For some time, there has been discussion on the use of SmartSound® with various versions of Adobe Premiere®. Often, there is a bit of confusion, as to what SmartSound is and how best to use it. I hope to provide some information on both the programs as well as the "Series," that make up SmartSound music.
First, here is some background. SmartSound’s programs come in basically three "flavors" now. First, there is QuickTracks for Premiere®. This is a plug-in for PrPro/PrE. It works from within the NLE program itself. Then, there are two versions of Sonicfire Pro®, which is a stand-alone program that is similar to QuickTracks, but offers so very much more in the way of power with the Strata Series® (and other Multi-track music) Series. One of these is the ExpressTracks® version, which is free with the purchase of any Strata Series disc., and the other is the full Scoring Edition®, which can be purchased separately, or upgraded free, if one has a registered copy of Sonicfire Pro 4 with S/N. While the basic function of the programs is similar, the mechanics can differ, as well as the final output.
Second, there is the music. It is grouped into several Series. All can only be used in the SmartSound software. The SmartSound® Music library is a very creative and flexible collection of royalty-free* music. It's the only music that gives video editors access to perfectly edited music from any SmartSound software or embedded technology.
Looking at it from one side, the Series are grouped by style, theme and mood. On the other side, they are grouped by the type of discs. At a basic level, there are three types of these discs:
Single Layer tracks: no Mood Mapping capability, however there are 22KHz, 44KHz and 48KHz single layer tracks (the Classical Suite albums are single layer 48KHz. Note that single-layer music cannot be used with Mood Mapping.
Multilayer tracks: all multilayer tracks have Mood Mapping, and there are only 44KHz and 48KHz multilayer tracks.
Some of the recent releases of the Strata Series discs, only contain the 48KHz versions Remember, only the 48KHz can contain Mood Mapping, and can only be used with Sonicfire Pro. For the QuickTracks plug-in, one would use the 44KHz version, and of course there is no Mood Mapping in QuickTracks.
All of the various Series also contain several variations on each "cut." The vast majority are original creations and the few that are "public domain" are original performances.
Generally, the price of the music Series goes up with both the quality (sample-rate) and with the multi-layer aspect. Still, "sales" do happen from time to time.
Ignoring the Mood Mapping feature for a moment, I’d like to talk about what SmartSound and Sonicfire Pro do, when used with the SmartSound music Series. These programs and this music will allow one to exactly tailor their soundtrack, and far beyond what one can do using loopology. The intros and outros can be specified. If you know the exact Duration of your Video, you can tailor your resulting score to that Duration.
With Sonicfire Pro, and a Strata Series multi-layer disc, one can tailor much more, than just the Duration of the music. This is where Mood Mapping comes in. With Mood Mapping there is almost unlimited control on what the same piece of music can sound like. Within the Mood Mapping control panel, one can use many Presets, but can also control virtually every aspect of the music. Imagine being able to take a full orchestral version of a piece of music, and then separating out just the violins, or just the brass section. Both versions of Sonicfire Pro can utilize Mood Mapping, but there are limitations on the ExpressTracks version, and even more power in the Scoring Edition, including Timing Control.
Now remember that I mentioned that QuickTracks for Premiere was a plug-in and that both versions of Sonicfire Pro are stand-alone applications. How does this affect how one uses them? Because of the plug-in nature, QuickTracks is launched from within Premiere via the New icon and SmartSound from the drop-down menu. This brings up the QuickTracks interface, where one can tailor the Duration, and the variation, of the piece, but also contains a link to a browser. In this browser, one can sort by various criteria, plus are also allowed a text Search function to use the notes with each music cut. There are also filters to limit ones view to criteria, such as Music on My Computer, Music Owned by Me, Music On SmartSound’s Web site and All.
As Sonicfire Pro is a stand-alone, one would first Export a "reference" AV file, to use when scoring. One day, I would love to see Sonicfire Pro as a plug-in for Premiere, so that this one step would not be necessary. The next best thing would be for Adobe to do a Dynamic Link to Sonicfire Pro. There is no need for any reference file with QuickTracks, as one is working in the Sequence’s Timeline.
When the purchased Series have been installed on one’s computer, it will contain a preview, regardless of whether the actual sound files are copied to that computer. One can work from the copied music files, or from the DVD discs. [Note: because of the limitation on QuickTracks to just the 22KHz and 44KHz music, installations usually do not have to be done separately, unless the user wants both the multilayer version installed and the single layer versions installed. Any single layer albums will only need to be installed once (with the exception of Classical Suites, since they have 48KHz and 44KHz, but if installed in Quicktracks first, the 44KHz versions will be available in Sonicfire Pro.)] Personally, I copy the DVD’s to my HDD’s, for quick and easy access. However, that is not necessary, if one does not mind placing the DVD into a drive.
If one does not wish to purchase one of the discs, the full library, they can still listen to the cuts, via the preview, and can purchase much of the music, by the cut, directly from SmartSound for download. This can allow one to use just the right cut, without having to invest in the full Library.
One of the real advantages to registering one’s SmartSound, besides notification of updates, is the notifications of the "sales." These usually offer select Series at greatly reduced rates. I find the "regular" prices to be in line with what one gets, but a sale makes it even better. My biggest problem has been that I now own most of the Series, and the ones that I do not own are ones that I will likely not use. It’s getting more difficult to take advantage of these sales, no matter how low the price has dropped - I already own it.
Last, SmartSound also has several Series of SFX too.
* Excludes public performance as part of a film released through major theatrical distribution or broadcast on national television. See our Professional Music End User License for details regarding these uses.
SmartSound, QuickTracks, Sonicfire Pro, ExpressTracks, Mood Mapping and Scoring Edition are all registered property of SmartSound Software, Inc.
Adobe Premiere is a registered property of Adobe Software, Inc.