What is the big deal with Video Slave?

MrJul

New Member
Hi there,

as a Pro Tools user I would like to know about the pros of Video Slave by Non-Lethal Applications (compared to Pro Tools' video engine), say, for scoring or dubbing.

Cheers!

- MrJul
 

KV626

Member
I was asking myself the exact same question, so I downloaded the demo yesterday. The fact that I can have as many video files as I want loaded in video slave already seals the deal for me. I work mostly in film music, I don't have PT Ultimate, and having the ability to work with more than one video file in one session is a true blessing!

Video Slave also eliminates video engine errors, so no more "unable to create thumbnails" or "AVE coudn't stop" messages. No more codec issues either.

I'm probably going to use Video Slave on the same computer as PT, so Video Slave's network functions are irrelevant at the moment for me.


I used the demo only a couple of times yesterday so I can't give you much more, however I strongly consider a purchase.
 

Bender-offender

Active Member
Video Slave is expensive but well worth the money. I purchased version 2 a couple years ago and it’s made running video super smooth and stable.

I used Logic for a long time and slaved Pro Tools to it which worked really well, especially since Pro Tools reacts to MMC from Logic.

About 7 years ago I switched to Cubase and quickly found out Cubase and Pro Tools don’t like each other’s MTC and MMC. I tried slaving Logic and DP to Cubase (which worked fine) but every once in awhile things would get messed up.

Anyway, I decided to invest in Video Slave. It always works perfect with whichever DAW I’m using and the sync with MTC and MMC is spot on. It’s quick and simple to set up a new video and doesn’t need to “import” the audio to take up disk space.

If I had any gripe about it, it’d be that I wish you can add audio tracks (like a DAW), record in a cue, then export just that cue to video. I know that’s an extensive request, but right now I use Video Slave for video, then when I’m done with a cue, I need to open up Logic or Pro Tools and record the cue, export to video, send it off. My point is it’d be much easier to have a single application to do it all.
 

goalie composer

Active Member
I purchased Video Slave a couple of films ago and am thankful I did. It sped up my workflow considerably in regards to setting up new cues and allowed me to conform cues to new cuts with relative ease. Before using Video Slave I was loading the video into Cubase every time which became time consuming when I had to write 50+ cues. It's an investment but a worthwhile one for sure.
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
I am biased (because I begged / helped Flo develop VideoSlave), but I've been running video on a video-only slave machine forever, since the days of the G4 computers which were barely fast enough to play a single video without choking so putting the video inside the DAW slowed things to a crawl. Even though computers these days are fast enough to deal, here's why I still love that workflow:

- Cues in the DAW don't have to have video in them. This means that things work a little quicker, sure... but it also means that if you want to re-purpose a cue from reel 1 into a place in reel 4 you just change the SMPTE start point and get going. No un-loading the old video and loading the new video and adjusting sync.

- VideoSlave can have tons of video files loaded into a playlist, each with a SMPTE start point. When the start point for any video arrives, that video will play. This means you can load up all of the reels in a film into a single playlist and as you switch between cues in your DAW the correct video will always play, without touching VideoSlave. Basically once you create the playlist for a project you don't have to touch VideoSlave until delivery is complete.

- If a new version of one of the reels arrives, you just drop that one into the playlist in VideoSlave and you're done. You won't need to re-load that new video file into each of the affected cues in your DAW.

- I hate having the temp and dialog/sfx audio tracks in my DAW. I route the audio output of the VideoSlave machine into my main DAW's audio interface, and route that via the CueMix feature (or TotalMix if you're on RME) to my center speaker. Since I have a hardware mute button for the center speaker, I can use that to toggle the temp/dialog on and off. Much better than fiddling with on-screen mixer controls to deal with that. You could even use a $79 footswitch mute box (or build one for $15) to do this.

- Various versions of VideoSlave allow for you to import audio into them, and then export QuickTime movies with that audio for when you need to send preview QT's for directors and producers. Much easier than messing with your DAW's "export audio to movie" functions.

It will require a separate computer, and it can't be some old boat anchor like a G5 machine. Needs to be Intel and a fairly recent OS version. I use a 2012 Mac Mini i7 with SSD and it doesn't even breathe hard. Video comes out the built-in HDMI port, audio comes out the headphone jack - done. You can also use various BlackMagic video i/o boxes and a proper audio interface if you want to get fancy.

VideoSlave rocks!
 
OP
M

MrJul

New Member
Thank you all for answering! :)

Could you go a little bit more into the cons when using Pro Tools with its own video engine (compared to Video Slave)?
 

KV626

Member
Thank you all for answering! :)

Could you go a little bit more into the cons when using Pro Tools with its own video engine (compared to Video Slave)?
Off the top of my head...

- AVE is very "codec-sensitive"
- Even with ProRes files, I have many "unable to create thumbnails" errors, which can makes PT hang sometimes.
- As soon as the AVE is "unable to stop" you're done, you have to force quit PT at some point, potentially unable to save (even with auto-save that doesn't mean you're 100% safe)
- "waiting on video operation to complete" can lead to a force quit too
- force quitting PT more than once will eventually force you to restart altogether.
- you can't bounce outside of the video region (which was possible before but somehow it's impossible now), for example when you have music for a credits sequence but the actual credits sequence is not done yet, so you need music after the video has ended. Before PT was just freezing the last frame, now it just won't bounce at all, just stays on the "bounce to QuickTime" dialog forever.


