Cuesheets: The Way It Should Be

Today I had to print out 4 reels of FX and BG cuesheets from Nuendo and it really couldn’t have been easier. The editor had one session per reel with everything in it. Predubs A through D were backgrounds—E, F and G were hard effects. Initially I tried printing the whole session in one pass in Nuendo 2.2 in Mac OS X, but it kept crashing on the the last page. I switched to printing a couple predubs at a time and from that point on everything went very smooth.

Nuendo has group tracks. Click on plus sign in the group track labeled “AFX” and it will open revealing all the AFX tracks. By clicking the solo button on the AFX group track, all AFX tracks are soloed. If you solo tracks, only those tracks will be printed on the cuesheet.

I soloed predubs A through D—the BGs. Under the “Project” menu I selected “Track Sheets”. A new windowed opened and I saw my cuesheet. I clicked on the “More” button to show all the options. By default the cuesheet is a vertical US letter (8.5″ x 11″) page. I selected “Page Setup” from the “File” menu to change that to a horizontal Tabloid (11″ x 17″).

Back in the cuesheets (track sheet) window, I turned off the timecode column from the pulldown menu, filled in the blanks for the name of the cuesheet and editor, and dragged the track width until everything fit on two pages across. Then I selected “Print” from the “File” menu.

So amazingly easy.

The cuesheets look pretty good. If I had my way, I’d make a few minor tweaks to the layout. I think there should be a space between the track header and the first cue. Likewise there should be a space between the cue in-point and the description. Plus there are a couple of line-wrapping issues that need to be resolved, but considering I was able to print out those four reels in three separate passes each in less than 10 minutes, I didn’t care.

This was such a huge difference from my usual struggle with Tape. Plus with OS X 10.3’s built-in “Print to PDF” option, I was able to save great looking digital files of all my cuesheets that I could email to the dub stage for safety.

If I have some time tomorrow, I might investigate and see how hard it is to open a Pro Tools 5.1/5.3/6.x session in Nuendo and print the cuesheets from there. It might be possible to Pro Tools 6.4.1’s DigiTranslator to save an OMF file with no media. Open that in Nuendo and print.

Dealing With -37 Errors In Pro Tools

Pro Tools 6.4.1 is the pinnacle of achievement on the Mix|24 hardware and you’ve just finished cutting the most amazing piece of sound effects work in your life. Now it’s time to layback your session to another drive for dubbing. So you select “Save Session Copy In” from the File menu, choose the other hard drive, check the box to copy audio files and your cranking away. The only problem is that part way through, the copy craps out with a -37 error. WTF?

A -37 error usually happens when you try to copy two or more pieces of media with the exact same name into one folder. You’ve got duplicated audio. Two files have the exact same name sitting in two different places on your master cutting drive(s). They are both referenced in your editing tracks in the Pro Tools session. When you try to combine everything under one Audio Files folder with a “Save Session Copy In” the copy quits when it tries to copy the duplicate file and returns the -37 error. Those two files might be identical in every that counts for Pro Tools—name, Unique ID, length—but they don’t have to be. They could be completely different sounds but have the same name. Look back over all the shows you’ve cut. How many “Applause 1” or “Footstep 27” do you have in you library?

Thankfully there’s a pretty quick fix.

