10 Replies Latest reply on May 26, 2009 12:56 PM by windowman

    Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system


      This might be a strange question but I really need to ask it to avoid wasting loads of time.


      I have got a copy of premiere cs4 to try out and I have a Panasonic SD20 camcorder which records audio in 5.1. I have a TV and surround sound set up at home with 5.1 the trouble is my pc is 2.1. I want to know the best way to edit this and check all my sound channels, I want to be able to check there is nothing really loud or un-needed on the surround channels. Can i play all channels through my 2 speakers or does it just play the front channels? . Im really confused by this as I have only just got this camcorder and it is something I have never needed to worry about so any advice would be great.  Bascially I want to edit my footage with the 5.1 audio and export to play on ps3 so avchd is fine as it plays natively. I will play it from an external usb hdd. If i edit with my current setup do i need to anything inparticular? I dont do any major audio editing just fades and levels really.


      A side question when editing avchd when i output will cs4 only render footage i have changed or will it render the whole lot?

        • 1. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          AC3 5.1 sound is troublesome and will not play at all in the trial version and possibly not in the 4.01 version. AC3 5.1 sound is not for editing, it is for playing. Using a USB disk is generally a bad idea, since it is about the slowest you can find. Rendering means both audio and video all the way.

          • 2. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
            the_wine_snob Level 9

            To effectively edit any Audio, one must listen. If they cannot listen, and hear the full Audio, they can only guess, and this will likely not get it right 1:100,000 times. It would be like editing the Video, if you could not see any of it.


            To effectively edit in DD 5.1 SS, you will need a system capable of playing it correctly. Next, you will need either a 5.1 speaker setup (much calibrating will be necessary), or SS headphones, which can be OK, but are too often just toys.


            Then, you'll need the full version of PrPro and the Minnetonka Audio SurCode DD 5.1 SS plug-in to encode to full DD 5.1 SS AC3 for output to DVD-Video, or to BD. Hint: buy this from within the full, paid version of PrPro, as that will save a few $'s over going directly to the site linked.


            Last, you'll need the proper play-back gear, which it seems as though you already have.


            All of Harm's comments apply, as well.



            • 3. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
              windowman Level 1

              Yes, all channels can play back on stereo speakers if you set your soundcard up to do this. It won't give you an acurate picture of what the finished product sounds like over a surround setup in the end though. Best to convert the sound to stereo first with a wave editor and ditch the surround stuff. Personally, no offence, but I would ditch the cam too while you still can. Some cam manufacturers have been coming out with really goofy models lately that will never catch on and recording surround directly to the cam from cheesy internal mics is one of them. Once people find out what a pain it is to try and edit the footage they'll return the cam more often than not.


              If you still want to edit the surround files then I would choose something other than Premiere to do it with. There are some NLE apps that will do it, but like Hunt said, you'll need to get some surround speakers and an amp (unless the speakers are powered) to monitor correctly first along with a soundcard that supports your surround sound codec. A cheap Soundblaster is good enough for this and will playback just about any surround type. Besides, it's a much better card than it used to be.

              • 4. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
                Ink_Specialist Level 1

                Can I simply mix down to two channel instead.

                • 5. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
                  the_wine_snob Level 9

                  As far as the monitoring of the 5.1 with stereo gear, I have been amazed at the spatial info in my Bose stereo headphones, during initial editing of this material. It is NOT the full spatial "stage," as from my monitoring system, but dang, there is some useful spatial imaging going on. I tried full 5.1 headphones, but none was really more than a toy. I found that I actually got a better "sound picture," from my stereo phones. This imaging was much better than from my higher-priced Yamahas. Go figure. Still, for the final mix, nothing beats a properly configured 5.1 setup. When I think I'm done, or nearly, I just burn a DVD RW (my output is always to DVD-Video), and move into my theater with a notepad. Then, it's back to the editing suite.


                  Much of the monitoring, as is pointed out above, will benefit from the capabilities of you soundcard too. How it handles the signals will probably determine how close you can get.


