Tag Archives: iZotope

Izotope’s Neutron 3 streamlines mix workflows with machine learning

Izotope, makers of the RX audio tools, has introduced Neutron 3, a plug-in that — thanks to advances in machine learning — listens to the entire session and communicates with every track in the mix. Mixers can use Neutron 3’s new Mix Assistant to create a balanced starting point for an initial-level mix built around their chosen focus, saving time and energy when making creative mix decisions. Once a focal point is defined, Neutron 3 automatically set levels before the mixer ever has to touch a fader.

Neutron 3 also has a new module called Sculptor (available in Neutron 3 Standard and Advanced) for sweetening, fixing and creative applications. Using never-before-seen signal processing, Sculptor works like a per-band army of compressors and EQs to shape any track. It also communicates with Track Assistant to understand each instrument and gives realtime feedback to help mixers shape tracks to a target EQ curve or experiment with new sounds.

In addition, Neutron 3 includes many new improvements and enhancements based on feedback from the community, such as the redesigned Masking Meter that automatically flags masking issues and allows them to be fixed from a convenient one-window display. This improvement prevents tracks from stepping on each other and muddying the mix.

Neutron 3 has also had a major overhaul in performance for faster processing and load times and smooth metering. Sessions with multiple Neutrons open much quicker, and refresh rates for visualizations have doubled.

Other Neutron 3 Features
• Visual Mixer and Izotope Relay: Users can launch Mix Assistant directly from Visual Mixer and move tracks in a virtual space, tapping into Izotope-enabled inter-plug-in communication
• Improved interface: Smooth visualizations and a resizable interface
• Improved Track Assistant listens to audio and creates a custom preset based on what it hears
• Eight plug-ins in one: Users can build a signal chain directly within one highly connected, intelligent interface with Sculptor, EQ with Soft Saturation mode, Transient Shaper, 2 Compressors, Gate, Exciter, and Limiter
• Component plug-ins: Users can control Neutron’s eight modules as a single plug-in or as eight individual plug-ins
• Tonal Balance Control: Updated to support Neutron 3
• 7.1 Surround sound support and zero-latency mode in all eight modules for professional, lightweight processing for audio post or surround music mixes

Visual Mixer and Izotope Relay will be Included free with all Neutron 3 Advanced demo downloads. In addition, Music Production Suite 2.1 will now include Neutron 3 Advanced, and iZotope Elements Suite will be updated to include Neutron Elements (v3).

Neutron 3 will be available in three different options — Neutron Elements, Neutron 3 Standard and Neutron 3 Advanced. See the comparison chart for more information on what features are included in each version.

Neutron will be available June 30. Check out the iZotope site for pricing.

iZotope intros mixing plug-in Neutron at AES show

iZotope was at last week’s AES show in LA with Neutron, their newest plug-in, which is geared toward simplifying and enhancing the mixing process. Neutron’s Track Assistant saves you time by listening to your audio and recommending custom starting points for tracks. According to iZotope, analysis intelligence within Neutron allows Track Assistant to automatically detect instruments, recommend the placement of EQ nodes and set optimal settings for other modules. Users still maintain full control over all their mix decisions, but Track Assistant gives them more time to focus on their creative take on the mix.

Neutron’s Masking Meter allows you to visually identify and fix perceptual frequency collisions between instruments, which can result in guitars masking lead vocals, bass covering up drums and other issues that can cause a “muddy” or overly crowded mix. Easily tweak each track to carve away muddiness and reveal new sonic possibilities.

“[Neutron] has a deep understanding of the tracks and where they compete with one another, and it offers subtle enhancements to the sound based on that understanding,” explains iZotope CEO/co-founder Mark Ethier.

Neutron can be used on every track, offering zero-latency, CPU-efficient performance. It offers static /dynamic EQ, two multiband compressors, a multiband Transient Shaper, a multiband Exciter and a True Peak Limiter.

