Any help or advice you could give me would be genuinely appreciated. I'm editing sound for a low budget feature film and I've been given a picture edit in 5 reels with AAFs. I'm in the process of syncing the location sound files to the picture but have been told that because of the way the location sound files have been labelled (exceeding 8 characters) it isn't possible for the editor to export EDLs of the audio from Avid. I don't have the budget to buy an expensive syncing plugin and I don't think it would even work without the EDLs anyway. I'm therefore having to manual sync everything by opening the AAF, identifying individual clips, importing matching polywavs and syncing them up. So far I've done 1 of 5 reels and it's taken about 7 hours. I have a deadline approaching and starting to feel like I'm going to die. Is this my only option for syncing? Knowing this would at least help me to press on through the next 28 hours of syncing with some peace of mind. Again, any help would be really really appreciated.

Many thanks,

Troubled Sound designer.


ASSUMING (and this could be a large assumption) that the Camera and Production audio have matching TimeCode and that the editor hasn't stripped it out in the AVID, you can use the Field Recorder functions of PT using match to Time Code only... You may end up with some clips that have the same timecode but it should shave hours off your workflow. Basically load all the production sound into PT. Select all your AAF clips. Right Click on one and choose Matching Field Recorder Channels -> Match Criteria. Deselect everything (unless you KNOW that some of the data will match - if so then this will make your life even easier, but if you don't know it will cause grief). Close that out. Right click again and select Matching Field Recorder Channels -> Expand Channels to New Tracks -> By Time Code Only. Wait...(this can take a while if you've got 5 reels). You should end up with tracks under your AAF matched by TC. A couple of things. First you can check if this will actually work (that the TC hasn't been stripped out of the AAF) by going to View->Region->Original Time Stamp. If all the clips show up as 00;00;00;00 then this won't work. If the TC shows up, then it will. Also I like to consolidate the AAF dialog tracks down to the minimum number necessary (two on my last show) to make it as easy as possible to find false positives.

  • @colour cornet, just in case ya go looking all over, Field Recorder is only available on PT versions 9 and above.
    – user6513
    Jun 6 '13 at 1:52
  • Hi Sonsey, Thanks so much for getting back to me. I was wondering if I could ask you one more question about you're advice. I'm running Pro Tools 10 and the "Matching field recorder" function may have been renamed. When I right click on the AAF files I can see "match alternatives" which leads to "match criteria" but there isn't an option for "timecode", only for "track name" / "clip name". Am I doing something wrong or is this a limitation of PT10? Thanks again for your help. Jun 6 '13 at 10:09
  • Actually it's a limitation of 10 without CPTK or HD... I'm guessing you're JUST running straight PT10? You'd need one of those two versions for this trick to work... :(
    – Sonsey
    Jun 6 '13 at 16:26
  • No worries, thanks anyway for your help. Best wishes. Jun 6 '13 at 19:11

Wow.. that sucks

... Where is the assistant editor?! Are they sure they can't go through and matchframe their edit clip by clip to give you the full multitrack audio? Quite standard practice in situations where you havent decided on this audio-conforming workflow.

I'm assuming you're having to go through this process because they have cut with the mix track only? (or.. even worse, the camera feed?)

Adding to what Sonsey has already suggested --

With the "Field Recorder Guide Track" workflow, you will probably need them to output a new AAF for you. This is how we work in-house here :

-Ask editor\assistant for a -LINKING- AAF with MXF media. This will keep the SOUND_ROLL metadata in the TAPE_NAME field.

Avid, ridiculously, can strip or move tape name \ sound roll metadata when exporting an AAF with embedded media like .wav

-As Sonsey suggested, do an edit pass and reduce your guide tracks down to 1 clip per shot. Careful not to accidentally remove another slate which has been placed at the same timecode though (eg. wild, alt take)

-Link to all the fieldsound media --- scan the folder and make sure it has completed by keeping an eye on the Task Manager

-Then in the "field recorder match criteria", try "Match to Timecode" and "ALL" of the following, and tick "Tape Name to Sound Roll" \ OR \ "Sound Roll to Tape Name". One should work.. if the editors have put the metadata in.

-"Name and sort tracks by: Channel Number"

-NOTE : 'Example_.ca1' <---- folders named like this won't scan in to protools. We think that they are ignored because they are interpreted as Finder's references. So rename and rescan if you can't find some media.

once you're finished then untick 'use as field recorder guie track' because Tools has a habbit of rescanning on session opening.

good luck..

  • should probably add --- get rid of the guide track audio afterwards (or at least make sure you don't cut with it) as it won't necessarily be phase-coherent with the relinked media. Jun 5 '13 at 22:59
  • Hi James, Thanks very much for your response! I'm running Pro Tools 10 and the "Matching field recorder" function may have been renamed. When I right click on the AAF files I can see "match alternatives" which leads to "match criteria" but there isn't an option for "timecode", only for "track name"/"clip name". Am I doing something wrong or is this a limitation of PT10? I've also asked Sonsey (the other person who kindly replied to my question about syncing) about this issue, but would again be very very grateful for any insight you could offer if you're able to. Jun 6 '13 at 10:14
  • Hey man -- right click on the name of the guide tracks in the Edit Window (A1 .. A2.. whatever they are called) and select "field recorder guide track" Jun 6 '13 at 12:25
  • No worries, i think I'd need Pro Tools HD for the trick to work, thanks all the same for your advice. Jun 6 '13 at 19:12
  • ah.. yes! good point. CPTK required. Sorry, should have thought of that! I would say it is worth getting, but with PT11 looming, I don't think it will, because of how they are folding that stuff in to HD. Jun 6 '13 at 19:33

Take all of your tracks from all of your sessions in all at once and region group them.

Play them back at the same time as the new guide track.

Every time you hear the two tracks out of sync, you need to make a change until they go back in sync.

If you do this in a Pro Tools HD system, you can switch between videos, and can figure out if they added scenes or cut them down.

  • Hi, thanks a lot for getting back to me. I'm sadly using mere "Pro tools 10" not the HD version so switching between videos may not work. Thanks all the same though. Jun 6 '13 at 19:15

Thanks for your responses. The answer turned out to be 38 hours of pain.

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