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Audio for TV, Film- Info Source??

Discussion in 'Recording' started by knightfly, Jan 19, 2002.

  1. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hey, Greg - Sounds like you may be able to point me in the right direction - I don't use PT, having started with Samplitude, but I need to pick your brain slightly on where to find a good source of info on putting together the additional gear to expand my DAW with the goal of writing for film and video. Am in the middle of putting together a new system (P-4, 1gB+ DDR, IDE Raid, G550 video, dual 21" monitors, Samplitude, WinXP Pro, Tascam DM-24, etc.) Need recommendations on VCR, Sync, Capture, whatever is necessary to do film and TV audio.
    Also need an idea of what the customer requirements are as to format and quality of product - Books are OK, at least for general, but I prefer more up-to-date info for equipment recommendations considering the speed of evolution involved.
    I don't want to take up too much of your time, possibly just a few places to start looking.
    Thanks for any advice you have to offer... Steve
    Once a Knight Productions, email knight001@compuserve.com
  2. Hi Steve,

    Answers to all your questions are a little tricky as you are covering a large area and the available info is spread all over the place. I'll try my best:

    You'll probably have to deal with at least some aspects of surround if you are thinking of working with film. This is a whole area of research on it's own, check out http:// for more info.

    As for VCR, well the best option would be to get a digital Betacam but these are full of features that you won't need and cost a packet, so your best bet is probably to get a BetacamSP playback machine.

    Sync is going to be very important. A Nanosyncs dedicated masterclock is about the best that is out there (IMHO) because it outputs wordclock and video ref (Black&Burst), which will allow you to sync up your Betacam and properly clock your digital audio system at the same time. I don't know about your system but with PT you would also need a MTP/AV or USD to lock/chase time-code.

    I'm not too aux fait with the current crop of capture cards, perhaps someone else has some suggestions in this area?

    Format for digital audio is usually a time-coded DAT or DA88 tape at 16bit and 48kS/s, with a frame rate of 29.97fps. This is also usually the frame rate when you are working with film. Film is usually bounced and edited at normal NTSC frame rate but it would be worth you doing a bit of research on the "pull up" and "pull down" rates that come into play in this scenario. If you are going to do anything for anyone outside the US you should look into PAL, NTSC and SECAM.

    If you've got anymore questions that are a bit more specific, I'll be pleased to try and help.

  3. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hey Greg - Thanks for the reply - Haven't checked out the link to surroundpro yet, but rest assured I will.
    Last nite I ordered 13 books from Amazon.com, 3-4 each on surround, voice-overs,sound-for video/film, etc. Next time I hope to be ABLE to ask specific questions.
    Just discovered the existence of the Nanosyncs last week while looking at AardSync - The Nano seems more professional, at least as tight on WC, sends out the same video sync it gets (not AardSync) Has more of everything, and no damn wall-wart ! Glad to hear you think highly of it, that confirms my instinct.
    Also ordered a VHS Pro-Sumer type editing deck last week, not too expensive and if it can do insert and assemble editing, there must be a way to sync it to Black burst. I'll have to look at the BetaSP, and apparently sell my Tascam DA-30 and get a timecode DAT. I was hoping the industry had advanced to DVD's for that, as I'm upgrading the computer and will include the Pioneer DVD-rw drive.
    I already have a MusicQuest 8-port SE 8x8 with SMPTE, but I may have to upgrade that too, since Win98 is as far as drivers go and I plan to use Win XP.
    I've done some research into capture cards, but need to do more - Several I found are NOT compatible with Win2k or XP, and no plans for new drivers. Gotta tread carefully here (what's new)
    I appreciate the rate and timecode heads-up, since all the books I ordered won't be here for a week or two I hadn't realized that video's audio sample rates were 48k like film. Shouldn't be a software problem as Samplitude can master or slave any and all rates I've ever heard of, with or without drop.
    Sorry for the long-winded post - I think you're right about the scope of my questions. If I need to bother you again, it'll be after absorbing about 4000 pages in those 13 books - Thanks again for your help. Steve, Once a Knight Productions
  4. Hi Steve,

    AFAIK, the VHS standard doesn't directly support time-code, I also don't know of any that will sync to Black&Burst. VHS is essentially a consumer format, the professional market uses DigiBeta (Betacam) or computer based editing for TV but final output is almost without exception Digibeta (for TV).

