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Digidesign Session Multitrack Recording Software (part 7)

Using Session to add audio to QuickTime movies is great fun. You can import audio in a number of different formats, get up to whatever fun and games you like with it, and then export it into the movie’s soundtrack...

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Audio for video

Using Session to add audio to QuickTime movies is great fun. You can import audio in a number of different formats, get up to whatever fun and games you like with it, and then export it into the movie’s soundtrack. The resulting movie can then be used on any other Mac with QuickTime compatible software. You may be recording music to picture, in which case you will probably use markers extensively to map out the shape of your music. If you are spotting already recorded material then you will need a quick and easy way to find your way around the movie. Fortunately, although there isn’t an audio scrub in Session, there is a video jog capability (I’m wondering which should have been prioritised?). Using the selection tool you can highlight a region in the track display, even if there is no audio, and the movie will play through frame by frame. This happens if you move a region too, so it isn’t difficult to spot a sound effect exactly at the right point, and you can spot using the beginning of the region or the sync point as the reference.

One trick that a number of pro systems can do which is very useful is the ability to mark out a ‘blank’ region and then import audio of longer duration into it, so that it only plays for the length of the region. Add to that the ability to ‘slide’ the audio to pick out the most suitable section and you have a powerful timesaver that is particularly good for something fundamentally repetitive, like the footsteps of several people, but you don’t want to have to go through the slog of spotting every individual sound exactly. This is also useful if you want to follow the formal method of first deciding when the audio should start and finish (which is the true meaning of spotting) and actually selecting the audio later.

Overall I was quite pleased with Session, but obviously you will need to check it out carefully before you buy because there is some very obvious competition. I’ve been tough on Digidesign in this review because they are top dogs in their field and they ought to have all the answers. The next version of Session may answer all my niggles, but this software works straight out of the box and I don’t doubt that any purchaser will be very satisfied with it.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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