Audio Postproduction: Nesting On Down The Line

audio postproduction

As I mentioned last time, nesting can be a useful tool to solve problems when you move layered clips. But if you aren’t careful, nesting can lead to issues later on down the road, especially in audio postproduction.

If your post workflow involves going to an audio suite for sound design and sweeting, you don’t typically bring your whole project with you. Instead, you create a special file that an audio person can work with. It might be an OMF (Open Media Framework) or AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) file, but it’s an interchange file exported from your project and it contains all of the audio tracks that were used in your finished sequence.

The reason for using this method is that the audio is stored as separate elements. The audio designer has full access to the individual audio clips, exactly as you had access to them in your timeline. The audio person will have access to the audio before and after each cut so they can tweak how the clips cut together.

If you give the audio designer a QuickTime instead, it ties their hands. All the audio elements are merged together unless you took the time to separate the individual elements onto separate tracks and then exported a multichannel QuickTime.

Nesting clips is just like sending a QuickTime. Depending on your edit software, nesting may nest audio at the same time as nesting video. Or if you edit one sequence into another sequence (another method of nesting), it will nest the audio.

Depending on the export process from your software and the import procedure into the audio designer’s system, the flexibility inherent in the interchange files can break down. It’s also possible that the file might not even import or audio elements might be missing.

Although there are some workarounds, a better idea is to avoid nesting audio. You could also make a copy, as described in my previous post, and delete the audio nest before you export.

Michael Guncheon is an accomplished editor who has cut a wide range of projects, including music videos for Prince, a documentary on Genesis, and numerous commercials and corporate pieces. A partner at HDMG, a Minneapolis video production and post-production company, Guncheon has written several books on DSLRs and is the author of the Kodak Digital Photo Guide. He has presented his talk on shooting with HDSLRs at Twin Cities Public Television, WGBH in Boston, PBS in New York, the Hollywood Post Alliance and at the annual SMPTE conference in Hollywood.