What the plug-in offers:
• The ability to automatically detect different instruments — such as vocals, dialogue, guitar, bass, and drums — and then apply the spectral shaping technology within Neutrino to provide subtle clarity and balance to each track.
• Recommendations for optimal starting points using Track Assistant, including EQ nodes, compressor thresholds, saturation types and multiband crossover points.
• It carves out sonic space using the Masking Meter to help each instrument sit better in the mix.
• The ability to create the a mix with five mixing processors integrated into one CPU-efficient channel strip, offering both clean digital and warm vintage-flavored processing.
• There is surround support [Advanced Only] for audio post pros that need to enhance the audio for picture experience.
• There are individual plug-ins [Advanced Only] for the Equalizer, Compressor, Transient Shaper and Exciter.

Neutron and Neutron Advanced is available now. Neutron Advanced will also be available as part of iZotope’s new Music Production Bundle 2. This combines iZotope’s latest products with its other tools, including Ozone 7 Advanced, Nectar 2 Production Suite, VocalSynth, Trash 2 Expanded, RX Plug-in Pack and Insight.

Once available, Neutron, Neutron Advanced, and the Music Production Bundle 2 will be discounted through October 31, 2016: Neutron will be available for $199 (reg.$249); Neutron Advanced will be available for $299 (reg. $349); and the Music Production Bundle 2 will be available for $499 (reg. $699).

When video editors need to deliver a CALM-compliant mix

Outpost Worldwide is a Kansas City-based production and post company that creates content for a variety of TV series, network game shows, reality shows, commercials and corporate videos.

Their television work includes shows like Strange: Exorcist, Garden Earth and Project Runway Latin America. Documentaries they have worked on include The Barber’s Diaries, No Shortcuts and Let Freedom Ring: The Lessons Are Priceless. Films include Fight Night, Dogs of Eden and Last Ounce of Courage.

With the passage of the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act by Congress, the responsibility to ensure audio mixes conform to the loudness standard falls not only on audio mixers, but also on video editors for shows that did not budget for a separate audio post session.

For Mark Renz, senior video editor at Outpost Worldwide, the task of delivering compliant mixes directly from his Avid Media Composer system was an extra burden in time and effort that should have been used for creative editing. If a show gets rejected by their Extreme Reach content management and delivery system, then further delays and costs are incurred either to send the show to audio post or have the Extreme Reach system fix the loudness itself.

“While many of our shows have budget for audio post, I frequently will also work on shows that have no separate audio budget, so it’s down to me to make sure audio coming out of my Media Composer system is compliant with the CALM Act,” explains Renz. “Since the majority of my time is spent putting a compelling story together, you can imagine that worrying about loudness is not something I really have a lot of time for.”

This is where iZotope’s RX Loudness Control comes in. “There’s not a whole lot to say, because it just works,” he says. “It’s two mouse clicks, and it’s much faster than realtime. The first click quickly analyzes the audio and displays a graph showing any problem areas. If I have time, I can quickly go in and manually adjust an area if I want; otherwise, clicking ‘Render’ is all that’s required to generate a compliant final mix.”

Mark is first to admit he’s not an “audio guy” so being able to rely on a tool that guarantees a compliant audio mix has been liberating. “I don’t have to worry what someone else might be doing to the audio to force it into compliance,” says Renz.

Review: iZotope’s RX Final Mix

Much more than a final mix tool.

By Ron DiCesare

iZotope has expanded their successful line of RX products with their latest plug-in called RX Final Mix. But don’t let the name fool you. RX Final Mix does a lot more than just improve a final mix as a last step, like a mastering plug-in. iZotope offers the Ozone 6 mastering system for just that purpose. RX Final Mix is different. RX Final Mix can be used on a single audio track as part of a mix, on stems or sub-groups of tracks and, of course, across the master fader on the audio mix as a whole.

RX Final Mix is unlike anything I have ever used before, and from what I can tell it has carved out its own niche in the audio plug-in market. It is basically a dynamic EQ or a “smart” EQ that reacts to your program material by using intelligent DSP. It has six independent threshold settings on each of the frequency bands that can trigger at different rates — or not at all — across the entire frequency range of your program material. I think the best comparison I can make is that it is similar to a de-esser, but on steroids.

