5 Ways to Streamline your Audio Post Workflow

June 7, 2023
Posted in Company
June 7, 2023 Paul Virostek

5 Ways to Streamline your Audio Post Workflow

Audio post work is demanding. Schedules are tight. Deadlines approach swiftly. Curious about how to improve your audio post workflow to get things done better and faster?

The team at Pole Position Production had been wondering the same thing. Earlier this year, the crew gathered for a linear workshop to learn how to improve their audio post workflow. Hosted by Pole sound editor and designer Eric Thorsell, the team gathered to chat about sound design, Pro Tools, and audio post productivity.

Eric shared dozens of tips and tricks in the workshop. In our previous post in the series, he described 3 Creative Sound Design Tips and Tricks. There was much more knowledge shared at the workshop, too. So, in today’s post we’ll be showcasing the second of three articles with linear editing tips: 5 Ways to Streamline Your Audio Post Workflow.

The Benefits of Audio Post Workflow Improvements

In the last post, Eric described how Reaktor, Phase Plant, and Radium can be used as powerful tools to create and work with new sounds.

These kinds of tools are invaluable, of course. However, without a streamlined audio post workflow it’s easy to get lost in software and settings and then glance at the clock and realize the day is over.

So, Eric shared 5 audio post workflow tips that increase efficiency so you can remain in the creative zone and get more work done:

  • Soundflow.
  • Stream Deck.
  • Audio Random Access (ARA).
  • Desktop management.
  • Simplenote.

Soundflow

Anyone who has used Pro Tools for any amount of time knows that it is a complex editing app. There are endless menus, right-click options, and multiple tabs of labyrinthine settings. Getting things done requires a lot of mouse movement, clicking, and finger-twisting key commands. For linear editing in particular, these tasks may be repeated hundreds of times throughout the day. It becomes a chore.

Soundflow (from $4.99 a month, free with Pro Tools Studio and Ultimate annual subscriptions) was created to help. It is a scripting platform aimed at audio work. It includes macros – or shortcuts – that perform complex steps quickly. So, with one click, a macro can automate bouncing mixes, manipulate track settings swiftly, control AudioSuite plugins, and many more tasks. Soundflow includes macros of many popular shortcuts, and users can download 3rd-party apps (both paid and free) to extend Soundflow’s versatility, or make their own.

Editing apps like Reaper have long had the ability to build macros through ReaScript. Without an API to directly access the app, this is hard to do directly in Pro Tools itself. Some shortcuts are possible with apps like Keyboard Maestro and others, however they require hacks and workarounds to approximate getting the work done.

Soundflow is different. They have partnered with Pro Tools manufacturer Avid to provide deep, customizable integration. What’s more, Soundflow macros can be controlled with midi, iPads, mobile phones, and other devices. Imagine just tapping an icon on a tablet to bring up all your favourite plug-ins. Need to EQ a track with settings you’ve used hundreds of times before? One click and it’s there.

Soundflow allows building macros with drag-and-drop. It’s effortless to get set up within minutes. Power users can use JavaScript to code more complex solutions.

A “desert island” feature for Thorsell, he has grown to use Soundflow for dozens of tasks. One macro he shared with the team was used to bounce out assets into their own, separate files. With hundreds of cut and carefully tweaked footstep clips, each marked with regions on a track, he first used a macro to batch rename them. Then, his Soundflow script found each region, read the name, and bounced each clip offline, placing them into specific folders. Hours of work were condensed into a single keystroke.

Check out this video on how to use SoundFlow with Pro Tools:

Stream Deck

Macros like Soundflow are an invaluable tool to improve audio post workflow. Want to take it a step farther?

Eric showed how to streamline his editing further by triggering macros with Elgato’s Stream Deck.

Stream Deck is a wedge-shapped programmable hardware USB controller dotted with 6 or more LCD buttons. Each button can be assigned an action or script. What’s more, the LCD button display can show fresh icons when new scripts are invoked. So, while a default display may present one set of icons and controls, opening the mix window will intelligently swap the icons for others, each with completely different macros assigned to them.

Eric uses Stream Deck to preview and write automation swiftly, for accessing specific settings when certain plug-ins are invoked, adjusting system volume, and more. A combination of Soundflow and Stream Deck helps Thorsell to “make the tech transparent”, allowing him to remain creative without being caught up by cumbersome technical labor.

