AutoConform - AAF


Is it technically feasible to create an AutoConform which works with AAF exports … or are EDL’s really the only option?

If it’s not possible (I don’t know) then perhaps getting a freeware NLE that can import AAF and export EDL might work…?

I don’t think that’s possible right now, but that would like totally rock if it were sometime soon…

Yes, it would be one of the coolest features ever.

It just works with EDLs. No software can use AAFs. But it’s an great idea.

First off, do you mean (auto) conforming from location audio or re-conforming after the video has been edited?

Conforming location audio from AAF is technically possible (PT and Pyramix does this today afaik) and even semi sort of possible in Nuendo today (pretty convoluted though and needs a very specific AAF export and file handling in the NLE to make it possible).

Re-conforming from a AAF or XML should be possible, virtual Katy tried to make it work but never really made it work.

Well again, if you can import AAFs and export EDLs in for example DaVinci Resolve, which is free, then that should be a temporary solution, no? Simply import AAF #1, I suppose without embedded media, export EDL #1, repeat for AAF #2/EDL #2, and then hopefully it should run in Nuendo’s reconform. Or am I missing something?

Yeah but it’s all ricocheting it off four corners when you could be doing it straight - even the EDL way is much more cumbersome (and fault-provoking) than if you could simply do the following:

  1. The editor exports an AAF of the semi-final master, you import it into Nuendo and start mixing, dragging clips to new tracks, applying gain etc.
  2. The director makes last changes to the film, the editor exports the final master (again) as an AAF, WITH audio embedded or linked if new footage was added, or just the AAF without audio if none was.
  3. You import the new AAF, Nuendo analyses it and shifts/splits/trims the clips in the project to reflect the new sequence, imports new footage if there is any and places it onto new tracks, while leaving all changes you made such as moving to another track, applying EQ/gain etc. intact.
    AAF reconform, there you have it. That would be awesome!

But AAFs do not give enough information.
And there a multiple issues that needs to be handled.

In the editing timeline there will be a number of tracks. Video (1-many), dialog tracks, effects tracks and music tracks. And as most of us know many editors will NOT be diligent and they will mix different material on the same track (dx/fx/mx).

What part of the data should determine what change had been done and how should it be applied to the reconform?

FCPX and with its “roles” is possibly a starting foundation to help improve this situation but there are no roles definitions in a AAF, and roles do not exist in Media Composer (Premiere, others?).
And the “roles” system have issues of its own. If the audio does not have the correct role defined then it will create a mess.

If the only thing that changed in a scene was a music edit, how should that be detected and handled?

If there was a VFX picture change but no audio was actually changed, but it might have moved from one track to another or was extended by ten frames but not changed?

If the picture was intact but the dialog was replaced partly with another take (that source audio won’t exist in the previously delivered AAF)?

Many things like the above first have to be detected and analysed correctly, then there is the question on how to apply these changes to the existing edit in Nuendo?
What tracks should be affected?
Do we want them to all be changed exactly like the edit changed?
If the edit changed but the previously supplied audio data didn’t have long enough handles to reproduce of the audio simply wasn’t included at all in the first place, then what?
And there are many more issues to tackle still that I have not touched.

So yes a fully working AAF reconform tool would be awesome and a fantastic step forward. But is it likely to ever happen? Really?

I find a future based on XML more likely even though FCPX is hardly the major tool of pros today and may never be. But AAF is likely not part of the solution IMVHO.

And no, you can’t today base a reconform on audio EDLs in the way some users expect as they are often overlapping and differs from track to track so changes are layered in a much more complex way than picture edits are in general.

Hey, Eric! Those are a lot of valid thoughts, but I’ve always believed in pushing for the utopian, even if it is utopian. Nonetheless, to address a few of your remarks:

AAFs give exactly the same information as any EDL, and more, because in principle they ARE EDLs, or at least their far more advanced grandchildren.
There’s the source clip/reel/tape in there, source timecode, sequence timecode, track, transition type and length, the whole caboodle.
Furthermore, there’s stuff in there the EDL does NOT provide, e.g. source sr, clip gain, track gain, automation, raw material statistics such as creation/ingest dates, comments and other ancillary data. Plus, of course, (optionally) embedded or linked media.

Yes, but that goes for any EDL as well. But if a DAW can identify clips in an older AAF that have been used in a sequence and see what has been done to their counterparts in the new EDL, it should, by analogy, be able to do the same thing to the clips already in the project, maybe letting the user choose what changes (move/trim/apply gain) to omit.

Well, the sequence TC position of a clip will show if it has been moved, the start TC and DUR if it has been trimmed or slipped. This will show just like in the EDL. But if the clip is trimmed out beyond the original AAF’s handle length, and the new media has been exported as well, an AAF reconform could reflect this change. An EDL couldn’t, unless you had ALL the raw material, and when’s the last time you received ALL of the raw material for a film? Usually you don’t, you get an AAF with consolidated material, and since that AAF’s there anyway, why not just use IT to reconform? Why walk the extra mile with an EDL?
Plus - It’s hard enough getting a lot of these dripnoses calling themselves “editors” nowadays to export a decent AAF. Most of them don’t even know what an EDL is anymore.

Well - if a clip starts at 10:15:18:12 in the old AAF, and is 5:12 long, and starts at 10:15:20:18 in the new AAF and is 5:08 long, then Nuendo will clearly see that the clip has been moved +2:06 and trimmed -4. It can then either perform these changes or first ask me if it should.
But now for what the EDL can’t do: Say the gain of the new clip has been reduced by 4.2 dB, and since importing the first EDL I have moved the clip to another track.
Nuendo, knowing what’s happened to the gain because it has an AAF, not an EDL, can ask me if it should reflect this change or ignore it. And, because it can identify the exact clip from the AAF that I have already used from the old one, could ask me if the clip should stay on the track I have moved it to, or remain in it’s original position, or if it should simply move up or down n tracks like it did in the change from old.AAF to new.AAF.

Yes, but it would in the new one. As opposed to an EDL, which can’t embed or directly reference source media, see above.

I don’t know, and I really have no idea how complicated it would be to implement. But, for aforesaid reasons, it WOULD be awesome…

The problem starts with generating AAF inside a video application.

I suppose AAF with embedded audio will never work correctly. It must be referenced, or the metdata will be altered or lost.

Heiner, as it seems that you are describing a bunch of misconceptions about reconforming in your post (unless I misinterpret what you have written) I will get back with a proper response during the weekend as I am currently out sailing.


As mentioned above, of course the best solution would be to use XML exports directly from the video editing platform and skip AAF altogether.

Final Cut Pro 7 xml was supported by Apple & Adobe and the newer FCP X. Xml seems robust and used all over the place ( though I dont know about Premiere/Avid ) so SB, why not go directly to XML? Start with importing FCP X xml since its the most developed and others will come on-board. OK Avid won’t but if you consider the whole hobby/low end/mid range/high end market video editing ( the source of our work ) Avid is a tiny percentage and shrinking.

IMO the combination of FCPX and Nuendo is killer … Blackmagic incorporated FCPX round tripping in Resolve via FCP X xml and look how Resolve use exploded. Just saying.

Are you aware that FCPX XML only works with referenced media, such that all video media must be present so that Nuendo could extract audio from it when opening XML?

In other words, XML would only work with Nuendo installed on the same computer, or on the same NAS. There is no easy way to copy used media in FCPX.