  1. Open the master session. This will set things like timecode and I/O’s to the settings you’re looking for. It’s also your chance to double-check that all your fades are created and that you’re not missing any audio files.
  2. Save and close the session.
  3. Create a new session on the layback drive using whatever settings you need—16 bit or 24 bit, 44.1KHz or 48KHz, etc. Make sure that “Last Used” is selected for the I/O.
  4. Select “Import Session Data” from the File menu.
  5. Choose your master session from the other hard drive.
  6. Make sure to choose “Copy media” from the audio pull-down menu.
  7. Highlight all tracks for import (or at least all tracks that you want to layback—you might have more in your master session). Make sure that you’re importing “All” data and that it’s from the master playlist.
  8. Click the “Import” button.
  9. Wait while all your tracks and media are copied to the new drive. You can watch the process in your Task Window. Any duplicates will show up as -37 errors at the bottom of the Task Window. The regions will still show up in your tracks but they will be blue because there is no online media associated with them. Everything else will be copied to the new drive.
  10. Save and close the layback Pro Tools session.
  11. In the Finder, open the layback hard drive and open the folder of the layback session you just closed.
  12. Rename the “Audio Files” folder to something else like “Audio Files 2”.
  13. Reopen your layback session in Pro Tools.
  14. Pro Tools will warn you that there is missing audio. These are just the files that are now in the “Audio Files 2” folder. Select “Manually Find” and check “Rebuild Fades” if necessary.
  15. The duplicated media that didn’t copy the first time will be found on your master drive. A new “Audio Files” folder will be created and the duplicates will be copied into it.
  16. In the Relink Window, only check your layback drive. Even better, only check the layback session folder in the layback drive. Highlight all missing audio files and click the “Fink Links” button. Click “Commit Links” when all files are found.
  17. When all the copying and relinking is done in your Task Window, save and close your session.
  18. Reopen it to make sure that everything was copied. Be sure to choose “Select -> Offline Regions” from the Audio menu above the Region List to make sure that you’re not missing any files.
  19. You might have to repeat at step 10 if there are 3 or more files with the same name in the session. Go ahead and repeat as many times as it takes to get all files copied to your layback drive.
  20. Your “Audio Files” folder will probably only have a few files in it while “Audio Files 2” might have hundreds. This doesn’t really matter, but for the look of things, you might want to rename “Audio Files” to “Audio Files dupes” and “Audio Files 2” to “Audio Files”. It’s all up to you. If you rename any folders, you should probably reopen the session one last time and “Manually Find” any files that are now “lost”.

Yes, it’s a lot of steps to describe, but I think you’ll agree that it’s not very hard. This definitely works with Pro Tools 6.4.1. I would imagine that it’s the same under 6.4 with HD hardware but since I don’t have that, I’m not 100% positive. If I remember correctly 6.2.x and lower always asked you where to save audio and fade files on import. In that case you could just create a new folder in the Save Window and save things there.

Possible Pro Tools OMF Bug?

Today I received several OMF 2.0 files from the picture department with embedded audio. Under certain circumstances, the timecode of the Pro Tools session generated from the OMF was incorrect so all the material was out of sync.

I’m not sure what version of software is being used on the Avid, but the movie was shot with 3-perf film. Since this throws off all the footage counters, we are cutting in timecode. OMF 2.0 files were generated for me but with all the media, they were going to be larger than 2 GB. To remedy this, the assistant split each reel in half, usually around the 10 minute mark, and sent me OMFs for each reel.

I opened each OMF in Pro Tools 6.4.1 with the built-in DigiTranslator. After conversion, I immediately changed the timecode from 24 frame to 29.97 pulldown. This is what I always to with OMFs. However, I found that the second OMF, the one that would start somewhere around 10 minutes into the reel, would always be out of sync. Sometimes only 1 frame early but in a few instances, up to 6 frames early. The first OMF for each reel, the one that started evenly on the hour, was always in sync.

After much trial and error, I found that if I left both OMFs in 24 frame timecode. Combined them, and then changed to the combined session to 29.97 pulldown, everything stayed in sync. For some reason, if an OMF doesn’t start at an evenly on the hour of timecode like 01:00:00:00 or 02:00:00:00 and you attempt to change the timecode in Pro Tools without first resetting the start time of the session to an even hour and maintaining timecode, then the session will fall out of sync. It’s possible that the version of Avid software and the fact that it was a 3-perf film might also have something to do with this. I haven’t had a chance to experiment more.

Dealing With SCSI Devices Without A SCSI Card

My recent experiences with doing almost all of my sound assisting on my laptop with an Mbox got me thinking about other things I could do to expand on that model. One big sticking point was SCSI. Firewire is awesome, but in the post-production sound world, SCSI is still king—if for no other reason than the Tascam MMR-8 and MMP-16 still deal exclusively with Kingston-style removable SCSI drives.

You can cut all you want on firewire hard drives or even on your internal—those SATA drives in the G5s are screaming fast—but you will still often need to layback you finished sessions to a SCSI drive for dubbing. Or you might get some SCSI drives with stems from the stage.

