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Topic: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

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  1. #1

    Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Hi -

    I'm a newbie here, so sorry if I'm not posting in the right place...

    I'm thinking about trying to get into film/tv scoring, and I'm wondering what the situation is for a someone with only PC equipment. Is anyone doing serious scoring without a Mac? Is it a huge hassle or even possible to send out files in anything besides ProTools? Does anyone accept anything else? I don't really know much at all about this end of the business and I'm thinking about upgrading one of my systems, but I want to keep an eye towards the future. I have no desire to have to get into Mac/ProTools because of the high cost of hardware/plugins, plus I'm a real PC geek, but if it's impossible to get serious and interface with post-production houses without Mac/ProTools I need to think about it.

    Any opinions/experiences are much appreciated.

    Thanks!

    buzz

  2. #2

    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    There are people who still use protools out there?

  3. #3

    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    It's about 50% PC and about 50% mac people these days.

    I use to use mac and send out Aiff files now I use PC and send out OMF files.

    I actually have been and probably forever will be afraid of Protools. But M-audio has protools for PC now that will easily port over into any MAC protools system

    Ars

  4. #4

    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by jc5
    There are people who still use protools out there?
    I just finished up a session in a studio where the guy running it has been doing tv work for 20 or so years.

    He's tracking/recording etc, through a Fairlight.

    He paid $60,000 for it so needs to get his monies worth I guess.
    ---------------------------
    - SCA - Sound Studios -
    www.sca-soundstudios.com
    ---------------------------

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Buzz, the short answer is you can do it all with PC's and you don't need protools... Ever... What you will need is a good pro sequencer for the pc, good sound editor, a couple of pro sound orchestral libraries, good plug ins, good sound card, good monitors, good controller, good mixer and you're good to go... Then of course, there's the learning curve of your newly acquired equipment and the practice of getting good productions out of your new system... But it can be done with what I've recommended above, assuming you know what you're doing compositionally and with audio equipment...

  6. #6

    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Thanks everyone for your replies. That's great news, I was just assuming that ProTools was the standard. I guess I was thinking in terms of straight audio work, where I might bring my project to a big studio for mixing or because I need a larger room. I think in that scenario ProTools is very much the standard, no? Maybe I'm wrong about that too, but that's what it seems like to me. Also should've mentioned that I have Cubase SX 3.0, Giga 3, East/West Gold, Colussus, Absynth 3, Waves, etc. So I'm ok with the tools I have I was just worried about what I give to post-production.

    So what do you do, how do you "just send out WAV files"? Don't you have to have your files in some form that references timecode? Do WAV files have some obscure timecode capability that I don't know about? And you're not always sending out fully mixed tracks are you? I thought I read somewhere that at least some mixing was done in post ('stems'?). But I don't know squat about this stuff (obviously!). It looks like I've got some reading to do as far as the technical aspects of scoring. Anyone have a recommendation? Is there a 'must-have' book out there for this stuff? Or maybe a web site?

    Thanks again everyone!

    buzz

  7. #7

    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Pro Tools is still a standard in the industry. There's no question about that, but it's not the only option. Stuff like Cubase, Nuendo, Samplitude, Sonar, and Logic are all becoming major players.
    Zircon Studios - Original music for media, electronica, sound design, and synthesis.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzripper
    So what do you do, how do you "just send out WAV files"? Don't you have to have your files in some form that references timecode? Do WAV files have some obscure timecode capability that I don't know about? And you're not always sending out fully mixed tracks are you? I thought I read somewhere that at least some mixing was done in post ('stems'?). But I don't know squat about this stuff (obviously!). It looks like I've got some reading to do as far as the technical aspects of scoring. Anyone have a recommendation? Is there a 'must-have' book out there for this stuff? Or maybe a web site?

    Thanks again everyone!

    buzz
    Broadcast WAV has a timecode chunk. You can put it in the comments chunk of a regular wav file, if you're just looking for multiple places to write it down.

    I use Vegas in my studio, and that is the app I use to keep all the pieces organized, keep the current mixes, and to write final production files. I always place cues into a main timeline with all the other audio/video elements. I guarantee you that you get a whole lot less mixing supervision when the director hears everything with picture. "Imagine, if you will..." is not a power position for you. In fact, I am loathe to send out any sort of mp3 mix sans picture. Too much left to the imagination can lead to busywork that won't advance the project. I send out QT or Windows Media files with the picture on them whenever I send any mixes to the director. It just clarifies everything, and it also keeps you and herr director tight on the game plan.

    It doesn't hurt to drop a little low-res video file onto the discs you deliver. If there is some question over the placement (say a typo on your part), you've covered your a-double-s. And in the event (unusual, but I've seen it happen) that Mr. Editor gets creative and power struggle ensues, you have a little ammo if you can say, "Hey, could you pull up that little QuickTime? It has the place where <insert director's name> and I originally had that working."

    If you're making stems, those are much more a grouping of mixed elements than raw tracks (as you probably already know). In other words, if all the stems are loaded up and nulled, you should hear a completely finished mix which would sound exactly like your in-house best mix.

    Make them all exactly the same length, and label them well. You want them very consistent. For example, keep like components labeled with common names and formats, so it's easy for the editor to place all drums, for instance, on a single track. You might even include the cue's placement timecode as the last thing in the file name. Provide a clear track breakdown, so that the editor can set up a good track template from the first cue. Good info keeps people very happy.

    Also deliver a finished stereo mix. Similarly to issues that might come up regarding placement, if some sort of question or conflict arises, you've covered it.

  9. #9

    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Buzz:

    I used to send output on an audio CD but some film people get messed up trying to deal with 44.1K... their stuff usually runs at 48K. But most of them can import wav's from a CDROM so sometimes I give them both. I often get source material from Mac shops on dvd in some kind of quicktime format. I use Vegas which seems to be able to pull in just about anything. Lately I've been rendering with it to standard dvd format which they like. You might consider something like Vegas/DVD Architect yourself and/or familiarizing yourself with tools and views over on the doom9.net web site.

    Howard

  10. #10

    Re: Film/TV Work Using a PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzripper
    I guess I was thinking in terms of straight audio work . . . I think in that scenario ProTools is very much the standard, no?
    You're right. ProTools is definitely the standard in audio post. But as you also said, you definitely don't need it as a composer.

    The standard delivery format for video is 16 bit / 48k. Personally, I compose at 24 bit / 44.1k and convert my mixes when I'm done.

    The post house (where they will most likely be using ProTools) will often be very specific and ask you for either WAV, AIFF or SD2 files (at 16bit/48k.) Don't let them intimidate you. If all you can spit out is WAV, but they've asked for AIFF, just tell them you can't do AIFF but you know it's just one simple step for them to convert your WAV to AIFF . . . with absolutely no loss in audio quality.

    The only difference between WAV, AIFF and SD2 are the codes at the top. The audio data itself is identical and won't change with a conversion.

    One thing to remember is Audio post houses are there to make things easy for everyone, including you. The vast majority of the engineers are very helpful and friendly. Otherwise clients wouldn't like them and they'd be out of work.

    In that vein, you should know that audio post engineers and composers are usually allies in the "impress the client" game. I always make a point to say out loud to the engineer, and so the client can hear, "Hey, this mix sounds great!" Rest assured, later on the engineer is going to rave about my music. Yes, it's a game, but this whole business is a game.

    - Mike Greene

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