Authoring 5.1 Surround DVDs
COW Library : DVD Authoring Tutorials : David Roth Weiss : Authoring 5.1 Surround DVDs
You've spent vast amounts of time and money meticulously editing, mixing and color grading your labor of love in Final Cut Pro.
Delivering and marketing a high quality professional DVD with professionally mixed Dolby 5.1 surround sound isn't simply very cool, it's imperative: any distributors worth their salt will demand that producers deliver a market-ready DVD with 5.1 surround sound.
This brief tutorial will show you how to author your DVD in Dolby 5.1 surround with the tools in Final Cut Studio, using files exported from Pro Tools or some other DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) provided by your favorite professional audio mixer after completing your surround mix.
Why not do this yourself? Setting up a studio for proper 5.1 surround mixing isn't nearly as easy putting together a room equipped for stereo mixing. It can be a cabling and acoustical nightmare, even for those who are quite tech-savvy.
Plus, while Apple touts the addition of surround sound capability in version 2 of Soundtrack Pro, STP isn't Pro Tools, and it may never be in that class.
FROM YOU TO THE GURU
Before heading off to do the mix with your local Pro Tools guru, you need to do a few things. First, picture and sound must be "locked." That means no more editing, period. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. This rule is carved in stone.
Next, ask your mixer what video codec you should export for them to sync to during the mix. All of them will want timecode; most will request a low-res QuickTime video file, because they want to devote most of their system overhead to your audio rather than your video.
So, you'll need to export your video twice, once at low-res for the mix, and once at your current settings, for encoding the MPEG-2 file for your DVD.
As far as audio is concerned, you should provide your mixer with an OMF file, either with all tracks, or with split tracks: separate music, effects, and dialog files, preferably with 2-pops (beep-beeps) two seconds from the head and tail of each to indicate sync.
The most important thing to remember is, both audio and video must be exactly the same length. Make sure the in and outs remain the same for the export of every audio and video element.
Your friendly professional mixer will EQ (equalize) where necessary during the mix, and perfect the relative levels of the various tracks and individual audio elements.
Then, the surround mix itself begins, with the mixer directing various sounds and mixes of sounds to each of the five speakers plus the subwoofer.
The mixer can also pan any sound in 3D space as required to best create a sense of movement as dictated by actions, things or people, either on or off screen.
FROM THE GURU BACK TO YOU
After the mix is completed, the mixer will export six separate audio files sometimes called "print masters," usually handed over on a DVD. Final Cut Studio prefers AIFF files, so be sure to request AIFF exports.
The six files are typically labeled in a standardized way that indicates the channel or speaker assignment of that particular file.
Look at the list of AIFF files in a directory from a mix on a project I edited, "Rush to War." (RTW, in following.)
The first file with ".C" indicates this one is the center channel. ".L" is front left speaker. ".R" is the front right. ".Lf" is the low frequency or sub-woofer channel. ".Ls" is the left surround or left rear channel, and ".Rs" is the right surround or right rear channel.
Next, you'll see exactly how those file/channel designations will come into play when we use Apple Compressor to simultaneously encode our video to MPEG-2 and our audio files to a single Dolby 5.1 surround file.
IMAGE AT RIGHT
Open Compressor and drag and drop the video file of your completed project (either a reference file or self-contained file at current settings) onto the droplet with the arrow in the Batch Window.
That's all it takes to load your video.
Click on the Add Surround Sound button at the upper left of the Compressor toolbar.
That opens a small drop-down page containing six droplets, which correspond to each of the six surround audio channels and thus to the six audio files created by your mix facility.
Drag and drop the appropriate file on the appropriate droplet to assign it to its proper channel. Couldn't be easier now that you know how do it, right?
DRAG. DROP. ENCODE.
First, click on the file tab on the far left side of Compressor that says "Settings." There, you'll see two folders. Click on the small black triangle to the left of the one marked "Apple."
Next, click on the triangle to the left of the DVD folder. Ten folders will drop down, each representing a different DVD preset. Select one that says "Best Quality," with the running time close to, and exceeding, the length of your project.
Click on the triangle by that folder. Drag and drop the MPEG-2 icon on top of the video that you earlier dropped in the droplet. That will load the video presets.
Now, drag the Dolby Digital Professional 2.0 icon onto the "Surround" droplet.
Last, click on the "Destinations" tab next to the "Settings" tab you opened earlier, and click on the triangle to open the "Apple" folder.
From there, drag and drop the fourth drive icon that says "Cluster Storage," first onto the video droplet, and next, onto the Surround droplet.
That will send your encoded files to the same location as the files from which you're encoding.
If you want to send them to some other directory or drive, go for it. I'm sure you can figure out how to do that now that you know how Compressor works.
Bingo!!! You're all set now and ready to encode. Hit the "submit" button and go take lunch.
When you return, you'll have an .m2v file and an .ac3 file waiting for you—these are the only two files you'll need to author a DVD of your project in DVD Studio Pro, complete with Dolby 5.1 surround.
That's it! Now go and test it on a terrific home theater system with a great surround setup. If you don't have one yourself or know a friend with a good one, go to a high-end electronics store and tell them you want to demo their top of the line system.
Good luck! I hope your DVD sells millions.
PRO TOOLS. THE REASON WHY.
THE ABSOLUTE SIMPLEST WAY TO MAKE A DVD USING DVDSP
David Roth Weiss
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