So what’s the best workflow fow now for video post production with audio mixing/editing in Ardour? To use stems as was mentioned before?
I’m now using Lightworks for my video editing purposes and really want to combine it somehow with Ardour.


Funny you should mention this, I am using Lightworks as well, and while I am still ironing out my workflow, right now it looks something like this…

I take video into Lightworks, do any AV sync in there (A little more difficult than it should be). In general I use ffmpeg to convert to MXF and link to within Lightworks. If I resync and clean up audio before editing video, then I will mux the audio with the video file externally using ffmpeg, but I haven’t done that much lately (Using a beta version of Lightworks, earlier versions had severe problems with AV sync, I suspect tied to some memory management bugs they had on systems without a swap partition) I did have one file this week that seemed to not quite stay in sync and I had to resync two or three times thorughout the 10 minutes or so, but not horrible. After editing the video sync’d to the audio in Lightworks, I export mono files bypassing the mixer from Lightworks, and a good quality render video only file.

In Ardour I import the mono audio files I exported from Lightworks, and import the video, transcoding it on the way in Ardour. I then do any audio edits I need to there, and obviously processing and mix. I then export the stereo wav file, and remux externally with ffmpeg so I can copy the video without re-encoding.

This seems to provide the best balance of space requirements (Only have a 48GB HD on my laptop) and performance/quality to me. Yes it would be awesome to have handles on the audio, but for the most part I have been able to fake it by being careful with my edits in Lightworks and using multiple audio tracks. Not quite as good as AAF/OMF could be in theory, but not horrible.

I am intending to look at the code for video export and annoy Robin soon to add in a couple of new presets to support such a workflow if I can convince him to take it. But no promises on when or if that happens.



Thanks a lot for your detailed description of your workflow.

After some thinking I came to similar one too (except for video importing to Ardour too - in my recent projects I’m not sure that I need it but in the future of course it’s useable practice).

The other exception is that I prefer exporting to some editing codec and then manually using x264 for final public release. I really like the way x264 encodes the video.
In the recent Lightworks 12.5 release candidate (RC1) which has came out today, devs added advanced encoding settings for H.264 that I’ll check when one annoying bug will be fixed and maybe then I’ll export final render directly from Lightworks.

Ahh good I need to see if they fixed a bug that was cropping up for me. Time to upgrade and test again…


Hi Paul,

Respectfully, I must echo Jonesints point here. I can’t call myself a user of Ardour (yet), simply because after the install and brief period of play, a few projects piled up and I won’t be able to get back to it until November (also considering going to the Harrison Mixbus flavor as well).

Since I too do post production, I have to come out and say that AAF/OMF IS a standard, simply because it is literally used in every mix house for transferring audio sessions and timelines between audio and video. While there may be a few outliers who insist that you can get around it, the reality is that if you are a house that doesn’t implement this file exchange format you won’t get some jobs because post production supervisors don’t want to hear your work around suggestions. They just want to get the work done the way they are used to doing it. Not only that, but I’ve even had to deliver AAFs to networks along with my mixes and stems. If you want to see what can happen to an NLE that decides they can do better than AAF/OMF, look at Final Cut Pro X. It doesn’t have it and that platform died a spectacular death in the industry to be replaced by Adobe and a resurgence of Media Composer.

I agree that it is an incredibly flawed transfer format whose bits I wish could be stricken from memory, but in the land of audio post production it is a necessary evil. I think that whoever develops for good AAF/OMF import export should be paid for their work, simply because it is such a customized workflow that only really serve the A/V post community, but we’re used to paying for stuff. We’ve all dealt with Avid for years. Not only that, but larger facilities prefer to pay for stuff because there is a great amount of distrust and lack of understanding of how open source works there.

Seeing Avid faltering so much in running its core business is making a number of us want to start branching out to look for alternatives. If Ardour/HMBv3 can do much of what we need them to do and will fit into our workflows easily, things can start to slowly change for the better.


Let me try to restate this as simply as I can:

I am never going to work on AAF. It is impossible to work on OMF (there are no specifications).

If there are people who believe that this is so critical, then you’ve got these choices:

  • Find someone to work on AAF
  • Find a way to make working on OMF possible

That’s all you have to do. Really - that’s it.

You’d have to pay me many, many thousands of dollars to work on either project and even then it wouldn’t be something I’d really want to do. Whatever avenues Ardour is shut out of by lacking AAF and/or OMF support - we will stay shut out of them until one or both of the above conditions occur.

there is a product on sale to do this: http://www.avtoolkit.co.uk/
I am going to buy it. Anyone comment on it?
AAF is a mess but its powerful and is the standard.

It worked with A2, at least on certain styles of AAF, not sure on it’s current state with the session formats for A4 or MB3. John has been known to post here though so maybe he can confirm?


There is still GUI integration for ardourexchange in recent Mixbus3.2 (which is based on Ardour 4.7). It’s also for sale as addon on the Mixbus store.

I don’t know how well it integrates with Ardour.

