AAF beta-testing (suggestions and observations)

I’m hearing that over on IRC, a few contributors have been testing the new AAF import feature which I’ve also been testing. And I figured it might be worth starting a thread for any AAF suggestions / observations.

The main thing niggling me is that the name of the imported session is sometimes very different from the AAF file’s name. In fact sessions here sometimes get imported with names like “Untitled Sequence”. So my request would be for imported AAF’s to generate a session name that’s based on the name of the AAF file. Apart from that, I’ve been pretty happy with it.

So if you’re involved in the beta-testing, feel free to add any suggestions or observations of your own…


Also, a progress bar would be nice in the finished release. AAF imports can be quite lengthy and at the moment, it just tends to look like they’ve crashed :frowning:

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Thank you for the initiative John.

Currently session name is based on the Composition Mob sequence name, which follows the standard. But we can change that for the 8.5 release. (Just checked ProTools import and it also name imported session with filename)

Totally agree !

I see two more missing features right now.

First, user has currently no idea if AAF import went well or not. We should make a popup on import completion, only if one or more clip was not imported correctly. In addition, showing empty clips on the timeline when a source file is missing could be very helpful for user, like ardour does when one of its source is missing :


Finally, when importing non-embedded AAF, libaaf looks for audio files nearby AAF file or in a sub-folder next to it (following how many software export AAF). However, in some situations it can be useful to explicitly set the folder where external audio files are located. I think it is not a top priority right now, but when we have a dedicated import window we really should think about it.

It’s just been announced that Ardour 8.5’s been released so AAF import should be available to all now. It’s been a long time coming but it’s working great for me, here on Windows… So I’d love to hear what other users think - and especially with the alternative platforms.

Thanks for any help (I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!)

I gave this a try with an AAF from Cubase 13 on Windows 10. I am not very familiar with the using AAF format, but this was my experience when trying to import to Linux Ardour 8.5. Please keep in mind there may be some operator error and misunderstanding of AAF spec going on here.

Short Description :

  1. Export AAF from Cubase 13 ( Win 10) with ‘one file’ option. I am uncertain if that includes the .wav files, but based on how it imported, it seemed to include some. I glanced over AAF spec and what it is.

  2. The results : When I imported into Ardour on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Linux, it mostly worked! There was references to files on the windows machine that Ardour was unable to link get to for path reasons. I did not see a setting in Cubase AAF export for relative path, it seemed to use the absolute path. I don’t know what AAF requires. A lots of wave clips were visible, others were filled with placeholders. It seemed complete otherwise. The Ardour message showed several broken links with my windows machines absolute paths, but if I remeber correctly, they were prepended with ‘home/’.

  3. The strange : I was only able to import ONCE! . I closed Ardour, tried again, and there was an error. I rebooted, and there was still an error. The message was “Extracting AAF failed” with no blinking red log light.

  4. Please note: That Cubase Export was a song that was built with the ‘Arranger’ and had several loops in it, along with some full length wave tracks. Maybe that was part of the cause of all the errors ? Also note that I dragged and dropped the AAF file from Win 10 disk to Ubuntu, because I thought that ‘one file’ option could possibly mean it was an export, ready to go one file includes all.

Cubase Export options :
Manual - Cubase AAF Export Options

  1. The Good news : I exported another AAF that was a STEM export, so it was simply wave files. That import worked perfectly! Cross platform from Cubase 13 Pro Win 10 to Ubuntu Ardour. One other thing to note is that I did open the AAF file this time from the Win10 location directly from Ardour, and that could possibly be why it worked well this time.

My Results, keep in mind, I have never used AAF:

  1. Straight audio export worked well cross platform . Thank you!
  2. Multiple Region exports where the region repeats may not work as well ? Operator error ?


  1. The results : When I imported into Ardour on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Linux, it mostly worked! There was references to files on the windows machine that Ardour was unable to link get to for path reasons.

Yes, I think this is what @Agfline meant when he said we’ll need to explicitly set a search path in the final release.

  1. The strange : I was only able to import ONCE!.

Again, yes… in this first release there’s currently no option to overwrite an already existing session with the same name (another thing that’s on the todo list !) Hopefully @Agfline might ask if you can upload your AAF project somewhere for him so he can download it for testing.

FYI, The cause of all the errors was low on disk space ! Import AAF made several new wav files of the loop to make the full arrangement versus just re-using the original source and repeating within Ardour using a large amount of disk space. I hope this info helps guide to a future feature of just making a repeated region within Ardour instead of a new file. Maybe it is already planned to do so.

EDIT : The 32MB AAF All-in-One file ended up using over 1.8GBs after import! I didn’t have enough space to let it finish! It likely would have been about 2GB

First, thank you @Schmitty2005 for testing out, especially with Cubase which had not been tested yet.

John is right. Currently you have to remove the preceding session folder before you can import again.

Yes, it is ! But your feedback confirms the importance of reusing shared essence files across audio regions. This is definitely something we have to fix for the next release.