Scoring to Picture: multiple projects or one ?

I was just wondering how many people here use one project for an entire feature-length project versus those who start a new project for every cue in a film ?

Seems there are pro’s & con’s to both ways. Could be a bit of a headache using one project for everything though it certainly helps viewing/hearing the film as a whole rather than bits and pieces. Bar numbers could be a problem though ("can we take it from bar 1356 please ? :smiley: ).

My opinion is to do multiple for a few reasons:

  1. If working with a single project and it gets corrupt, you just lost all your work.
  2. From my own experience, working in a single project keeps adding and adding to your RAM so it slows the computer down.
  3. If you work with a single project and certain cues need certain instruments you always have to keep those instruments loaded (related to reason #2).
  4. If you have to go back and fix a cue (such as shorten or lengthen it) chances are you’re going to mess up the timing for every cue that follows.

Basically all you’re getting from a single project is slightly more convenience. If you’re worried about hearing other cues you’ve already completed, you can insert the cue that precedes or follows the one your working on into your project. Or, which is the way I work, you can sync a second computer up to your master via MIDI timecode running Pro Tools (or some other program) that hosts your whole film in it and makes referencing easy. When finished with a cue, just record it into the second computer at the proper timecode and voilà–there’s all your cues in one project.

Right now, I’m working on a feature-length film and we’ve broken it into about 10-12 large regions/chunks, dictated by logical breaks in the storytelling of the film at appropriate points (i.e., some regions/chunks are 3-4 minutes, some are 10-15 minutes). That gives us the best of both worlds… working with larger contiguous parts of the film without interruption (i.e.: larger than a single cue), but still manageable in size (i.e.: smaller than the full film).

Each large region/chunk contains one or more cues (in a few cases, lots of cues). Then I work on one larger region/chunk at a time… and there are a few cases where I have to break out individual cues if they are very complex, with tons of tempo issues. Otherwise, I try to keep everything contained in the main 10-12 templates.

These 10-12 regions/chunks get exported into numerous stems and then folded back into a master mixdown template, which we’re doing in Pro Tools for final mixing (I would have preferred to do that phase in Nuendo, but there are some outside factors why we chose Pro Tools for final mixdown, even though Cubase/Nuendo would have been fully up to the task).

So far it works great, HOWEVER, I wish Cubase could have a built-in cue feature where we could restart the timeline from 0 based on (and locked to) a start frame or timecode. THAT would make Cubase the ultimate scoring tool for me. The only DAW I know of that has a similar feature to what I described is Digital Performer… that one feature has tempted me a few times, but the other features of Cubase that I use are superior… So I just hope Steinberg would consider adding “multiple zero-time start points independent of tempo, locked to timecode/frames”, and I’d be the happiest DAW user on earth. :slight_smile:

Anyway, the above system works great for our workflow, but your mileage may vary. I’d suggest sitting down with the producer and other people involved in the pipeline and working out what works best for the whole team.

One option is to use a program like Vienna Ensemble Pro to avoid having to reload instruments for every session. This makes it much faster to change cues. However what I still find a major pain is matching instrument output channel settings and track routings across sessions, because there doesn’t seem to be a way to copy those in Cubase currently. For example the way Pro Tools allows you to do with its much more flexible Import Session Data. So I still tend to keep fairly large sessions for features, because it’s hard to set up stems and everything correctly before you’ve written a single note.

I find the biggest problem with a single session is dealing with tempos. Change something in earlier cues and now you’re syncing the rest of it again with a combination of Process Bars and Process Tempo and/or Timewarp… which depending on how much you need to do that, will waste some of the time benefit from having a single session. And it’s one extra step for potentially screwing the session up.

Plus I’ve had automation get out of sync on Cubase 5 after global cut/copy/paste operations. Haven’t had that happen on C6, but it’s definitely one reason why the one session approach is a bit scary. Never had a session truly corrupted though, knocking on wood. Regardless the “Save New Version” keyboard shortcut should be in very heavy use in any workflow.

I can vouch for VE Pro as well – very helpful, great tool. And I also agree about the sync-ups issues with large projects… that’s why I’d love it if Steinberg would develop a feature that would allow us to start new cues at new time zero points that are locked to timecode or a frame… :slight_smile: Would make our jobs much easier and we’d simply be talking about using VE Pro and/or 64-bit plugins to manage all the instruments for such large sessions. :slight_smile:

Oh absolutely been wishing for something like DP’s Chunks in Cubase for a long time now. Not really holding my breath waiting for them to appear in any DAW besides DP anytime soon…

I’m already using VE Pro - but how are you using it to avoid reloading instruments between multiple cues ?

