Sync Licensing – The best advice ever…

by promyour on March 26, 2017

Image result for sync licensing imagesI found this once on a thread… thousand apologies cant remember where but its gold !

Hope you guys are cool with me… caring is sharing 🙂 I think it was on a gearslutz forum

Australian Sync Licensing

When I’m not doing music I make a side-living doing TV commercials for my local market here. Low four-figure price level up, reasonably basic stuff.

Here are some thoughts with my commercial producer/editor hat on:

Here in Australia the convention is still to mandate half a second of silence at the top and tail of a commercial. So a 30 second commercial has no more than 29 seconds of audio content, a 15 second commercial has no more than 14 seconds, and so on. It’s an antiquated convention, but failing to adhere to it still means technical rejections, so we soldier on.

I see anywhere from 31 to 35 second long tracks touted as “30 second cut downs”, and frankly I find it really annoying. I realise that the 29-second thing is a local oddity and I can’t expect everyone to comply with that, but going over 30 just seems ignorant of the marketplace. Unless they are OUTSTANDING tracks and worth the time spent re-editing, I just don’t use them. And to be honest if I’m going to do a cutdown of a library track, I’ll generally grab the longest version available and do my own edit from that, simply because there’s more raw material to work from so I can edit to fit the pacing requirements of the commercial.

Personal preference thing too – I tend to like edits that finish musically at around 11 or 12 seconds (for a 15) or 26-27 (for a 30) and then tail out to 29. Most oif our TVCs have an endscreen with company logo, contact details or call-to-action message, and letting the music track ring out underneath seems to let that information sit & breathe a bit. I find it much more effective than just slathering music from frame 1 to frame 750.

International Sync Licensing

Think about a tv commercial. They are in full gear a half second in, and on the ending, they are OVER at 29.97 seconds. When libraries say they want 30’s or 60’s, they want them 29.5+ or 59.5+, but NOT over 30/60. Not 32, not 61, etc.. They also don’t want the last note holding for 5-10 seconds and starting at 20 seconds on a 30 or 55 seconds on a 60. There’s an art to it, and often times, I might change the tempo of the piece before recording to make the edits work better.

+1000 to what bill said.

I’ve been making 60s, 30s and 15s for over a decade now.

While every company is slightly different as to what they want… there are some standard “guidelines”.

Overall Guidelines:

All edits MUST be a condensed version of the full length song. You HAVE to start your edit using the beginning of the full length and end with the end of the full length. You cannot start at the beginning and then randomly just cut off when you hit the desired time. Nor can you start in the middle of the cue.

DO NOT change the form or chord progressions of the song. If the cue follows an ABA form. Do not do BAB in the edit and so on. If the Chords are I IV I ii V, DO NOT cut it so that the chords no longer make sense, like I IV ii I, etc. You have to maintain the integrity of the composition.

The edits for all the various mixes have to match. The edit you do for the full mix has to be the same as the edit you do for the Narration Mix and the Drum and Bass Mix, etc. A lot of clients request this. It gets very difficult to switch between the full version with melody and the narration version without melody in a commercial if the edits for the two are completely different. Most of the time picture editors load both the full and narration 60/30/15 into Avid or FCP, line up the start of them… and then flip between them as the spot progresses. You can’t do that if the edit for the full mix and narr mix are completely different.

The edits HAVE to be musical. They have to make Musical sense and every edit needs to build from it’s start to it’s ending, just as normal length cues do.

The edits also have to be inaudible. It has to sound like it was performed that way. There can be no pops, clicks, awkward crossfades, volume jumps, reverb tails being chopped off, melodies getting twisted or disjointed, etc. The edits have to be able to stand on their own as musical compositions and cannot sound like an “edit”.

Timing specific guidelines:

60’s – Measuring from the start of sound (not the start of the file), the last hit of the music HAS to fall somewhere between 58.8~59.5 seconds. The tail ring out should still sound natural but can be faded out a little. Most ring outs shouldn’t be longer than 1 second.

Some companies want the audio files to be exactly 60 seconds. Some are ok with the tail ring outs going a hair over, so the file ends up being 60.5 seconds or 61 seconds. They do this so that the picture editors can chop and fade the ending out quicker as they see fit. But regardless, that last note of music still has to fall at :59 or close to it, regardless of the actual length of the audio file.

