Soundtrack Pro Workflow

The more I look at the specs for Soundtrack Pro the more I like it. This application is really slick and does all kinds of things that I can’t do in my Avid. It offers non-destructive editing, a very nice looking tool for dealing with picture changes, simple speed adjustments, 5.1 panning and track nesting, easily applied and customizable audio dissolves, elaborate tools for repairing dialog, and nice analog-style scrubbing. It runs without extra hardware and integrates well with Final Cut.

There are a few obvious omissions: no ability to work in feet and frames, a limited track count (I was told that it maxes out at 32. Is this true?), and a clear dependence on the mouse for trimming and slipping (similar to Final Cut’s slip tool). Those certainly aren’t fatal, though, and putting all that power on the desktop for such a low price is wonderful.

The problem for me is that I don’t want this stuff in a separate application. Soundtrack seems like a worthy alternative for sound editors, but for a picture editor like me, the idea that I’m going to frequently switch back and forth from FCP to STP just isn’t efficient. What I really want are much better mixing and sound editing tools in the primary application.

I’ve mentioned some of this stuff before (Wish List #1 – Audio and Why Are Our Mixing Tools So Bad?) so I won’t go into all the gory detail here. But I badly need the ability to leave waveforms on all the time, to move automation around independent from the sound itself, and to easily make different kinds of crossfades. Final Cut offers several things that the Media Composer doesn’t, namely the ability to lay down sparse keyframes when mixing, and an onscreen mixer that isn’t limited to eight tracks. But neither program lets you move keyframes numerically, neither lets you move a group of keyframes at all, and neither lets you mix a group of tracks as if they were one thing — you can only make level adjustments within a clip.

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that I don’t want to be switching back and forth between two applications to do the kind of temp mixing that is now routine for picture editors. I don’t want to be conforming my own changes. I don’t want to wonder which application to use when working with a director. I don’t really need all the power of Soundtrack Pro or Pro Tools, but I do need some of it and I want it in the main application.

As a footnote, what’s with all this “Pro” stuff? Soundtrack Pro, Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools — it’s getting downright embarrassing. The word is so overused that it’s become meaningless. If I’m a professional and your program is for me, then putting “pro” in the name just makes me worry that you “protest too much,” as the bard would say. Yes, sir, I sure am professional! Heck it’s in my name! Every time I hear “pro” I think “amateur.”

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4 Comments on “Soundtrack Pro Workflow”

  1. editblog Says:

    well what about Xpress, or Express! When I cut in Avid Xpress Pro I don’ t know what to think that I am.

  2. hltr Says:

    Or EXTREME for that matter!

    Steve, I left a comment on the survey thread so if you get a chance to check that…. I”m wondering if you think the new FC Suite will make an impact.

  3. Brendan Says:

    Soundtrack Pro won my heart when I was able to use it to remove AC noise from an interview that had the air left on during the shoot. 30 minutes of playing with STP’s noise removal feature, having never used the program before, and the sound was unbelievably cleaner without noticeably distorting the subjects voices. Pro Tools doesn’t come with this functionality out of the box, as far as I’ve been told.

  4. expert Says:

    So you’re an amateur, eh? Though so.


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