Going Postal with Logic Pro 7

Apple has added a number of features and enhancements to its Logic software that make the program more useful for post-production-style audio editing.

Apple has added a number of features and enhancements to its Logic software that make the program more useful for post-production-style audio editing. You can use several of the program's features with the workflow techniques described in this article for basic post-production-style tasks such as editing source audio, editing and placing FX to picture, and preparing material for export and mixing.

To start, set up a custom screen set that consists of an Arrange window (with the bar ruler resized to display SMPTE time units only), a linked Sample Edit window, an Event Float window (click on the film icon for SMPTE view), a Transport bar set to display SMPTE only, and the QuickTime video with which you'll be working. Using a tempo of either 60 or 120 bpm allows beat- and format-based key commands (for nudging and shifting selections or locations) to work in time-based units.

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FIG. 1: Shown below is a typical edit, with equal power fades two frames before and after the scene cut. Note how the region-length information is displayed. The Event Float window shows the absolute end point, while the lower line in the Sample Edit window shows the region length.

Put a check mark in the Arrange box next to the Limit Dragging to One Direction option in Logic's Preferences window. That is a useful precaution against losing sync while splitting imported Open Media Framework (OMF) regions vertically onto separate tracks. (OMF is the industry standard for transferring audio data between video- and audio-editing workstations.)

The Grid and I

Using Logic's edit groups for split tracks (for example, in dual-mic situations) is a great way to ensure that phase relationships are maintained when you're editing. Groups are accessible from the Arrange window channel strip. You can easily add or remove tracks by clicking in the group box while holding down the Option key. The Toggle Group Clutch key command is invaluable for quickly toggling groups on and off.

Start and end points of each region are visible in the Event Float window. The linked Sample Editor (or an Event List set to SMPTE view with Length as Absolute Position unchecked under the View submenu) will display the region start time and its length. It's important to use a linked Sample Edit window, because the duration is displayed differently if opened from the Audio window.

Logic offers many ways to zoom in on and make selections. If a region is selected, zooming in will center on the region's start point and keep it in view. If the region isn't selected, zooming in will keep the view centered on the Song Position Line (SPL) and the currently selected track. With the Marquee tool selected, pressing the Control key allows you to zoom by drawing a box around a selection if the cursor is directly over regions or events. (In Logic 7.1, simply adding the Option key eliminates the need to select the Marquee tool.) When set to Frames, Logic's new Snap feature allows you to use the Marquee tool to select and drag (even across multiple tracks) in order to snap to a frame-based grid, which is perfect for accurately shortening the beginnings or endings of regions.

To alter region-end boundaries, use the command Nudge Event Length By SMPTE Frame with its +1 or -1 options. Clicking on and dragging the right corner also works with the snap value set to Frames. To lengthen region-start positions, clicking on and dragging the left corner with the grid set to Frames works well with grouped tracks. Alternatively, you can click on and grab the start points in the linked Sample Edit window, and then pull them back to the left individually. Make sure that the Update Arrange Position option (in the Edit submenu) is enabled so that you don't lose sync. The Rewind 1 frame, Forward 1 frame, and Split Regions/Events by Song Position key commands are tools that help you locate boundaries and make cuts. Once regions are trimmed, fades can be applied with the Fade tool (see Fig. 1).

To make edits at the beginning and at the ending of tracks, use the arrow keys to select the next or the previous regions. The Goto Position key command allows you to place the SPL at the region start. To get to the selected region's end, use a combination of the Set Locators By Object and Goto Right Locator key commands. Combine that with the nudge-length commands to avoid using the mouse.

Editing and Placing FX

Logic's new Project function can automatically copy and convert the sampling rate of imported audio. Sampling rate conversion algorithms have been greatly improved in Logic Pro 7.

Once the effects are imported into your session, they will need to be edited to fit the images. For that type of editing, I use a screen set with a small Arrange and Marker window (for quickly viewing hit points), Audio and Event List windows for dropping in regions at specific locations, and a linked Sample Edit window for the editing. The new Global Video and Marker tracks make ideal visual references for spotting the FX, and are easy to toggle on and off.

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FIG. 2: The screen set shown below allows for editing effects and placing them either in the Arrange window or in the Event List window. With the effects in place, the linked Sample Edit window allows for slipping sync and auditioning parts of the file while in place with the picture.

To edit the files, select a region in the Sample Editor. To fine-tune the boundaries, scrub the audio by dragging the mouse back and forth with the cursor positioned in the area just under the Overview section. When you reach an area that you want as the region boundary, hold down the Shift key and release the mouse to snap your selection to the new location. Use the Create New Region command to separate the selected area.

With markers set up at the hit points, the Goto Next Marker command will set the insertion point for placing your regions. Command + click on the region from the Audio window, and it will be placed at the current SPL. Or, you can drag the region to the Event List (see Fig. 2). If you are working from an Edit Decision List instead of markers, enter the SMPTE time in the Goto Position key command entry box to locate the SPL. You can also place all your effects in the Arrange window at the end of your session, locate to the hit points with the markers or the Goto command, and then use the Pickup Clock & Select Next Event function.

You can audition different sections of the file while viewing the images. In the first screen set, using the Set Locators By Object command along with Cycle mode sets up the area for looping while auditioning. In the linked Sample Editor, turn off Update Arrange Position (in the Edit submenu) so that the region location remains unchanged, but the audio inside of it shifts.

If you have a sync point that you want to maintain, leave Update Arrange Position enabled. With Update Arrange Position off and the region locked in the Arrange window, the anchor will remain at the sync point while the region start time can be extended. As a bonus, any fades that you may have set will be maintained throughout.

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FIG. 3: The new file export options in Logic 7.

Travel Insurance

Logic's new export functions make for easy portability (see Fig. 3). While OMFs work great, I like to add a two-pop (a one-frame-long sine-wave beep) exactly two seconds before picture start on each track to avoid the occasional problems that arise, such as sync loss and different session start times. In case sync is lost, the two-pop method is a foolproof way of realigning tracks quickly. With the two-pops in place, select All, lock all regions, and export a new OMF.

The new option to export a track as an audio file, with two-pops on each track, is a great way to consolidate a session for use with non-OMF-compatible applications. It allows each track to be rendered without automation, named properly, and rendered to a user-definable file type and sampling rate. Try using the new Broadcast Wave Format when possible for the additional time-stamping that it provides. All tracks can be exported at once, but I prefer to export them one at a time and name each track separately, which makes for easier setup on the other end of the transfer. Be sure to record detailed file and session information to help make those transfers seamless.

Eli Krantzberg is a Montreal-based drummer, bandleader, Logic user, home-studio owner, and uncle.