The idea of moving away from SCSI is even more tempting when you consider that PowerMac G5s only have 3 PCI slots. The old G4s had 4. This was perfect for 2 Pro Tools cards, a digital picture card and a SCSI card. What do you do with 3 slots? Go back to an expansion chassis? That’s a possibility. Run only a core Pro Tools system with 1 card? Also a possibility. But how about dumping your SCSI card? That’s a much cooler idea. Especially since RATOC makes a couple of cool SCSI without a SCSI card solutions.

I picked up both the FR1SX Firewire to SCSI adapter and the U2SCX USB2 to SCSI cable. So far I’m loving what I’m seeing. I’ve used the FR1SX quite a bit. It works perfectly with removable hard drives. You get speeds comparable to regular Firewire 400—about a gigabyte copied per minute. I’ve also used it with a DLT4000 tape drive and had slightly faster rates than I did directly through SCSI. It’s an old SCSI-1 device so it’s not particularly fast, around 85 to 87 MB per minute in Retrospect 5 under OS X. With the FR1SX, I was getting between 90 and 95 MB per minute. Different types of audio backup of different speeds so I wouldn’t count on it always being faster but I think I can easily say that it’s the same speed as SCSI. You’re not losing anything.

Under OS X, it’s perfect. You turn on your device. Attach the FR1SX. Plug in the Firewire cable and it’s available. A SCSI hard drive will mount up just like as if it were Firewire. You can even hot swap by unplugging and replugging the Firewire cable. The only problem I’ve seen it that it only supports one SCSI ID. So even though the carrier that I have it attached to has 2 bays, only the top one (the first in the chain) works. The FR1SX doesn’t support SCSI chaining. But if you’re just using it for laybacks or to copy off a SCSI drive, you probably don’t need more than one at a time.

I haven’t tested the U2SCX. I can’t see that it would be any different. The Pro Tools system I’m working on only has USB1 ports so it would be much slower (1.5 MB per second maximum through-put at USB1 versus 60 MB per second at USB2). But Aluminum PowerBooks and G5s come with USB2 so it could be very viable there. The webpage for the U2SCX says that it support SCSI chaining of 7 devices but it mentions that you have to be running the RATOC driver in Windows. I don’t know if they have a Mac driver and frankly I like the fact that I don’t have to install any new drivers in OS X.

If you are going to get one or both of these devices, it would probably be a good idea to kick in for the power adapter. They don’t need to be powered if your SCSI device has Termination Power, but it’s probably better to be safe. Another thing you’ll need is a SCSI adapter or two. Both devices have an HD50 Male SCSI-2 connector. You’ll want to pick up an HD50 Female SCSI-2 to HD68 Male SCSI-3 adapter for Wide SCSI drives and an HD50 Female SCSI-2 to Centronics 50 Male SCSI-1 adapter for any old devices that you might have.

Running Tape In OS X

You know how much I dislike Tape, the only program to print cuesheets for Pro Tools sessions, right? Well, I still don’t like it but I did get it running in Classic in OS X. (And finally getting it running really did prove what a piece of shit software it really is.) Here’s how:

  1. Download the latest version of Tape. (1.5.2b47 as of this post)
  2. Download a copy of Pro Tools Free if you don’t have a version of Pro Tools 5.x installed.
  3. Run the Pro Tools Free installer. If you already have Pro Tools 5.x installed you can skip to step 5.
  4. A folder called “Digidesign” will be created in the root level of your hard drive. You can put this where ever you like. Your OS 9 Applications folder would probably be a good choice.
  5. Run the Tape installer.
  6. Select “Cue Sheet (USB)” and click “Install”.
  7. Choose a good place to install Tape like /Applications (Mac OS 9) and let it do its thing.
  8. Run the installer again but select “OSX Support” this time.
  9. Choose the same install place you did last time.
  10. Open the newly-installed “Tape Folder” and run “Install OMS 2.3.8”. If you already have OMS installed and configured because you have a working Pro Tools 5.x on your computer, you can skip to step 19.
  11. This will put a folder called “Opcode” in the root level of your hard drive.
  12. In /Opcode/OMS Applications run OMS Setup.
  13. Go through the standard setup options for OMS, scanning the ports and whatnot. You will probably just end up with three items: IAC Driver, Studio Patches pgm chg, and QuickTime Music.
  14. Save this setup in an appropriate place like in the same folder as OMS Setup.
  15. In OMS Setup, select “Prefereces” from the “Edit” menu.
  16. Uncheck “When AppleTalk is on, ask about turning it off” and click “OK”.
  17. Quit OMS Setup.
  18. You can move the “Opcode” folder to your OS 9 Applications folder if you like.
  19. Go back into your “Tape Folder”. Open the “Utilities” folder and run “OSX Activator”.
  20. This will install HASP drivers for OS 9 and OS X.
  21. Drag “OSX Activator” to your Dock or put an alias to it on your desktop. You’ll be using it a lot.
  22. In /System Folder/Preferences/Tape Preferences Folder/Tape Translators, take out the Listener application and put it in the Tape Preferences Folder. (This is part of the full Post Utilities spotting program and not necessary for cuesheets. If you’re using the full Post Utilities, don’t do this step.)
  23. Restart your computer.

You are now setup to run Tape in Classic under OS X. Any time you want to actually run Tape, you have to follow these steps:

  1. Plug in your Tape dongle to an open USB port.
  2. Run Classic.
  3. Run the OSX Activator.
  4. Run Tape.

Rick Steele, the guy who wrote this wonderful program, told me that you had to set Classic to “Start Classic When You Login” in your System Preferences. I did a bunch of testing on my laptop and found that I didn’t need to do that. If your copy of Tape is only running in Demo mode after following the steps above, I would first try restarting your computer and doing the 4 steps above. If that doesn’t work, you can try setting the preference that Rick suggested and restarting.

The biggest problem that I’ve encountered so far is that it doesn’t work with older dongles. I don’t know at what point Rick changed the software on the dongle but if you follow all the steps above and my restart and “Start Classic” suggestions and it still doesn’t work then I think it’s the dongle. Rick told me that some dongles might have to be flashed to work. I’ve encountered 3 so far where this is the case. Only the one that I just bought from him 2 days ago works for me. (I know. I hate this program and I still spent money on it. Like I said, there’s no other option right now.) I don’t know what the process is for flashing the dongles. I don’t know if it’s something you can do yourself or if you have to send them to Rick. I emailed him about this yesterday and I’m still waiting to hear back.

One other point that Rick strongly suggested: make a copy of any session before opening it in Tape. As he said, “I don’t want to be responsible for my program ruining your session.”

I think you can see why I hate this program. The process that you have to go through to just to print out some lines and characters on some pieces of paper is utterly ridiculous. Having to not only have a full version of Pro Tools 5.x but also OMS installed on a computer that quite possibly doesn’t even boot into OS 9 (like my laptop) is the most retarded software requirement ever. This is obviously because he has two levels of functionality—cuesheets only and then the full spotting, assembling, yadda yadda mess. They need to be separated. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to print cuesheets on a computer with nothing on it but OS 9 or OS X and a print driver. Open the file, give it a name and editor, change some font settings and go.

And this whole business of having to reinstall the HASP drivers every single time you want to run the program is foolish. If you go to Aladdin’s website, the makers of HASP, you can see quite clearly that they fully support running Classic applications with HASP4 dongles in OS X. Soundminer and all the new Gallery software uses HASP4 dongles. The letters “HASP4” are clearly printed on them. Tape’s dongle says “MacHASP”. Obviously Rick is still using an old HASP development kit from 4+ years ago and is too cheap to upgrade to the latest release. Consequently there is only partial support for these dongles in HASP OS X driver and we as the tormented end-users have to rerun the installer every time.

And his warning about not wanting to be responsible? That’s utter crap too. When he told me this he actually said the problem is because Digidesign has released a buggy software development kit. Now I can’t speak to whether or not Digi’s SDK is buggy or not. But here’s a novel approach for your damn Tape code: open the file as read-only! And then if you want to give support for editing the text of the regions in the Pro Tools session, write a temp file to the drive for this. Never change the original! I’ve never had a single day of formal programming instruction and even I could have figured that one out.

