Using Soundtrack Pro with Final Cut Pro

You can use Soundtrack Pro for every aspect of creating audio for a project, from multitrack recording to advanced audio processing and mixing. For example, you can send a clip’s media file directly from Final Cut Pro to Soundtrack Pro, modify it, and then immediately see the changes to your clip back in Final Cut Pro. You can also batch process audio files using AppleScript documents created in Soundtrack Pro. However, one of the most powerful advantages of using Soundtrack Pro is the ability to send entire sequences to Soundtrack Pro and automatically conform them each time you make editorial changes to a sequence in Final Cut Pro. For more information, see Using Conform with Final Cut Pro.

About Soundtrack Pro Audio File Projects

A Soundtrack Pro audio file project allows you to edit and process an audio media file nondestructively, which means you can always alter or remove all of the actions you applied and even get back to the original state of the audio. A Soundtrack Pro audio file project is stored in a special Mac OS X format called a package (or bundle). A Mac OS X package appears to be a single file in the Finder but actually contains a collection of files, such as the original audio file, render files, and the list of actions applied to your audio file. To take advantage of nondestructive editing, you can create a Soundtrack Pro audio file project by either saving one from Soundtrack Pro or sending a clip or clips from Final Cut Pro to a Soundtrack Pro audio file project.

Methods for Sending Audio from Final Cut Pro to Soundtrack Pro

You can take several approaches to working with your Final Cut Pro project’s audio in Soundtrack Pro. The method you choose depends on your situation.

Do you need to make specific changes to audio clips in your project?

Final Cut Pro allows you to open one or more clips in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor, where you can analyze and process the audio using a variety of powerful tools.

Do you need to batch process multiple audio files?

Using customizable Soundtrack Pro scripts, you can automate repetitive audio processing tasks such as removing clicks, adding fades, or normalizing levels.

Do you need a complete audio post-production solution for your movie, including sound editing, sweetening, and mixing?

You can send multiple Final Cut Pro clips—or even an entire sequence—to a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project, where you can complete your final mix by adding additional tracks of sound effects, voiceover, and music. Both stereo and surround sound mixing are supported.

Sending Audio Clips from Final Cut Pro to Soundtrack Pro

There are three methods you can use to open a clip in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor:

  • Send a clip item or items to Soundtrack Pro as a Soundtrack Pro audio file project: A Soundtrack Pro audio file project is created for each item. This allows you to nondestructively make changes to the audio in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor. The original clips in Final Cut Pro are automatically reconnected to the new Soundtrack Pro audio file projects. You have the option to copy the entire media file for each clip item, or you can create trimmed versions with handles. For more information, see Sending Clips from Final Cut Pro to the Soundtrack Pro File Editor.
  • Process a clip with a Soundtrack Pro script: The clip opens in the File Editor, the actions in the script are performed automatically, the clip is saved with the changes, and the File Editor moves to the background so you can continue working in Final Cut Pro. If your clip’s media file is a standard audio or video file, you have the option to create a new Soundtrack Pro audio file project, so as to process the file nondestructively. If you don’t take advantage of this option, the script processes the source media destructively (permanently). If your clip’s media file is already a Soundtrack Pro audio file project, the changes are nondestructive. For more information, see Processing a Clip’s Media File with a Soundtrack Pro Script.
  • Open a clip’s media file destructively in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor: If you do not use a Soundtrack Pro audio file project for editing and you save the changes to the file in its native format, or in any flat audio file format (such as AIFF, WAVE, and so on), any changes you make to the audio file are destructive (permanent). For more information, see Opening a Final Cut Pro Clip’s Media File in Soundtrack Pro.

Sending Clips from Final Cut Pro to the Soundtrack Pro File Editor

When you send an audio clip from Final Cut Pro to the Soundtrack Pro File Editor, a Soundtrack Pro audio file project is created with the file extension “.stap.” This file can be edited nondestructively. The Final Cut Pro clip is reconnected to the new Soundtrack Pro audio file project, so the original media file is not affected by what you do in the File Editor. You can send single clips or multiple clips to Soundtrack Pro audio file projects.

Sending Linked Clips from Different Media Sources

You cannot send one or more audio clips from Final Cut Pro to Soundtrack Pro as audio file projects that contain audio linked from different media sources.

