Updated: May 20
I'm primarily a sound recordist, but occasionally I do some post production for small scale video productions. Things like
mixing short films, and doing forensics and de-noising on audio that has been recorded in less than ideal conditions.
Over the years I've mainly used Pro Tools for the majority of the film/video sync work, and using a variety of plugins to achieve what I need (mainly iZotope RX Advanced). However, when Pro Tools moved to an entirely subscription based model, with very poor discounts for existing users I did not upgrade. I'm stuck with my old regular license of Pro Tools 11; and while that works for the most part for short films that only need a stereo mix, I'm always keen to be using the latest software and with more advanced routing. I've also been using Reaper since I left uni. It's a great, and incredibly powerful, Pro Tools alternative that has several levels of licensing, from free up to your usual full price DAW for professionals. The fun thing is that all versions have the same level of features, and the amount you pay is based on honesty.
The method for getting audio from a video NLE into Reaper has for a long time been either vastly expensive, or extremely complicated and time consuming (honestly it was practically impossible). But I've recently found Vordio, which is a piece of software that promises relatively easy conversion from almost any video NLE to a Reaper RPP project file (or OpenTL compatible DAW), and at a very reasonable cost of £80.
There is one small catch to using it though, and it does require a small bit of explanation when the video editor is preparing the project for a dedicated audio post person. This is known as the "remote workflow"; which basically means that the person editing the video will not be editing the audio in Reaper. The Vordio website does have an explanation post, but it's not exactly a step by step breakdown for a video editor to provide an export to a remote audio editor. (You can read the Vordio explanation HERE).
What I've created here is a complete list of steps to create the audio export required by the audio editor, and then for the audio editor the steps to generate the RPP file from that export.
Creating an Audio Export from your NLE
Step 1. The first step, once the editor is ready to send a project for the audio editor, is to export the project in a format that Vordio can read. That means an XML from either Premiere Pro or FCPX.
Step 2. Download and install Vordio (without purchasing a license).
Step 3. Open Vordio and install the FFMPEG tools as prompted on the Welcome tab.
Step 4. Select the Convert Project tab and add the XML project you want to convert to a Reaper RPP file. Also set your output folder. When I did my test conversion I left the tick boxes as they were set at default, but you may want to also "exclude disabled items" to save on audio file space if you're uploading files. Once those bits are set, hit the Convert button below-right of the tick box area. This will create an RPP file and also transcode all of your audio in the project to a new folder.
Note: When this has been done without a license the RPP file will not include links to new audio beyond the 3 minute mark. This doesn't matter, as all of the audio will have been copied/transcoded no matter the position on the timeline; a nd all of the timeline information is actually in the XML file you created from your NLE.
Step 5. The next step is to Zip up the audio folder (this usually saves about 60% the file space) and supply that along with the original XML file from the NLE and a render of a reference video file for the DAW. It's helpful to have a video with the timecode burned onto the image for time referencing.
That ends the steps for the video editor. The limited RPP file created by the editor can be discarded. Creation of the new RPP file with all links to files beyond the 3 minute mark will now be done by the Audio person who has Reaper and owns a license for Vordio.
Creating a new Reaper Project from the XML and Audio Export
Step 1. The audio post person/team needs to unpack the audio and place the XML file in the folder adjacent to the unpacked audio files.
Step 2. Open Vordio, and run the RPP creation process again on the XML file. Vordio should now see that the audio is in the folder next to it and create the RPP with links to those files.
Step 3. You should now be able to open the RPP with everything inside. All that needs to be added to the project is a new track for the video reference file. if the Video reference has audio rendered onto it then just pull the fader down on the channel. Muting the channel in Reaper will also disable the video feed.
A work-around if you want to reference the audio on the video is to explode multi channel audio to new tracks, pan them L and R and create a new group for it. This will allow you to have the fader pulled down on the video track and have access to a copy of the original audio with a dedicated mute button, which will work just like Pro Tools.
NOTES ON EFFECTS AND TIME STRETCHED AUDIO
Something worth considering, is that all of the incredible software we use across departments often use proprietary effects plugins as "standard" this means that the built in EQ plugin from say Adobe Premiere is different to the one from Pro Tools (or the one that the audio engineer would prefer to use) this means that unless there is consistency with the plugins available across the systems, the audio team won't get those effects applied on their version of the audio.
So, you have two good options really if you want sound design elements to translate:
Use your NLE to render the audio in place to a second track and make a note to the audio editor that this is what you've done and that you've provided both the effected and raw audio on adjacent appropriately labelled tracks. (This is also what should be done with Time-stretched clips too as the softwares use different methods for time stretching)
Before you start doing audio edits and adding effects to the audio channels, make sure that there is consistency by using third party VST or AU effects that both teams have access to.
Reconform / Compare
A feature I've not yet explored is the reconform feature. It allows changes to be made to the Reaper project, based on changes made in the video NLE. This feature allows parallel working on both Video and Audio edits. This of course only really makes sense once the video is in a reasonably close to lock stage as a total re-edit will likely cause some issues. This feature of Vordio brings it very much closer to the sort of third party tools available for doing the same thing in Pro Tools (all of which cost a comparative fortune).