How To Organize An OMF For Sound Design

Do you have an OMF file from a picture editor and don't know where to start? Here is a step by step guide to organizing your OMF so you can begin sound designing!

So today I got a bunch of new spots in and wanted to share my method for organizing OMF’s and getting them ready to work on.

First things first. Go through and get rid of anything you don’t need. The first think I look for are doubled mono tracks. A lot of people assume that everything has to come in stereo. Look for tracks that look the same, usually dialogue, but look for tracks that look like stereo tracks and then zoom in to sample level and see if they are exactly the same. I say exactly because dialogue tracks especially can be deceiving. Usually dialogue will be recorded with a boom and a lav mic. and these two waveforms can look very similar. If they are questionable take a listen. If they are different mics you wil be able to hear it. Lav mics sound more dry and will usually have some clothing noise and other sweet artifacts that youe will have to take out later; and the boom will usually sound roomier and all around nicer.

Anyway…when you find that you have doubled mono track get rid of one of them! you don’t need to be wasting your time cutting two sound files that are exactly the same .

Step two is organizing your tracks. You want to put like elements together. I like to organize them by Dialoge, Production Effects (which for now usually are all on the dialogue tracks), Editor effects, and Music. The picture editor will usually have some effects cut in for temp and these are good to keep for reference, but don’t get too attached to them. Remember you are the sound designer. The picture editor has good intentions, but not the training and focus that you have on the sound track.

Get used to using Pro-Tools track color feature to keep you session organized. I like to color dialogue red, effects orange, backgrounds green, and music blue. Obviously this is an extremely simplified example and as you get into hundreds of tracks you will likely be using more than 20 different colors to keep things organized.

Once you have deleted and extraneous audio, pulled like elements together, and organized you tracks by color you are ready to get to work!

Next time I will get into work flow. What to do first and how to go about it.

If anyone has any specific questions I would be happy to answer them. I am starting with the basics now, but as time goes along I will be getting into more specific sound design topics like editing cars, fixing noise problems, what makes a good sound, etc.

Happy Cutting!

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  • Last Updated : Feb 7, 2009