Examples of audio linked from different media sources include:

  • Audio captured in Final Cut Pro as mono clips that are later linked as stereo pairs or multichannel clips

  • An audio clip linked to video from a different media file

  • An audio clip linked to audio from a different audio file

With linked media, you must either send the clip or clips from Final Cut Pro to Soundtrack Pro as a multitrack project, or you must first unlink the media files in Final Cut Pro. For more information on sending clips from Final Cut Pro to Soundtrack Pro as a multitrack project, see Sending a Final Cut Pro Sequence or Clip Selection to a Multitrack Project. For more information on modifying linked media in Final Cut Pro, see the Final Cut Pro User Manual.

To send a single Final Cut Pro clip to the Soundtrack Pro File Editor
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select the clip in the Final Cut Pro Browser or Timeline, then choose File > Send To > Soundtrack Pro Audio File Project.

    • Control-click the clip in the Final Cut Pro Browser or Timeline, then choose Send To > Soundtrack Pro Audio File Project from the shortcut menu.

    The Save dialog appears.

    Figure. Save dialog.
  2. In the Save dialog, do the following:

    1. Enter a name for the Soundtrack Pro audio file project.

    2. Choose a location to save the Soundtrack Pro audio file project.

    3. Select “Send only referenced media” to copy only the used section of the media (between the In and Out points) to the new Soundtrack Pro audio file project.

      This is recommended unless you intend to edit the entire source file.

    4. To add media handles when the “Send only referenced media” option is selected, enter handle durations in the In Handle and Out Handle fields.

  3. Click Save.

    A Soundtrack Pro audio file project is created and opened in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor. The Final Cut Pro clip is reconnected to the new Soundtrack Pro audio file project instead of its original media file.

  4. Modify the audio as needed.

  5. Choose File > Save to save the project with the changes.

    A dialog appears allowing you to choose whether the Soundtrack Pro audio file project should include a copy of the original audio media file or simply refer to it.

    Figure. Save Audio File Project Preference dialog.
  6. Choose one of the following, then click OK.

    • Include Source Audio: This option copies the original audio media file into the Soundtrack Pro audio file project package. Because the audio file project has its own copy of the original media, it is self-contained and doesn’t rely on any external audio files. This option simplifies media management and makes it easier to transfer the audio file project to other computers. However, this increases the project file size and therefore requires more disk space.
    • Reference Source Audio: This option creates a link to the original source audio file, resulting in a smaller project file. However, to use this project file, you always need to keep track of the original source audio file. If you accidentally delete the original media file, the Soundtrack Pro audio file project can no longer play back. Choose the Reference Source Audio option only if the media is in a shared location accessible from any computer you might use to access the Soundtrack Pro audio file project.

When you return to Final Cut Pro, the clip now connects to the new Soundtrack Pro audio file project.

To send multiple Final Cut Pro clips to Soundtrack Pro
  1. Select multiple clips in the Final Cut Pro Browser or Timeline.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose File > Send To > Soundtrack Pro Audio File Project.

    • Control-click the selection, then choose Send To > Soundtrack Pro Audio File Project from the shortcut menu.

  3. In the Save dialog, choose a location to save the new Soundtrack Pro audio file projects.

    To create a new folder, press Command-Shift-N, enter a name for the folder, then click Create.

  4. Click OK.

A Soundtrack Pro audio file project is created for each clip selected in Final Cut Pro. Each Soundtrack Pro audio file project is then opened in a File Editor tab in Soundtrack Pro.

Processing a Clip’s Media File with a Soundtrack Pro Script

Soundtrack Pro scripts are AppleScript droplets containing Soundtrack Pro File Editor actions. Scripts can be created in Soundtrack Pro or a script editing application such as Script Editor, the AppleScript application included with Mac OS X.

When you send a Final Cut Pro clip’s media to a Soundtrack Pro script, the following steps occur for each unique file:

  • With your consent, Final Cut Pro generates a Soundtrack Pro audio file project and replaces the clip’s media file with it.

  • The audio file project or the clip’s media file opens in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor.

  • The script actions are applied to the audio file project or the media file.

  • The audio file project or the clip’s media file is saved with the changes.

