Sending Audio to ProTools and Back Again Using OMF

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the January, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Bill Darst writes:

I have a project edited on the standard FCP, G5 2.0 dual processor. A friend at a professional audio mix-down facility offered (free) to have sound effects and an audio mix done in Pro Tools. I had exported my audio mix to OMF, (not knowing at the time OMF files couldn’t be loaded back into FPC.) So I brought my hard drive and he loaded it onto his Power Mac laptop.


They were able to open my FCP files, and saw the dialog box saying this is a different version on the dual core universal version. They made a copy and ‘saved it as’ so they could work on the project. He was able to see my old project file, and had access to my audio and video media. Anyway all turned out well until it was time to go back to my original version in my G5.


When I tried to open his project on my version of FCP just says there is a ‘General error…’ and will not have anything to do with the universal version. Is this normal or is there a backdoor trick? The solution to not being able to import OMF files was to bounced the tracks down and make them into AIFF files. Which created the second weird thing. The result of the converted AIFF files came out AIFC. This in turn creates the red audio render line when placed in the timeline, which at first isn’t a problem, but each time an adjustment is made on the audio track, the whole audio track has to be rendered again.


So I drag the AIFC file into iTunes and converting it to an audio file that said AIFF, then it goes on the timeline without any rendering.


My question is can I go back and forth between versions on my non universal G5, and or could an XML file be created on the universal side and brought over to my side so I would have all the data of the universal mix and could work with it on my side? And why when I export ‘to AIFF files’, from my own FCP timeline, why does it come out as AIFC files and what the heck is an AIFC file anyway.

Larry replies: Wow. There is a whole flock of questions in this message. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

First, here’s an article that provides a step-by-step approach on how to move your audio files from Final Cut to ProTools using OMF. While this illustrates the process using earlier versions of both Final Cut and PrTools, the overall procedure is easy — just remember that the files leave FCP using OMF, but they must return to FCP as an AIFF file.

Larry's FCP Newsletter

Second, to export your audio from ProTools, use File > Bounce to Disk to create an AIFF file (generally a stereo pair, though mono is OK). Then, import that AIFF file into Final Cut and edit it to your timeline.

Third, you can not easily move projects between versions of Final Cut Studio. FCP 5.1 is required for all Intel-based Macs. Based on your message, it sounds like you are running FCP 5.0x. The “General Error” message is your warning that you are moving a project between versions. While you could export your project as XML, then use File > Import > XML to bring it into an earlier version of FCP, a much better option is to upgrade to version 5.1x of FCP.

There are some solid bug fixes and a host of new features that make this upgrade worthwhile. Plus, you’ll be able to open the projects that are modified by your audio house with no problems. Click here to go to Apple’s website to learn more.

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