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NEED Help with Final Cut Pro


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Ok, so I'm not an editor and i don't want to be one.

I'm 3 weeks in to a 3.5 week show and suddenly there's a flurry of emails from post telling me that all my tracks are distorted and overmodulated.

We check the files here, playing back through my machine and also playing back DIT files and dailies.

Result?? Zero defect and the highest level appears to peak at roughly -5db.

In am recording on Zaxcom Deva V, 48k, 24bit, 23.976fps, polyphonic wav with -20db headtone.

Files played back on my machine are perfect. Files sent to DIT are transcoded and exported through Davinci. Files played back from DIT are perfect.

Post advises yesterday that they are using FCP to edit.

A general issue of overmodulation seems to exist with the files.

I have ZERO experience with using edit bay software, yet it seems to me that the failure must be in the file handling and import process, though I cannot say exactly why.

Post seems unable to share with me the workflow they are using and has indicated that they believe the issue is not with FCP.

I suspect that FCP cannot handle or is not being properly told how to handle poly-wav files and the audio is getting stacked and creating the problem.

Anyone have any idea what direction I can point post??

Experts chime in....

And yes RTFM is an answer, as is telling them it's not my problem, but neither is really the one I'm looking for.

Cheers !!!

Cujo

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Yikes! I wish I had some answers for you (I'm sure someone here will be able to help out) but you have already done all you can do to sort out a problem which is unquestionably THEIR problem, not yours. Are you able to invite them to the set for you to demonstrate that the files from you are fine? If there is anyone else with you on the project who might have had more experience in post (more than the editorial team you have) you could suggest they consult with other post people to sort out the flaw in their post workflow.

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Hi Cujo,

 

Do you know if they are using FCP X or FCP 7? I have no experience with FCP X, but from my old edit days, in FCP 7 there's an audio mixer window. They should check to see that all faders are at unity. I've had times where audio that sounded over modulated was due to the master fader being raised all the way up (+12dB).

 

https://documentation.apple.com/en/finalcutpro/usermanual/index.html#chapter=55%26section=2%26tasks=true

 

Additionally, a mismatched sample rate and audio codec between the audio files and the EDL / timeline can cause audio distortion, pops, level issues, etc...

 

Cheers,

José

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As it happens, they are having issues with time code sync due to some mismatch in their system or its inability to deal with the Davinci files.

They mentioned to DIT this issue and have asked her if she would switch to FCP for file management. This with 4 days left in the shoot.... DIT has politely declined the opportunity to completely rebuild all the files, luts, and hardware to accomplish this request.

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Jeff,

Sadly- edit is in LA, and we are in Atl. so a set visit isn't possible. I've asked for a sample of what they have so I can compare to what I have and see if in can determine anything.

I am asking around a good bit, but the problem is that very few here actually use FCP for high level work, or they haven't used it since film school. :/

Thanks for all the help so far... Keep it coming

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This may, or may not, apply in the current circumstance.

Editors screw up audio on Final Cut (Semi)Pro on a regular basis. More so, it seems, than other editing platforms, but similar issues there are also not uncommon.

While one might take split tracks (lavs on track one and boom on track two) and just pan them hard left and right, another will just pan everything to center with no regard to the combining effect of multiple tracks on the output level.

It often is, as José mentioned, a situation of having the levels not adjusted appropriately for the material.

Sometimes the best approach is just to diplomatically let the producers know that you have dutifully checked the tracks in question and to helpfully offer a suggestion as to where the issue exists. Knowing that the editor will likely insist that they've done countless projects without this issue, and therefore, the problem couldn't possibly be with their system, your discussion with the producer needs to tactfully inform as to the conditions that could cause this.

Toward this end it can be helpful to consult an FCP guide in order to be knowledgble about where the audio controls are and how they can be adjusted.

NOTE: Perhaps the most important aspect of this talk is to present the information in a manner that is not finger-pointing, but is offered as someone whose goal is to help production track down the issue.

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+1 John. The diplomatic approach of trying to help resolve the issue for everyone (regardless of where it lies) is usually the best.

Like others have mentioned, the volume in the edit bay being turned up too loud either on the timeline or poor gain staging in the edit bay sounds likely.

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To date, I've been abundantly professional, tactful, and diplomatic in helping edit to find the source of the problem.
Sadly, the "I've never had this problem before....grrrrr!" came today. 

 

So - What I've done now is explain - without aiming blame to any person, place, or process - that the issue lies somewhere in the file transfer/transcoding process. I just don't know what else I can do here. I'm trying desperately to help and be nice, but it seems to be failing.

 

The response I got was that I should be taking the files from my Deva, using WaveAgent to check my files, then send them to DIT where they should again be checked with WaveAgent, then run through FCP7 to check compatibility before the DIT transcodes them with DaVinci....... ???  :blink: 

 

Yes -- I asked for a workflow test 5 weeks ago.
Yes --- my request was ignored.

