View - Synchro Arts

VocALign PRO 4 VST
VST3 Plug-In
for Cubase and Nuendo
User Manual
Manual Version 1.1.0
Contact Information
Synchro Arts Limited
13 Links Road
Epsom, Surrey
KT17 3PP, UK
Tel: +44 1372 811934
UK Tel: 01372 811934
Fax: +44 1372 817976
UK Fax: 01372 817976
Email: info@synchroarts.com
Online Support at:
Web: http://www.SynchroArts.com
Email: support@SynchroArts.com
© Synchro Arts Limited 1995–2013
End User License Agreement
PLEASE READ THIS LEGAL AGREEMENT CAREFULLY PRIOR TO USING THE VOCALIGN SOFTWARE
PROVIDED WITH THIS AGREEMENT. THIS AGREEMENT IS BETWEEN SYNCHRO ARTS LIMITED AND YOU. USE
OF THE SOFTWARE CONSTITUTES YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THE TERMS OF THIS LICENSE. IF YOU DO NOT
AGREE TO THE TERMS OF THIS LICENSE YOU MAY NOT USE THIS SOFTWARE. INSTEAD, PROMPTLY
CONTACT THE SOURCE FROM WHICH IT WAS OBTAINED FOR A REFUND AND REVOCATION OF ANY
LICENSE.
1. Hardware key license. In fully authorized licensed mode, in order to function, this software requires an Authorization
Code to be deposited on a hardware key (PACE iLOK USB “Smart key”). You may install this software on multiple hardware
devices, but you may only use the software on one hardware device at a time, and only in connection with your properly Authorized hardware key.
2. License. The application, demonstration and other software and audio accompanying this License, whether on disc, in
memory or on any other media (the ‘Software’), and the related documentation are licensed to you by Synchro Arts Limited.
You may transfer all your license rights in the Software, the related documentation and your Authorization and License to
another party, provided the other party reads and agrees to accept the terms and conditions of this License.
3. Copy and use restrictions. This Software is protected by the copyright laws that pertain to computer software. The
Software contains trade secrets and in order to protect them you may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble or otherwise reduce the software to human-perceivable form. You may not modify, adapt, translate, rent, lease or create derivative
works based upon the Software or any part thereof. You may not provide use of the Software in a network, time-sharing, or
multiple user arrangement. You acknowledge that no title to the intellectual property in the Software is transferred to you
and that title and full ownership rights to the Software a will remain the exclusive property of Synchro Arts Limited or its
suppliers and licensors. You may copy the software only to the extent necessary for backup or archival purposes in support of
your use of the software. You must include all copyright and other legal notices appearing on the software in any copies that
you make.
4. Circumvention of copy protection. This software includes technology designed to prevent or detect unlicensed use
of the software and circumvention of this technology is prohibited. Attempts to circumvent this copy protection technology
may make the software or certain features unusable or unstable, and may prevent you from updating or upgrading the software.
5. Termination. This License is effective until terminated. You may terminate this License at any time by destroying all
copies and recordings of the licensed software and documentation and giving a legally binding written assurance to Synchro
Arts that you have done so. This License will terminate immediately without notice from Synchro Arts Limited if you fail to
comply with any provision of this License. Upon termination you must contact Synchro Arts to allow them to revoke your
Software Authorization on your iLok Smart Key.
6. Educational Use. If the software is designated as specially-priced "Educational" version, it is licensed only for noncommercial use by students, faculty, and staff of an educational institution.
7. Evaluation software. If the software is designated or licensed as a “Not for Resale (NFR)” or “Trial version, you may use
the software only for demonstration, testing or evaluation purposes. If the software authorization is time-limited, any rights
granted to you by Synchro Arts terminate at the end of the stated time limitation.
8. Limited Warranty. Synchro Arts Limited warrants that the software, if properly authorized and used as described in the
documentation which accompanies it, will perform as described in the relevant documentation. This limited warranty covers
the software (and updates) for 90 days following the date of purchase and can only be extended if required by law. This limited warranty is void if failure of the Software has resulted from accident, abuse or misapplication. Any replacement Software
will be warranted for the remainder of the original warranty period. This warranty gives you specific legal rights and you may
also have other rights which vary by jurisdiction.
9. No Other Warranties. Except for the express warranty set forth above, Synchro Arts Limited grants no other warranties, express or implied, by statute or otherwise, regarding the software and related materials, their fitness for any purpose,
their quality, their merchantability or otherwise.
The liability of Synchro Arts Limited under the warranty set forth above shall be limited to the amount paid by the customer
for the product. In no event shall Synchro Arts Limited or its authorized distributors be liable for any special, consequential
or other damages or breach of warranty.
10. Severability. In the event any provision of this Agreement is determined to be invalid or unenforceable, it shall be adjusted so as to best reflect the intent of the parties to the maximum extent possible, and the remainder of this agreement shall
be valid and enforceable to the maximum extent possible.
11. Entire Agreement. This Agreement is the entire understanding between the parties with respect to the subject matter
hereof and replaces any previous discussion and/or agreement regarding such subject matter. No amendment to or modification of this License will be binding unless in writing and signed by Synchro Arts Limited.
12. Governing Law. This Agreement shall be interpreted and enforced in accordance with English law and the English
courts shall have jurisdiction to determine any dispute.
3
Important Notes

In this manual, ‘VocALign PRO 4 VST’ will be referred to simply as ‘VocALign PRO’ or
simply ‘VocALign’.
Technical specifications

This program is compatible with Steinberg Cubase 4.5.2, 5 or above; also with Nuendo 4.3 and
above, running on Mac OS 10.4.9 and above, or on Windows XP and above.

VocALign PRO 4 VST is a VST3 plug-in.
Acknowledgements

Special thanks goes to our beta testers and Steinberg staff for their help and support.

Thanks to Steve Cooke for providing the English voices in the demonstration audio.