I heard back from John who said ArdourXchange only supports Harrison Mixbus and only embedded AAF. I suppose AAtranslator is the way to go but on OSX you need an emulator.

I know that might not help everybody, but: is there a slight chance of an open exchange standard? NLE s like kdenlive, shotcut , etc… have the same problem: there is no omf aaf import… so how to get a sessions from video editors to daws and versa without compromising and having complicated workflows? i could imagine that also lightworks + blender would have an interest in that… but i guess that is also not easy to obtain? or someone just has to start and the others follow?

Nice idea but it reminds me of https://xkcd.com/927/

Posted by seablade:
[ArdourXchange] worked with A2, at least on certain styles of AAF, not sure on it’s current state with the session formats for A4 or MB3. John has been known to post here though so maybe he can confirm?

ArdourXchange support worked with Indamixx (which was based on Ardour) but it’s never found its way into Ardour itself. Remember though that both Ardour and Mixbus are open source. So for anyone building from source, there’s nothing to stop you from borrowing the relevant code from Mixbus. Only one file needs to get modified (gtk2_ardour/session_dialog.cc) and you just need to look for sections that refer to “AAF” or “OMF”. After that, I think there are about 6 sources which need to get added to the build:-

gtk2_ardour/3rdparty_import_helper.cc / .h
gtk2_ardour/import_helper_aaf.cc / .h
gtk2_ardour/import_helper_omf.cc / .h

IIRC that’s all there is to it.

John E wrote:
" Only one file needs to get modified (gtk2_ardour/session_dialog.cc) "

Actually, I just realised there’s also a modification to ‘libs/ardour/file_system_paths.cc’ (and .h). Basically, there’s a new function needed, called ARDOUR::user_doc_directory()

Just need to add my feeling here.
Ok, many of the major DAW have not the AAF/OMF import export feature implemented (Ableton Live, Studio One, Bitwig). But they are actually not made with post-production in mind. No one would think to use those DAW with video soundtrack.
Conversely musicians and artists don’t need to use Nuendo, Sequoia or Protools HD.
I can see everyday at work that AAF and OMF are “crappy” formats, but those are standard and I can’t see how it could be different in the future.
Why ? Because be able to export session from one DAW to another is not the priority for a a majority of DAW users. Musicians and artists just don’t give a f…k.
But musicians and artists don’t use Nuendo, Sequoia, Protools HD (ok, there are some exceptions!), really professional workflow oriented.
And imagine companies like Steinberg, Magix and Avid working together to make the future new fresh rock solid open source interchange session format… wow, just not gonna happen…
So I think we’ll still be stuck with AAF/OMF for a while.
To me Ardour is clearly in the court along Nuendo, Sequoia and Protools HD in terms of quality and functionnalities.
I think Ardour is a little gem in the middle of the DAW world, made by passionate top programmers.
And it’s maybe a pain in the rear, but without this feature, Ardour will still only interest geeks and curious (I wish to be wrong!) although it could interest all the disapointed pro Avid users (inter alia).

PS : I’m following Ardour for a long time now, and I’m glad to see what it became. It’s really exciting.

Hi l-cut…

Many years ago you started a feature request to see if people would sponsor AAF within Ardour (in fact it was me who was going to write it !) But from what I can remember, it attracted hardly any sponsors… :frowning:

Have you thought about using Mixbus (which can import AAF’s using ArdourXchange)? Or if Mixbus isn’t viable for some reason, maybe give AATranslator a try…?

Hi John,
Indeed, long time ago ! I remember I started a feature request and that you were able to work on it but as you said it didn’t attract lots of people…
Thank you to pointed out Mixbus, which is also a great value and can work with ArdourXchange, but I see Mixbus as a music software, as Cubase is for Music and Nuendo for post (to give a rough comparison). What I’m looking for is a DAW to make essentially post-production work, with surround routing.
And yes AATranslator is the way to deal with AAF/OMF in Ardour, I never tested it but it seems to work very well.
What could be great would be the possibility to have a special Ardour Edition of AATranslator for an extra cost when purchasing Ardour.

Hi l-cut. I must admit, my impression has tended to be the opposite way around (i.e. among vanilla Ardour users, interest in AAF tends to be very low - whereas for Mixbus users, the demand is considerably higher).

Having said that… I think you’ve come up with a great idea and you should maybe propose it to the folks at AATranslator. Maybe they could come up with a cut-down version of AATranslator (just converting between AAF format and Ardour format). Hopefully that could get sold at a low cost - but with an option to upgrade later to the full version.

Alternatively (if Paul was agreeable) I could push an “AAF aware” branch to Ardour git. Essentially it would be the same as git master - but with some extra mods to handle ArdourXchange (i.e. the same modifications that are already in Mixbus). By switching to the new branch, anyone building from source could then gain ArdourXchange support but without it affecting anything else in git.

here is PTX import feature on Ardour5
you can use AAtranslator even on Mac and Linux via Wine. Works great. So I left windows and actually leaving mac os for… Linux ;0)

true. my way to go these days is usually aatranslator which works great on linux (as long as wine stays like it is… this is always a risk with every update ;( )