Materials I need from the filmmaker in order to do the mix:
- AAF – A file exported from your editing software which contains all of the audio tracks that the picture editor was using, including any volume automation and fades that may have been done. Please include at least 6 seconds (144 frames) of audio handles. Embedded or referenced AAFs both work fine. For the audio format, 24-bit/48 kHz is recommended. Some workflows (such as “nesting” in Adobe Premiere) lead to issues in the AAF exporting process. OMF is another file type that works, but these days AAF is more common and reliable.
- Reference video – 1080p Apple ProRes Proxy codec works well with Pro Tools and is what I prefer. Avid DNxHD also works. If you need to have a small file size to send via the internet, H.264 is fine, but I will need to convert it. Ideally, your video will have timecode burned in and a 2-pop before the start of the program. It is good practice to have your first frame of picture start at 01:00:00:00, with any leader and 2-pop starting before the 1 hour mark.
- Production audio and sound reports, for the purposes of accessing all available mics and looking for better sounds in alternate takes. Sometimes a copy of the script can be helpful, especially for feature films.
Track organization tips
It is best to group all of the dialogue and production audio on one set of tracks, sound effects on another set of tracks, and music on another set of tracks. Please include any audio associated with the picture, even if you don’t think it’s usable. Scratch camera audio is not needed unless it’s the best audio you have. Lower the volume of unused mics if needed (try not to mute — it may not come through in the OMF/AAF). Sometimes I can make it work or find another usable section of the clip in the handles, and even if I cannot, I want to be able to make that decision.
For some projects, the picture editor may be working mainly with the mix track from the production sound mixer. This is a good workflow so long as all timecode metadata is carefully maintained and comes through in the AAF. In this case I will access the different mic isos through Pro Tools Field Recorder workflow. If this workflow is unfamiliar to you, it’s best to just include all mic channels in your edit timeline/AAF.