    The downside is that the jump from consumer format to pro format is very, very costly. You can get a fully featured high end VHS machine for about US$800 but a BetaSP playback machine is more likely to be about US$8,000 and a DigiBeta is way more expensive than an SP! Your potential clients are certainly going to find it easier to provide you with a Betacam tape and they are also going to have the impression that you are more "professional" if you can work with Betacam rather than VHS.

    I've got a Tascam DA-30 which I use to copy the occasional DAT from my Tascam DA-60 (with SY sync board) time-code machine. Now that I'm doing more work in surround I'm using the DA-60 less and less, and mastering instead to my DA-98. Depending on where you are going it might be worth forgetting about a time-code DAT and get a DA-88 or DA-98.

  5. Amyd

    Amyd Guest

    Hmmm, a professional VHS unit can be around $4000-$5000 (including black-burst sync and SMPTE TC). However, VHS only supports VITC and perhaps LTC if you are willing to sacrifice one of the HiFi audio tracks for it. In general the assemble/insert and remote control of VHS decks is problematic at best (even with professional units), and the heads will also be expensive to replace. If you REALLY wanna take the plunge, take a look at the JVC and Panasonic pro units.

    A prosumer type of unit will do assemble/insert (poorly), won't be RS-422 controlable (RS-232 with special adapters, maybe, if not Lanc) and probably won't support LTC/VITC either.

    An Beta SP *player* can be around $3000-$5000, but a recorder will definately jump to what Greg quotes (used).

    For capture cards, stay away from the Miro range of products. If you can find an used Perception PVR, it could be a good choice, as it works very well with Samplitude (but requires SCSI video hard-disks and a full length PCI slot, plus it's pretty expensive). Barring that, a good solution would be a generic OHCI DV board and a DV-to-analog converter. This could proove the cheapest and most compatible way.


    P.S. Yes, Nanosyncs rock! :D
  6. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hey Guys, way to whet my appetite 'til the books get here (+, most of your input can't be found in most books, but I need a "jumping-off place") -

    Greg, I know what you mean on costs, etc. - I checked Ebay yesterday for Betacam SP, and $3000 US is about minimum for a "Used, fair" unit. The JVC SVHS deck I ordered was only $400 online, and offers (probably crappy) insert/assemble, and linear audio dubbing (timecode, maybe?)I'm hoping to at least use it as a portable "mix and pix" checker - run a copy of video/audio (HiFi, encoded) and take the tape to the living room entertainment center to check compatibility, etc. If it's useless in the studio, I can always use it for the living room...

    Are you saying that the DA-88/98's are a common delivery media for surround-for-picture ? Do you record SMPTE on one of the digital channels ? I've heard shaky things about reliability, what's your experience? Not much difference in price range than a DA-60, makes sense... Again, Thanks -

    Hey, Andrei - Welcome to the "Baptism" - On the Beta stuff, I'm gonna wait to see how prospects pan out due to the expense - I've worked on very early Beta units ('70's) and didn't really appreciate (until now) how little of what I was working on I could personally afford - Thanks for the Miro heads-up, pretty much bears out my preliminary looks. In fact, several of the cards that sounded good at first have glaring shortcomings (won't do this except when that, won't work with the OS you want to use, etc.) - Lotta looking to do here too.
    "OHCI DV board and a DV-to-analog converter."... I'm not up to speed enough yet to know what OHCI stands for yet, and I'm looking at MiniDV cams to use both personally and possibly for local spots, etc. - Most of the ones I've looked at have analog in's that allow pass-thru, thought I could use that feature initially until I have more dedicated hardware. Anyway, like I mentioned to Greg, There is about 4000 pages of info on the way (13 books from Amazon), some of which may actually be useful - Can't talk the talk (much less walk the walk) 'til you learn the lingo, huh? Thanks again guys... Steve
  7. Amyd

    Amyd Guest

    OHCI just stands for the cheap generic Firewire boards you can find for 20 bucks at every shop. The camera idea is indeed a very handy way to do analog conversions, so you're on the right track there (you could even buy a Digital8 cheapo camera to use just as a converter, because it passes Firewire signals just like a miniDV would).

