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electronic MUSICIAN

Cool Tip of the Month

December 1, 2002

Convert DP3 Projects to Pro Tools Sessions

The EM Cool Tip of the Month is presented courtesy of Cool Breeze Systems.

MOTU Digital Performer (DP) users sometimes need to hand off work to other musicians, engineers, or producers who use different DAWs, such as Digidesign Pro Tools or Emagic Logic Audio. Using DP3's built-in Open Media Framework (OMF) import and export features can make that process easier than you might think.

OMF is a file format that was developed as a means of exchanging data between nonlinear editing systems. This month, I'll explain an option for exporting a project from Digital Performer 3.1 to Pro Tools 5.3.1. Pro Tools doesn't support OMF directly, so you must either purchase the DigiTranslator 2.0 upgrade or use the standalone OMF Tool application to convert your OMF file to a Pro Tools session.

  1. Open the Digital Performer 3 project that you want to export. In this example, the project includes a MIDI track and 24-bit audio tracks recorded at 48 kHz.

  2. To Export the MIDI information, select Save a Copy As … from the File menu and select Standard MIDI File as the format type. To maintain separate tracks, select Type 1 format and click on OK. (If your project does not include MIDI tracks, you can skip this step.)

  3. To export the audio, select Save a Copy As … from the File menu and select OMF Interchange as the format type. Rename the file (I add the file extension .omf) and click on Save. The OMF Export Options dialog will appear; there you can specify the type and parameters for the OMF document (see Fig. 1). To maintain the 24-bit file structure, select the Enforce DigiTranslator 2.0 Compatibility and Export 24 Bit Audio Directly options. To save storage space, select Export References to Existing Sound Files and Export Fades as OMF Effects. Then click on OK to create the OMF document.

  4. Open Pro Tools (version 5.3.1 with DigiTranslator 2.0), and use the Open Session command in the File menu to open the OMF file you exported from DP3.

  5. Select Import MIDI Track from the File menu to import the MIDI data.

You can download DigiTranslator 2.0 (www.digidesign.com) for a 15-day trial period. Alternatively, if you're using 16-bit files, OMF Tool (http://download.digidesign.com/support/digi/mac/PTs/OMFTool208.hqx) adds an extra step to the process, but it's free, and it is possible that it can do everything you need.
Steve Albanese

The Eyes Don't Have It

Good engineers know that subtle changes in microphone positioning can result in dramatic differences in sound capture. They spend so much time tweaking a mic's position because they're trying to find the “sweet spot” — that sometimes elusive place where the mic picks up the perfect tonal balance from the instrument.

Oddly, some engineers I've observed search for the sweet spot based on visual cues. For instance, maybe they were taught that when miking an acoustic guitar, the mic should be positioned at the 12th fret. You might see them down on their knees, carefully aligning the capsule so that it points directly at the 12th fret.

What's odd about that? Well, except in cases of synesthesia, the act of listening does not contain a visual element. You can look all you want, but it will do little in the way of helping you find the best place to put the microphone.

That observation leads to a very helpful tip for finding the sweet spot: close your eyes. Once you've positioned the mic in the general pickup area and set your levels, loosen the mic stand so the mic can move freely. Then, as the musician performs the part (and you monitor on headphones), close your eyes and listen as you slowly move the mic around. If you've never done that, you may be surprised by the dramatic difference in sound a slight twist of the mic can make.

When you are listening only, and not distracted by visual information, it's much easier to determine the point at which the sound is best. Once you locate the sweet spot and open your eyes, you might feel that the mic position looks wrong. But whatever you do, don't move the mic in accord with some preconceived notion of where it “should” be. Trust your ears, not your eyes. The recorder, after all, can't see where the mic is; it can only record what the mic hears.
Brian Knave

Groove Quantizing for Dynamics

Your sequencer's groove templates contain data for timing, Velocity, and duration; most often, those parameters are used to keep rhythm sections percolating and in sync. You can also use groove quantizing to build crescendos and decrescendos that sound natural or to create minute fluctuations in dynamics that help the music breathe.

When you apply the groove template, try disabling the time and duration parameters. Then you can superimpose subtle increases or decreases in dynamics while preserving the original timing and duration.
Marty Cutler

What a Waste!

After you purchase a new computer, you'll need to decide what to do with your old one. You might try integrating it into your current system, but that isn't practical for many people. If it's been a few years since your last CPU upgrade, it might not be worth the time and effort to try selling the old machine through the classifieds. Don't just toss that tower in the trash, though. If you do, you'll be contributing to a serious environmental problem.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 315 million computers will be obsolete by 2004. Throwing away that many computers could add around 8.5 million tons of waste to our landfills. That's a pretty sizable mound of motherboards, monitors, and modems. Fortunately, there's a better alternative.

Many schools, charities, and other organizations are actively seeking old computers and peripherals. In addition, there are several companies that can extract valuable components or use old components to restore machines for resale or donation. If you're interested in exploring the many computer-recycling options that are available, here's a brief list of Web sites to get you started. Many of the sites have links to other sites that are also worth checking out.

Back Thru the Future Micro Computers
www.thegreenpc.com

Computer Recycling Center
www.crc.org

Computers for Schools
www.pcsforschools.org

The Environmental Protection Agency
www.epa.gov/region02/r3/compute.htm

IBM PC Recycling Service
www.ibm.com/ibm/environment

Intel Corporation
www.intel.com/education/managing/recycling/strut.htm

The Lazarus Foundation
www.lazarus.org

The National Cristina Foundation
www.cristina.org

The Used Computer Mall
www.usedcomputer.com/nonprof.html
David Rubin

Make sure to check out the CoolSchoolOnline library streaming movie of this tip to view this procedure and additional conversion options. Visit www.emusician.com/cooltip for this online adventure. Also, if you dare, take the quiz to review what you've learned!

For more EM CoolTips, visit our Web site at www.emusician.com.

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