Depending on how you’ve set up your templates, etc., you can use the “Preserve” feature, which allows you to leave VE Pro server(s) loaded in the background (or on other computers on your network) with all your samples, for example, ready to go for the next Cubase session (or PT session, or Logic session, etc…). Very cool when you need to switch projects or DAWs. Genius, actually. :slight_smile:

Well, based on everyone’s comments, this seems like the best way to go. But here’s what i don’t understand.

Say you have a 20-minute chunk and the first cue is 16 minutes in, how do you set that up in Cubase ? You want the first beat of the cue to equal bar 1 in Cubase but equally you want the timecode in Cubase to match the burnt-in timecode in the movie.

If the first cue doesn’t start until 16 minutes in, then the way we’d do it is split the chunk into two chunks. :slight_smile: The first chunk has no music, so you won’t even have to worry about it.

Alternatively, the best way I’ve found of “lining things up” in Cubase where I need them throughout the chunk/section, is learning how to use the “linear time” base and “musical time” base… and then also working with tempo maps, etc.

I’d suggest setting up a test session where you study how to use those time/tempo/linear/musical features until you get a workflow that works best for you. It took a bit of practice to wrap my head around it, so it would be difficult to explain it in forum post. I hate to say it, but crack open the manual and search for everything you can on those issues, particularly where it talks about switching between linear and musical time base for the tracks… that will open the door to how I, and some others, do it – then dive in with tempo editing, and soon enough you’ll be lining up cues to frames.

Again, this is where Digital Performer’s advantage with resetting the time to a zero point per cue within a larger project is such a great feature… a feature I hope Steinberg will match or improve upon. However, once you master the tools above, you’ll be able to create a very complex series of cues with different tempos, etc… just be careful not to let the “chunks” of cues get out of hand… if you have a lot of tempo changes, it can be tricky to line things up again.

Hope that helps!

You mean you edit the file, remove the part you don’t want, and render the remainder ? Bit of a PITA I’d imagine …

lol, yes it can be a PITA. But the alternatives can be worse.

But to clarify on “splitting into two chunks” approach for your 20 minute chunk example with the first cue beginning at 16 minutes…

This is precisely how I’d do it (works well for me), your mileage may vary:

  1. I’d create one master template for the whole film/project with markers for the beginning of each chunk. It’s best if these chunks are carefully discussed and agreed upon by all parties involved so timing/syncing/templates/etc can all line back up beautifully like a puzzle during the final mix. On my end, I use Pro Tools for the big master template (but frankly, I’d prefer it all to happen in Cubendo, which can easily handle it), and on the producer’s end, he has a master template that matches mine, chunk-for-chunk, in his video editing app (i.e.: Final Cut, etc.).

  2. In some cases I have the producer render each chunk separately from the film with TWO timecodes burned in while we get the workflow tightened up… one timecode for the chunk (which begins at 0 for each chunk) and one timecode from the master film project timeline… that makes it super-easy to line everything back up to either chunks or the master timeline in the end.

  3. IF I can’t get the producer to send me self-contained chunks, or once we’re working really smoothly, then Cubase has a marvelous feature where I can actually trim/edit the film footage right on the timeline to get it to line up to my own chunk paradigm. :slight_smile: That’s the situation where the producer actually doesn’t even have to know I’m using chunks, if I want to. :slight_smile: It can indeed get messy this way, but it still has a very good workflow, since I can work in chunks, and fold the audio back into my larger, master template, which WILL line up with his master timeline. I just have to make sure my markers and frame offsets are good, and my math is good. :slight_smile: It takes practice, but it works pretty well.

  4. Either way, each chunk begins with its own timecode of 0 (and because of my due diligence with my master template, I know the offset for each chunk, so the producer technically never has to know I’m working this way).

So for your 20-minute example, I’d have two chunks for the 20 minutes set up in my master template. I’d simply create “chunk 1” which is empty (you said no cues for 16 minutes), then a “chunk 2” template that starts at a new “time 0” which has “cue 1”, then I can cut the film footage in Cubase to line up the appropriate start frame (no need to re-render in Cubase!) and I’m good to go. Once I’m done with chunk 2 (which has cue 1), I render it, import it into the master template (which has chunks 1 + 2), render the whole timeline, mix, master, deliver, and everyone’s happy.

Again, this is one way to do it, and we’ve found it works pretty well… it also allows us to conform and re-conform the project on a chunk-by-chunk basis a lot easier than other approaches, in case edits come in to the video/film project. That way, only one chunk at a time is affected, rather than having a huge domino effect which can mess up the sync on the rest of the project.

Thanks for that - must have taken a while to type :slight_smile:

Much appreciated.