    DA-88s (and 98s, obviously) have timecode separated from the digital audio tracks so no need to sacrifice one of the channels for TC. Around here, it's usual to put the mixdowns as follows: 6 tracks for the 5.1 mix and tracks 7 and 8 for a stereo (or Dolby Stereo) compatibility track.

    You should probably invest money into the Tascams, because for final delivery (ie the guys who print the optical/Dolby tracks) that's about the only accepted standard everywhere in the world. DVD (RAM) is sloooowly becoming a pretty well accepted format for delivering field recordings (mostly because of the DEVA), but other than that, DA88s are it.

    Good luck on your quest,
  8. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hey Andrei - Thanks for the additional info - Filing it along with everything else I value, on two drives on two different machines.

    Two of the 13 books on related subjects arrived a day early today, so I'll probably not be bugging anyone for awhile - Also, after reading Mel Lambert's series on DAWS,

    I'm re-considering whether to stick with Samplitude or budget for a ProTools rig. Probably ProTools, unless Samplitude decides to support OMFI soon. But, that's yet another can of worms, man this business is high-protein (joke)

    Anyway, thanks again for everybody's kind help - I really appreciate the warm but professional attitude on this BBS... Steve
  9. Hi Steve (and Andrei),

    To a large extent where in the market you are trying to place yourself will make a big difference. Please bear in mind that my work is generally for the higher end of the TV market, so that's where my experience is and where my advice is coming from. The reason my information is a little inaccurate about VHS is because it simply is not used by the people who I do business with and I only have experience of it at home as a consumer.

    Andrei gave you just about all you need to know about DA88s/98s. BTW, the new PT systems come with a TDIF connector as standard, so in theory you can plug directly into a DA88/98. The DA98 also supports external reference, black&burst or wordclock and LTC time-code sync/lock. I presume the DA88 also supports both these but my experience is with my DA98.

  10. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hi Greg - Yeah, the reason I asked you for advice in the first place is because I want YOUR job (hehe) Serially (or parallell-y) tho, even though I know I gotta start somewhere, I'm really tired of "Starting Over", so I don't want to get into anything that isn't either cheap and quick, or (preferably) upwardly mobile. Therefore, when asked why I love you (not in that way, at least not yet) I'll have to answer, "'cause the turkey saved me beaucoup money and time", or words to that effect...
    "new PT systems come with a TDIF connector as standard" Mein Gott, you mean PT finally discovered they are not alone on the planet ? Scary.... Sorry, I can barely tolerate arrogance even when it IS justified... Thanks again (still?) Steve
  11. Rader Ranch

    Rader Ranch Guest

    knightfly, ooops, Steve...sorry, just caught that finally....is there any way you can cancel the super-VHS deck order? that is really not a good way to spend your money for post. one can find good deals on used 3/4" decks out there all the time! keep in mind that whatever video deck you use will be strictly for viewing/dragging audio purposes...the only need for an editing/layback capability would be for a client viewing copy, and you can make that with a super-cheap VHS :) deck.

    video capture cards are a nice, pretty inexpensive 'luxury' and frequent time saver for longer format projects....and once you go non-linear video, you're definitely spoiled forever.

    the key for a composer who wants to work to video is to have the concepts of timecode and a properly synced/clocked system down. for instance: scoring for tv with your sesh. accidentally set to 29.97NDF can be a real pain for us guys down the road...29.97DF is what follows the clock on the wall. and truthfully you need not trash your non-TC dat either. if your system is properly setup and you do your final stereo layback to the DAT via AES, you have a sample accurate layback right there. ..all you need is to place a 2 pop (a small burst of a tone placed 2 seconds before 1:00:00.00 in most cases, or whatever you reels 1st frame of video start time is) in your session prior to the layback. us engineers lay it in 'wild' (but of course with sample clocks locked), spot the 2 pop to the appropriate #, and there you go.

