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  #1  
Old 06-15-2021, 04:02 AM
Bushpig Bushpig is offline
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Default Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

Hi All,

Just wanted to pop in here to see if a wee crusade I've been on for a long time, and which may have some legs again, has any appeal to you Post guys and girls.

I'm a songwriter/composer who had a previous life as a producer and engineer (first Digidesign system - Sound Tools on Mac AND Atari circa 1988).

I'm a massive user of what I call the "voice stealing" workflow that is currently only possible using a TDM equipped system (see my sig below). If you aren't familiar with what this is, see my video in the thread linked below. When HDX systems were announced, I was mortified to find out that Avid had designed out this workflow by killing off assignable voices. Paul V from Avid engineering opened the conversation with me way back then, indicating that Avid were aware of these methods and that there were plans to re-implement them at some point (if you're interested in the history, see my further link in the main thread linked below).

I have long wondered why more Post operators didn't kick up a fuss when this change was made. I had always assumed (no experience mind you) that in post as in music production, having every single track using up a whole voice in the inevitably huge sessions you guys run, must be why sessions rapidly ran out of voiceable tracks.

Is it not the case in Post that sharing a voice(s) amongst multiple tracks that only play sporadically, would help alleviate voice limitations on HDX systems?

Obviously Avid are about to release the Hybrid Engine to lift the potential ceiling to remedy the overall HDX voice count issues (I'm aware of the previously abandoned attempt due to certain cards presenting problems), but still, assignable and sharable voices can't fail to be an advantage in any production environment as far as I can tell. No?


Anyway, thanks for reading this far, and if this discussion is of any value to any of you over here, please head over to this HDX forum thread where I'm discussing this in depth with Kyle Splittgerber.

https://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=415388&page=4

My contribution and Kyle's replies start at post #33, continuing through #36, and #50 so far.

Cheers all, and thanks for your time.

Steve Bush


PS: I am an HDX owner, but it remains sitting on the shelf unused, as I simply can't see myself letting go of the beautiful "voice stealing/automagical comp" workflow I love so much.


My video and original short 2012 Paul V thread for reference:

https://youtu.be/O9na6N7WQD8
http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=316448


EDIT: New Video added 20th July 2021


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhhaXYqhhBI

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Last edited by Bushpig; 07-20-2021 at 01:52 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-17-2021, 01:48 AM
huub huub is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

But the newish comping feature does exactly that, right?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq5_yM63FtQ
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  #3  
Old 06-18-2021, 10:45 PM
Mark Ziebarth Mark Ziebarth is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by huub View Post
But the newish comping feature does exactly that, right?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq5_yM63FtQ

Comping does a part of the job. It misses individual effects but this can be compensated using clip effects. But if you change the arrangement comping doesn’t copy the underlying playlists. This part of the voice stealing workflow is missing so far. AFAIK…

Best

Mark
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  #4  
Old 06-19-2021, 04:31 AM
Bushpig Bushpig is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

Hey Huub,


Thanks for the reply.


>>>> But the newish comping feature does exactly that, right? <<<<

I had hoped so at the time, but no, not quite unfortunately. There's a lot of subtlety to how the voice stealing workflow is so much more elegant than playlist wrangling.


For instance, working with playlists, in order to hear/audition any piece of a track ie: a small part of a line of lyric from a particular take, it has to be on the master playlist. With the "stairstep insta-comp" that voice stealing allows, I can for instance, select across all the tracks in the same vertical song position (I use extensive Mix and Edit groupings too, which turns my collection of up to 32 single voiced tracks into one big Mega-track), then Separate Region, and then use 'Apple M' for muting regions. This way I can audition each piece up and down the screen until I find one that works. No need to move any regions anywhere. One less step in the proceedings, and certainly no mounting up of stacks of almost identical but confusingly auto-named playlists. Everything I've recorded stays in situ where it is, and therefore is clean and easy to view and subsequently retrace my steps on what pieces of which takes I'm hearing from where.

I can even just drop the singer in again for a small section to try a new lyric etc and never lose what I've already assembled "below" the top most track.

Also, Playlists don't have individual meters either, so very often (and I think I saw the guy in the video you linked to) I solo and promote the wrong playlist piece I think I'm listening to. Damn! That's a real workflow killer for sure.


