JV: Nuendo is not cheap, as I recall.
Jay: The software’s $2,500. Then you have to buy the hardware. By the time you finish outfitting a studio, it’s the same cost, essentially, as a full Pro Tools rig. But they have a light version that they call Cubase, just like Pro Tools has their hobbled versions, Pro Tools LE.
I tried them all. I spent a day at the local Apple place with their expert, seeing if I could possibly work in Logic, because I’m a Mac aficionado. And Apple, about six months earlier, had just bought Logic from Emagic. I figured if Apple was going to do for Logic what they did for Final Cut Pro — which is the killer app now for video editing — Logic would be a great program, but they didn’t take it in that direction.
I was saying, “I have to do this and this and this,” and my background was what I could do on the Audicy, and what I knew was possible in programs like Pro Tools and Peak and Deck. And I’m telling the Apple guy, “I want to do this and this and this.” He says, “No, I don’t think we do that.” Well, okay.
Then I sat down with a Nuendo guy, and I ask him, “I hear Pro Tools can use this plug-in, what about Nuendo?” And he’d say, “Oh, yeah. We can use that plug-in, but we’ve got the same functionality built in, so you don’t have to use the plug-in.” It is such a powerful program out of the box, plus it’s compatible. I started using TC Electronics Finalizer. They have a DSP card that fits in your computer that runs your software; it shows up as a plug-in in Pro Tools or Nuendo. I don’t know if it’s compatible with Audition. It might be. So I’m not robbing the CPU. I’ve got multi-band compression on my voice track, multi-band compression on the final mix, and they’re coasting along in this separate DSP card.
Nuendo does things that I know Pro Tools doesn’t, and I don’t think Audition does, but I haven’t kept up with the latest on Audition. For example, you can finish a project – it’s not that relevant for commercials, but say you’ve got a half hour show with some sequences with some real production in them, and a complex mix. And you go through, and you use real faders, and you program your mix moves, and you have filters popping in and out on different lines. You’re ready to mix, and you press a button, and you walk away, and six minutes later, the half hour show is mixed, with all of the processing. So it’s doing all the compression and equalization and reverb generation, and time-critical processes, and it’s doing them faster than real-time.
Another cool thing that Nuendo does – say you’ve got a voiceover, a commercial read, a 60-second radio spot and it’s a little bit long. You take one end of the clip on the screen and you push it to where it should end, and it plays it back, instantly time-compressed. Or you grab both sides of the client’s name and you stretch it out a little bit, and he reads the client’s name just a little bit slower. That’s on the fly. You say, “I want this to end here,” and it ends there. “I want to change the tempo,” and it changes the tempo. “I want to change the key,” and it changes the key. One of the things it does that I don’t think any other software does is this, on each clip, on each region on the screen, not only do you have the ability of drawing a fade – fade-out, fade-in, whatever – or move a fader to actually do a mix type movement, but you can go in with a pencil and change the gain on specific words or syllables, and not by going in and drawing samples. Any program can do that, but it takes forever. On this, you draw a volume envelope, and it isn’t a fader envelope. It’s before any inserts. It’s before any compression. It’s right on that clip. It’s not on the channel. So you can bring up a word, bring down a word, pull out a mouth click, do all that stuff, while you’re zoomed out and listening to the whole thing. It isn’t an automation move. It’s totally separate from anything that you’d do post-processing with the channel fader. It gives you a lot more power, particularly for editing interviews and things like that.
JV: Your book has many interesting chapters: Editing Dialogue, Finding and Editing Music, Working with Sound Effects, to mention a few more.
Jay: The technique for editing dialogue and the technique for editing music are totally different. If you’re zooming in to look at a bump on a screen, you’re doing it wrong for both media, because we don’t listen to squiggles on a screen. On voice, you’re listening for phonemes, in real-time, when you slow down and scrub. There are some 46 – that’s all, 46 phonemes in the English language, that make up every word in everybody’s voice. By and large, everybody creates them with the same tongue movements, the same mouth shape. Once you understand those 46 little building blocks, you can turn any word into any other word, basically. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I did a demo in LA and was showing off some techniques last November at a class. I had a piece where my wife’s voice – she was a voice-over actress. My wife passed away a year ago, by the way. She wrote computer books, but she also did a lot of voice-over work. So I had an audio thing that I would play where Carla says, “Have you read Jay’s book?” And my voice comes in, “Actually, I’ve written a couple of books.” I take the S, in real-time, while I’m showing this to people, and I’m using Peak in a laptop – Peak is a great program, by the way, if you need to do voice editing, if you don’t need multiple tracks, but you want to really get in there and edit. So I’ve got Peak rolling in a laptop, and my screen is projected on the wall. I’m showing people what I’m doing. Probably the whole move takes maybe ten seconds, 15 seconds. I took the S in my baritone voice, pasted it onto Carla’s alto, so that she says, in her voice, “Have you read Jay’s books?” You can’t tell that I’m using a male voice to end a female word.
JV: No, I can see how you wouldn’t with the S sound.
Jay: You would with a Z. If it was “Have you seen Jay’s toys” rather than “toy”, the Z has a buzz in it. The book explains why that is, and what the buzz carries. It actually talks about what frequencies those buzzes are at.
JV: What about music editing?
Jay: Music editing is totally different. You have to know how to dance. Or you have to know how to tap your fingers on a steering wheel while the radio’s playing. You have to have that skill. You have to feel the beat.
JV: What am I looking for on the screen, though?
Jay: You close your eyes. It’s about hearing the beat, getting used to tapping your finger on whatever the marking button is in your system. On the Audicy, there was an in and out button that you’d press. On computer programs, you’ve got a key that you press to plant a marker, or to mark, “This is where I want to edit.” You just put your finger on that key, and you tap very lightly in time to the beat, so that your finger’s moving on the beat, and you just press all the way down when you get to a down beat.