Transferring from Cubase to Pro Tools for Screen Scoring
It's that dreaded, exciting time - time for you to submit your Pro Tools session to the Screen Scoring Department so that you can conduct your scoring session! It's a daunting endeavor, getting that session ready to submit. There's so much that can go wrong when you have to get all your files from Cubase (or whichever DAW you use) into the Pro Tools session. Maybe you've done this kind of interchange a million times before, and you always seem to get something wrong. Or maybe this is your first scoring session and you're terrified of making a mistake. It's ok! This is hard to do. Everyone makes mistakes! In this article, I will run down the most common mistakes exporting files from Cubase to Pro Tools that I've seen students make (and have made myself) while working at the Creative Technology Center.
Let's start with the common mistakes in prepping the Cubase project for the interchange:
Mistake #1: Locators
Your files will not export if you don't set your locators correctly.
When you set your locators, the triangles should be facing inward and the selection on the ruler should appear gray. If the triangles are facing outwards, the export dialog will not recognize your selection or allow you to export. Additionally, set your end locator far enough out so that all sound has completely faded out and that it won't sound awkwardly cut off.
Mistake #2: Frame Rate and Timecode
Probably the most common mistake made by students during this interchange is some issue with either frame rate or timecode. Before you export, check the Project Setup dialog box to make sure that you have the right frame rate for the video.
If you're not sure what frame rate you're supposed to match you can either check the project handout or check the information window on the video in QuickTime (command+i).
Once you've confirmed you have the right frame rate, make sure that the timecode in your project matches the timecode displayed on the video. If it doesn't, you may have to check that the video is still in sync with your music. If it is, either set the project start time in the Project Setup dialog box, or go to Project > Set Timecode at Cursor...
This is important since when you export your Wave files, the timecode will be embedded, so that you can put them in the right place when you import them into Pro Tools.
Mistake #3: Mono Click
Ahh, the audio click track! To many of us, a mystery... Why do we need it?
In all seriousness, the audio click is very important for sync purposes and is the most accurate rendering of your tempo map. Once you render your audio click from the drop-down menu on the signature track, select the track, go to Project > Convert Tracks > Multi-Channel to Mono, and then delete one of the tracks. Set the remaining track's output in the inspector to "No Bus." There, you will have your mono audio click.
Mistake #4: Exporting
Make sure when you export from the Export Audio Mixdown dialog box, you have the boxes labeled, "Insert Broadcast Wave Chunk" and "Don't Use Wave Extensible Format." Additionally, select “Do Nothing” in the “After Export” drop down menu if you don’t want the audio files to appear in your project.
After you’ve renamed all your files and confirmed they all play, here are the most common mistakes on the Pro Tools end of things:
Mistake #1: The Setup
The most crucial step to getting this transfer to work smoothly is making sure your session is set up correctly.
Make sure your project is named correctly (unlike mine) and has the correct bit depth and sample rate, as well as file type. Having the box labeled “Interleaved” checked will also make your project much easier to manage.
Once you’ve created your project, go straight to Setup > Session. And make sure your Timecode Rate and Session Start are correct. Your timecode rate is your video’s frame rate and the session start will be the hour during which the video starts.
Mistake #2: The Video Import
You’re going to want to have your video in your project folder, and that won’t happen automatically. You first have to make a copy of your video and put it in your Pro Tools folder. Otherwise, when you try to open the project on a different device, the video will be missing. Once you’ve done that, you can go to File > Import > Video and add it to the session. Make sure you select “Spot” once the Video Import Options dialog shows up, and then type in the starting timecode for the video.
Mistake #3: The Audio Imports
Okay, this is crucial. When you go to the File > Import > Audio dialog, select your audio files and press Copy. NOT ADD. Why? This will save a copy of the audio files in your session Audio Files folder, so it’s not trying to locate the files only on your computer.
Once you’ve done this, it will prompt the Audio Import Options dialog. Select “New Track” and “Spot” for the location. You will then see the Spot Dialog. Change your time scale to Timecode and, if you did everything correctly before, you should see the correct start time of your audio files.
Once all of this is done, you’re free to organize your session!
But that’s it! Those are the biggest mistakes to avoid while transferring your files from Cubase to Pro Tools. I hope this helps you prepare for all your sessions in the future!