    i notice you mention West Coast USA as your location also....PT sessions sure seem to be becoming a standard format in LA...i get them on CDR and JAzz all the time. not that you have any interest, or need, to change systems...just sharing :)

    bottom line is that you really shouldn't need to go on a huge spending spree to get yourself in shape to score projects. get an inexpensive way to chase to video, a way to clock your system together, perhaps a way to digitize video for your own benefit, and there you go. the xtra niceties can always wait for the completion of your 1st paying gigs! :D
  12. Hi Steve,

    "new PT systems come with a TDIF connector as standard" Mein Gott, you mean PT finally discovered they are not alone on the planet ?

    Yep, Digi has obviously put some effort into this area. As standard the 192 interface has digital inputs/outputs in all the following flavours: TDIF, ADAT lightpipe, AES/EBU and an S/PDIF pair. Routing is pretty clever too, you can split the outputs in pairs to any or all of the digital formats simultenously as well as to the analog outs.

    I agree with Rader Ranch's message but I return to my point about where in the market place you are trying to place yourself. Usually for instance I'll supply a DA-98 tape, this tape is put into a DA-88, in the post house machine room, which is locked to the system (TC and B&B) and played back straight into the final mixing desk. Sometimes the DA88 machine is locked and bounced to an Audiofile for playback into the system. I have had an occasion where the music cues were flown in wild and this caused no end of delays in the final dub as some of the musical elements needed precise placement, half a frame in some instances.

    It's a tricky line to draw between saving your money and making sure that everything is going to be as easy as possible during the final mix. The bottom line is that if a production company is paying serious money they don't expect delays or compromises. Bear in mind that if there are sync'ing or any other problems with the music, the mixing engineer is going to make absolutely certain that the director realises that the fault lies with you rather than him or his post house! In my country (UK) the directors tend to be almost completely ignorant of the technical issues and in addition there is usually a lot of politics going on. I've had a few nasty experiences where blame was put squarely on my shoulders even though it was the mixing engineer at fault. Experience has taught me to avoid these situations at virtually any cost and to be ultra cautious with the technical aspects of my masters.

    It might work out better if you don't actually own a VTR. After all, the only thing you really need it for is to fly in the visuals and sync track to your computer. So once you get your locked-off copy, hire a Betacam for the day.

    An area that we haven't mentioned is monitoring. There are some serious issues with frequency bandwidths and bass management that you'll have to look into if you are going to doing any surround.

    Sorry, a little esoteric but I hope it's still useful info.

  13. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hey, Rader Ranch, Greg - These are EXACTLY the types of comments I need and appreciate ! I think for anyone just getting into any new area of any complexity at all, that while books on the subject are great, a newbie has a hard time sorting out the essentials from the "book thickener" parts. Whereas, a post from a pro who is nice enough to share their wisdom will usually have only enough "bread" to hold the "meat" together. The bad news is, the VHS deck just showed up today - the good news is, it wasn't $19,000, only $400. It'll be a useful dubber for the living room if nothing else.
    I must be getting a little closer to being able to ask semi-intelligent questions, last nite I told my wife I didn't think I would need to buy a Betacam right away, that if something big came up and didn't totally scare me away, I could hire either machine I needed in Portland, OR - it's about an 80-minute drive from here.
    I think the "cheap" Sony Digital8 camcorder and a carefully selected capture card is going to happen, we have a 3-year old (first) grandson that really needs to be a movie star, and that by itself is reason enough for that cost. Then, if anything happens that requires better video gear, I can consider whether to rent or buy, and what.

    So, for now I'm going to order the Nanosyncs, all the parts for the new DAW (my old one is a 450 mHz P-2, 10gB boot drive and 18gig U2SCSI) the new one should be able to inhale the old one and not have to sneeze, so once it's configured and de-bugged I should be able to concentrate on more "artsy" and less "fartsy" for at least a couple of years.

