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Clockwork: Bass Ackwards Workflow?

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This portion of my three-part catch-up blogs focuses on the audio portion of my music video project.

I have read many tutorials and seen just about every podcast on how to lip-sync animation to audio in After Effects. Alas, after much trial and error, none of those methods worked. It wasn't until I got a response on Adobe's Audition forums, that I was given a somewhat workable solution.

What I wanted to do is have the main beat to the song be the rhythm to the video. And to be over-literal, have a clock ticking to the beat.

As most After Effects users know, After Effects isn't the best audio tool.

What I initially had for source material was a complete demo: room tone, snare drum rattle, and the song recorded in one sitting, including vocals. The band didn't have a click track to play along with, so setting up markers 1 every x frames wasn't feasible.

It wasn't until I got back to getting newer/more versions of the track that I was able to get just a drum and bass version of the song, and I'm not refering to the electronic version of drum and bass. I ended up listening to this version of the track in Audition (Tim, no Audition blog topic?) and hitting the marker hot key every time there was a significant beat.

Original track with the whole band

Drum and bass version of the song.

Next, I switched over to the spectral frequency view in Audition and adjusted each and every marker to where they should be. By the way, there are 368 of them.

With the spectral frequency view, you can actually see the drum beats.

I saved the file and opened it up in CueListTool. It read all the markers I had without a problem. I did have to change the settings so I could get a frame reference.

Time format was changed to "%h:%m:%s:%f" without the quotes.

Then, I noticed a problem: CLT is set up for 75 frames per second. The guy who wrote it is from Germany, so x/3 = PAL frames. But, here, in NTSC land, that's a problem. I exported the cue list to a txt file. Opened it in Excel. Set spaces and colons for tab delimiting .... Made a simple formula to have CLT frames / 2.5 and have no decimals. Then saved it as another txt file.

Why the trouble? Well, when I manually enter the frame I want to go to in After Effects to set a marker, I want to be as exact as possible. Using the above image as a reference, when I click the Go to time thingy in After Effects (I'm still an AE noob), I just have to type 10201 to get to marker 46. Here's how close to the actual beat I can get with this method and stay within SMTPE time:

Thanks to the wonderful work of podcasts and tutorials from Aharon Rabinowitz and Andrew Kramer and Stu Maschwitz's book, I'm not working in 29.97 fps anymore in NTSC DV. I'm now working 23.976 fps at 1280x720. So, I have to tweak the math in order to get proper marker locations ... AGAIN. But, it's all part of the fun.

BTW, if Aharon, Andrew, or Stu actually read my blog, you don't know how much you continually inspire and push me way passed my breaking point. That's a positive comment.

Next blog entry: One version of lots of research applied. It won't have any screenshots, but there will be a link to video.


Posted by: Sterling Glass on Jan 16, 2008 at 10:41:55 am after effects, editing, music, dv, adobe, indie film
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