Ron DiCesare

Ron DiCesare

Like the RX 4 Bundles, RX Final Mix is available for Mac OS X 10.7 or later and Windows 7 or later. Plug-in formats are Audiosuite DPM and AAX; RTAS 32-bit; AAX 64-bit; AU; VST2; and VST3 32-/64-bit, and it is compatible with many popular programs, such as Pro Tools 10-12, Nuendo 6.5, Premiere Pro CC 2014 and 2015, and Logic X. The list price is $299.00.

Designed for Audio Post Work
RX Final Mix has been developed specifically for audio post production. So, one of the first things I used RX Final Mix on was troublesome production dialog for a project I was working on for Vice Media. One thing Vice is known for is their “run-and-gun” or “guerrilla-style” news reports from all corners of the world. Anyone familiar with news reporting in the field, reality shows and the like, knows how difficult the production sound is to mix. I was anxious to see how well RX Final Mix would handle the age-old problem of improving clarity on dialog tracks.

The program I was mixing was for Vice’s latest channel called Noisey, a channel dedicated to music programming. I had a hard time pulling the dialog out of a scene where there was a large party happening. The musicians were talking and their lines were buried in the background noise. However, it was the kind of background walla that is not necessarily the best candidate to use RX 4’s Dialogue Denoiser or Denoise on. By running the dialog track through RX Final Mix, I was able to dynamically EQ the dialog for clarity rather than for noise removal.

Here is the difference, and why it is so important: I have been in many situations where the dialog is difficult to hear, but if I eliminate too much (or in rare cases any amount) of the background noise it seems completely unnatural when watching the video. I sometimes have a bad habit of not looking at my video reference as I am mixing and cleaning up dialog. I get so focused on the task at hand that I can forget how important my eyes are when mixing.

The best example happened on a recent set of Health Mart Pharmacy TV commercials I was working on. All of the on-camera dialog came from the actors on the street outside of the pharmacy. During the mix, I removed all of the outdoor city and traffic noise to get the dialog nice and clear. I was so focused on getting the dialog clean that I was not paying attention to the action on the screen. When I finally watched it back, it looked so odd and unnatural that I can only describe it as an “out of body” experience for the actors talking in the scene.

i When faced with a case like this where removing the background noise is odd and unnatural, RX Final Mix gives you a whole host of options and controls for achieving clarity with dialog while keeping the necessary background sounds. Starting with the presets is a good idea when first using RX Final Mix. The main presets are Dialog, Master, Music, Production Elements and Sound Effects. Within each preset is a large menu of choices or sub-presets (for lack of a better term).

For example, Dialog offers sub-presets such as Brightness, Intelligibly and Cheap Mic Removal. Master offers Crisp High End, Laptop and Cheap Nasal Removal. All of the presets can be customized and changed. They can be used as starting places to experiment with or can be used as is — you choose your preference.

How It All Works
RX Final Mix is essentially two plug-ins in one — it works as a dynamic or “reactive” EQ and as a limiter. The key to understanding it all is to explore the difference between Static Mode and Dynamic Mode. In Static Mode, RX Final Mix acts as a standard EQ offering six independent EQ frequency bands, High Pass and Low Pass. In Dynamic Mode, it opens up what is new ground for me in the world of audio plug-ins.

Let’s start with the Static Mode where the EQ acts just like a standard EQ. It offers customizable settings, such as Proportional Q and, of course, your gain control across all six frequency bands. The graphic display makes it easy to grab any of the band numbers for quick adjustments as well as the independent on/off button for each Band, the HP and the LP.

izotope-rx-final-mix-microview-pressresourceIn Dynamic Mode, the possibilities grow considerably. Dynamic Mode allows the plug-in to work in tandem with the program material and the DSP Intelligence. What makes it so customizable and flexible are all the options on each of the six EQ nodes or bands. You have the ability select each of the bands to be on or off, and, more importantly, to be static or dynamic. Here you have the ability to have it acting in each mode selectively. And because the threshold is independent on each of the six bands, you can select each of the six thresholds to trigger at different rates — or not at all — to really dial in your desired result.