VocALign is developed and sold under license from Wordfit Limited.
Trademarks

VocALign is a registered trademark of Synchro Arts Limited.

All other trademarks are the property of their respective holders.
4
Table of Contents
Contact Information ......................................................................................................... 2
End User License Agreement ............................................................................................................................. 3
A.
Introduction to VocALign ........................................................................................... 7
What is VocALign? .................................................................................................................................................. 7
How does VocALign work?.................................................................................................................................. 7
How can VocALign help? ...................................................................................................................................... 7
Working without VocALign................................................................................................................................. 7
Working with VocALign ....................................................................................................................................... 8
B.
Applications............................................................................................................... 9
C.
Basic and advanced operation modes ...................................................................... 10
D. Software Installation and Authorization ................................................................... 11
Installation ............................................................................................................................................................... 11
Demonstration, Trial and Full Licenses ....................................................................................................... 11
Software Authorization ...................................................................................................................................... 12
More information on iLok.com ........................................................................................................................ 12
First time using iLok?...............................................................................................................................................13
Obtaining your Trial or Full license ..................................................................................................................13
How to install your VocALign License from iLok.com onto your iLok Key .....................................13
How to authorize your VocALign software with your iLok Key ...........................................................13
Reauthorizing VocALign if the iLok Key is removed .................................................................................14
iLok Support ............................................................................................................................................................ 14
E.
Getting started ......................................................................................................... 15
Quick start ................................................................................................................................................................ 15
F.
Tutorial.................................................................................................................... 19
Step 1 Obtain the tutorial project and audio ............................................................................................ 19
Step 2 Open the project in Cubase ................................................................................................................ 19
Step 3 Add VocALign as an insert .................................................................................................................. 19
Step 4 Select the Guide audio as the side chain input ........................................................................... 21
Step 5 Set the start point in Cubase .............................................................................................................. 22
Step 6 Capture the audio ................................................................................................................................... 22
Step 7 Prepare the settings for alignment ................................................................................................. 23
Step 8 Analyze the audio ................................................................................................................................... 24
Step 9 Align the Dub audio ............................................................................................................................... 24
Step 10 Create the time-aligned version of the Dub audio ................................................................. 25
Step 11 Play the aligned audio ....................................................................................................................... 26
Step 12 Create an audio file of the aligned Dub....................................................................................... 26
Step 13 Using advanced features of VocALign Pro.................................................................................. 26
G. VocALign PRO 4 screen contents and controls .......................................................... 29
H. Important tips for effective operation ...................................................................... 31
Cubase/Nuendo Preferences ........................................................................................................................... 31
Capture ...................................................................................................................................................................... 31
Overview window ................................................................................................................................................. 31
Trimming the captured material .................................................................................................................... 32
Alignment ................................................................................................................................................................. 33
Alignment settings ................................................................................................................................................ 34
Editing modes ......................................................................................................................................................... 35
Further tips and tricks ........................................................................................................................................ 35
5
Latching .........................................................................................................................................................................35
Reverb tails ...................................................................................................................................................................35
Controlling the plug-in status ..............................................................................................................................35
Previewing material .................................................................................................................................................35
I.
Advanced mode operation ....................................................................................... 36
Synch points ............................................................................................................................................................ 36
Protected sections ................................................................................................................................................ 36
J.
Troubleshooting ...................................................................................................... 38
6
A. Introduction to VocALign
What is VocALign?
VocALign is a process that automatically edits the timing of one audio signal to match another. In this
version it is implemented as a VST3 plug-in that works with Cubase or Nuendo.
How does VocALign work?
VocALign works by applying varying amounts of time stretching or compression to one signal (called
the ‘Dub’) to make its energy peaks and troughs align in time with a ‘Guide’ signal. It does this in
three main steps as shown in Figure 1.
VocALign analyses the Guide and Dub audio signals using identical spectrum analysers to produce
time-varying energy patterns. Then it uses advanced pattern recognition techniques to examine the
energy patterns and determine the best way to ‘warp’ the time structure of the Dub signal so that its
energy pattern is matched to that of the Guide. The time-warping path describes the best timedistortion of the Dub for matching to the Guide. The time-warping path is fed to an audio editing
processor that time-compresses and expands the Dub audio to create the aligned version based on the
path. It is this edited version of the Dub that is returned to the audio editing software for the desired
use.
Note: In the above diagram, the spectrum analyser colours match those used in the VocALign screen
for Guide and Dub audio signals and controls.
How can VocALign help?
If you are a dialogue editor needing to lip-synch vocals, or a music editor needing to tighten-up lead
or backing vocals, instrumental tracks, or perform a number of other alignment tasks, then VocALign will help you.
Working without VocALign
A dubbing session for film post-production or music production begins with a guide track. Then the
voice-over artist, singer, or musician will dub this as closely as possible.
Because humans are not machines, they will not be able to get exactly in time with the Guide. This is
generally not acceptable for lip-synching, nor for double-tracking of vocals or instruments. Often,
the next step is to loop-record the more tricky sections individually, but this can break-up the natural
Figure 1 VocALign block diagram
7
flow of the line. Lastly, the editor will attempt manually to cut and nudge individual sections of the
new recordings into time with the Guide.
The above process can take many hours for both the artist and the editor.
Working with VocALign
The above process becomes a simple matter of getting the artist to concentrate on creating a great
performance, rather than worrying about the fact that it may drift in and out of exact synch with a
previous performance. VocALign can then be used to adjust the timing by automatically timestretching and compressing the material to allow the Dub to take on the same timing pattern as the
Guide.
This saves studio time, saves artists time and improves the quality of results. Most importantly, artists are allowed to produce their best performances, free from the rigidity normally associated with
dubbing.
8
B. Applications
VocALign was originally designed for lip-synching replacement dialogue for film and video postproduction but it has been adapted to work successfully in the following applications:

Syncing replacement dialogue in post-production for film and video.

