Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to convert a single audio file to separate ones with a .cue file

A client sent me a link to their FTP server of a VO for a project I'm cutting. It turns out that whatever place they used to record the VO, I guess, just left their equipment recording while the VO talent read the script.

Meaning, it's one giant 400 MB .Flac file.

A, why they sent it as a .Flac file is beyond me.

B, why it's one large file is equally beyond me other than they literally never hit pause during the entire recording session, which is exactly what it sounds like they did.

Hearing the client "direct" the professional voice over talent is priceless btw…

But, at least they provided a .cue file.

Seriously. I know.

So my task was to either complain and loose my job and sanity -imagine trying to explain .flac, .mp3 and .cue files to a client- or just find a way to break them up myself.

One solution would be to dump the audio into Final Cut and just Control + V at all the gaps or actually listen to it all and copy paste into new timelines or make subclips or something else equally archaic. Another way was to use an app to cut the audio when it encounters silence but that would likely lead to it cutting at pauses in long sentences.

It turns out it's easier than I had thought. First off Toast won't due it easily (if at all) which was my first thought and attempt. I didn't make much progress with it -it seems the more Toast is updated the more confused it becomes as to what it's main function is- but I did remember a cool little free app called Max that I had used a long time ago so I did what I usually do when awakening an old app…look for any updates first.

Looking at some software sites I saw that Max hadn't been updated in a while but as a "related" search item I saw the FREE app XLD which is an acronym for "X Lossless Decoder" which I knew of but never had much use for outside of the odd conversion.

Now, while Max would likely work I decided to try XLD because it was more recently updated, by a lot.

What you need to do to break up a single file into separate audio files using a provided .cue file (technically you could make your own) is this:

1. Drag your .cue file onto XLD. It'll launch.

2. After XLD's window appears look at the left column. There you'll see the main recording. Make sure it's highlighted and active and you'll see the list of individual tracks on the right in the main window.

3. Hit Command + Comma for XLD's preferences.

4. In the Preferences window select the Output Format you want (double check the Options button if you need precise control of the output format, say for like a TV station or something), then set the Output Directory to where ever you'd like it. You can also set things like the format of the file name and the Maximum number of Threads here. Close the Preferences window.

5. Back in the main window hit the Transcode button and away you go.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


So I've been terribly busy lately but I noticed something at CES this year.


What's that?

"Magisto automatically turns plain videos to beautifully edited and produced Movies, perfect for sharing."


Wait…Editing AND Producing? Wow.

Check out their FAQs for some interesting tid-bits like:

6. The clip I got was very short... What happened?
Part of what Magisto does with your videos is take out the parts that are less interesting. By doing this, the clip you will get will be significantly shorter than the original videos that you uploaded. In such cases we advise you to upload more videos or longer ones.

Why not clips that are more "interesting"? That is to say by whatever defines interesting. Isn't "interesting" subjective? Or are they just counting delta-frames or something?

How's all this magic work?

2. How do I create a Magisto clip?
Simple! Creating a Magisto video is a 3-step process so all you need to do is:
Upload your video (you can upload more than one if you'd like)
Create a title for your clip, which will appear in the beginning of your video (or not. It's not a mandatory step)
Select a soundtrack from a variety of music genres and VOILA, you're done!

You're done!

Oh, and it's free.

It's a bit like iMovie's automatic trailer making mode-thing with face-recognition and title slots and what not.

Although with Magisto in my head I can clearly imagine all your footage being uploaded (ie..outsourced) to some third-world country and row after row of chained-to-their-desks slave-editors in front of Windows Movie Maker slapping something together as footage comes in, then only being allowed sips of water from the communal ladle only after they upload it back to you.

What my imagination shows me when I think about how Magisto works.

And this app is for iOS devices.

An iPhone that shoots 1080 and an app that edits it for you. (it's not free to have it edit 1080 footage, only 720 apparently).

I haven't played around with it too much but it's certainly interesting. I've already seen so very many corporate videos shots on Flip cameras or iPhones, iPads and other tablets that are "good enough for what we need" that I'm beginning to think that outsourced video production companies are going to loose a lot of their low-end work in the long run. I've already started to see it dry up for some of my work and even more so for some of my associates.

On the other hand it's fascinating watching a...wait for it...paradigm shift like this taking place in real time.

So there you have it, you can no shoot HD video on your phone and then almost literally hit one button to "edit" it.

And it's free, unlike iMovie for iOS. I believe that everything has a trade-off somewhere, somehow and placing this in the Project Triangle, this being easy and free, means it's not good.

Give it a whirl though and see what you think. Keep in mind that this app requires you to log in via a Facebook account. Not really the best idea if you ask me. I see it as potentially more of a way to collect user data for advertising in the future.

We're done.