature allows you to: Select all tracks routed to a bus/output, rename those busses without entering the I/O Setup window, Show hide tracks going to each bus etc.

Incrediby powerful and intuitive. This will save a lot of time on the mix stage and allow you to focus on just the particular set of tracks you are hearing, for example.


4 - Downmixer

Prior to PT10 there were a number of third party plugins for performing this function. It is now built in to PT10. The presets are taken from the OMNI and the System5 alogrithm for downmixing 7.1, 7.0, 6.1, 6.0, 5.1, 5.0 etc to stereo. There is no Stereo to Mono the lowest track count is an LCR->Stereo.

This sounds great and is pretty low in resource usage. I’ll use this extensively for DME’s after mixes, headphone monitoring feeds etc. 

This is not a Dolby encoder, the stereo it creates is LoRo not LtRt!

That’s a quick summary of my favourite features in PT10, along with the death of Fade Files (Hooray!!).

This is a powerful and feature filled release. I’ll write more about some of the other features soon but just to say if you have been waiting to upgrade to Lion for a stable PT release then go ahead and do it now. 

Adobe Audition - Mac Beta - First impressions

Adobe has released a Beta version of Audition for Mac via their Labs site (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/audition/). If you haven’t downloaded it yet get to it now. It’s a very powerful sample and multitrack editor for audio. 

While I’ve only played with it for a short time and consequently haven’t examined all features in depth these are my initial highlights:

Spectral Editing

As well as the waveform and Multitrack views, the Spectral view allows you to cut out/ paint out frequencies just like Izotope RX does. While the algorithms are not as powerful (yet) as Izotope the functionality being available in a free Beta version is a joy to behold.

Edit to Picture

Not quite as intuitive as I’d have hoped for but adding a video to a multitrack session allows you to ‘clean-up’ the associated audio as well as obviously laying new audio but to be honest Pro Tools is a better editor. The ability to spectrally edit to picture is (as far as I am aware) unique.


The application runs on Core Audio so anything that you can already use on your Mac will work happily with the application.


As mentioned above, current pricing is $0 (£0). The PC version which has now reached version 3 is listed at $349 and I’d imagine that after this beta period the Mac version would be equivalent. 

Soundminer Group Buy

Tim Prebble has managed to arrange a group buy discount on all versions of Soundminer. Soundminer is a premier sound library platform which has become prevalent over the past few years, now at v4 it has a rich feature set while being simple to use. 

Soundminer have just announced the launch of Soundminer HD and HD Plus which I discussed in my post about NAB.

This seems like a great opportunity to get a great piece of software with a nice discount. 


Add your support for it to the comments section.

Instapaper - a revolution in reading

As a big fan of tweetie for iPhone and mac I've had some knowledge of instapaper as a service for some time. It had a mobiliser function that tweetie has been able to tap into. Essentially it reads a web link and strips out the non content material. The navigation, advertising etc and displays the page in a mobile/iPhone readable and optimised format.

On sunday faced with a slow Internet connection as I am out of town I decided to give the iPhone app a whirl tomsee what it had to provide. 20 minutes later it was on page 1 of my phones app page.

Adding material to it is as simple as hitting read later in tweetie, great for going through my Twitter feed quickly whilse still reading the whole articles at a later time. Also added the bookmarklet to safari on the phone which isn't quite as convienient as it first requires you to load the whole page but is still highly functional.

Third option is to add RSS feeds to it. I have often read brentheber.com as a source for pro tools tips and tricks. Brent has moved on from avid / Digidesign bt I'm hoping he'll continue his great blog posts. Adding his website to instapaper as a folder pulled in his most recent articles all nicely formatted for quick and easy mobile reading.

The iPhone app is great too. My two favourite features are the dark mode which is great for night or dark room reading and the tilt scrolling. The amazing aspect of that is that it takes into account the position of the phone when it is initialised so if I am lying on my back and turn it on tilting the phone backwards slightly causes the upward scrolling to commence. Just superb.

Indev - Great Software and Even better support

Spent most of today trying to fix Spotlight on my computer. It seems that something went wrong on Friday conincidentally about the time I installed MailTags naturally I thought that was the cause but it turns out not to have been the case. My AddressBook picked up some corruption that caused the system to crash, and prevent Spotlight from finishing it’s indexing.

I tried to fix it in the normal ways:

  • Delete Spotlight Index’s
  • Start in Safe Mode and reindex (this may not be possible in 10.6 it turns out)
  • Removing all mdimport helpers

Finally wrote to indev to see if there were any known issues and they helped me through figuring it out. Even though it wasn’t their software that caused it, they helped me fix it. Wonderful.

I had already bought MailTags and MailActOn from them but if I hadn’t you bet I would be now. Great support.

More to follow on MailTags and MailActOn in the next few weeks. Superb software and I’ve only scratched the surface.