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Working with Video in Soundtrack Pro

Importing a video clip into a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project is as simple as locating the file in the Media and Effects manager and dragging it to either the Video tab or the video track in the Timeline. You’ve already done that in Lessons 1 and 2.

There are several major differences between the computer-animated ClapBoard video clip you worked on in the previous lessons and the clip you’ll be using now. This clip is significantly longer and involves live action, so the need to create an audible reality is much greater. Second, it was shot and edited in PAL rather than the NTSC video standard used for ClapBoard. Finally, this clip was exported into Soundtrack Pro from Final Cut Pro.

Soundtrack Pro will automatically change the project’s video settings (Frame Rate and Frame Size) to match the imported video clip, but it’s important to remember that you can only import a single clip. It can be long—up to four hours in length—but a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project can only include one video clip.

And it must be in a standard QuickTime-compatible file format supported by Soundtrack Pro, such as .mov, NTSC, PAL, and HD. You can even import MPEG-2 (m2v) files if you have installed the QuickTime MPEG-2 playback component.

How do you determine the frame rate or frame size of a video clip in Soundtrack Pro? All of these answers and more are in the details, which we will learn about next.

Viewing Video Details

The Utility window’s Details tab gives you easy access to information about the project’s video and audio clips.

  1. Select the BloodlustforLesson3 clip in the video track of the Timeline.

    The video clip turns blue once it has been selected.

  2. Press Cmd-I (for information) or click the Details tab on the Utility window to view the details for the selected clip.

    The Details tab displays the frame rate and frame size, as well as the duration of the clip (47 seconds). You can also see some of the details on the left edge of the video clip on the video track’s header.

  3. Press Cmd-1 or click the Video tab to bring it forward in the Utility window.

Resizing the Utility Window

The standard-sized Utility window is fine for previewing your video, but it’s a bit small if you need to see intricate details within the frame. Fortunately you can resize it by dragging the Resize handle in the bottom-right corner of the window to create a much larger view.

  1. Drag the diagonal lines of the Resize handle down and to the right to make the Utility window larger.

    Let go of the mouse button when the Utility window is as big as you want it to be. You can even resize it while the clip is playing.

  2. Press the spacebar, Shift-Return, or click the Play button to play the project.
  3. While the project is playing, resize the Utility window again and then pause playback.
  4. Press F1 to reset the interface to the Standard layout.

    Another useful window feature, the Zoom button (+), will automatically change the Utility window’s scale to fit the screen. It is the third button from the left in the top-left corner of the Utility window.

  5. Click the Zoom button (+).

    The Utility window will fill your computer screen.

  6. Click the Zoom button again or press F1 to return to the Standard layout.

Moving and Resizing Tabs

You’ve already learned that you can rearrange the order of tabs in any window by dragging them to a different position. You can also drag a tab away from its default window so that it becomes a separate window. This feature allows you to customize the interface and view more than one tab from a window at a time. In this exercise, you’ll remove and resize the Video tab. Then you’ll learn how to save that window layout to use again later.

  1. Drag the Video tab down and to the right to pull it away from the other tabs in the Utility window.

    The Video tab becomes a separate window. You can move the new Video window just as you move any window in the interface, by dragging the title bar at the top of the window.

  2. Move the Video window so that it is positioned over the Media and Effects manager. The top of the Video window should be even with the top of the Video track header in the Timeline.
  3. Drag the Resize handle in the bottom-right corner of the Video window until the window covers most of the Track headers in the Timeline.

    Make sure that you do not cover the actual Timeline tracks or the Time display at the top of the Timeline.

  4. Play some of the video to see how it looks in the larger Video window.

Saving Window Layouts

Like other Apple Pro Applications, Soundtrack allows you to customize the different window layouts. You’re already familiar with the Standard (F1) and Mixer (F2) layouts from Lesson 1, “Working with the Interface.” There is also a third preset layout, Project Window Only (F3), which hides the other windows and fits the Project window to the screen. For this exercise, you’ll save your current layout so that you can access it anytime that you’re using Soundtrack Pro on your computer.

  1. Choose Window > Save Layout to open the Save layout dialog.
  2. Type Big Video over M&E in the dialog and click Save.

    Now that you’ve saved the layout, you can access it under the Windows menu just as you would the other default layouts.

  3. Press F1 to switch back to Standard layout.
  4. Choose Widow > Layouts > Big Video over M&E to change the window to your newly saved layout.

    Since the Project window and the Video window overlap, the active window will move to the front of the interface. Simply click the Video window to move it in front.

Voila! You can now create and save different layouts as needed.

Controlling Video Playback

Now that you have resized the Video window, this is a good time to master your video playback skills. You can control playback by clicking the Video transport controls or by using keyboard shortcuts. In this exercise, you’ll refresh what you already know and add a few new shortcuts and buttons to your growing Soundtrack Pro skill set. Let’s start with the transport control buttons, then move on to the keyboard shortcuts.

  • Play from Beginning: Starts playback from the beginning of the video.

  • Previous Frame: Moves the video back one frame earlier in timecode.

  • Play/Pause: Plays or pauses the video from the current playhead position.

  • Next Frame: Moves the video forward one frame later in timecode.

  • Cycle: Plays the video as a continuous loop so that it repeats from the beginning each time the playhead reaches the end of the video.

  1. Click the Play from Beginning button to start playing the video.
  2. Click the Play/Pause button to pause playback and view the current timecode in the Time display.
  3. Click the Previous Frame button to move the playhead one frame earlier.

    The timecode in the Time display changes by one frame.

  4. Click the Next Frame button several times to move the playhead forward one frame at a time.

    You can also scrub through the video one frame at a time with the Previous Frame or Next Frame buttons.

  5. Click and hold the Previous Frame button to play the video in reverse one frame at a time. Release the button to stop on a specific frame.

    Next, you’ll repeat the exercise with keyboard shortcuts.

  6. Press Shift-Return to start playing the video from the beginning.
  7. Press the spacebar to pause playback.
  8. Press Cmd–left arrow key to move the playhead one frame earlier.
  9. Press Cmd–right key arrow several times to move the playhead forward one frame at a time.
  10. Press and hold Cmd–left arrow key to scrub through the video one frame at a time. Release the keys to stop at a specific frame.

Project Practice

Time to practice your video playback skills. The more you work with the different buttons and keyboard shortcuts, the more efficient you’ll become. Use the shortcuts or Video transport controls to find the specific frames listed below. Each of these frames are important visual cues for designing the sound for this scene.

  • Play from the beginning and pause just before the woman sits up in her bed (00:00:05:11).
  • Find the frame just before the latches on the door drop and the door swings open (00:00:07:16).
  • Find the first frame where you see the Vampire (00:00:12:18).
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