I was just wondering this because I got an OMF that is 18 tracks long and am organizing it.


4 Answers 4


Is this an OMF from Avid/other film editing program or from Pro Tools? Basically, I'm wondering if stuff like Foley and other proper FX editing has been done already, or if you just have temp SFX put in by the film editor.

Normally I'll create a max of 8 DX tracks to start (DIALA-DIALH), a PFX track (multiple if there's a lot of them), ADR tracks (depends how much ADR there is), and an XDIAL track (for lines that are going to be ADR'd but need to stay in the session for reference).

If it's not done already, make sure you split up your dialogue by angle (unless the mixer specifically requests otherwise) and try to stagger by scene. Scene 1 might use DIALA-D. Start scene 2 on DIALE. This also makes it easier in the mix. Something similar should be done with FX if you've received those. I normally keep my BGs and hard FX separate in differently color coded sections. BGs will frequently have both stereo and mono tracks, generally hard FX should only be mono.

I'll always try to group in 4, 8 or 16. This is mostly because I and many others I work with, only have a limited number of faders available to us. We generally have to bank around while mixing. Grouping in these numbers can make things faster.



I usually create a new session, import the omf, lock the regions (to prevent any unwanted edits) and deactivate those tracks. Than import from my template for dialogue editing the tracks I need.

I have 4 work tracks on top (to open regions, copy and pasting, etc.; nothing in his tracks is going to the mix, only temporary works).

Then, 1 or 2 tracks with elastic audio switched on ( where I can stretch and try things; again, these are only work tracks, when I'm ok with the time stretch/edits I consolidate to an edit track)

12 to 16 edit tracks for production dialogue, where I do all the editing. I usually grab a scene from the inactive tracks with the omf and then start to work on it. Other times I transfer all the OMF to these tracks, it really depends on the project and on the time I have. The last few tracks are usually reserved for processing (radio fx, tv fx, special)

Then 4 PFX track for Fx coming from the Production sound that I usually share and export, after the first editing pass, to the sfx team. (so they can work on the same fx and know what I'm doing before going to the mixing stage)

4 (or more) trash tracks (inactive), where I can store things that I don't want in the timeline but I still want to have at hand when mixing.

In the end, tracks for ADR (8 or more) reserved for, evidently, ADR: usually one for character.

All the tracks are color coded. All the tracks have the trim plugin active and usually I have a send to a denoise chain, for complex denoises. That bus is recorded on a new track. I usually have other plugins deactivated but ready to use. I try things in realtime and than print with the audiosuite.

I drop all the sfx and music that I found in the OMF (or split to separate hidden inactive tracks).

I start with this setup; if I need to have sfx or foley in the same session (like in a small budget doc), I import other tracks, for sound fx editing (mono and stereo), grouped in stems.

Look at this book Dialogue Editing for Motion Pictures: A Guide to the Invisible Art: I took most of my workflow from there and it's a great and informative reading.



  • I like the idea of a couple elastic audio tracks, I'm going to have to poach that. Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 17:46
  • I really love hearing about different people's workflows! Very interesting reading. I think John Purcell's book had some good stuff about working with OMF's too and should be a must read for anyone interested in post :)
    – Andy Lewis
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 7:54
  • Doh. Just noticed it mentioned in the last line. Worth pointing out twice though I'd say!
    – Andy Lewis
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 7:57

Interesting to compare workflows on this. 

I typically open the omf directly (not into a template) and retaining volume rides as well as converting clip based gain to automation.  I then do a session save as "project-version-sorted-date". This preserves my original omf in an easily accessible session in someone needs to get back to it later. 

From within the "sorted" session I break into  Vo 1 Dx1-8 Pfx1-4 Ref mono fx 1-4 Ref st fx 1-4 Music 1-4

I also import the QuickTime of the film into the session, set it at the appropriate spot, and then make sure the framerate and session start time are set appropriately. 

Sometimes I'll route the vo, dx and pfx tracks down to a print track through a compressor and print a sync ref track right away as well (project dependent).

Sometimes I'll go through and with region groups I'll mark the scene boundaries in a track. This makes bgfx editing go much faster later on, and is useful in dx editing as well. 

From the sorted session I can then import the sync ref and ref sfx tracks into my sound design template and get to work. 

Whoever is editing bgfx will import what he needs into a bgfx track and work that separately. 

Our dialog editor improrts the vo, dx, and Pfx tracks into his dialogue template and works on that separately. 

Whoever is spotting ADR (often that's me) will also import just the sync ref track into an ADR spotting session and work that separately as well. 

  • Yeah, I do the same thing with opening the OMF directly. I do this because I once saw someone import an OMF, and all the regions were shifted out of time. Probably was just some weird problem with the way it was exported, but opening directly always works for me.
    – James
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 23:05

In short, no. Because I request in writing that picture department properly prepares the OMF to my specifications (which are also provided in writing). The way I look at it is that I don't have time to waste re-preparing a show on my own dime. Anything not prepared as such when I open it gets bounced and is re-requested. Interestingly enough, it works out great for everyone I've worked with so far in my experience and OMFs are a pleasure to work with nowadays. It's all about attitude and being nice with the picture department through the process.

A picture editor can sort and organize a show they've lived with for many weeks/months far quicker than I can with fresh eyes, not knowing my way around. It also teaches picture department to be mindful in the future of their editing organization and to treat the audio timeline with the same respect that the picture timeline probably receives.

I request 8-12 tracks MAX (if more are needed, we discuss on a per-situation basis), and I want the top 2-4 tracks to be DX, 1-2 tracks for ADR/Temp ADR, followed by Temp FX, and Temp MX/Score at the bottom. If it can't be fit in 8-12 tracks, then the picture editor did more sound editing than they were supposed to and it more junk usually that I don't need wasting hard drive space.

I'm sure these thoughts are slightly tainted by receiving 32+ track OMFs that look like a bomb went off in the timeline in the past, and I've finally set my foot down on the nonsense.

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