Workflow for film, TV, etc

Greetings Ardour Family,
Since we are way into v6, has anyone used Ardour for sound editing for film and TV? Foley, ADR, dubbing stage?


Just finished a project working in Mixbus for a broadcast theatrical production. The issues on that production had absolutely nothing to do with Ardour or Mixbus:). I have also used previous versions of both Ardour and Mixbus for video projects.

Did you have a question, or just curious if it was possible?


Yes, I’ve used Mixbus for a masters recital that was filmed in addition to my audio recording. I think I ended up in Shotcut or similar for fades, titles etc.

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I’ve been using Ardour and Mixbus on a documentary project I’m working on, including recording and editing VO, and editing and mixing field recordings. Once I am happy with the stems (or the mix for field recordings and music) I bring them into Fairlight in DaVinci Resolve. Once I get to the soundtrack stage (which will be composed and performed on a MIDI keyboard, mainly piano but possibly a few other virtual instruments) I’ll give Ardour a try but may end up using Reaper or Logic as I find MIDI easier to use there.

Thank you for sharing friends.
@seablade, I’m looking into other avenues of income and am looking into audio editing for film. As I’m studying the process of ADR, foley, and mixdown workflows of current productions, I was wondering if Ardour includes any processes and functionality specific to them?

ADR - can Ardour use EDL’s and spotting data to segment cuts?
Video - Can Ardour handle a video track for recording of ADR and Foley line up?
Mixdown - What is available for panning and for surround mixes, like 5.1, 7.1, and Atmos?

@bradhurley, this is great that you are using Ardour for your documentary. Since I’m coming from a workflow experience of recording bands, what advice would you share for working in film sessions?

Thank you,

My documentary is a bit unconventional in that audio is the foundation for the editing, not the other way around. Ken Burns works this way too: he and his team record most of the music and VO first and edit the film to that. So for my purposes I am working in Ardour/Mixbus without ever looking at video; it’s probably not a useful workflow for you. Once I get to composing and recording soundtrack it’s a different story. If I had to do ADR I’d use DaVinci Resolve, since Fairlight has an ADR tool built in as well as most of the tools you need for audio post; a house that works with Resolve would do everything there: organize media, edit, motion graphics, color grading, audio post, and final render. Fairlight was pretty primitive in the begining and still works best with the dedicated control surfaces, but the latest (version 17) has a lot of useful enhancements.

Not at the moment, was literally just talking to Robin about this yesterday in fact. That theatrical broadcast I mentioned ended up having a lot of ADR done (And still not enough) that I ended up doing using Actor Mobile Studio on the iPad and OS X. I actually like that workflow (But maybe not that particular software) as it is much easier to set up an iPad in a hurry with a USB mic (In this case I used the Rode VideoMic NTG) than to get an actor into a studio situation in my case. That being said, I would like to follow up and look into doing ADR in Ardour itself.

Not sure if I completely understand your question, but I believe the short answer is yes. There is a video tack and monitor in Ardour that is sync’d to the timeline for the purpose of syncing foley, adr, etc. I did all the resync of the ADR in Mixbus on that project. I have another theater project coming up that I am likely to do final assembly, FX, and ADR (The entire project will be nothing but ADR as every actor will be masked for COVID) in Mixbus. Also important is that Ardour (And thus Mixbus) can handle timestamps in BWF to import files to the appropriate timestamps, so if you record your ADR clips externally but timestamp everything on record in BWF, it should be pretty quick to drop in for rough placement and editing. Sadly I didn’t do that on the previous project as I didn’t get a properly timestamped video for ADR purposes, so I resync’d it all by hand with editing, but even so with proper labeling of the files that was able to move fairly quick.

This is where Ardour CAN work, but doesn’t work as well as other options. You can set up 5.1, but it takes some work and really it isn’t Ardour’s strength. Mixbus being intended for stereo destined work, is even more difficult. If I knew I was exporting into 5.1, 7.1, or exporting an Atomos destined project, I might look elsewhere as of right now. Given that these projects are all stereo destined (Live streaming on the web of the project, not VOD) I use Mixbus perfectly fine.

Ardour does have capability for multichannel work, in particular for people working in Ambisonics I believe they have had significant success, and if I was to approach a more traditional 5.1/7.1/etc. mix I would probably start with either Ambisonics or VBAP for the outside speakers, a dedicated bus for LFE and Dialog, and probably a second dialog bus for stereo or surround purposes as needed, exporting to individual WAV files as the appropriate mix. But even that requires some thought if you need to be specific about SFX placements (VBAP and Ambisonics don’t often use just one speaker for output, and might use 2 or 3, so putting a SFX in a specific speaker still might require additional work depending on the needs).

It might be fun for me to generate a 5.1 or 7.1 mix of this next project just to think through the workflow, but as I mentioned, in general I might suggest folks look elsewhere for those right now.

Now if a replacement panner for 5.1 or 7.1 etc. can be developed, or a plugin found for that purpose, possibly different story, just haven’t seen it yet myself.


@seablade, thank you for the details. I checked out Actor Mobile Studio. Way cool! Interesting that they work with Sounds In Sync’s EdiLoad system. That’s a major player in the pro post productions facilities.

Regarding handling video, I just didn’t know what is the current state of how Ardour deals with video tracks - whether good, bad, solid performance, or not very well. Glad to hear it works.

As for multi-channel mixdown, I get it. As I’m learning how this is done, I’m not sure even Protools can do this. I think most just use a DAW for playback, and mix everything with an actual physical console.

Thank you for helping me,