If your clip’s media file is a standard audio or video file, you have the option to create a new Soundtrack Pro audio file project so as to process the file nondestructively. If you don’t take advantage of this option, the script processes the source media destructively (permanently). If your clip’s media file is already a Soundtrack Pro audio file project, the changes are nondestructive.

To modify one or more clips’ media files using a Soundtrack Pro script
  1. Select the clips in the Final Cut Pro Browser or Timeline.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose File > Send To > Soundtrack Pro Script.

    • Control-click the selection, then choose Send To > Soundtrack Pro Script from the shortcut menu.

  3. Choose the script you want to use from the submenu.

    Note: If you have not created custom Soundtrack Pro scripts and saved them to the default Soundtrack Pro script location, no scripts appear in the submenu.

    By default, a dialog appears offering to convert each clip’s media file to a Soundtrack Pro audio file project, which allows for nondestructive editing.

  4. Choose one of the following options:

    • Yes: Creates a Soundtrack Pro audio file project for each clip and then prompts you for a location to save these project files. You can create a new folder by pressing Command-Shift-N.
    • No: This option edits the files destructively, making permanent changes to the original media files.
    • Cancel: Cancels the script operation.

Soundtrack Pro opens and each clip is automatically opened, edited, saved, and closed in the File Editor.

You can also repeat the last script you used to edit a clip, making it easy to edit several clips with the same set of actions.

To edit a clip with the last script used
  • Control-click the clip in the Final Cut Pro Browser or Timeline, then choose Send To > Last Soundtrack Pro Script from the shortcut menu.

To disable the dialog that appears when you use the Send To Soundtrack Pro Script command
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > User Preferences, then click the Editing tab.

  2. Deselect the Warn on “Send to Soundtrack Pro Script” option, then click OK.

Opening a Final Cut Pro Clip’s Media File in Soundtrack Pro

You can open a Final Cut Pro clip’s media file directly in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor by choosing the Open in Editor command or by opening the file from the Finder.

Important: In either of these cases, if you make changes in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor and save those changes to the original file, your changes will be destructive and permanent. To edit nondestructively, you can save the file as a Soundtrack Pro audio file project and import that file into Final Cut Pro.

You can specify that audio clips open in Soundtrack Pro when you choose the Open in Editor command. This ensures that Final Cut Pro automatically opens Soundtrack Pro when you choose the command and that, when you return to Final Cut Pro, the clip is automatically reconnected to the updated media file. You can also choose Soundtrack Pro for editing video files if you work with a lot of linked video and audio clip items. For more information, see the Final Cut Pro User Manual.

To set Soundtrack Pro as the default application to open Final Cut Pro audio clips
  1. In Final Cut Pro, choose Final Cut Pro > System Settings, then click the External Editors tab.

  2. Make sure that Soundtrack Pro is the application set to open audio files.

To open a Final Cut Pro audio clip’s media file directly in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor
  1. Control-click the audio clip in the Final Cut Pro Browser or Timeline, then choose Open in Editor from the shortcut menu.

    The audio clip’s media file opens in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor.

  2. In Soundtrack Pro, modify the audio as needed.

  3. Choose File > Save to save the file with the changes.

    The Save dialog appears.

  4. By default, the File Type pop-up menu is set to Audio File Project, which saves the changes nondestructively. If you wish to permanently modify the original file, choose the original file type and filename. Soundtrack Pro will ask if you’re sure you want to overwrite the file. Click OK only if you’re sure that you no longer need your unedited media.

  5. Click Save.

  6. If you saved the file with a different filename or different file type, you must manually add the new file to your Final Cut Pro sequence.

Important: Unless you save a Soundtrack Pro audio file project, this is a destructive process that permanently modifies the original file.

Creating Multitrack Projects from Final Cut Pro Clips or Sequences

Soundtrack Pro multitrack projects are similar to Final Cut Pro projects: they contain multiple audio tracks in a Timeline that you can use to arrange clips in sequence. Like Final Cut Pro sequences, clips in a multitrack project refer to media files stored elsewhere, so the project file size stays small. Multitrack projects also contain a single video track for synchronizing your audio to picture.

Multitrack projects have track controls for volume, pan, mute, solo, effects, and effect parameters. You can create additional audio busses and submixes for grouping signals from audio tracks together or for effect sends. Tracks, busses, and submixes can be exported to individual audio files or to a stereo or multichannel mixdown. These Soundtrack Pro features are particularly useful for creating stem mixes that you can send back to Final Cut Pro.