The Software I Use

We got moved in to our new office today without too much trouble. I’m sharing a very small room with the ADR editor but thankfully it’s only for two weeks. Tomorrow I have to finish installing the necessary software on my computer. When I was at Universal I did most of my work on my own laptop. I would just have to jump on to the other assistant’s computer to digitize picture. But it’s certainly nice to have a full-blown Pro Tools sitting in front of me again.

This is my list of necessary software for Pro Tools assisting:

  • Pro Tools (duh)
  • DigiTranslator
  • Titan
  • Tape
  • Change Note Assistant
  • Final Cut Pro
  • BBEdit
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Filemaker Pro
  • Toast
  • Peak
  • Soundminer
  • A Better Finder Rename
  • Quickeys
  • Retrospect
  • Lots of “home brew” AppleScripts

The only one of those programs I can’t run in OS X is Tape. Damn effin’ Tape. I need to find another way to print cuesheets. I’m going to try experimenting with converting sessions and printing cuesheets in Nuendo. It can’t be that much more painful than Tape. Thankfully I can borrow I copy of Nuendo from the supervisor for my testing. If you’re going to compare prices for printing, $1200 for Nuendo vs. $200 for Tape isn’t much of a contest. Of course Nuendo is an entire sound editing program while Tape is just a piece of shit.

Playing Igniter Digital Picture On A DC30+

Those of you who have dealt with Pro Tools and digital picture over the last couple of years may have already encountered this:

Digital Picture digitized on an Aurora Igniter videocard is not usable on a Pro Tools system with a DC30+ videocard running OS 9. Since the Igniter uses non-square pixels (720×486 or 360×243), the picture appears very squished on the DC30+ with its square pixels (640×480 or 320×240). The Aurora Fuse, the other videocard often used by Pro Tools in OS 9, doesn’t have this problem as long as you use the 2.0.3 driver.

There is a fix for the DC30+ and it’s called OS X. If you switch your system over to OS X, some version of Pro Tools 6 and use the DC30 Xact Driver, your DC30+ card will playback your Igniter digital picture at the proper aspect ratio. I just tested this out myself on Friday.

Unfortunately there still isn’t an OS X driver for the Aurora Fuse. Those of you with this card looking to switch to Pro Tools 6 should probably just suck it up and plop down the $1000 for the Igniter. Obviously the DC30+ is a viable option with the 3rd-party driver, but since the card hasn’t been manufactured for 4 or more years it’s a crapshoot whether you can get your hands on one.

Capturing Video For Pro Tools With Sync Audio In OS X

Here’s step-by-step instructions for loading digital picture for use in Pro Tools in that cool way that I briefly talked about the other day. I can’t take credit for this one. The amazing Ron Eng came up with it. It definitely works with OS X 10.3.4, Pro Tools|24 Mix hardware, Pro Tools 6.2.3 software, Final Cut Pro 3, Adobe Premiere 4, Miro DC30+ videocard and DC30 Xact driver. I’m sure it works with newer versions of hardware and software like Pro Tools HD and an Aurora Igniter card, I just haven’t tried it out myself.

  1. Final Cut Pro must be set up to capture video from your video card at the recommended 1000 KB/sec and audio from the Digidesign hardware via the Core Audio driver. You will probably need to have audio from your videodeck coming in on Analog 1 and 2.
  2. Make sure that your Universal Slave Driver or Sync I/O is set to pulldown and the sample rate that you’re working in. You can run Pro Tools first and set that in the “Session Setup” window if you’re not familiar with doing it on the hardware.
  3. Make sure that you’ve quit Pro Tools. Core Audio cannot use Digidesign hardware while Pro Tools is running.
  4. Run Final Cut Pro.
  5. Select “Log and Capture” from the “File” menu.
  6. Press play on your videodeck and click the “Capture Now” button in Final Cut Pro prior to the “Picture Start” frame.
  7. Load the entire picture and press the Esc key to end capture.
  8. Press Cmd-W to close the captured picture, saving and naming it appropriately.
  9. Quit Final Cut Pro.
  10. Run Adobe Premiere 4. This is a OS 9 application so you’ll need Classic installed. It’s the only video application I know that allows you to reconform digital video frames.
  11. Open the digital picture that you just captured in FCP.
  12. Find the first frame of picture. If you have an Academy Leader it will say “Picture Start”. It might simply be an even hour of timecode or 0+00 of footage in the window burn.
  13. Click the “In” button to set this frame to the in-point.
  14. Select File -> Export -> Movie Segment.
  15. Name and save the new digital picture file.
  16. Select File -> Tools -> Conform Movie.
  17. Choose the newly saved digital picture from the open dialog window.
  18. Set the frame rate to 30 fps and click “Conform”.
  19. You are now good to go. You can throw out the original digital picture from Final Cut Pro.