Double-tracking vocal parts or instrumental parts

Tightening the ensemble of singers with one another, or with the lead vocal

Tightening the ensemble of backing instrumental tracks

Syncing a drum machine audio-output to a real drummer (or vice versa)

Giving a dubbed vocal the timing of a ‘live’ vocal performance

Changing the voice or even apparent sex of a singer or actor’s performance

Replacing the vocals from a music video shoot with a production track, achieving perfect lipsynch

Foreign language dubbing
9
C. Basic and advanced operation modes
VocALign PRO 4 has two modes of operation: BASIC and ADVANCED.
In both modes VocALign automatically aligns the selected Guide and Dub audio regions, using either
time or frequency domain processing. In VocALign, you can trim the starts and ends of regions to be
processed and control the degree of flexibility in the time-warping (alignment) process.
BASIC mode uses an alignment algorithm that has compatible behaviour to VocALign Project. The
ADVANCED mode uses a more sophisticated and robust alignment algorithm, which generally results in more successful and accurate alignment. It also provides more flexibility and control during
the alignment process and may work better with audio signals that are difficult to align in BASIC
mode. In general you should use ADVANCED mode unless you specifically want the algorithm to
behave like VocALign Project.
The ADVANCED mode adds two important controls: one that enables you to determine ‘synch
points’ and the other to select ‘protected’ regions in the audio to be aligned. Synch points are pairs of
pointers that relate specific locations in the Dub to specific target locations in the Guide. VocALign
will try to ensure that the points are put in synch. In essence this enables you to attempt to ‘force’
VocALign to match the audio at these points. Protected regions are user-specified parts of the Dub
audio that will not be affected by VocALign’s time warping.
VocALign PRO also includes frequency domain editing, in addition to the normal time domain editing available in the VocALign Project version. This can be useful for getting good results on single
line melodic material such as solo singers or instrumentalists.
These features are covered in more detail later in this manual.
10
D. Software Installation and Authorization
Installation
If you have not already done so, download VocALign from www.synchroarts.com/downloads
For Macs: Double click the disk image (.dmg) file that you downloaded to mount the disk image on
the desktop. Next, double click the VocALign pkg to install the VocALign software.
For Windows: Run the downloaded installer.
Demonstration, Trial and Full Licenses
VocALign can run (fully functional) in one of 3 Licensed Modes:
1. Trial Mode – requires an iLok Trial License installed in a iLok Smart Key to run for a Limited Period after launch.
2. Demonstration Mode – runs immediately on a “built-in” Demonstration License for a
limited time after launch. This mode does not need an iLok Smart key.
3. Full License Mode – requires an iLok “Full” license installed in an iLok Smart Key to run
without time limits.
NOTES:

Different versions of the VocALign plug-in will run either in the Demonstration or Trial
Modes without having to purchase a license.

The user will be informed, before downloading the software, if the Trial Modes is built into
the software being downloaded.

Software that runs a Demonstration mode does not need an iLok account or Smart key while
the demonstration mode is active, but will need both to run a purchased license in Full
mode..

If the software is using a Trial or has purchased a license to run in Full Mode – the user will
require both an iLok “Smart Key” (described below) and an account on iLok.com.
The rest of this Chapter provides more details on each of these authorization Modes and on the iLok
authorization system.
11
Software Authorization
VocALign uses the iLok system for authorization and, once installed, your license will reside on a
USB ‘smart Key’ (shown in Figure 2). This is different from the USB ‘dongle’ that is used to
authorize Cubase or Nuendo. If you already have a license installed on your iLok, you can skip this
section on authorization.
Figure 2 iLok Key
For Trial and Full Licenses, the VocALign licenses are downloaded from an iLok.com Account and
installed on one of the USB ‘smart Keys’ pictured above.
Before you can download a license, one must be deposited into your iLok.com Account.
There are two main methods for getting VocALign licenses from Synchro Arts into your iLok.com
Account.

Synchro Arts can deposit a VocALign iLok license directly into your iLok.com account (if we
are told your account USER ID). This can occur if you purchase from Synchro Arts store or
dealers. Or,

