Sharing media between video and audio is a technical challenge, especially if you are using Logic Pro X. The good news is it can be done with most NLE’s. It will not be perfect, it’s not easy, you might have to do workarounds and you can never be 100% sure it will work in the same way every time, but it’s doable.
Two common formats for this is OMF (Open Media Framework) and the newer AAF (Advanced Authoring Format). They have both been developed by Avid so this is probably one of the reasons why Pro Tools can handle these formats better than Logic, but Logic can import both OMF and AAF as well as XML, however it might not work in the way we would like it to.
So it makes sense to have a good workflow between all these NLE’s and Logic Pro X.
Imagine a situation where you as the sound designer are using Logic Pro X and you have been hired to do the sound for a short film. You are not sure what NLE the editor is using but it’s probably one of those 4 popular ones. To be able to skip confusion and frustration between you and the editor, you want to have a solution ready when it’s time to export from NLE to DAW. Especially important when you are working with a non-standard audio post DAW like Logic.
What you need from the picture editor
Picture locked reference video with embedded audio in Apple ProRes 422 Proxy 720p format.
Picture lock does not mean “mostly picture locked”. It’s relatively easy to drop some frames in a video edit, but in the audio world with the importance of sound flows, to re-edit and re-mix can be anything from a light headache to almost impossible. Make sure the picture is truly locked before starting with the sound.
Why Apple ProRes 422 Proxy 720p? The common H.264/mp4 format works in Logic but it uses more CPU, can cause picture latency and is not as pixel-accurate. Proxy and 720p makes the video file size a lot smaller and with more than good enough quality for most sound design.
Make sure the reference audio is embedded in the video file.
Head pop, tail pop and timecode burn-in.
The timecode burn-in is good to have as a reference point when discussing edit points with the team.
“Everything was good but that weird bird @ 01:19:24:02 had the wrong sound”
The burn-in should not be in the way of critical visual edit points. Somewhere in the lower thirds is probably good.
The pop / 2-pop / sync pop / head and tail pop is a 1 frame long 1 kHz tone placed exactly 2 seconds before and after the film. The head-pop is used to check sync, and the tail pop is mainly used to check for drift.
The FFOA (First Frame Of Action = first frame the audience sees) usually starts at SMPTE 01:00:00:00 which means the head-pop should be at timecode 00:59:58:00.
Isolated location sound recordings and original music files.
A folder with all original location sound recordings and a sound report from the Production sound mixer / location sound recordist is helpful when looking for alternative takes.
A folder with all the original music files can be important if the music needs to be edited. The OMF/AAF handles is not enough for this.
OMF, AAF, XML or stem export.
OMF, AAF or XML export is the most efficient workflow between picture and sound. You get all the sound files located at the correct time on your timeline on the right tracks with correct naming in the same organization as the editor’s timeline and there’s extra handles for cross-fading. At least in the perfect world which we might not have with Logic.
Stem export should only be an alternative for really simple stuff.
Let’s look at the 4 NLE’s and their workflows with Logic:
Premiere Pro -> Logic Pro X
OMF with separate audio files is the only method that works directly with Logic.
AAF does not work.
Use exactly these settings when exporting an OMF from Premiere:
Frame handles can be anything from 5-10 seconds, in this case I have 6 seconds (150 frames in a 25 FPS project = 6 seconds)
One of the downsides of the older OMF comparing to AAF, is the broadcast wav files in the Audio Files folder gets these new weird names, however the region names and timecode metadata is unchanged!
In Logic there’s no Import OMF visible option, they removed it in version X, but the functionality is still there! Go to File -> Import -> Other or shortcut [cmd + I] and choose the OMF file.
Logic cannot open an AAF directly from Premiere. If you for some reason need more metadata from Premiere, then one workaround is to export an AAF from Premiere, open it in Pro Tools (or any DAW that works with both Premiere and Logic as an “AAF middle man” maybe Nuendo or Reaper?) and from there export a new AAF. But there is still no guarantee this will work properly, so I recommend to just stick with the OMF.
