Letter to the Editor

Conformalizer requirements from picture editorial

Conformalizer is a tool for comparing two versions of a picture cut and re-conforming audio data to match. It saves a huge amount of time for sound editors and removes any doubt or uncertainty about what has changed. It allows editors to easily rebalance sound data between reels and also removes the reliance of sound teams on change notes from picture editorial.

Conformalizer compares EDLs, XML or cutlists which represent the two versions of picture and then automatically recuts a protools session or database. Usually, the picture editorial dept. outputs a corresponding list every time they output a picture version. The sound dept. keeps these for later use and is able to very quickly update their data from any version to any other, without bothering the picture team.

Conformalizer can also automate the use of standard AVID change notes and provides a raft of powerful features for identifying changes to edit or VFX.

All that is required is a list (or set of lists) for each version of the cut.
There are four options:


A CMX3600, red16 or file32 EDL for each relevant VIDEO track, or flattened EDL for the sequence (V-All or 'merge events..').

Include the 'source' and the 'clipname' as a comment line.
PAL film projects should output 25fps (fast) EDLs, NTSC projects should output 30fps or 29.97 DF or NDF EDLs.
Conformalizer relies on the 'source' field and/or clipname for tracing shots. If you rename clips or rolls, Conformalizer will fail to trace the shot.
CMX3600 EDLs allow only 8 ASCII characters in the source name so try to use file32 where possible.
Do not include any transitions or effects in the comments, only the 'from clip name' field.

Example EDL file

Adobe Premiere export notes.

AVID MC8.x - List Tool Overview
AVID MC8.x - List Tool Options 1
AVID MC8.x - List Tool Options 2
AVID MC8.x - Export EDL demo video

AVID MC7.x - EDL manager export options
AVID MC7.x - flattened EDL export

FCP 7 - EDL export options

OPTION 2 - Final Cut Pro XML interchange document (FCP7 or Adobe Premiere)

An XML file for each version of the cut.
The FCP interchange format includes all information about a sequence and requires no user setup. The picture editor simply selects 'export XML' from the file menu in FCP.
Conformalizer will use the 'source' timecode and reel name if available. aux timecodes will be ignored.
Please avoid leaving the sequence set to Drop Frame unless the entire project is intentionally working this way.

FCP-X introduced an entirely redesigned XML file format and at this stage Conformalizer does not support this new format. There are third party utilities available which create EDLs from FCP-X projects so we recommend exploring these options.


An AVID change note for each version update.
This is the least useful option to the sound team as change notes can be buggy and only ever represent one particular picture change.
If the sound team needs to conform from v3 to v9 they will have to ask you to create the note before they can proceed.


Conformalizer does have the ability to compare movies using video information alone, but this should be seen as a last resort, when EDLs, XML and changenotes are not available. The video matching algorithm is not 100% accurate, takes a long time to process and is easily fooled by changes to the video output, so if you intend to force your sound dept. into this corner, there are some things you should be aware of:

1. Small grading changes are tolerated but more significant colour shifts will break the video matching.
2. Zooming, cropping or otherwise warping the frame will break the match.
3. Overlays in the 'scan-zone' are OK as long as they don't change between versions - eg. do not use a date in the middle of the image.
4. Keep version numbers, timecode and other burn-ins towards the top and bottom of the picture, out of the scan-zone.

The following image shows the and scan-zone and the safe area outside it. This link contains a 1080 size version if you would like to import it onto your project for reference.

AVID rendered effects (e.g. slowmos) can be problematic if you cut the original (fast) footage in to replace it.
Film projects using 30fps NTSC EDLs can experience a problem with the 3:2 pulldown when making EDLs, whereby Conformalizer will find lots of 'changes' which have slipped by 1 frame when clearly nothing has changed. AVID provides an option in the EDL manager for 'pulldown start frame' which should provide a solution.

  The Cargo Cult. is a boutique audio software design company based in Wellington, New Zealand, developing and distributing the products and designs of Justin Webster.
privacy policy