You can obtain a Trial or Full License Code from the Synchro Arts website or from an authorized Synchro Arts Software Dealer. The License Code must be redeemed (i.e. traded in)
on iLok.com for a VocALign License that is deposited into your iLok.com account.
Once your iLok.com account contains a VocALign license, you can log in and download the license
to your iLok Key.
When your iLok Key contains a VocALign license, plug the Key into a USB port on the computer
that will be running your copy of VocALign software and any host application. You will then be able
to launch and run the VocALign software in an authorized mode.
iLok Keys can hold licenses for a large number of protected software products. You can also have licenses from Synchro Arts and other software vendors on the same iLok.
More information on iLok.com
The www.iLok.com website (provided by PACE) lets you create a personal account which is used to
manage your software licenses. If you don’t have a user account you will need to create one before
you can authorise your VocALign Trial or Full software.
On http://www.iLok.com, you can receive new licenses from software publishers such as Synchro
Arts, see what licenses are on your iLok Keys, register your licenses and move your licenses between
iLok Keys. Using software available from iLok.com, you can transfer licenses from iLok.com to your
computer and also identify the iLoks you currently have connected to the USB port on your computer. Synchro
Arts may also use your iLok.com account to provide your license and give you technical support.
12
First time using iLok?
If this is the first time you have used iLok you may need to download and install the iLok extensions
and drivers from http://www.ilok.com
Obtaining your Trial or Full license
1. If you haven't done so, you need to inform Synchro Arts (or your software dealer) of your
iLok.com User ID (This is normally done at the same time you obtain a Trial license or
purchase a Full License.
2. Synchro Arts will deposit a license into your iLok.com account and notify you.
3. Alternatively, you might have originally received an iLok Trial or Full License Code which
you must redeem on iLok.com in order to obtain your iLok license in your account.
Failure to keep your iLok.com account up to date may result in delays in providing you with services
or other support.
How to install your VocALign License from iLok.com onto your iLok Key
1. Insert the iLok Key into an available USB port on your computer and ensure its indicator
light is lit.
2. Log in to your account at www.iLok.com.
3. On iLok.com, if you have received notification from Synchro Arts that your electronic license has been deposited, then your authorization is available for transfer. Your iLok.com
account will display a notice saying ‘You have licenses’. Select that link to start the transfer.
4. The next page on iLok.com will display the pending licenses available for download, along
with the name of the plug-in, the manufacturer, the type of authorization (Trial, Demo,
NFR (Not For Resale), or License), the date the authorization was deposited, and the date
when the authorization will no longer be available for download from the server.
5. Before an authorization transfer can take place, synchronize your iLok Key with iLok.com.
6. Once you have synchronized your iLok, select the authorization(s) you wish to transfer to
your iLok. If you have multiple iLoks connected to your computer, it is important to select
the correct iLok as the destination to which you want an authorization to be transferred.
7. On iLok.com, click Download Licenses to begin the process. When the transfer finishes
you will be asked to confirm completion, indicating that the transfer was successful.
How to authorize your VocALign software with your iLok Key
If you followed the above procedure correctly, authorizing VocALign is simply a matter of inserting
the iLok Smart Key that contains the correct license into the computer that you are using with your
host audio editing software. Once that iLok Smart key is inserted, you will be able to use VocALign.
See the next chapter for details on how to do this.
For further information on iLok, go to www.iLok.com.
13
Reauthorizing VocALign if the iLok Key is removed
If you subsequently try to run VocALign without the iLok Key inserted into your computer you will
receive a warning message. Press Retry (or, if different version, press Buy as shown in Figure 3) and
reinsert the iLok Key containing the relevant license. The software will be reauthorized.
WARNING: Do not remove the iLok from your computer while you are using VocALign. If the
iLok is removed VocALign will stop working and you might lose your work.
iLok Support
For further information on iLok, go to www.iLok.com.
Figure 3 Re-authorisation window when no iLok is present on Trial
Version
14
E. Getting started
To learn to use the basic functions of VocALign PRO 4 only takes a few minutes, but for quickly getting the best understanding we strongly recommend that you first follow the brief tutorial in Section
F, which uses prepared audio examples. The following, however, is a Quick Start guide for those
that want to jump straight in without following the tutorial. Although the plug-in works with Cubase
or Nuendo, the text refers to use with Cubase. The two user interfaces are very similar.
Quick start
1
In the VST>Plug-ins page of Cubase’s Preferences, disable (untick) the setting ‘Suspend VST3
plug-in processing when no audio signals are received’.
2
In Cubase, add VocALign PRO as an Insert on the track to be aligned (the ‘Dub’ track) by selecting Other>VocALign Pro from the list of plug-ins that drops down when you click on an
available Insert slot, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4 Selecting VocALign Pro as an Insert in Cubase
15
Figure 5 VocALign window before audio capture
Figure 6 Turning on the side chain input
3
The VocALign plug-in window will open as shown in Figure 5.
4
Turn on the side chain input in VocALign by pressing the fifth button from the top left of the
plug-in’s window, as shown in Figure 6.
5
Now select a ‘Guide’ track in Cubase (the material to which the Dub will be aligned) and route
one of its Sends to the side chain of the Dub track Insert that controls VocALign, as shown in
Figure 7. Turn on the Send and set its gain to 0 dB.
6
In Cubase, select the start point of the audio you want to process, using Cubase’s time line.
(The Guide and Dub audio should be approximately in the same place and the start point should
be within low level noise before the chosen audio material.)
16
Figure 7 Route a Guide track Send to VocALign's side chain
Figure 8 VocALign display after audio capture
7
In the VocALign window press Capture Audio. The light in that button will glow yellow and
show Stop Capture to show that it is waiting for audio. (You can press it again to cancel the
capture if necessary.)
8
Press Play (space bar) in Cubase. The light in the button will flash green while the audio is being captured. The selected section of the Dub track will be loaded into VocALign. Press Stop in
Cubase (space bar) when you reach the end of the audio material to be captured and a pair of
waveforms will be displayed in the VocALign window showing the selected Guide and Dub audio (see Figure 8 above).
17
9
In the VocALign window select Advanced align mode, Time Domain editing and Normal
Flexibility (these are the default settings). Provided the Guide audio content is sufficiently
similar to the Dub, starts in roughly the same place and has a small amount of lead-in containing
a bit of background noise, press Edit and the Dub audio will be aligned to the Guide audio as
well as possible. The display changes to an energy plot of the two extracts and in the Guide
window the yellow trace shows how the energy of the Dub is matched to that of the Guide.
Press Play in Cubase, after moving the time line back to the start of the region in question, and
you will hear the effect of the alignment.
10 Use Cubase’s Export…>Audio Mixdown function to create an audio file of the Aligned
Dub. (This can be found under Cubase’s File menu, as shown in Figure 9.) Set Cubase’s location
indicators so that they highlight the time region of audio that is to be mixed down. Select the
Dub track to be mixed down. The mixdown options are discussed in more detail in the Tutorial. Make sure the original tracks in Cubase are not muted, faded down or solo’ed, then press
Export to create the aligned file. This will be available in Cubase’s Pool and can optionally be
written to a spare track as part of the mixdown process.
Figure 9 Selecting Audio Mixdown as an Export option
18
F. Tutorial
This tutorial guides you through the use of VocALign in easy stages, so that you can learn about how
it works and how best to use it. It uses a prepared Cubase project that can be downloaded from the
Synchro Arts website. (This can also be opened and worked on in Nuendo, although for the rest of
this tutorial it will be assumed that you are using Cubase. The two user interfaces are very similar.)
You will learn how to:

