Centrally located in Burbank, California, RH Factor has been providing audio post-production services in a client-friendly environment for nearly twenty years. RH Factor’s facility, where founders Craig Hunger and Dave Rawlinson focus on workflow efficiency with a personal touch, includes three mix stages for dubbing, layback and editorial, as well as an additional ADR/Foley Stage.
Ken Gombos, RH Factor’s Recordist and Sound Engineer, has been using cineXtools for audio layoffs for nearly a year. “A client of ours introduced us to cineXtools just as it was releasing. I was intrigued that it would give us the tools we needed to finally let go of QuickTime Pro,” he says. “Having made cineXtools an integral part of our file-based deliverables process, I can say that it is far superior to QuickTime Pro. For instance, I don’t have to copy and paste one track at a time or worry that the track is the exact length of the video file. There are lots of ‘gotchas’ to be mindful of in QuickTime Pro; and while it works, it was a tedious, accident-prone process,” he explains.
Many of RH Factor’s clients work with and deliver ProRes files. Before cineXtools, Ken had to use various NLEs to marry the final audio stems to the master video. “Depending on the project, we would use either Final Cut or Premiere to marry the audio to the video. I really didn’t enjoy this process because exporting the file meant we were not just adding the requisite audio tracks, we were re-encoding the picture as well. This is the client’s QC’d video master so it’s a really uneasy feeling,” Ken says. “Using cineXtools’ audio versioning or audio insert tool means I can add tracks and know for certain that the QC’d video master is untouched during the process. Not only is it incredibly easy to use, it also means RH Factor can focus on providing the best audio post-production services instead of worrying whether a picture artifact was introduced in the export process.”
Because of cineXtools’ insert-edit feature, comparing the cineXtools workflow with a tape workflow is unavoidable. “For clients requesting a 100% file-based workflow, we are saving $500 per day in tape deck rentals,” Ken says. “Just as important, it’s a better, more straight-forward workflow as compared to tape. Not only is the audio layoff much faster than real-time, using cineXtools means the client can get up to 32 tracks of audio in their master file in a single layoff process, which gives them the option to create an archive master that includes all deliverables in one file. With tape, you’re limited to 12 tracks so if there’s more than that, you need an additional real-time layoff to a second tape.”
Typically, audio post is the last step before the QC facility and many of RH Factor’s clients take advantage of this time to visually and aurally QC the file one last time. “If there is a QC note during the final watchdown, I update the 2 seconds of whatever needs to be fixed instead of creating a brand new file. We typically insert frame to frame so there’s no offset in the waveform, no drift or timecode lockup like there might be on tape. And because we’re not using tape there are no red-channel conditions! I just don’t have to think about all the potential issues that can come up if I were using other tools.”
“Another aspect of the cineXtools workflow is that our clients appreciate walking away with the file that ultimately goes to the QC facility. They feel confident that their show has been QC’d properly and we’re happy that the file with their newly layed-off and QC’d audio is the original video master they walked in with” Ken explains. “CineXtools greatly reduces the time required to layoff audio to a quicktime master compared to other options since the entire file isn’t recreated – only the audio files are copied to the picture file. What used to take over an hour can now be accomplished in a few minutes,” concludes Ken.
RH Factor has used the cineXtools audio layoff workflow for Amazon’s ‘Goliath’, ABC Studio’s ‘The Real O’Neil’s, and Freeform’s ‘Stitchers’.