I'll stop here. There's many more reasons why "drop through" behaviour is incredibly slick. And for everybody reading this far, when I get a chance, I'll make another video of further features I love, to save on the typing.


Again, thanks for the reply Huub.


Cheers.


Steve
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Last edited by Bushpig; 06-19-2021 at 02:28 PM.
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  #5  
Old 06-19-2021, 05:10 AM
Bushpig Bushpig is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the reply. Nice to speak to you again mate. Still loving all the TDM plugs we found a new home for (mine) thanks.

>>>> But if you change the arrangement comping doesn’t copy the underlying playlists. This part of the voice stealing workflow is missing so far. AFAIK… <<<<

Totally correct, and that's just the beginnings of why "voice stealing" beats Playlists all day long in this regard.

For instance I can also have alternative automation of every type on each track in the bunch (and different collections of plugins if needed), because they are real proper tracks. This REALLY is useful for adding spot corrective stuff, or adding special FX tricks on individual pieces of audio without needing to add it to the whole comp and then automate etc. Much less of a faff, and much faster.

Playlists are stuck with the one set of automation and plugs for the overall single track they are part of. Not as flexible at all.

And for clarity, although it's in my original video, I may have neglected to mention that I bus all these single voiced tracks to an Aux Channel which has any plugins needed and sends feeding from it as the master output point for the whole "mega-track". This CAN have a mix of Native and TDM plugs if necessary (unlike the individual channels when recording. TDM only, Native's disable) for the overall "sound" of the vocal/instrument. If I do have to put a Native plug on the Aux bus, I then have to deal with the associated extra delay compensation, but mainly I can get away with DSP plugs only until well after the recording is done.

Thanks for joining in. I think I'll cross reference others from the HDX thread to here, as technically that thread belonged to someone else.

Cheers.

Steve
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  #6  
Old 06-19-2021, 05:17 AM
Bushpig Bushpig is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

PS,

Further to Mark's point above about every Playlist in the session needing to be visible in order to copy along with any "whole session" editing, because I'm forever having to rearrange songs on the fly, I never hide ANY tracks in my sessions either. I'll "Make Inactive" and minimise the size of any currently un-needed tracks, but never hide them. It can create an absolutely unrecoverable mess of a session if I do hide tracks and subsequently edit the whole song.

Cheers.

Steve
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Last edited by Bushpig; 07-19-2021 at 04:55 AM.
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  #7  
Old 06-19-2021, 09:26 AM
albee1952 albee1952 is online now
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

Since you have 2 systems, I would update one of them with a newer and faster computer. I suspect you would be shocked at the difference in horsepower with a modern 12 core, running at 3.5(ish) GHz with 64GB of RAM(which is probably double the speed of your current RAM). Put the HDX card in a newer machine, connect some 192's and do some testing. Worst case; you have a powerful machine to host VEPro. You can't move into the future without letting go of the past
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  #8  
Old 06-19-2021, 10:17 AM
Bushpig Bushpig is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

Hey Dave,

Thanks for the reply.

My workflow frustrations have absolutely nothing to do with lack of computer power at all. It's purely the fact that Avid decided to design assignable voices out of the HDX architecture. I don't know if you had a chance to follow the short thread above from back when the HDX cards were first announced, but the engineers at Avid were well aware that there were certain workflow methods that were killed off by this decision, and according to Paul Vercelotti in engineering at the time, they had intentions to replicate those methods in other ways. Unfortunately so far, this hasn't quite materialised. Here's the one I'm talking about:

http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=316448

I mentioned in my other more recent thread on the HDX forum that in my opinion, ProTools TDM, with assignable voices and "Mute Frees Assigned Voices", was the first major advance in multi-track recording since the invention of multi-track recording itself!! A bloody dramatic statement I know, but they really did have an advantage over every other system architecture out there in the market place as far as I'm concerned. The way ProTools functions in this regard now, is only the same as everyone else. Every active track in the session all playing at the same time (ie: ALL the vocal takes so far) is a bloody logistical disaster. Each take track higher up the screen taking over from the track(s) below is a simply beautifully elegant workflow that no one has ever improved upon IMHO.

