Conforming and re-conforming are essential (and somewhat dreaded) parts of the audio post-production process in which a revised cut of a project containing scene or edit changes, and a guide/reference track are passed from a video editor and integrated into your session. For some sound editors, just hearing the term 're-conform' is enough to send a shiver down their spine. However, thanks to the development of new tools in recent years, this process is nowhere near as tedious and time-consuming as in past times. Today we'll be taking a look at one such tool: Cut-it by HAL.
Our Rating: 4/5
Cut-it by HAL is a standalone software developed to revolutionize your workflow while re-conforming. With speed and ease of use being the focus of this tool, there are less advanced features included when compared to similar offerings on the market. That by no means stops Cut-it from being an incredibly useful application, nonetheless. HAL wanted to cater to a very specific use case here, which some would argue is a smart move. Executing one idea well could yield a better outcome than attempting to overextend themselves.
In their own words:
”Cut-it is an app designed for sound editors who want to quickly detect and spot video cuts in their DAW. It is very helpful for editing the audio according to the cuts of a video.”
Key Features & Benefits
Cut-it allows you to import either an EDL (Edit decision list) or a video file into the software. Most major video codecs seem to be compatible, with listed examples including Apple ProRes 422, DNxHD, H.264/5, and DV25/50. By default, the app will analyse the whole imported file but does have the choice to analyse only specific parts through the 'Timecode In/Out' settings. This could be a useful option to have in a scenario where only certain sequences have been changed. The 'Video Start Offset' setting, which allows you to input the starting timecode of a video file within your DAW session, is a nice inclusion, making the import of your Cut-it AAF even easier for users. From here, the last and most important settings are how you want scene changes to be visually represented. The two options are 'Markers' and/or 'Empty Clips'; whether to use both or just one of these comes down to personal preference. Once your settings are dialled in, hit 'Cut It' to export an AAF file, ready to import into your DAW of choice. HAL's website states this can be imported into 'most major DAWs', named examples include Pro Tools and Logic.
Some small features also worth mentioning are the inclusion of a dark and light theme for the software user interface. Plus, the option to change window size between small, medium, & large. Which is always appreciated and something we wish more software developers integrated into plug-ins and applications.
What It's Useful For
Saving time when identifying cuts and changes is great for sound designers and engineers working in a team. Software like Cut-it is perfect for doing just that. Potentially leaving the need for only one person to deal with re-conforming while others can focus on the heftier sound design or editing tasks. However, the area where this falls a touch short is after the changes have been identified; it would still take a good amount of manual labour to move things and fix any alterations. A future feature comparing multiple video sources and resulting in an AAF that only generate markers/clips during parts of the project that have changed. Or even better, to automatically makes said changes could be a good idea for re-conforming, especially.
We would use this software for both conforming and re-conforming. Helping us when conforming a new project by using the visual cues Cut-it provides to organize our session, allowing for easy navigation. When re-conforming, we would mostly use this to analyse specific sections of a project for any changes.
The Bottom Line
HAL has produced a great piece of software with lots of future potential here. A simple idea paired with good execution makes HAL a company to keep an eye out for, and Cut-it a great choice for conforming and/or re-conforming small to medium-sized projects. This offering could be especially attractive to sound editors who are beginning to get consistent work on short films or TV in the early stages of their career. Its features may seem limited in comparison to more expensive offerings available, but the price point is more than fair in terms of value for money.
Cut-it is a standalone software application and requires a free I-Lok account to use.
For more from HAL and the purchase information for Cut-it follow these links:
If you enjoyed this post please check out our ultimate guide to audio post-production:
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