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For someone just entering post sound... what's a good starter DAW setup?


PLo128
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Reaper did some progress, as I can see. If I'm not mistaken, it was developped by an Acid-Sound Forge-Vegas unsatisfied user who asked for several features and never saw it implemented after a few versions of these apps by Sony. Especially with Vegas which, at first, was an audio -daw- app before committing to video (and letting things go down on the audio side with time to favor bells and whistles for video).

Gee, after all these years, Sony still lacks on a full BWF implementation with any of their software, which is a shame considering how easy it is to fly with Vegas, Sound Forge or Acid. They've been ''almost there'' for years now... well, they probably don't want to jump into the real ''pro'' world (so many apps bearing the word ''pro'' in their name nowadays).

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Justin Frankel, of WinAmp player fame and his team developed Reaper. It was modeled somewhat after Vegas and other SCS app.s.

Vegas 12 has more import/export options than previous versions, but not OMF, and in my experience AAF never did work properly in VP-11 or before. BTW, Vegas 11 is a total mess to the point of being unusable. recently released Vegas 12 is allegedly more stable, but only for a 64 bit OS , Vista, 7 or 8. I use Reaper on occasion as well as some of the audio Reaper VST plug-ins

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uhm... I think there are exceptions of course, his Henchinous' advice sound Digi/Avid-centric and a bit elitist perhaps, but I tend to agree with him. If you filling a contractor's seat or looking to collaborate with others, there's really no other way around it, it's likely going to be a PT workflow. Those of you / us that do post in a more autonomous capacity, sure we can choose whatever tools we like.

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uhm... I think there are exceptions of course, his Henchinous' advice sound Digi/Avid-centric and a bit elitist perhaps, but I tend to agree with him.

I would also add that if the project is in a competitive area like NY, LA, Chicago, or London, Pro Tools is going to be expected -- particularly if files have to be shared between post houses or editors. It's a reality of life.

There are definitely tools that are as good and as useful as Pro Tools, but I lean more towards PT simply because of the widespread availability of plug-ins. And more importantly, I know the program and I'm reasonably fast and comfortable with it (when I need to be).

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I would also add that if the project is in a competitive area like NY, LA, Chicago, or London, Pro Tools is going to be expected -- particularly if files have to be shared between post houses or editors. It's a reality of life.

There are definitely tools that are as good and as useful as Pro Tools, but I lean more towards PT simply because of the widespread availability of plug-ins. And more importantly, I know the program and I'm reasonably fast and comfortable with it (when I need to be).

You can always make whatever you are using into a PT session and vice-versa--this has worked very well for me.

philp

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Again, it depends on your goals, the type of work you want to do and location.

If you want to end up working in one of the major markets on major network shows or features, Pro-Tools is simply the number one used DAW.

If you are going to be a on man show, again, use whatever you want to use.

I know my career would not have progressed as fast as it did in LA had I not been proficient in Pro-Tools when I moved here 5 years ago.

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If you don't own Pro Tools, you at least need to know how to use it. Pro Tools is what I learned, so that's what I've used most of the time. It's what I owned. It's what I'm the fastest at. I tried out Nuendo, and didn't really care for it, but that is because I was impatient and I didn't have time to learn a new DAW because I was busy working. I know lots of people that are very happy with Nuendo. If I had the time to sit down and learn it, I'm sure I would like it is as well. Some of the features described in Nuendo are quite impressive.

Mixing on headphones is a bad idea. Some decent studio monitors are a must. PT10, a decent interface, and decent monitors is a good start. OH...and some good plug-ins. The complete Sound Toys suite and Izotope stuff are really good starters. I've used Sound Toys on every single thing I've ever worked on. I used to like the Waves plug-ins, but have moved away from them over the years. Ever since I started, I never used a control surface, and I've never needed one. I am much faster without one. I feel it just gets in the way, but that's just me. I prefer mixing with a trackball and keyboard. It's easier for me to draw pans and fades right on the waveform. I can see exactly where I need to pan or fade, rather than write automation with a fader..get it wrong...and have to do it again. Everyone has their own way of working, though.

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Mixing on/for headphones is valid in that a lot more people hear video audio that way these days, but you can get yourself into trouble very easily re subtleties that are not so audible on speakers, esp. very quiet sounds, and you can also end up obsessing over things that aren't much of an issue when heard on speakers. I find it's harder to get relationships between foreground and BG sounds and score to work in a mix on headphones. Anymore it really isn't that tough to get ahold of some decent calibrateable monis (Blue Sky comes to mind) and do some basic room treatment (several sources of good acoustic panels etc).

philp

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another REAPER + AAT user here. I was taught everything on Pro Tools when I started out and am still able to use it these days if I need to. Around 3 years ago I got fed up with Digi/Avid's business models and customer service and switched over to the beautiful land of REAPER and its open source, fair for all, business practices. I've never been happier and never looked back.