Select the Guide and Dub audio that will be processed in VocALign

Transfer the Guide and Dub audio into the VocALign plug-in

Use VocALign to create an Aligned (synchronized) Dub and audition it

Return the Aligned Dub audio to Cubase
Step 1 Obtain the tutorial project and audio
The Cubase project for the tutorial session can be found by going to www.synchroarts.com and locating the Downloads page. On the Downloads page, locate and click on the link Cubase Project
for VocALign VST to download a copy of the tutorial project to your computer. Copy the contents
to a suitable folder on your computer’s hard disk. The copied material should contain the file and
folders shown in Figure 10. The .cpr file is the Cubase project file, and the folder called ‘Untitled’
contains Audio and Image folders for the project. In the Audio folder are contained the two audio
files used in this tutorial – ‘STEVEGUI.WAV’ and ‘TWITDUB.WAV’.
Figure 10 Contents of the tutorial project download
Step 2 Open the project in Cubase
When you open the project file in Cubase you may get a message that the project has been moved
(because Cubase thinks it was created somewhere else). Simply click on the button New to select the
location to which you have copied it as the project directory. The displayed project should look similar to that shown in Figure 11 (next page). You may need to do a bit of zooming and rearranging to
fit your screen.
In the VST>Plug-ins page of Cubase’s Preferences, disable (untick) the setting ‘Suspend VST3 plugin processing when no audio signals are received’. If this setting is enabled then Cubase will not replay the complete Aligned Dub when the Aligned Dub is longer than the original.
Step 3 Add VocALign as an insert
In Cubase, add VocALign PRO as an Insert on the Dub (Audio 2) track by selecting Other from the
list of plug-ins that drops down when you click on an available Insert slot, and then VocALign Pro
19
Figure 11 Tutorial project display in Cubase
Figure 12 Select VocALign Pro as an Insert in Dub track
20
Figure 13 VocALign Pro plug-in editor window before audio capture
as shown in Figure 12. The VocALign PRO window should appear as shown in Figure 13. If you are
using a trial version of VocALign there will be an option either to continue using it for a limited
number of days by pressing Try or to purchase a license by pressing Buy (see the earlier section on
software installation).
Step 4 Select the Guide audio as the side chain input
A side chain to the VocALign insert is used to connect the audio track that will be used to guide the
alignment process. Turn on the side chain input in VocALign by pressing the fifth button from the
Figure 14 Turning on the side chain input
21
Figure 15 Route a Guide track Send to VocALign's side chain
Figure 16 Setting the Send controls in Cubase
top left of the plug-in’s window, as shown in Figure 14. The button will now glow orange.
Now select the Guide track in Cubase and route one of its Sends to the side chain of the Dub track
Insert that controls VocALign, as shown above in Figure 15.
Turn the Send on and set its gain to 0 dB as shown above in Figure 16.
Step 5 Set the start point in Cubase
In Cubase, select the start point of the audio you want to process, using Cubase’s time line. (The
Guide and Dub audio should be approximately in the same place.) In this case it means dragging the
time line back to zero (before the start of the audio extracts.
Step 6 Capture the audio
In the VocALign window press Capture Audio as shown in Figure 17 (next page). The light in that
button will glow yellow and show Stop Capture to show that it is waiting for audio. (You can press
it again to cancel the capture if necessary.)
Press Play (space bar) in Cubase. The light in the button will flash green while the audio is being
captured. The selected section of the Dub track will be loaded into VocALign. Press Stop in Cubase
(space bar) when you reach the end of the audio material to be captured. A pair of waveforms will be
22
Figure 17 Selecting Capture Audio (left) after which the light in the button glows yellow and shows ‘Stop
Capture’ (right)
Figure 18 VocALign plug-in editor window after audio capture
displayed in the VocALign window showing the selected Guide and Dub audio (see Figure 18, next
page).
TIP: If you need to capture more than one audio region into one instance of VocALign, you may
need to use the Overview display at the bottom of the window to select separate regions for processing. Click on the desired waveform to select it. Use Delete to delete the selected waveform
from VocALign. This is covered in more detail in Section H.
Step 7 Prepare the settings for alignment
Select the Advanced alignment mode as shown in Figure 18 above, along with Time Domain in
the Editing menu to the right of it, and Normal Flexibility above and between these two options.
(These are the default settings.) This sets up the plug-in with some typical settings for speech alignment.
In VocALign, if required, adjust the start or end of the Guide or Dub audio so that the sections to be
aligned are roughly similar in terms of content. This is done by clicking and dragging the waveform
23
Figure 19 VocALign energy display after pressing ‘Analyse’
from its ends (when first captured), or where it changes colour to grey (after adjustment). The selection can also be made by sliding the blue or orange pointers above or below the waveform, as shown
in Figure 18. There is a pointer at the beginning and at the end of each waveform to begin with. You
may have to scroll to the right in the VocALign window in order to see the pointers at the end of the
waveforms. Cubase’s transport commands are used to play the audio.
TIP: Try to ensure that the start of the audio selection is in ‘silence’ (which should be low level noise
within an audio segment, rather than an empty part of the track that lies between segments) for
about 0.25 seconds before the waveform energy appears. Try to ensure the end of the selected audio
is at the desired stopping point.
Step 8 Analyze the audio
In VocALign click Analyze. The display changes to show an energy plot of the Guide and Dub
tracks (Figure 19, above), which is what VocALign uses to create a time-warp path to match the two
extracts. (This step can be omitted because the Align or Edit buttons will automatically include the
analysis step. The Analyze control is available to obtain a quick overview of the anlaysis stage without further processing.)
Step 9 Align the Dub audio
Clicking Align creates a processed version of the track on which the VocALign plug-in is inserted.
You will now see a yellow trace superimposed on the Guide audio track’s waveform (see Figure 20,
next page), which is VocALign’s proposed mapping of the Dub track’s energy pattern to match that
of the Guide. Initially this is done in a temporary fashion, but soon you can also create a more per24
Figure 20 Yellow trace over Guide showing proposed alignment
Figure 21 The Green loudspeaker shows that audio is ready to be played
manent audio file of the processed version.
(If you press Help then About in VocALign, you can see where the plug-in stores these temporary
audio files, and you can change that location.)
Step 10 Create the time-aligned version of the Dub audio
Click Edit to create a rendered version of the aligned audio that is written temporarily to disk. The
red loudspeaker (Not Ready) symbol next to the Delete button will change to green (Ready), to