SMH ..........

 

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Cujo,

 

Easiest way to figure out where the problem lies is to record a file with tone at -20.   Keep a copy of the raw file and send a copy through the Davinci process (if you can do that with no video to sync it up to).

 

Ship both files to edit.  If they play them back and neither come up at -20, the problem is with their system import.  If yours does, but the Davinci files does not, the problem lies in the transcode process.

 

If both come up at -20dB -- uh oh.

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I had this exact same issue recently. All my files were clean when played back on my Nomad and laptop. In fact, the "editor/DP/Bozo", if you want to call him that, was on set with the "Producer/dipshit" and had IFB's on. On set, they gave me a thumbs up because the scene sounded great. However, when they finally did the edit the world was ending, it was my fault, I didn't know shit, and was terminated. This was the first time that ever happened to me. In any case, they did me the favor by letting me go as it was their first time doing a "reality show" or any show for that matter. I figured it had to be in the import because I saved all my files and they play back the way they're suppose to, CLEAN! 

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https://digitalfilms.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/preparing-digital-camera-files/

 

Therefore, it’s important to remember to first set-up your camera files with a dual mono channel assignment before making the first edit. This same issue crops up when round-tripping files through Resolve. It may not properly handle audio, depending on how it interprets these files, so be careful.

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Not in any particular order, but the following tidbits may help for some poor sap in my chair later on. And this is a bit of a follow up for you fine people who tried to help me wade through this.

 

 

  • I was sent a particular problem file and  -- on my lap top -- it did distort on the higher parts of the dialogue. Not a valid test really, and laptop speakers are notoriously bad, but it is a note. I didn't try to play it anywhere else.
  • All the grownups including Director and EP were provided dailies from DIT each day for the run of the show. DIT used my mix track as the audio for dailies. Not one single complaint. In fact, good comments were happily received by me from them on a recurring basis.
  • On each and every sound roll I did a verbal headslate and included no less than 30 seconds of tone at -20 as the first track. Also included in this was a description of what the tone was, the machine used, and specs used. Whether they used this reference tone is unknown.

I have received no further comment or question from edit, and they didn't fire me, so either the system/workflow got sorted or they have binned the whole lot. I'm betting on the former.

 

 

Thanks everyone for all you did to help - :)

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Cujo,

 

I might be wrong but no listens to head of the roll information that you describe or the tone at -20db. To prove this I also several times a week before the tone say "if anyone is listening to this please email me at XXXX and I will send you $50.00" I sometimes have offered $100.00. Know one has emailed me yet and it has not cost me anything. I have been doing this for on and off for a couple of years.

 

Just some info to pass on and thought you would get a laugh at this.

 

Whit

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I still do a head slate, Whit, but I also refer to it as the file no one will ever listen to. Occasionally another crew member will want to get in on the slating like people in Post will hear this secret recording I make.

I still like to do the head slate. At least at that point in the day I know that if all other pieces of the sound department fail, I can read the actors' lines into the slate mic as I watch their lips move. Emergency situation. [emoji12]

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Cujo,

I might be wrong but no listens to head of the roll information that you describe or the tone at -20db. To prove this I also several times a week before the tone say "if anyone is listening to this please email me at XXXX and I will send you $50.00" I sometimes have offered $100.00. Know one has emailed me yet and it has not cost me anything. I have been doing this for on and off for a couple of years.

Just some info to pass on and thought you would get a laugh at this.

Whit

Hilarious. Someday a dialog editor will find this looking for room tone and ask for a free lunch :)
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Joshua,

 

Agreed the secret file that no one listens to! Well put! I still do the head slate on every Roll... 

I still do a head slate, Whit, but I also refer to it as the file no one will ever listen to. Occasionally another crew member will want to get in on the slating like people in Post will hear this secret recording I make.
I still like to do the head slate. At least at that point in the day I know that if all other pieces of the sound department fail, I can read the actors' lines into the slate mic as I watch their lips move. Emergency situation. [emoji12]

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In my Coffey Sound days I had to trouble shoot this very issue countless times on many different systems. It was almost always a screw up on the import into whatever system they were using. Usually everything panned middle or their levels not set properly. I'm curious why the mirrored Deva files didn't go to editorial in the first place. Did they try that? That would have been the first thing I would have suggested. I'm guessing they sorted it out, but I always wondered why it is productions problem to deal with when it is demonstrated the production tracks are good. Fortunately, when I was doing sound editorial on reality TV, I overheard the dialogue editor complain about the production tracks. I went in and took a look and picture editorial had only given him a scratch track and didn't bother to pass along the actual real production audio tracks. They were all set to blame the sound mixer, but luckily I was able to sort it out quickly. Some times I wish the production sound mixers could also be the dialogue editors. 

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