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Doremi Laboratories DAWN II Digital Audio Workstation Nucleus (part 2)

As an alternative to mouseing and nudging, you can also ‘capture’ a segment to the time line. You may want to capture the start of the segment, or the end, but that’s just kids’ stuff. More than likely you will want to set a sync point within the segment which will be its timing reference...

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The Big Picture

Figure 1 shows a typical DAWN display on a large monitor. Nice isn’t it? You are looking at five standard Mac windows within which most of DAWN’s operations take place. You don’t have to have all of them open at the same time, and on a smaller screen you would probably find yourself juggling them around quite a lot to see the information of current interest most clearly. Mac windows are movable, overlapable (a new word for the Oxford English Dictionary?) and usually re-sizable. In this example, the ones with the square boxes in the top right corner may be re-sized, the ones without never need to be a different size, and the window with the timecode values (the Sound List window) wasn’t active when this screen shot was taken.

The large window on the right is the Mix View and it shows a vertically scrolling segment display. You can choose between having a scrolling time line and scrolling segments. Apparently, a future software revision will have the option of a horizontal display. Will it move from left to right (as AudioFile) or right to left (SoundStation II) one wonders? Right to left is of course correct because the eye then scans the information from left to right in the same way as reading text on a page. If I explain some of the facilities and procedures of the Mix View then you should be able to get a feel for how DAWN works.

On the left is a timecode column showing a number of marker points. These markers may be inserted while recording or at any other time. I think it’s pretty obvious that that as the segments pass the time line then you hear whatever audio they contain. What you will want to know is how easy it is to move the segments around, from one start time to another and from track to track. Moving from one track to another is easy. It’s a simple matter of grabbing the segment with the mouse and dropping it where you want it. (Translated into non-computer jargon: With the mouse, position the cursor over the segment. Hold down the mouse button and move the cursor to the new track. Release the mouse button). The segment will keep the same timecode start point, so you don’t have to worry about any vertical movement of the mouse (I know of a system where you sometimes do have to worry!). Moving a segment in time works in exactly the same way. Just drag the segment and drop it where you want it. To align it precisely, use the ‘nudge buttons’ in the top right of the window. These shift the segment forward or backwards in time by frames or quarter frames. As an alternative to mouseing and nudging, you can also ‘capture’ a segment to the time line. You may want to capture the start of the segment, or the end, but that’s just kids’ stuff. More than likely you will want to set a sync point within the segment which will be its timing reference. No problem, as we shall see shortly, and you can capture the segment to the time line using one of the two sync points it is possible to set. If plain black segments are not to your liking, then there is the option of having a level display, as shown on track 1 in the screen shot. Obviously this takes a little extra processing to construct, but this will certainly suit those who like to see their audio as well as hear it.

Among other goodies are the essential fading and cross fading features. Fading is a perfectly simple matter of selecting a segment, clicking the fade button, then typing a fade time in the dialogue box that pops up. To crossfade, you must have two cues that are on separate tracks and overlap. You then go through the short crossfading procedure and a dialogue box appears asking for a crossfade duration. Remember that in most situations hard disk editing is non-destructive so if what you hear isn’t perfect, then you can ‘undo’ and have another go. I do think however that DAWN II should provide a way to cycle over a section while nudging the crossfade point and time. You can do this quite easily on SoundStation II and I found that it was the key to getting perfect edits on tricky material. In DAWN II, there is an incentive to get it right first time. Fades and crossfades, as you can see, are shown in the Mix View so you can get a pretty good idea of what is going on now, and further down the line.

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By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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