                  Good luck,



                  • 6. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
                    windowman Level 1

                    Out of curiosity, has anyone ever heard of a movie that was filmed with surround on set? I mean generally surround sound is something that's done in post and mostly with just music except for things like war movies where they'll take tracks with gunfire and airplanes on them and mix them so that they'll pan from back to front and so on, but that doesn't seem to be the norm. I don't think I ever heard of a movie that was made with 5 or 6 mics set up in a surround configuration for the entire movie though, or even for very much of it. You would think that somebody has done it by now though.

                    • 7. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
                      the_wine_snob Level 9

                      I normally associate the recording of "surround" with convert movies. Many are done with this technique, but I assume that you mean "theatrical releases."


                      Let’s go back to long before there was a Dolby Labs, to the first "surround" movies. Disney’s Fantasia is the grand-father of them all. Now, it was an animated film, but most of the orchestral movements were captured in surround sound.


                      Spring ahead and both Oklahoma and South Pacific were recorded in surround sound. OK, they were musicals, but also theatrical releases. Some of Star Wars and also Close Encounters of the Third Kind, were shot with surround sound, and obviously heavily mixed for full surround release. Lucas found that getting those explosions in deep space with 6 mics to be really tough. I believe that some of Apocalypse Now was also shot with surround sound.


                      As far a full features that were shot entirely in surround sound, I’d strongly guess that there might be few, beyond the pure stage-to-screen productions. The logistics and control would be hellacious. Also, as so very much is added in post with Foley and SFX, I’m not sure that it would be worth the effort.

                      There is bound to be a film historian, who has researched and likely documented this. Good question.



                      • 8. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
                        windowman Level 1

                        I've never gotten into the whole surround thing, so I don't know much about it's history other than Lucas bringing some standards for it to theaters. You've already named several films with surround sound in them that I didn't know had it. I would think it would be fairly useless where most dramas are concerned where people are mostly just standing around talking, but I can certainly see where it has its place in something like Star Wars. I never really thought about it being used in musicals like South Pacific. I always figured most surround stuff was done in post rather than on set.

                        • 9. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
                          the_wine_snob Level 9

                          For just the reasons that you cite, I would be surprised if there was a lot more. I cannot imagine any good reason to record most shoots in surround, as so much of what we'll see doesn't even exist yet, let alone exist on the sound stage, or in the location. Still, there could be some "little gems" out there, that we'd never think of.


                          I do puzzle over the consumer cameras that do mic for surround. Who wants that yappy couple behind the camera man on the Audio? Most shooters, and expecially sound engineers/designers want as little of that stuff, as is possible. I can just imagine the requests for stripping out some of that "ambiance" in post, when those cameras are used. I also wonder how discreet the signals really are. I'm sure that there is some after-market company fixing to offer a 5.1 head-set (not in the headphone catagory, but really a hat with mics stuck on it) for these cameras. Think of a kitchen colander with 6 shotgun mics sticking out in all directions. It will be only a matter of time...




                          PS if you'll get your head out of that EV-Voice of the Theater mono speaker and go do some research on feature films that WERE recorded in 5.1, we'll fill in our knowledge... [Big Grin Inserted Here!] Still a good question.

                          • 10. Re: Editing 5.1 audio on a 2.1 system
                            windowman Level 1

                            Yeah I know. Most days I'm just old and in the way.


                            I wish someone here would post a couple minutes of sound from their consumer cams that record in surround. I'd like to hear what it sounds like too. Zoom has a little battery operated mic now that has a built-in hard drive (or flash I guess) that will record in surround. The only recording I've heard of it was something a video guy uploaded to YouTube here. He uses a traditional shotgun mic in the movie up untill the 8-minute mark, and I must say that when that Zoom mic comes in it doesn't sound as good to me. I don't know if that's because YT summed everything to mono and the mic recordings aren't very mono compatable or if the mic just sounds that bad, but I wasn't impressed.