You can create a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project from a selection of Final Cut Pro clips or an entire sequence. The multitrack project opens automatically in the Soundtrack Pro Timeline, and clips appear just as they did in your Final Cut Pro sequence, complete with level and pan settings and crossfades. The project tab in Soundtrack Pro displays the name of the Final Cut Pro sequence from which the project was exported. In Soundtrack Pro, you can arrange your clips, add effects, and create a finished mix. The final mix can be exported from Soundtrack Pro and automatically imported into Final Cut Pro in sync with your original sequence.

Note: Some information from Final Cut Pro is not included in the multitrack project, such as pan settings for stereo pairs, generators, and effects applied to clips.

Sending a Final Cut Pro Sequence or Clip Selection to a Multitrack Project

Creating a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project from within Final Cut Pro is a simple process.

To create a multitrack project from a sequence or a group of clips
  1. Select a sequence in the Final Cut Pro Browser, or select multiple clips in the Timeline.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose File > Send To > Soundtrack Pro Multitrack Project.

    • Control-click the selection, then choose Send To > Soundtrack Pro Multitrack Project from the shortcut menu.

    The Save dialog appears.

    Figure. Save dialog.
  3. In the dialog that appears, select from the following options:

    • Open in Soundtrack Pro Multitrack Editor: Select this option to open the multitrack project in Soundtrack Pro after it is created.
    • Include Background Video: Select this option to render the video in your Final Cut Pro sequence. The Soundtrack Pro multitrack project will refer to this file in its video track so you can see your video while you edit. Select what kind of background video you want to export:
      • Fully Rendered Video (slow): Your entire sequence is rendered at full quality to a QuickTime movie file. This option is recommended if the project is to be moved to another computer.
      • Base Layer Video (fast): Any sequence segment that requires rendering in Safe RT mode (in other words, any segment with a red render bar) is exported without effects. These files are not portable to a different computer. For more information, see the Final Cut Pro User Manual.
    • Save project with latest clip metadata (recommended): Select this option to ensure an accurate change history by having Final Cut Pro automatically save the project after the send process.
  4. Enter a project name or keep the default name, then click Save.

    A Soundtrack Pro multitrack project file is created with the file extension “.stmp.”

    Note: This is a small file that refers to the media files used by your Final Cut Pro sequence clips. Make sure those media files are available when the Soundtrack Pro multitrack project opens.

    If you selected Open in Soundtrack Pro Multitrack Editor, the multitrack project opens in the Soundtrack Pro Timeline.

  5. When you finish working on the project in Soundtrack Pro, choose File > Save.

  6. Modify the multitrack project as needed.

When you have followed the steps described above, you can send a mixdown back to Final Cut Pro.

For more information about the relationship between Soundtrack Pro multitrack projects and Final Cut Pro sequences, see Creating Multitrack Projects from Final Cut Pro Clips or Sequences.

Sending a Mixdown Back to Final Cut Pro Automatically

When you create a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project from within Final Cut Pro, all of the sequence clip information is stored in the multitrack project. When you export a mixdown of the multitrack project in Soundtrack Pro, you can also choose to open a new copy of the Final Cut Pro sequence that looks just like the original sequence but has additional audio tracks that contain your mixdown.

Note: Clip information is sent from Soundtrack Pro to Final Cut Pro using the Final Cut Pro XML Interchange Format.

To export a mixdown and open a new copy of a Final Cut Pro sequence containing the mixdown
  1. In Soundtrack Pro, open the multitrack project you want to mix down.

  2. Choose File > Export.

  3. If you wish, choose options from the following pop-up menus:

    • Exported Items: Choose an entire mix, or individual tracks, busses, or submixes, or some combination thereof.
    • File Type: The default (AIFF File) is appropriate for Final Cut Pro use.
    • Bit Depth: Choose the setting appropriate for your Final Cut Pro project.
    • Sample Rate: Choose the setting appropriate for your Final Cut Pro project.
    • Preset: Optionally, you can save a preset combining all of the above settings, for future exports.
  4. Choose “Send files to Final Cut Pro sequence” from the After Export pop-up menu.

    Figure. Export window showing After Export pop-up menu.
  5. Enter a name for the exported file and click Export.