With 60’s you can have a little bit of an intro, and try to make it feel like the baby brother/sister to the full length cue. Try to include as many of the different sections from the full length that you can. A section, B section, C section, breakdown, etc.

30’s -Measuring from the start of sound (not the start of the file), the last note/hit of music HAS to fall somewhere between 28.5~29.5 seconds. The tail ring out should sound natural and not be “chopped”. Usually no more than 1 second of tail ring out. File should be 30 seconds in length, but some companies are ok with 30.5 or 31 seconds to allow for the tail ring out to last longer.

with 30’s the intro should be very short. From just a drum pickup to make a measure or two at the longest. You need to dive right into the music since most 30 second commercials dive right in. And the energy needs to stay up all the way through, and build to the end.

DO NOT put stops/drops/silence in the 30’s. In a 60, if the cue does it, then you can usually get away with it. But in the 30, that’s usually a big no-no.

No long drawn out endings. Try to condense the ending so it only lasts a few seconds.

15’s 15’s need to just jump right in on the melody and then end. NO INTROS WHATSOEVER. Most companies don’t even want 15 second full mixes. They usually only want 15 second narration mixes since most melodies won’t even fit within 15 seconds (unless you are doing sports fanfares or something like that).

With 15s, the last note/hit has to be at 14 to 14.5 seconds. And the music should not stop at all, just groove right up until the ending. The ending should also be very short. If a cue has a long drawn out ending, try to find ways to cut it down into just a second or so.

That’s about it… when first doing this, you’ll probably feel like there are some cues that cannot be made into a 60 or a 30 or a 15. It might just seem impossible. But I can tell you from doing this for almost 14 years now, every cue, i don’t care what tempo it is at, can be made into a perfect 60, 30 and 15.

The only exception sometimes is very dynamic and slow developing orchestral cues. Pretty much everything else can be made into a perfect edit.

One other thing, some libraries I know DO NOT let the composers do the edits, and instead hire editors who are specifically trained at doing these. You might want to ask the library if they could hire someone to do it for you or give you extra money so you can hire someone on your own. It’s worth it. While the big networks don’t use the edits, the smaller affiliates and radio stations do. There are a lot of potential uses that can make royalties if the edits are good. If the edits are bad you and the library you are working with lose out on all of those uses. So for a lot of the libraries I know, it’s worth the money for them to pay a professional editor to make them. Just something to keep in mind.

 

I agree with what Etch said here (great explanation btw!!)… I have done these before, and I would ad this point… Depending on the music you do, I don’t recommend doing it just with 2 track editing, I always do it with the full session, as you far more flexibility and musicality if you are able to get in and perform different fades etc on the different tracks….. and while it may seem like it could take a bit longer, it can actually be faster, as you can easily make transitions better etc without the “edits” being apparent. Also DO NOT time stretch/compress stuff to fit the specifications…as least in most cases…. they want condensed versions, and sometimes for edits down from say a 1:30 piece to a :30, and if you bump a piece from say 97bpm to 100 to fit the requirements, it can cause all sorts of trouble for them…. and obviously that’s not what you want! Sometimes you have to be clever, a dropped beat here or there, but it kinda becomes a little art form in itself….

 

Etch-A-Sketch

yes, lester brought up another good point I forgot to mention. I’ll reiterate it. Never time compress/expand stuff to get it to hit the timing of the edit. That is also a big “no-no”

I also agree with lester that it can be better to do the editing from the multitracks… but you don’t have to. I usually do it from the stereo mixes.

And if you need to drop a beat or an 1/8th note or whatever to get it to fit perfectly… Drop it from the ending or the intro. Make the intro one beat long instead of two… or cut out a beat from the ending. Try not to do it in the middle of the song unless you can really make it un-noticeable and musical.

 

drBill

Gear Guru

All good etch, but sometimes, there is just no good way to make it – and pitch n time becomes a literal Godsend. I’d say I can get to where I want to be about 93% of the time without it….but that last 7%….. Whew!

And since I have the full mixes at hand, I always make a copy of my main mix, paste it “on the grid” and then edit my broadcast edits. There are a lot more creative ways to make the edit when you have ALL the tracks and can edit the bass/drums on the downbeat of bar 16, while letting the guitar melody ring over and edit it on bar 17, etc.. It’s given me a lot more freedom, and raised my 80% average up to 92%….