show that the audio is processed and ready to be auditioned (see Figure 21 above).
(While the loudspeaker symbol next to the Delete button is red – Not Ready – you won’t be able to
hear any audio from the track being processed. When it’s green you will be able to hear audio.)
TIP: Generally, for the fastest operation, once audio is captured, press only the Edit button.
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Step 11 Play the aligned audio
Once the edit is completed and the speaker symbol is
green, if you press Play (space bar) in Cubase (having moved the time line back to the start) you will
hear both the Guide and aligned Dub audio together
in sync. If you left the start and end pointers unaltered before editing, the laugh at the end of the Dub
audio will still be audible and a little timecompressed. (VocALign’s mapping of the two energy
patterns, as shown by the yellow trace, results in an
overall shortening of the Dub audio.)
Figure 22 Bypass button in VocALign editor
window
The bypass button in the top left hand corner of VocALign’s display (see Figure 22) allows you to
temporarily turn off the processing of this plug in so that you can hear the original unprocessed audio. The button is yellow when the plug-in is bypassed. Be sure to turn bypass off (i.e. not bypassed)
if you want to use the Aligned audio.
If you move the Guide’s end marker (right hand blue pointer) to just after the end of the Guide signal, then press Edit again so as to regenerate the Aligned Dub, the laugh at the end of the dub will be
left unprocessed and will remain at the original speed. You can move the right hand orange pointer as
well if you wish (the Dub’s end marker), so that the Dub energy end point is before the laugh starts,
then press Edit again. This will eliminate the laugh from the processed version.
Step 12 Create an audio file of the aligned Dub
In order to create an audio
file of the processed version (of the Aligned Dub),
select the Audio Mixdown function, which is
under Export…
on
Cubase’s File menu, as
shown in Figure 23.
Set Cubase’s location indicators so that they highlight
the time region of audio
that is to be mixed down.
As shown in Figure 24
(next page), this is done by
dragging the small triangular markers at the top of
the time bar above the audio tracks, so that one is at
the start and one at the end
of the region. If none exist,
you can make them by
moving the cursor into that
area of the time bar until
the cursor turns into a pencil, then clicking to create a
location indicator that can
then be dragged.
Figure 23 Audio Mixdown selected from Export options under the File menu
26
Figure 24 Setting Cubase’s location indicators to highlight the region for mixdown
Figure 25 Cubase’s audio mixdown options
27
Figure 26 The newly aligned Dub track has been mixed down to track 3 in Cubase
28
G. VocALign PRO 4 screen contents and controls
Figure 27 Key to VocALign screen contents and controls
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)
9)
Bypass button: bypasses any VocALign processing applied on this Insert. If OFF (grey), VocALign plays and transfers aligned Dub audio (as long as (31) is green). If ON (yellow), VocALign plays and transfers original (unprocessed) Dub audio.
Capture Audio button: arms VocALign to receive Guide and Dub audio from the editor
during a play pass. (Yellow when waiting for audio, flashing green when capturing audio.)
Side chain button: turns on the side chain input to VocALign (normally routed from a Send
of the Guide track). (Orange when ON.)
Help button: click to access help tips.
Display start time and time offsets – shows position of captured audio referenced to the
editor time line.
Aligned audio trace: a representation of the energy of the new aligned signal.
Guide energy: a profile of the energy of the Guide signal in time. Display elements relating to
the Guide are coloured blue.
Guide start point selector: adjusts processing start. (The corresponding end point selector is
shown further to the right).
Synch point pair: click in this region and drag the green blobs to create and adjust pairs of
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10)
11)
12)
13)
14)
15)
16)
17)
18)
19)
20)
21)
22)
23)
24)
25)
26)
27)
28)
29)
30)
31)
32)
33)
synch points (see Section I).
Dub start point selector: adjusts processing start. (The corresponding end point selector is
shown further to the right).
Dub energy: a profile of the energy of the Dub signal in time. Display elements relating to the
Dub are coloured orange.
Protected region (see Section I).
Protected region start and end markers: drag the red sliders to mark regions that will
remain unaffected by processing (see Section I).
Scroll bar: use slider to move waveform position in window.
Align button: click this to generate and display the aligned Dub audio energy trace in Guide
window (does not create aligned audio).
Analyze button: click to analyze and display the energy plot of the Guide and Dub. VocALign
displays the energy in only one band (500Hz – 1kHz) but actually splits it into four bands.
Overview window: shows multiple captured regions. If more than one independent audio
region has been captured these will be shown as separate waveforms in the Overview display area. Clicking one of them selects the Dub and Guide waveforms to be processed. Selected waveforms are highlighted in bright blue and orange, whereas unselected waveforms are dimmed.
Selected Guide waveform: Guide audio that will be processed.
Selected Dub waveform: Dub audio that will be processed.
Advanced/Basic mode selector menu. Use Advanced mode unless you specifically want
compatible behaviour with the Project version of VocALign.
Unselected Guide waveform: Guide audio that will not be processed (shown as darker
waveform). (These will only be visible if multiple regions occurring at different time values have
been separately captured into the plug-in.)
Unselected Dub waveform: Dub audio that will not be processed (shown as darker waveform). (These will only be visible if multiple regions occurring at different time values have
been separately captured into the plug-in.)
Overview waveform display scrolling: slide to move display.
Automatic synch point setting: press to let VocALign pick possible synch points.
Clear synch points: press to delete all synch points.
VocALign settings: controls the characteristics of the alignment processing (see section H).
Editing basis: click to choose between time and frequency basis for non-linear time compression and expansion.
Edit button: click to generate aligned audio. (31) will indicate when done.
Delete button: click to remove the selected waveforms from VocALign.
Overview waveform display scaling: slide to zoom in and out.
Editing complete indicator: If green (‘Ready’), edited (aligned) audio is processed and
ready for playback. If red (‘Not Ready’), aligned audio is not yet ready to be replayed.
Selected waveform display scaling: slide to zoom in and out.
Energy scale: shows range of display.
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H. Important tips for effective operation
Assuming you have mastered either the Quick Start introduction or the Tutorial in the previous
sections, the following will help you to get the best results from VocALign. The text refers to use
with Cubase, but the same principles apply when used with Nuendo.
Cubase/Nuendo Preferences

