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Doremi Laboratories DAWN II Digital Audio Workstation Nucleus (part 3)

For simple topping and tailing, the editing facilities offered in the Mix View are perfect, but if you want to achieve greater precision, or edit music, then you will probably turn to the Edit Window...

Window on the Waveform

For simple topping and tailing, the editing facilities offered in the Mix View are perfect, but if you want to achieve greater precision, or edit music, then you will probably turn to the Edit Window. This allows a closer view of the sound, and start and end points can be set very easily. This is also the place to set Sync points A and B which facilitates aligning a point midway in the sound file to something important in the picture, for example aligning the climax of a piece of music to a scene change.

There are two modes in the Editing Window. One is selection mode where clicking and dragging the mouse highlights a section of audio. To a Mac user this will seem like the most obvious thing in the the world to do, and is good for quickly selecting a section that is recognisable from the waveform, as dialogue might be. The other mode is ‘Dawn’ mode where you set a cursor position and scrub forwards or backward from that. When you have found the correct position, click the ‘[’ screen button to mark the start of a region or ‘]’ to mark the end.

Editing operations are carried out in the Mix View and the Editing Window. Some of the more interesting editing functions include:

  • Cut - in the Editing Window, removes the selected region from the Mix View and splices the two adjacent regions together. ‘Shift’ Cut does the same, but the two adjacent regions stay where they are leaving a gap in the middle.
  • Separate - splits one sound into two pieces at the cursor position.
  • Bite - extracts part of a sound and pastes it onto another track.
  • Fill - a region of a sound is selected in the Editing Window and filled with a new sound. If the fill is shorter than the selected region the it is looped to fit.
  • Assemble - for convenience, multiple cues can be assembled into one cue. Any space between the cues will be preserved and any overlap will be merged.
  • Colour - a group of cues which the user relates together can be given the same colour for convenience.

Does it Conform?

The latest scam in the audio post production world is getting video editors to do most of the donkey work! It seems reasonable that when the picture has been assembled, then most of the audio will have very nearly the same edit points. And even if you don’t want to use the original audio, then you might as well know where the edit points are. Figure 2 shows part of an edit decision list (EDL) in the CMX1 format. In the Auto Conforming procedure, DAWN II takes control of the source machine and winds it to a point a few seconds before the beginning of the first cue in the EDL. It starts the machine in play and just before the cue itself starts, DAWN starts recording. Just after the cue finishes, DAWN stops recording, stops the machine and winds on to the next cue where the process starts again. Of course, proper audio edits are often going to occur at different times to video edits, and there has to be an overlap of material for any crossfades that are thought necessary. To accomplish this, DAWN II records audio ‘handles’ before and after each cue, the length of the handles can be selected. Of course, you wouldn’t want to have the handles coming up in the Mix View because you would then have to edit every cue to remove them. Instead the handles reside invisibly on the hard disk before and after the start and end points of each section. The result should be, after auto conforming, a copy of the edits, placed in the Mix View to correspond exactly with the audio edits that came out of the off-line suite. They are now ready for any sweetening the DAWN II system and its operator can devise.

DAWN II can also handle ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) where segments are recorded according to the EDL with the actor keeping his or her eye on a video monitor. DAWN II will position the video at a point just before the cue to be recorded, play it, and provide three standard ADR beeps before going into record. It actually starts recording on the last beep to catch any breath preceding the dialogue - it may just add that ultimate degree of subtlety to the performance. The take is automatically entered into the Mix View and is then ready for playback. Getting the line right may take a few tries so an integral part of the process is the invitation to type in a short name for the line, and then each new take of the line will be numbered sequentially.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004