Here's the other HDX forum thread for more detail of how I work and a scruffy little video demonstrating what's so awesome about "drop-through" voice stealing.

https://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?...29#post2604629
https://youtu.be/O9na6N7WQD8

You are right though of course. Since I had to close one of my studios, I have pressed the second system into being a VEPro host. The combo of a TDM HD3 system on Mavericks 10.9.5 and ProTools 10.3.5 plus a VEP instance on this "Master" machine, with a second machine running a second instance of of VEP on Mojave (for the more up to date libraries) has been working brilliantly for me.

I know I'm a bit of a Grandad with these older machines, but I just can't get into working without voice stealing, and you'll perhaps understand why I feel so strongly about it if you get a chance to check out my primitive video. On the other thread, Kyle Splittgerber states that it's most likely possible to bring back this capability, so hence why I've decided to rally around for a bit of support again after all this time. And you're right, I'd love to drag myself kicking and screaming into advantages the more modern systems offer, but not at the expense of a slower and less fluid and capable workflow.

Cheers.

Steve
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Last edited by Bushpig; 07-19-2021 at 04:57 AM.
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  #9  
Old 06-19-2021, 12:57 PM
BScout BScout is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

I used to use it to edit in Room Tone or BG sfx. It was a simple/fast way to have things covered.

Never used it in a comping workflow -- I find playlisting easier. Though it's interesting how you work to overdub.
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  #10  
Old 06-19-2021, 02:08 PM
Bushpig Bushpig is offline
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Default Re: Older TDM style "voice stealing" workflow an advantage?

Hey BScout,


Thanks very much for the reply.


>>>> Never used it in a comping workflow -- I find playlisting easier. <<<<


Cool, but I'm therefore genuinely interested in how you try out alternate pieces in the comp? For instance how do you audition going from the master comp to a line, or word, or note you want to hear in the flow from another playlist and back to the master comp without having to bump the piece you're auditioning UP to the master playlist which then overwrites the original comp master at that point (which may or may not be a better piece to keep). And then do this millions of times across multiple playlisted takes to find all the best pieces?


>>>> Though it's interesting how you work to overdub. <<<<


This is essentially the most beautiful thing about the method. My overdubbing IS my comp'ing!!?! I can piece together any part (Vocals-writing and arranging and re-arranging a song, Guitar parts-trying and muting random stuff at any time whilst working on a song etc), with lots of alternative takes all kept exactly in situ where I last left them, not scattered across multiple unmemorable, oddly auto-named playlists.


My screen can end up looking a bit like a cross between a mad Jenga tower, and a frozen Tetris snapshot turned sideways, but this means I still have everything available to update my comp at any time during production, just by muting/un-muting regions. Beats fishing through long forgotten playlist pieces.


It even functions as a notepad like reminder that doesn't need writing down. I can just leave sections I might want to revise later, or lines myself and the singer want to audition when the track is more developed, right there in place and not muted as a reminder, precisely because anything above on screen does it's auto-magical auto-takeover and I don't hear anything still waiting around lower down the screen. Even months later I can come back and anything greyed out (ie: muted) is stuff I likely don't want, and anything still active (coloured by the voice allocation) may not be hearable whilst something above is dominant, but I get to keep the bits I know I thought were good as we went along, without having to specifically remember them and/or name them and where they are again!! If all the tracks are voiced to play independently, I have to switch the whole track off, or mute all the regions (grey them out) I don't want to hear, and that means the memory of them being potential keeper pieces is erased and the "auto note keeping" advantages are lost.


And, the further bonus is, even if I'm short of time, I simply never have to ACTUALLY make time to do "The Final Comp®" (cue dramatic music and rumble of thunder), as I have been insta-comping as I go along. The only thing that is obviously not possible as regions play back up and down tracks "voice stealing" in real time, is any crossfades that might be needed, but even then I can simply copy a small chunk of the lower region up onto the track higher and crossfade that small piece, and there is no glitch because the software very cleverly plays seemlessly between two identical pieces "voice stealing" above and below itself precisely because they ARE identical audio until the join and crossfade.


Heavens, I hope this makes any sense at all. The Voice Stealing Insta-Comp method made possible by TDM, really is a marvelous and beautiful thing, I swear. I will post some clarifying screenshots when I get a second.


Cheers.


Steve
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Last edited by Bushpig; 06-19-2021 at 02:36 PM.
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