In the VST>Plug-ins page of Cubase’s Preferences, disable (untick) the setting ‘Suspend
VST3 plug-in processing when no audio signals are received’. If this setting is enabled then
Cubase will not replay the complete Aligned Dub when the Aligned Dub is longer than the
original.

On the same Preferences page, you may wish to set Cubase’s preferences so that the plug-in
editor window is always on top.
Capture

In Cubase, you will start with a session in which there is Guide (original) audio contained on
one track and Dub (replacement or new) audio on a second track.

In the Cubase Project window, drag the time line (current play time) so that it starts just before the desired portion of the Guide and Dub audio regions for processing. The captured
material can include any individual region or multiple regions. Your selection can begin and
end in the middle of a region. VocALign PRO works best when working on relatively short
regions at a time, for example from 20 seconds to, say, a minute. But effective alignment
will depend on many things: e.g. gaps in the signals, how similar they are and other features.
Some experimentation will help the user find the best lengths to process for each signal.

Try to capture up to around 0.25 to 0.5 seconds of ‘background’ or ‘leader’ audio at the beginning of your Guide audio selection. This will assist VocALign to set the noise floor levels
and allow better alignment at the start of the signal. (In the current version of VocALign
PRO 4 VST, the selected audio can be up to five minutes long and must be longer than 0.25
seconds.)

The Dub does not have to start at the same time as the Guide. In other words, the timecode
position of the Dub is not used. The Guide’s timecode is important and so is the amount of
‘background’ captured before the Guide and the Dub.

Try to leave as much or very slightly more background audio before the Dub signal starts
than for the Guide.

If you capture an audio region that begins in digital silence, VocALign may generate an error
as it needs to be able to detect a signal to enable it to set its analysis parameters. Try to start
capturing where there is at least some low level background noise within the audio region.
Overview window

If you capture more than one audio region (in separate capture passes) while the VocALign
plug-in is open these will show up as separate waveforms in the overview window at the
bottom of the display. You can click on the waveform section that you want to align and this
will appear in the upper display ready for processing. The unselected regions’ waveforms are
dimmed as shown in Figure 28(a) above. In this case the two regions occupy separate periods
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(a)
(b)
Figure 28 (a) Overview display showing dimmed waveform (to the right) for unselected audio that is separate in
time from the selected audio. (b) Showing overlapping regions that have been separately captured
in Cubase’s timeline, so it is easy to tell them apart in the overview window.

Selected (highlighted) waveforms in the overview window are those that will be processed
by VocALign. If you press Delete only the highlighted waveform will be deleted.

If you have accidentally or intentionally captured more than one region (in separate capture
passes) within the same period on Cubase’s timeline, one will be overlaid on the other(s) in
the overview window, as shown in Figure 28(b). The latest captured one will be highlighted
and the other(s) will be dimmed. If they overlap completely you will not be able to see those
lying behind and the only way to reveal the hidden material is to delete the highlighted
material this is hiding it. However if part of the dimmed waveform is visible in the
background, you can click on it to select it.
Trimming the captured material

Captured audio material may need to be trimmed before alignment in order to ensure that
the extracts are optimised for processing. VocALign will work best if Guide and Dub material start at a similar point in their energy profiles, and both have a small period of background noise before they begin.

It is preferable to trim starts and ends of extracts using the energy display. You can help VocALign do a good job by trimming the audio so as to match initial energy profiles and ensure
that there is a good chance of starting the alignment accurately. To convert a captured audio
waveform into the energy display press Analyze.

IMPORTANT: There is currently no way to return to the waveform display once an energy
analysis has been done. The current contents must be deleted and recaptured if you need to
start again.)

You can optionally perform several operations on the energy display waveform itself before
alignment:
a) The start and end boundaries of the selected regions can be modified by dragging the blue or
orange pointers at either end of the audio selections as shown in Fig. 29, left. The waveform
turns grey to indicate unselected audio energy. Alternatively you can position your cursor at
the boundary of the coloured audio material (the cursor changes into a pair of horizontal arrows) and drag the boundary left or right.
b) The display can be scrolled horizontally with the scroll bars to examine the captured waveforms. You may need to scroll right to see the end point adjuster.
32
c) The scale control (Fig. 29,
right) can be used to expand or contract the horizontal time scale (slider) or
alter the range of the vertical scale in dB (+) (–).
Alignment

Choose an appropriate VocALign setting before pressing Align (e.g. if the Dub is
very long compared to the
Figure 29 (left) Pointers to adjust start of Guide and Dub
energy; (right) scale control
Guide, try ‘Maximum
Compression’). Guidance is
offered in the following section ‘Alignment settings’.

After clicking Align, visually inspect the results in the Guide window. The peaks and
troughs of the yellow (Aligned Dub) energy trace should line up generally with those of the
Guide as in Figure 30.