If you dig a little deeper here, things can really get interesting. Dynamic Mode has two independent modes to select from, Compress or Expand. By selecting Compress, you can reduce the volume of the signal when it crosses the threshold point. By selecting Expand, you can increase the volume of the signal when it crosses the threshold point. Again, this is available on each of the six frequency bands independently.

If you go even deeper, there is a kind of “smart” technology used in the EQ based on DSP intelligence. An example of how intelligent the DSP can be is if you have an audio track that is dull only in certain sections rather than dull throughout, the threshold can be set to boost the high-end during the dull points only. Because of the combination of smart technology and threshold settings, it knows to stop or back off when a section comes along that does have enough high-end.

If all of this wasn’t enough, there is a limiter built into it as well. This can be used or not used with the selection of the on/off button. The limiter is independent of the settings and functions of the Static and Dynamic Modes of the EQ. The limiter is pretty straightforward, offering True PeRX Final Mix presets for masteringak and control over the gain and threshold just as you would expect.

Does It Work on Music?
When I first heard of RX Final Mix I immediately thought it was only for mastering. As I mentioned above, this is not the case. Even so, I still wanted to try it on a final music mix just as I would use a mastering plug-in. I, like many of my musician friends, can record and mix high-quality CDs at home but can’t really afford to go the extra step of mastering with a real mastering engineer.

Using this plug-in, I tried the music presets on an album I mixed for my band, which was completed at the end of last year. I was impressed. It did sound like what a mastering engineer might do to enhance a mix. I was particularly impressed with the Clarity and Impact preset, which added so much more life into my music mixes. It actually made me want to re-do my entire CD and repress all the copies!

What’s In A Name?
Don’t let the name fool you. I feel RX Final Mix could easily be overlooked as an option for your studio simply because the name does not tell the whole story. Quite frankly, I do not know what to call it because I have never seen or used a plug-in like RX Final Mix before. That’s why I can’t stress enough how it is much more than just a final mix tool and is proving to be the most versatile EQ plug-in I have ever used.

I think this plug-in can be used in so many ways that each audio engineer will find it to be helpful on something different. I found it to be extremely helpful with reducing background noise on production dialog, while iZotope suggests that it is very useful on mixing stems, particularly sound effect stems. I think each person will find his or her own favorite use for it.

iZotope refers to RX Final Mix on their website as a program-dependent EQ that provides intelligent dynamic control over EQ adjustments. I refer to it as amazing.

Ron DiCesare is a creative audio pro whose spot work includes campaigns for Tidy Cats, NJ Lotto and Beggin’ Strips. His film work — Con Artist, B.A.M. 150 and Fishing Without Nets — has been showcased at the Tribeca and Sundance Film Festivals. He also works with audio post for Vice Media on their news reports and web series. You can contact him at rononizer@gmail.com.

NAB: We are a lucky bunch of nerds

By William Rogers

I bolted awake at 5am this morning, Las Vegas time.

I’m still ticking on New York City’s clock, and I don’t think that I’ll be changing that any time this week. I’ve also completely refrained from gambling, drinking (besides a sip of wine at a Monday night dinner with OWC) and any other activities that would cause me to think about keeping what happened here, here.

Between running laps around the South Lower hall of the convention center, I had to stop and take my brain away from my calendar app to reflect on a thought that kept popping up in my head; I really, really love the people here at NAB.

I’m not necessarily talking about the cornerstone vendors and the keynote speakers, but more about the passionate people that are standing behind something that they truly pour their heart and soul into. After the vendor representatives and I would get past the product demos and the required reading, we’d get into a more human conversation and still keep it relative to our body of work.

I like that. I can’t stand fluff and disingenuousness. I can’t stand purposeless self-promotion. What I love is when I ask the right question, and I see people stand a few inches taller because they’re not slumping into their required schpiel.