HOWEVER, there is a caveat to that. You have to master double the number of tracks and that can up the Library’s mastering costs as you well know…. So….best to check with the library first.

But then, I am not the master editor that you are. You probably do more broadcast edits in a year than I’ve done in a lifetime. LOL cheers, bp

All good etch, but sometimes, there is just no good way to make it – and pitch n time becomes a literal Godsend. I’d say I can get to where I want to be about 93% of the time without it….but that last 7%….. Whew!

And since I have the full mixes at hand, I always make a copy of my main mix, paste it “on the grid” and then edit my broadcast edits. There are a lot more creative ways to make the edit when you have ALL the tracks and can edit the bass/drums on the downbeat of bar 16, while letting the guitar melody ring over and edit it on bar 17, etc.. It’s given me a lot more freedom, and raised my 80% average up to 92%….

HOWEVER, there is a caveat to that. You have to master double the number of tracks and that can up the Library’s mastering costs as you well know…. So….best to check with the library first.

But then, I am not the master editor that you are. You probably do more broadcast edits in a year than I’ve done in a lifetime. LOL cheers, bp

Bill brings up an important point which none of have mentioned yet. It is always wise to do the editing AFTER the audio has been mastered (either by yourself or a mastering engineer). The reason being, it increases the cost of mastering with a professional mastering engineer exponentially when you add all the 60s, 30s and 15s.

With most of the projects I do, we have anywhere from 150 to 400 MINUTES of audio in total with all the alternate mixes and all the edits. For a mastering engineer that is the equivalent to mastering 2~5 albums worth of music.

So it is always better to cut the edits after the mastering from a budgetary point of view.

Also, I will say this about those occasions when a good 60/30/15 just won’t come out and the temptation is to reach for time compression or expansion… For the first couple of years of doing broadcast edits, I would spend 3 or 4 hours on the troublesome cues trying to find a good 60 or 30. Eventually I would give up and tell my boss that it can’t be done and we need to time stretch/compress it to get it to work…

My boss would come in, and in 10 minutes make a perfect edit of the one(s) I spent 4 hours trying to get. After a couple YEARS of that happening and never once did I have one that ever took him more than 10 or 15 minutes to do… I finally succumbed to the idea that every piece, no matter what, can be edited into a perfect 60, 30 and 15 even if I can’t figure it out at the time.

so what I do now, if I can’t find it within 15~20 min I move on and come back to it later. Usually on the second try I’ll see/hear the right pieces to use to get it to work.

what I recommend doing is start with “broad” strokes first. What I mean by that is, don’t worry about getting every edit perfect from the start. Just very quickly cut up the song and see if it hits the desired time. Too often I see newbies start and get hung up for 10 minutes trying to get their first edit of the piece smooth and perfect, only to find out 5 minutes later that the rest of the edits don’t end up hitting the desired timing and the whole edit has to be scrapped and they have to start over.

What I do, and this is just my method… if it helps or inspires you to try some things that lead to making it easier for you, then great! If not, no worries. There is no right or wrong way to edit these…

here is my method:

setup – I create 5 stereo tracks. I label them 60 Full, 60 Narr, 30 Full, 30 Narr and 15 Narr. Then I group the 60 Full and 60 Narr tracks together. I group the 30 Full and Narr Tracks together.

I grab my first cue i’m going to edit. I put the full length “Full Mix” on the 60 full and the full length “Narr Mix” on the 60 Narr track.

I disable groups. And then I get them perfectly aligned down to the sample (look up how to use sync points in Protools if you aren’t sure how to align audio files so they are sample accurate). Once the Full and Narr are perfectly aligned with each other, I turn the groups back on.

I click at the top of the cue, mute the narr mix but leave the full mix on and hit play… as I listen I hit the “insert cursor” button (for PT it’s the down arrow) and then hit “splice” (in PT it’s the letter “b”) every couple of bars. What I’m listening for is patterns. If the song uses a 2 bar pattern I spice every two bars as I listen. If it uses a 4 bar pattern I splice every 4 bars. I also splice at the top of each section and if there are any hits or stops. I also put a splice at the ending or on the last note/hit of the song.