    Soundtrack Pro exports mixdown files from the multitrack project and adds them to a Final Cut Pro XML file containing the original sequence. For your convenience, the audio tracks from the original sequence are moved to other tracks and are muted.

    In Final Cut Pro, the Import XML dialog appears.

    Figure. Import XML dialog.
  6. Use the Destination pop-up menu to choose your original project, then click OK.

    A copy of your original sequence (with the name you specified earlier) appears in the Browser.

  7. Double-click the new sequence in the Browser to open it in the Timeline.

    The sequence opens with the mixdown audio correctly synchronized to your clips in the Timeline and the original audio tracks muted.

When you want to work on the project in Soundtrack Pro again, you can reopen it from the Final Cut Pro Timeline.

To open a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project from a mixdown clip in Final Cut Pro
  1. In your Final Cut Pro sequence, Control-click the mixdown clip, then choose Open in Editor from the shortcut menu.

    Make sure that the Open in Editor command is set to open audio files in Soundtrack Pro. For information, see Opening a Final Cut Pro Clip’s Media File in Soundtrack Pro. A dialog appears with the following options:

    • Open Audio File: Opens the mixdown audio file in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor.
    • Open Project: Opens the Soundtrack Pro multitrack project linked to the mixdown audio file.
  2. Click Open Project.

The Soundtrack Pro multitrack project linked to the mixdown audio file opens in Soundtrack Pro.

To make changes to a Soundtrack Pro multitrack project that was previously exported to Final Cut Pro as a mixdown clip
  1. In your Final Cut Pro sequence, Control-click the mixdown clip, then choose Open in Editor from the shortcut menu.

    Make sure that the Open in Editor command is set to open audio files in Soundtrack Pro. For information, see Opening a Final Cut Pro Clip’s Media File in Soundtrack Pro. A dialog appears with the following options:

    • Open Audio File: Opens the mixdown audio file in the Soundtrack Pro File Editor.
    • Open Project: Opens the Soundtrack Pro multitrack project linked to the mixdown audio file.
  2. Click Open Project.

    The Soundtrack Pro multitrack project linked to the mixdown audio file opens in Soundtrack Pro.

  3. Once the multitrack project opens in Soundtrack Pro, make changes to the multitrack project, then choose File > Save to save the project.

  4. Choose File > Export.

  5. If you wish, you may choose options in the following pop-up menus:

    • Exported Items: Choose an entire mix, or individual tracks, busses, or submixes, or some combination thereof.
    • File Type: The default (AIFF File) is appropriate for Final Cut Pro use.
    • Bit Depth: Choose the setting appropriate for your Final Cut Pro project.
    • Sample Rate: Choose the setting appropriate for your Final Cut Pro project.
    • Preset: Optionally, you can save a preset combining all of the above settings to use for future exports.
  6. In the After Export pop-up menu, choose “Send files to Final Cut Pro sequence.”

    Figure.  After Export pop-up menu showing the "Send files to Final Cut Pro sequence" command.
  7. Enter a name for the exported file and click Export.

    Soundtrack Pro exports mixdown files from the multitrack project and adds them to a Final Cut Pro XML file containing the original sequence. For your convenience, the audio tracks from the original sequence are moved to other tracks and are muted.

    In Final Cut Pro, the Import XML dialog appears.

    Figure. Import XML dialog showing the Destination pop-up menu.
  8. Use the Destination pop-up menu to choose your original project, then click OK.

    A copy of your original sequence (with the name you specified in step 5) appears in the Browser.

  9. Double-click the new sequence in the Browser to open it in the Timeline.

    The sequence opens with the mixdown audio correctly synchronized to your clips in the Timeline and the original audio tracks muted.

  10. Switch to Final Cut Pro and open the sequence containing your mixdown.

The mixdown clip remains in the same location, but the media file it refers to has been replaced by your new mixdown file, so the mixdown is now updated in Final Cut Pro.

Note: For information about using the Soundtrack Pro Conform feature to merge a picture edit and the sound edit of the same Final Cut Pro sequence, see Using Conform with Final Cut Pro.

For more information about the relationship between Soundtrack Pro multitrack projects and Final Cut Pro sequences, see Creating Multitrack Projects from Final Cut Pro Clips or Sequences.