We filmmakers work in an incredible field. It doesn’t matter what role we’re in, whether it be the grip throwing up the Kinos for an interview, or the online editor who meticulously scrutinizes the footage for the conform.

We’re a lucky bunch of nerds.

My Tuesday

LaCieLaCie showed off a bunch of new stuff. They’re pushing out two new Rugged drives, one spinning disk capable of RAID 0/1, and another with SSD and Thunderbolt tailored for speedy field transfers. I also got an extensive look at the 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2, which is a multi-multi Terabyte storage solution equipped with Thunderbolt 2, enterprise class drives, and 1330 MB/s speed for 4K editing.

I stopped by Small Tree, who provides Ethernet-based server solutions for in-house editing as well as mobile server storage. Small Tree provided their Titanium Z-5 shared storage system for Digiboyz Inc., who used Small Tree’s capabilities on Netflix’s Trailer Park Boys.

SwitchTelestream had a multitude of post-production software solutions on display, but I was directed to check out Switch. Switch is a media player with an elegant UI, but is meant for QC inspection, transcoding and file modifications. For post houses that need to view and modify a vast array of file types including transport streams, Switch is DPP/AMWA-certified software that provides a reliable alternative to open source software.

Facilis was debuting their own venture into the SSD world with Terrablock 24D/HA. The Hybrid Array has 8 onboard SSD drives for ultra-high performance partitions, alongside traditional SATA drives. The combination allows for space scalability inherent to spinning disk drives, while taking advantage of the speed of SSD drives.izotope

I made my way over to Izotope, who specializes in audio finishing plug-ins based on advance audio analyzing. Their software RX4, which plugs into DAWs as well as NLEs, was demonstrating several nifty ways to rescue seemingly lost audio—my favorite was a preset that was able to detect and eliminate GSM cell phone interference on their visual audio spectrum analysis.

For those not in the know, on-site media storage will eventually be a thing of the past, even for large HD(+) media workflows. Aframe Aframewas going to give me a demo of the usability of their online UI, but we got sidetracked discussing their future integration with Adobe Anywhere. Keep an eye out, because within the next few years, public customers will be able to upload all of their video assets to the cloud and live edit with no media stored on local discs.

CTRL+Console showed off their iPad app, which is used to control NLEs and other post software, like Adobe Lightroom. Meant as a keyboard replacement, you can turn your tablet (currently limited to iPad) into a touchscreen console without learning keyboard hotkeys.

Cinegy was kind enough to escort me to a breakout room for snacks and chilly water over a conversation about the post industry. Cinegy provides software technology for digital video processing, asset management, compression and playback in broadcast environments. This year, they were rolling out Version 10 of their software featuring 4K IP-based broadcast solutions Cinegy Multiviewer and Cinegy Route, as well as Cinegy Air PRO, Cinegy Type and a variety of other solutions.

I met up with T2 Computing, who designs and implements IT solutions for post-production facilities and media companies. T2 recently teamed up with Tekserve to overhaul their invoicing and PO management system.

I’d say it was a successful Tuesday. I tried to get into my hotel pool later that evening, but my efforts to aquatically relax were thwarted by a Las Vegas sandstorm. Instead, I kicked my feet up to read a few more chapters from my Kindle, which was exactly what I needed.

Will is an editor, artist and all around creative professional working as a Post Production Coordinator for DB Productions in NYC.

Review: The iZotope RX3, RX 3 Advanced

RX_3_boxui_combo

The phrase, “we can fix it in the mix” makes my skin crawl. That’s not because it’s untrue, but because it’s partially true. Not many people know exactly what can or cannot be fixed in a mixing session long after a shoot or recording session has wrapped.

On a set, it is more likely to be said as wishful thinking rather than cold hard fact. Thankfully now, the list of what can be fixed in the mix has gotten a lot longer thanks to the iZotope RX 3 and RX 3 Advanced.

I am a recording engineer working in NYC with almost 25 years of experience mainly focusing on TV and radio commercials. I have used a lot of different types of technology and products over the years. iZotope is a name that I have been familiar with for a long time, but I never had the pleasure of working with any of their products until now.

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