Spotting Your First Project

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The Music Telegraph
Text 2020-06-26


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Spotting Your First Project


Before you can start putting audio into your Pro Tools session, you should organize your soundtrack by compiling a list of all the sounds you need. In order to do this, you'll go through a spotting session, which is the process of identifying the scene locations where dialog, music, and sound effects will be placed. You'll log all this information on a cue sheet, which is made up of a vertical timeline showing the time code from the final cut, and a number of columns to the right used for writing down information about the different sound elements. (Figure 1)



Figure 1: A Cue Sheet

You'll be deciding where your audio elements will be placed on each scene, and will write the following information about each event:


- A brief description (e.g. "Narrator", "Trash Can Drop", etc.)

- The sound's start time in SMPTE time code

- The sound's end time in SMPTE time code


It's important to note that you won't be looking for the actual sounds you'll be using. The spotting session only pinpoints where sound elements should go, not what the precise sound will be. For instance, if there is a car sound at some point in your scene, your cue sheet would list a brief description of it (e.g. "car driving by") and its 'in' and 'out' points, but no specific sound source. Later on, you'll spend time selecting just the right sound for each event and will conform it directly into Pro Tools (i.e. record/import the audio so it's ready for use in your session).






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