Now, you’ll notice that since I’m grouped, as I splice the full mix I’m listening to, I’m simultaneously splicing the narr mix. 😉

As I am listening and splicing, I’m trying to hear the form and I’m listening for when and where sections repeat and what sections are unique. I’m also listening for transitions and making mental notes as to where those are.

Once I get through the song once and have spliced it all up… I measure from the start of audio out exactly 60 seconds and I put a marker there. That way I have a visual reference as to where 60 is.

Now I switch to “Shuffle” mode in PT and I start deleting some of the clips I just spliced. What I try to do, I call “trimming the fat”. Most composers, especially for library music, tend to copy/paste or duplicate a lot. So, the A section of the song might be 16 bars long, but it’s really just four 4 bar phrases with an 8 bar melody that repeats once. And the second time it repeats it has a slightly different ending.

So, here’s my secret. I NEVER delete the first phrase or the last phrase. I always delete the ones in the MIDDLE!!! Some people have a hard time grasping this concept and their instinct is to either use the first 8 bar melody or the last 8 bar melody of the section… but what I do is use the first 4 bars of the first melody and then the last four bars of the repeated melody.

Why? Transitions. You’ll still end up with one complete time through the melody, but you’ll now have the transition into the section and out of the section intact.

So I call that trimming the fat. Delete any un-needed/superfluous parts of each section of the song… but DO NOT delete an entire section of the song at this point. you are just shortening each section down into it’s core idea.

Once that is done see how close you are to 60. Some times you are really close, sometimes you are under, most of the time you will still be way over…

then you can give it an other listen. There will be little pops and slight hiccups right now as you pass over your edit points… that’s ok. You can clean all that stuff up at the end. What you are now listening for is spots to jump from the beginning to closer to the end to make the overall shorter.

If the song goes Intro-A-B-A-B-C-A-A-End, at this point you’ve shorted each section to the shortest it can be… now you try to jump and cut out sections… so maybe you cut out a B-A from the front half, and an A from the end.

So here’s how I would do it… and surprisingly, this really makes a difference… Intro-A-[B-A]-B-C-[A]-A-End I put brackets around the parts I would cut. And to an even greater extent, i might cut from the last bar of that first A into the last bar of that A I’m getting rid of… again to keep the transitions intact. I would also cut from halfway through that second to last A into the last half of that last A.

so the end result would be this… Intro-A-B-C-A-End

Usually, by the time I get to this stage, it’s pretty close to 60 and I can clearly see what I need to do to get it to 60. Maybe shorten the ending or intro a little more… or drop one of them completely, etc.

Once I get it so that the edit times out perfectly, THEN and only then, do I go back and start looking at all my edit points. I select across the whole thing and hit “Heal Separation” to heal any splices that I didn’t use. Then I look at the splices that are left and I zoom in almost to the sample level. I then pull the ends of each edit point out so they work perfectly. Most of the time I never even need a crossfade.

And then I listen down one more time to make sure all the edit points are smoothed out and it’s done

THEN!!! I take my 60 Full and 60 Narr that I just made and I copy them down to the 30 full and 30 narr tracks.

From here I start listening to the 30 Full track and try to see how I can make it a 30. I measure out from the start of audio to 30 seconds and put a marker so I can see exactly where 30 is.

Again look for “broad” strokes at first. Try cutting out the intro completely and maybe the C section or maybe that one B section and see how it times out. It could be that to get it to 30 you need to just do A-A-End and that’s it! Deleting the sections in chunks and checking the timing will tell you very quickly which sections need to go.

Then you do the same process, smooth out any new edits you’ve done to get it to 30.

THEN, copy the 30 Narr (or you can do full and narr if you need a 15 full) to the 15 narr track.

Give it a listen. Usually with this you want to do A-End as much as you can. Measure from the start of audio to 15 seconds, put a marker and then try to get the edit to work within it.

And that’s it. Go back and listen to the narr edits you made to make sure they don’t sound too empty or weird, and then move on to the next cue and do it all again. Using this method I can usually do all the 60s, 30s and 15s for a cue in 20 to 30 minutes.

I do my editing in Protools, but you don’t need to. Everything I’m telling you to do can be done in just about any DAW.

Enjoy!

 

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