If the alignment looks satisfactory, generate the aligned audio by pressing Edit. This creates
the aligned audio.

A shortcut is to simply press Edit after capturing the audio as this will run the Analyze and
Align steps first.

Preview the results by using the Cubase play controls.
Figure 30 Checking the aligned energy (yellow trace)
33
Figure 31 Selecting alignment setting

If the alignment is satisfactory, transfer the edited audio to Cubase by using the Audio Mixdown function, as described in the tutorial.

If you make any changes to the selected waveform or energy profile region after initial
alignment (such as modifying the start or end points), the yellow aligned energy profile display disappears and Align or Edit will need to be pressed again to perform a new alignment.

If the alignment does not look or sound satisfactory, there are a few options:
a. Select another setting or alignment mode (which will clear the aligned trace), click
Align again, and examine the results.
b. Adjust the ‘leader’ audio before the start of the Guide and Dub to be roughly equivalent,
with the Dub leader being slightly longer.
c. Adjust the end of the Guide or Dub (see previous section).
d. Reselect and recapture the Guide or Dub audio in Cubase, if the original selection is
thought to be causing the problem.
Alignment settings
You can control the alignment settings, which greatly affect how the alignment performs. Use the
alignment settings menu to select which preset is active, as shown in Figure 31 above.
The main setting characteristics are described in Table 1.
Setting
Main characteristics
Low Flexibility
Alignment is not very flexible, sound quality may be best.
Normal Flexibility
(Default): it is recommended to try this first as it works best
in most cases.
High Flexibility
Alignment is the most flexible of the settings, but may
compromise sound quality.
Maximum Compression
Tries to match the Guide by time compressing the aligned
audio as much as possible.
Maximum Expansion
Tries to match the Guide by time-expanding the aligned
audio as much as possible.
Table 1 Alignment settings
In general you will achieve better results by selecting the ADVANCED alignment mode. BASIC
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mode is provided to offer compatible behaviour with the Project version of VocALign.
Editing modes
VocALign PRO offers two methods of editing the Dub audio. The differences are highlighted in
Table 2.
Editing mode
Optimum signal requirements
Advantages
Speed of editing
Frequency
Audio contains only a single
pitch. (e.g. one voice or one
single – pitched instrument)
Good for reducing editing
artefacts in transients and rapid
pitch changes when expanding.
Slower
Time
Audio can be single voiced or
contain complex signals.
Good for compression and
maintaining musical beat.
Fastest
Table 2 Editing modes
Further tips and tricks
Latching
To align just the start of the Dub with the Guide (and leave the rest of the Dub unprocessed), use the
Guide End Point Selector to use only select 0.25 to 1.0 second of the Guide audio for processing and
keep the Dub signal full length.
Reverb tails
To stop the end of a Dub from being stretched to wrongly match a noisy or reverberant Guide, stop
the end of the Guide for processing to be 0.25 to 1.0 second before the Guide signal of interest ends
and use the entire Dub.
Controlling the plug-in status
After having first added VocALign as an Insert on a Cubase track, the name of the plug-in will appear
on the relevant Insert slot. To change or remove the plug-in, click and hold on the Insert slot and select the appropriate plug-in (or ‘No Effect’). To reopen the VocALign window once the plug-in
window has been closed, click on the round button in the Insert controls containing an italic ‘e’ to
open the plug-in editor window.
Previewing material
Once the Dub track has been provisionally aligned (before mixing down the aligned audio to an audio
file) you can listen to either the Guide track or the Dub track separately by using the track mute or
solo controls in Cubase. Mute the Guide track to hear only the Dub track, for example. Use the Bypass control in VocALign to turn on or off the alignment effect. Remember to remove these modifications before mixing down a processed track.
35
I.
Advanced mode operation
Synch points
Synch points are used to pick target points where VocALign will try to ensure that the two extracts
remain in synch. In essence this enables you to attempt to ‘force’ VocALign to match the audio at
these points. Synch points are created as pairs (displayed as linked green pointers) – one relating to
the position in the Guide and one relating to the position in the Dub audio. You can move each point
in the pair independently of the other, so that the synch point can be different in the Guide and Dub
tracks.
Synch points can be set either automatically or manually. In this example (Figure 32) from the speech
material at the beginning of the tutorial audio, automatic synch point selection was chosen. The
display shows one synch point detected where a particularly high energy peak is present in both
versions. The plug-in attempts to match alignment at this point, adjusting the sections before or after
it separately. A shading change is shown at the synch point boundary.
You can add synch points manually by clicking in the synch points area between the start and end
selection pointers, then dragging the green pointers to the appropriate locations. In the example
(Figure 33), two synch points have been manually inserted.
Synch points can be deleted by right- or control-clicking (Mac single button mouse) on them. They
can all be deleted at once using the Clear button.
Protected sections
Figure 32 Automatically selected synch points shown in green
Figure 33 Manually inserted synch points
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Sections of the Dub track can be protected so that they are not edited by VocALign. Click in the
‘Protect’ bar below the Dub display to add a red pointer at the start of the intended section, then
drag it to highlight (in red) the relevant area.
The example in Figure 34 uses the material from the tutorial examples. Here the phrase ‘unreal
time’ has been protected so that, after processing, it remains spoken in the rather more languid way
used on the Dub track, as opposed to being shortened as on the Guide track. This can be useful, for
example, in foreign language dubbing when you want to avoid inappropriate modification of certain
words in the dubbed language.
Drag the pointers to alter the starts and ends of the protected section, remembering to press Edit
again in order to perform a new alignment. Click and drag again in the same bar to add further
protected sections. Red pointers can be deleted by right- or control-clicking on them.
Figure 34 Selecting a protected section using the red sliders
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J. Troubleshooting
For help and advice, visit the Synchro Arts support website at:
http://www.synchroarts.com/index.php?PAGEID=support
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