The only reason I can see the big production houses use Pro Tools now is that it got there first and is now so well established that no one really wants to change.

If you're starting out, give REAPER a shot. It's cheap, stable, and fast. If you're trying to get involved with larger production houses, then you'll probably need to learn Pro Tools though.

That being said, if you've learnt one DAW, it doesn't take that much to get your head around a new one.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Although not exactly what the post wants to hear. I almost put down some mula into an Avid HD Native thunderbolt trade up from a dig003, but then I looked at THE NUMBERS...and realized the amount I was making from random post jobs vs the amount of time I spend on them in my brain and in front of the screen I realized I was killing way more with location stuff...so I updated to a full Zaxcom integrated wireless and Nomad situation. The endless pit of money and ergonomics and showiness/facilities just to get decent paying clients occasionally makes me wonder why we are evening talking about this stuff anymore.

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endless pit of money and ergonomics and showiness/facilities just to get decent paying clients occasionally makes me wonder why we are evening talking about this stuff anymore.

It doesn't have to be an endless pit.

In fact, the equipment s actually quite affordable vs what can be made.

Buying million dollars consoles is a waste of money, I agree.

If you are only doing low budget post, and only occasionally, yes it doesn't make sense.

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Equipment's (relatively) cheap. Quality acoustic facility? Maybe not so much. acoustical architects, ongoing expenses of rent, lights, heat, water, insurance ...

"what can be made?" Depends a huge amount on geography. Kansas City vs. Encino. I know what Tim is talking about because I'm from Denver and the market here is not that much bigger than Kansas City.

I am constantly hashing over the possibility of building or buying a "real" acoustical space, that might attract a richer clientele, but I have not been able to convince myself that the market exists in this location. Maybe it does and I just haven't found it. Maybe it does and I would find it if I went all in on a nice acoustical space. But it's a much higher stake gamble than if I were living in Encino with Henchman.

Sorry if this is starting to veer slightly off topic, but I do think that for post-production, the question of "what DAW should I look for?" does tie in just a little with "should I even bother?".

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I agree sdog.

But even I don't have my own studio.

I am a re-recording mixer, and have no desire to own my own facility.

All I want to do is go in, mix, and go home. It's what I'm good at.

I have no distractions, as I'm not trying to get my next client, because I need to fill my room.

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The build out of any space for real audio work (let alone something like a dubstage) is a risk no matter where you do it, anymore. Unfortunately the space (like the daw) is just part of the "ante"--you want to play, you ante up. For the post of smaller personal projects being done low budg by relatively inexperienced people, the market will not bear a lot of expense on the room etc. As you move up into working with people who are more professional, ie making films is what they do for a living, the demands get ever greater: environment, monitor accuracy, efficiency etc. At the top of the field one is working with wealthy, famous, and ambitious people who have very high expectations of everyone and every place they work with, and thus are the most demanding clients of all. I've found that there are some of this last sort of client in almost every market--the question is how many, and can you attract them to work with you (in your upscaled room) rather than see them go off to LA to mix. Tough call.

philp

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Well as much as I appreciate your point of view Henchman if you are making a good living at what you are saying then you are one of the few out of many of many of many who can do that...and that is a huge achievement. I on the other hand have been doing post for a few features, commercials and stuff in smaller markets and have never been invited into a studio lol...and would probably feel weird if I was.

In all truth though I would give up all my post work if that meant that all work was required to be done in a tuned space and get these guys who have put in the time and money to do it the "right way" their due...but that is not how it's been done. I loved how CrewC once said that there will always be the "sound clown" and that already seems to be the case for the majority of post work that I have seen. I won't ever suck up as much as I've seen some people suck up to get some of this kind of work even for low pay...in some ways it seems worse than actors.

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Aaaaahh. So maybe the real question is: post-house owner vs. post-house operator? Does one market just their skills or their skills plus facilities? I sure don't know the answer.

I really like the fact that I am respected and sought after for my skills. I am often quite embarrassed when clients see my "facility". So I like the idea of just being able to focus on what I'm really good at, solving audio problems, and not having to focus on what I'm not good at, maintaining an acoustic facility and studio business. But I think the issue still comes down to geography and market.

I personally am still not swimming in the market waters where people can afford to hire a good acoustic space for the extended amount of time it takes to do all the work to really make the audio in a film right. My current clients couldn't afford it whether I was the owner of the space or merely an engineer working in the space. I would love to work one multi-million dollar feature a year, rather than half a dozen low-budget indie films, but that's not where my client network is connecting me right now.

I agree with Philip that those people probably are out there, but I haven't found them yet.

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