    Greg, one thing I AM aware of is the need for slightly better than perfect sync - I've seen comments in several mag's over the years about "damned amateurs and their sloppy timecode", etc. So I'm paying particular attention to that one. One of the many things on the "to-do" list is a solid plan and checklist for proper SMPTE, WC, etc. That's why I was glad to hear your vote for the Nanosyncs, along with Andrei's - I was hoping it didn't just SOUND like a professional unit, since it's $350 cheaper than the Aardsync II (With video sync) and has better/more outputs. That and my 8x8Midi/SMPTE/MTC interface, and I should be rock-solid. (Provided I don't forget Rader's 29.97DF reminder)
    Greg, I agree with your philosophy about having things right - the absolute best boss I ever worked for (dead now, RIP I hope) used to tell me every once-in-a-while, "Better to be able to say, 'hell no', than have to say, 'yeah, but...'" Every time I've forgotten that advice, I find my butt bleeding -
    On surround, so far I've added 3 more of the KRK passive nearfields I was using, and a 10" Hafler sub, all to be driven by a Denon AVR-3802 receiver for the time being. The receiver is (I think) 115 W/channel, 6 discrete channels, configurable several ways, separate LFE line out with 3-position crossover - the unit has ability to completely bypass all consumer-type DSP, etc. and act as a 6-channel Pre-Power amp with less than .04% THD at 100 watts/ch., if my memory serves. Again, if all else fails, a good upgrade for the living room.

    Hey, you guys aren't the ones to apologize for giving more info than you think I asked for - I should be apologizing for the amount of time it takes to read my bloated posts - Sorry, but a huge thanks too. Any time you're feeling verbose, feel free to do it right here... Gratefully, Steve
  14. Hi Steve,

    I can't specifically comment on your monitoring environment without hearing it for myself. When I'm working on a project I tend to take a rough mix of two or three different cues to the dubbing theater just to make sure that what I'm hearing in my studio is pretty much the same as what is coming out of the dubbing theatre's system. I've sure saved myself some red faces in the past by doing this. After quite a lot of projects I'm now fairly confident that my monitoring environment is a good representation of what I'll hear in the dubbing theater, but I still usually check out a couple of mixes.

    BTW, with most DAWs there is usually the need to use MTC in various places. Given the choice, always use SMPTE over MTC, it's more accurate and stable.

  15. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Thanks Greg - Yeah, I'd heard somewhere about the SMPTE/MTC choice, but if I hadn't I sure wouldn't have wanted you to leave it out - I've found that one of the hardest things to figure out when first trying to help someone is what level to talk to them at without either burying them or offending them - So, as far as I'm concerned, we can skip worrying about that since we both know it can't be done - besides, my theory is this: If my skin was that thin, I woulda' bled to death a long time ago...

    So you can't tell me how wonderful my surround setup is from UK huh ? And I thought you were a pro... Funny, tho, neither can I yet - The 3 more KRK's are still in their boxes in the studio, the amp just arrived yesterday, I haven't even ordered more speaker cable, I plan to order the Nanosync this afternoon, and most of the rest of the studio is in 3 big piles in the middle of the floor while I figure out where it's all going, how it's going to be patched, what interface I'll end up using between DAW and DM-24 mixer, plus I will need at least a full day just to finalize decisions and order parts for the new DAW, probably a week to build the new mixing area, talk about your "never-ending story"; I agree with your method of "verification" - sounds like the case of the "take it anywhere and try it" cassette, only on steroids. I may have a little trouble travelling far enough to "take it to the dubbing stage" here though, since I'm about 900 miles north of LA, and right now re-location is not an option - I thought I would try putting up several major releases on DVD on my system as a start, comparing them to any finished tracks I do on my system (all this LONG BEFORE I attempt any outside surround work) - I'll have to burn my stuff to DVD before the compare so I'm not comparing 24/96 tracks to consumer DVD format, but in my present state of "ignorance is not bliss, it's just ignorance", it's just one more misconception of which to learn the folly, hopefully at a reasonable cost of both time and money. 'nuff said about that, and thanks again... Steve

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