Stream Deck comes in many sizes ranging from 6 buttons ($114.99) to 32 ($399.99). There are also pedals, mobile apps, and others.

Audio Random Access (ARA)

Audio post editors often have dozens of software tools in their arsenal. However, many are sequestered into their own apps, requiring editors to export portions of audio from one app to another and back. It’s tedious, and can drag audio post editing down to a crawl.

One example is iZotope’s RX noise repair software: to access the most powerful noise reduction features, audio must be shipped out of Pro Tools, into RX, and back again. RX’s Connect plug-in helps to transfer the audio, however it’s an extra step. Over the course of a day hundreds of clips may be transferred back and forth.

Thankfully, Pro Tools now supports Celemony’s Audio Random Access 2 (ARA2) technology. ARA allows Pro Tools and a plug-in to exchange much more data than previously.

The result? Now editing and processing can occur directly in Pro Tools without it having to be shuttled in and out of apps. So, simply selecting a clip or a track will present it at the bottom of the Pro Tools edit window. Here it is processed with the plug-in without ever leaving the Pro Tools app itself.

Here’s a video on how to use Melodyne in Pro Tools with ARA.

Right now only a few plug-ins and apps support ARA. Two notable entries are Melodyne and VocAlign. However, it’s an indicator of what’s to come; RX ARA2 support is eagerly awaited.

Desktop Management

Linear editing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Designers supplement their main editing app with stand-alone software like RX or Ozone, file converters, metering displays, soft synths, and much more. By the time an editor takes their first sip of their morning coffee, their screen is cluttered with windows from dozens of apps. How can you sort it all out?

Eric uses Spaces to simplify the task. Spaces is a MacOS feature that allows you to create additional desktops. Each of these desktops will display windows from whatever app you prefer. So, Space or desktop 1 may show only your email. Space 2 will show your Chrome browser. Apps can be assigned to these spaces, and a simple keystroke allows switching between them. It’s invaluable for reducing clutter and improving focus.

Here’s a video that explains more about how to use Spaces.

Here’s Eric’s 4-Space layout:

  • Space 1 – audio: Pro Tools, video, metering, soft-synth, Soundminer
  • Space 2 – communication: email, Discord, Slack
  • Space 3 – Finder: file operations like copying, converting, export, sending, file transfer, batch processing when doing dramatic work, and so on
  • Space 4 – blank canvas

These days, it’s common for sound pros to move between facilities from gig to gig. So, you may show up at the studio and find that your Mac editing app is now provided for you on a PC. You may switch workstations from Windows to MacOS.

For Pole, Eric designs sound for linear editing on a Mac and works on game implementation on a PC. Thankfully, these days a lot of software is cross-platform. That doesn’t help when information needs to sync between workstations. What kind of info?

Well, any given gig needs to keep track of reams of information: project data, delivery requirements, client info, tips, tricks, lists, and more. Unfortunately, MacOS’s Notes doesn’t synchronize with PCs. So, to keep on top of things, Eric uses Simplenote.

Simplenote (free, with option to pay $19.99/month or $199.99/year) is an elegant note-taking app that synchronizes seamlessly between MacOS and Windows. It’s a unified, cross-platform notepad that features cloud synchronization, versioning, markdown support, and more.

While there are other options out there (Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, Obsidian), Simplenote wins out for Thorsell due to its simplicity, price structure, and ease of use.

More Sound Tips and Tricks

Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing Pro Tools Tips and Tricks next.

Read More

3 Creative Sound Design Tips and Tricks.

Read Eric’s Top 5 Sound Design Plug-Ins.

Watch Eric’s Cinematic Transformation sound library walkthrough video.

,
Contact

Got a question?
Get in touch.

We welcome you to contact us for more information
about any of our products or services.

Find answers to popular questions here.

    CALL: +(46) 707-94 04 76
    SALES@POLE.SE


    Postal address: Galtabäcksvägen 11, SE-168 55 Bromma, Sweden

    © 2020 All rights reserved. Pole Position Production. Please read our privacy policy and site terms. Sitemap.

    Contact
    Share via
    Copy link