Final Cut Pro X -> Logic Pro X
You would think this workflow must be a stable full of features in the same way Media Composer and Pro Tools work with each other. Ironically this workflow seems to be very unstable and random. Next up 3 situations:
Situation 1 – You are both the picture and sound editor and have nerves to deal with unstable conversions
You are both the picture and sound editor and you are cutting the film in Final Cut and doing the sound in Logic on the same computer. Then you can export an xml from Final Cut and open it in Logic. There are no files to move, just a small xml file that points to the files which both Final Cut and Logic uses, but for this to work is not easy:
- You need to have your Final Cut timeline in strict order with dedicated audio roles and audio sub roles for each audio region, at least it seems to increase the chance of getting it to work.
- Even if you do everything as you are supposed to do, there are people saying this does not actually work. Dual mono clips get bundled as stereo, weird track placement, missing files…
So we go to a better alternative:
Situation 2 – You buy X2Pro Audio Convert and convert XML to AAF
X2Pro Audio Convert is an application that makes Final Cut Pro X and Pro Tools talk to each other, but it works with Logic Pro X too. Logic can’t open an AAF from Premiere, but it can open an AAF from X2Pro Audio Convert.
At the time of writing it costs $150. The conversion between XML and AAF is done on the editors computer. See it as a conversion plugin for Final Cut. After the conversion is done you can send the AAF to the sound editor.
It is recommended here too to be strict with audio roles and sub roles to increase chances of getting regions at the correct place.
But there is one more interesting alternative:
Situation 3 – You don’t want to buy anything. Instead you install the free version of DaVinci Resolve and use it as a converter.
Export an XML from Final Cut and open it in DaVinci Resolve. Again this must be done on the editors computer. From there export in a format that Logic can understand.
DaVinci Resolve -> Logic Pro X
DaVinci Resolve is gaining popularity at the time of writing so to get it to work with Logic is important.
It seems the “AAF Export to Pro Tools” function suddenly works with Logic when using the newest Davinci Resolve 17.1 Public Beta 10 version!
There are different ways to do this and no method here is perfect but I found this one to be the least problematic:
Export using the Final Cut Pro X render preset. Choose the XMF OP-Atom format with DNxHR codec, and then de-select Export video. Then go to Audio settings with the following settings:
- Format: MXF OP-Atom
- Codec: Linear PCM
- Channels: Same as source
- Bit Depth: 24
Let’s see what happens when we import the FCPXML into Logic.
The good thing with this method is:
- Audio quality is preserved
- Timing is correct
- Region filename is correct
- There’s unlimited handles (better than no handles)
The bad thing with this method is:
- There’s unlimited handles (large file sizes)
- MXF files are not as easy to work with in the audio world as WAV or AIFF
- AAF can carry over more data
But why not use the easier-to-work-with QuickTime format instead of MXF OP-Atom?
24 bit files went to 16 bit even after rendering settings was chosen to be 24 bit. This is not a good option.
What about the Avid AAF or Pro Tools settings?
The Pro Tools settings with proper handles and 24 bit 48k broadcast wav files would have been the best option, but region placement in Logic was random. So this is not a good option either. However it can be a good idea to also export a Pro Tools session just to have the wav files separately if something goes wrong with the fcpxml.
Media Composer -> Logic Pro X
This one is probably the rarest and I have not tested this. But we can have assumptions based on what we understand with the other NLE’s. Here are 4 tips:
- Export an OMF from and import into Logic. It works with Premiere so it’s a high chance it will work here too. Try with the exact same settings as with Premiere.
- Export an AAF and import into Logic. This will probably not work, but it does not hurt to try.
- Export an AAF, import into Pro Tools or any DAW that works with both Media Composer and Logic, and from there send a new AAF that Logic understands.
- Export an AAF and import into DaVinci Resolve. From there export an XML with the proper Final Cut Pro X rendering settings as I wrote about earlier.
If everything else fails – Stem export
The classical stem export is simple and can even be the best option for really simple stuff because of its simplicity, and you can and should always check sync by ear and eye anyway.