The Logic of Sound

October 20, 2014 Tags: , , ,
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In my experience, it’s very rare to meet a picture editor with a lot of hands-on DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) experience. And it’s also just as rare to find a sound designer who has a ton of experience with NLE software.

As much as this makes logical sense, since specialists are supposed to specialize, I feel like this situation holds a lot of projects back and can cause a lot of problems (and inflated post budgets).

When it comes to DAW’s, Pro Tools is the industry standard. But the main problem is that you have to basically start over when you hand off your sound to your mixer, regardless of how much you knew about EQ, compression, and noise reduction. The sound engineer always wants a ‘clean slate’. Also as an application, Pro Tools is not a cheap proposition, especially once you throw in the plugins and extras you might need for a specific workflow.

As a Final Cut Pro X editor, I wanted more control over my projects and my mixes. I wanted to figure out a better way to get my projects into a DAW so that when I brought in a sound designer, they could spend their time making my mix better and not reinventing work I had done already. All of this led me to Logic Pro X.

Logic Pro X iMac

I chose Logic over Pro Tools because I’m fairly convinced Avid is never going to get on the same page with Apple to incorporate FCPXML the way that I want them to. Logic also uses all the same plugins that I’m already using in FCPX. So, if there was going to be a platform that allowed me to take work I had begun in FCPX and bring it cleanly to a DAW, it was going to be Logic Pro X.

As an alternative DAW to Pro Tools, Logic Pro X is much more affordable and it accepts FCPXML (even though that translation is not quite as robust as I’d like it to be yet). Before we get going, though, some key takeaways about where the Logic-FCPX workflow currently stands:

  • All of the FCPX native audio filters come from Logic.
  • XML import from FCPX is possible but compared to using an AAF import from X2Pro projects lose a good amount of fidelity.
  • If you use sub roles correctly with audio components, AAF’s created using X2Pro import will import great.
  • If you want to maintain audio work begun in FCPX already, tagging your components with roles and beginning a Logic mix with exported FCPX roles as tracks is a very effective starting point for a mix.

Anyway, as I continued working more between Logic and FCPX, I realized that there’s a reason audio turnover is so complicated for people. Video and audio people really have no concept of what the other one does or how they do it, and they work in completely different ways.

For most post-production workflows, when it comes to video and audio integration, it’s like having one person on your team that only speaks French, and another that only speaks German… and then occasionally you have to ask them to work together and build something. But they can’t really communicate with each other, and prefer to work separately and hand each other finished items back and forth without truly colloborating. But if you can have a common language going back and forth easily, that opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Over the coming weeks, we’re doingt a series of blogs detailing some of the advantages of going from FCPX to Logic, as well as some strategies you can use to really take advantage of the strengths of both applications. Before we get started with the series, here are the main reasons that an FCPX editor would take on the transition of learning a new way of working and a new “language” of editing:

  • I’m going to be a better editor because of it… and my projects are about to go to a whole other level.
  • I’m going to have more control over what I want to do with my mixes.
  • I’ll no longer be held back from a high-end mix by not having access to Pro Tools.
  • I’m going to be able to be to collaborate properly with sound designers if I need to.
  • I’m going to have an entirely new skill set that I can bill my clients for.

Also, as you delve into the DAW world, much like color correction or visual effects, you should prepare yourself for a difficult learning wall to crawl over. Sound editing in Logic is VERY different from picture editing in FCPX, and your approaches to things will need to change in order to really achieve the benefits.

In short, think about how moving from FCP7 to FCPX felt. Initially it was slower, but once you got the hang of it, you likely had a bit of an epiphany and began turning out edits much faster and at a much higher quality. It’s the same with transitioning to mixing in Logic.

Once you build the muscle memory and understand the way Logic is designed, it’ll feel like you’ve gotten a new toy and you’ll begin a whole new level of experimentation. Logic has become my new secret weapon.

The bottom line is that once people figure out that you CAN mix a movie professionally in Logic X, Pro Tools has a lot to worry about in terms of maintaining its stranglehold on the audio world… especially as the FCPXML implementation continues to improve between the two Apps.

There’s going to be A LOT more to come on all of this. Stay tuned.


Sam Mestman

Sam Mestman, FCPWORKS.

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Workflow Architect, Sam Mestman. Sam’s also a regular writer for and MovieMaker Magazine, teaches post workflow at RED’s REDucation classes, and is the founder and CEO of We Make Movies, a film collective in Los Angeles and Toronto which is dedicated to making the movie industry not suck. If you’ve got any FCP X questions or need some help putting together a system, drop him an email at and you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.


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