The beauty of this method is that the audio and video tracks are in sync so the video file can be played back on any computer and it is completely usable. It could be used to spot ADR or cue Foley on a laptop. Since the picture is set to 30 fps is is compatible with Pro Tools 5.0 and 5.1.x—software which only has a joined video and audio pulldown setting. The audio tracks can be imported into any Pro Tools session by selecting “Import Audio From Current Movie” from the “Movie” menu. This audio will be in sync with all of your other film-speed material that is being pulled-down to video speed.

This method works great. If your audio and video are not in sync when you’re done with the process, check that your sync device (USD or Sync I/O) is set to pulldown. If not, you’ll have to reload. Otherwise the reconform probably didn’t take. Run Adobe Premiere 4 again and repeat steps 16 to 18.

The Day Everything Was Upgraded

Hey, hey party people. I’m typing up this entry in my brand-spankin’ new copy of BBEdit 8. Perhaps you don’t know this, but I love BBEdit. If I were still in third grade, some clever person would undoubtedly quip, “Then why don’t you marry it?” That’s how much I love BBEdit.

So of course typing this is hardly giving it a workout. If it had been released Friday I could have truly put it through its paces as I worked diligently on my site redesign. I will have to break it in while I try to slog my way through various PHP and Javascript methods of dealing with style sheets later this week.

Today was software update day for my workstation. Pro Tools 6.4.1. Soundminer 3.1.2 (b96). Change Note Assistant 1.0.2. Titan 3.1b11. I did verify that Adobe Premiere 6.5 does not properly support Core Audio in OS X. It won’t work with the new official Pro Tools Core Audio Driver 6.4.1. Final Cut Pro will handle it however. I’ll have to dig out my copy and put it on my system.

Shhhh. Here’s a secret: Load picture digital picture in OS X in Final Cut Pro with audio via Core Audio through your Pro Tools hardware. Make sure your USD or Sync I/O is set to pulldown before-hand. When you’re done open the picture in that old copy of Adobe Premiere 4 that you have lying around. (Come on, you know you do.) Trim the picture to start at 0 and export video clip or piece or whatever that option is. Use the Conform tool to conform the picture to 30 frames per second. You now have digital picture file with in-sync embedded worktracks that you can use to spot to on a laptop or whatever. It can also cut against it in Pro Tools 6.x or 5.3. It’s also backwards compatible with 5.1.x. And you can use the Import Audio From Movie function to get video guide tracks into your session. Pretty sweet.

Tomorrow I’m back with the Universal folks.

Ooo! I just discovered something fun in BBEdit 8! Ok, those of you who used 7, might remember the screen flash that you would get if you typed a close parenthesis ) before the open (. In 8, you get a fun message that flashes on your screen. Go on. Give it a try.

Pro Tools 6.4.1 For Mix Hardware

Digidesign has finally released the long-promised Pro Tools 6.4.1 software—the last version to support Pro Tools 24|Mix hardware. It requires a G4 PowerMac, OS X 10.3.4, and obviously Mix hardware.

I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. I have been using the unsupported Pro Tools 6.2.3 for a while now and I’ve been anxiously awaiting things like an officially supported Core Audio driver, sorted AudioSuite and TDM plug-in menus, +12 dB faders and the like. Unfortunately I think they’re only offering breaking timecode loading with HD hardware. I was hoping to use it to load DATs.