...Now... that doesn't mean that these errors happen all the time. They don't. AVE works (mostly) fine for me, but something like Video Slave completely eliminates these issues so you never have to worry about them anymore, and it does make PT a little bit quicker (I just don't want to say snappier ;)).
 

Bender-offender

Active Member
- Various versions of VideoSlave allow for you to import audio into them, and then export QuickTime movies with that audio for when you need to send preview QT's for directors and producers. Much easier than messing with your DAW's "export audio to movie" functions.
Hi Charlie, how does the exporting option work? I read the “export” section on NLA’s website and from what I gathered it seems you need to export the entire video. Or is it possible to import the music cue and select just a portion of the video to export—similar to Logic? Also, are you able to automate the dialogue/music cue to adjust for volume differences?

Thanks for all your generous info you always provide on this forum! :)
 

X-Bassist

Senior Member
As mentioned the pros are multiple videos open at once and not having to deal with Avid Video engine problems (still issues in PT2018). To make it work smoothly in protools I still need to convert the video. Pro res works but I’ve had better luck with a .264 MP4. Even when I recieve an MP4 from the editor I find re converting it at 50% compression in .264 helps it to work smoother in PT than anything else.

One con not mentioned: I personally like playing parts in live (for more realistic lines) and there are times I want something smoother or faster than I can play. If the video is in protools I can play it all at half speed to record the line in, then playback at normal speed to check it. Easy.

Another is my system is now handling everything, including video, pretty smoothly for all but the biggest sessions. I have a slave I can use but I appreciate not having to fire it up often. I’ve spent the last few years switching back and forth between all Pro Tools and using VS, either way has it advantages. But mainly it’s been about how big the session is and taking some of the strain off the DAW machine. Being able to bounce out a small clip or cue quickly is also quicker if everything is in PT.

There are also other video slave app solutions that are cheaper. Most do not play more than one video at a time and some need you to re enter the video offset each time the app is opened (leading me to leave my computer on 24/7). Also there can be network issues that make setup a pain (although I’ve never had this problem with VS).

I would suggest using the VS3 demo on a project and see if it works well on your system and with your workflow, then decide if it’s worth the cost.
https://non-lethal-applications.com/products/video-slave-3
 
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MatFluor

Senior Member
As far as I've seen, VideoSlave is Mac only, right? IS there a windows version planned sometime?
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
Hi Charlie, how does the exporting option work? I read the “export” section on NLA’s website and from what I gathered it seems you need to export the entire video. Or is it possible to import the music cue and select just a portion of the video to export—similar to Logic? Also, are you able to automate the dialogue/music cue to adjust for volume differences?

Thanks for all your generous info you always provide on this forum! :)
I do know that VideoSlave can export just a range of the source movie, but believe it or not I've never used the export function. The last time I needed to create a preview myself was back in the days of standalone DVD recorders and courier services! These days, if I need to create a preview QT for producers or directors I just send my audio to the picture editors and they can drop it in, since they're already creating tons of picture previews and already have a secure viewing solution like PIX or something. On my last gig the producers were watching previews on their iPads or iPhones using PIX, which requires account creation and secure login and provides detailed tracking info about who viewed what clips, what version they viewed, when they viewed it, and on what device and IP address. This eliminates any issues with keeping the program material secret and secure - or at least makes it someone else's problem. With all the leaks these days the studios / networks have gotten pretty tight about this stuff over here.

So I can't speak to that part of the VideoSlave workflow. But there's a fully-functional demo version on their website - give it a try!
 

samphony

Senior Member
As soon as you work with Disney related projects you are delivering audio only anyways. The editors take care of picture previews like Charlie said.
 

KerrySmith

Member
What everyone else said, but for Pro Tools specifically, the AVE uses a ton of resources.

I found that when I was running a heavy VI load AND video in Pro Tools (via the AVE), the performance was just BAD, with more CPU spikes and lagging, even with a DNxHD vid.

When I switched to Video Slave and turned the Avid Video Engine off, everything started running much more smoothly.

That’s the short and fast “why”. All of the other stuff mentioned in other comments is also good, but a bonus when running PT.

FWIW tho, when I have an audio-only session (like an all-cues stem-review) the video works fine in Pro Tools. But tax it with some Instrument Tracks.... ho boy.

Also, I run all of this on the same machine - Maxed-out 12-core Silver Mac Pro. Doesn’t totally need a separate machine. Couldn’t hurt tho.
 
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Bender-offender

Active Member
I do know that VideoSlave can export just a range of the source movie, but believe it or not I've never used the export function. The last time I needed to create a preview myself was back in the days of standalone DVD recorders and courier services! These days, if I need to create a preview QT for producers or directors I just send my audio to the picture editors and they can drop it in, since they're already creating tons of picture previews and already have a secure viewing solution like PIX or something. On my last gig the producers were watching previews on their iPads or iPhones using PIX, which requires account creation and secure login and provides detailed tracking info about who viewed what clips, what version they viewed, when they viewed it, and on what device and IP address. This eliminates any issues with keeping the program material secret and secure - or at least makes it someone else's problem. With all the leaks these days the studios / networks have gotten pretty tight about this stuff over here.

So I can't speak to that part of the VideoSlave workflow. But there's a fully-functional demo version on their website - give it a try!
Thanks for your input, Charlie :)

I’ve been using Video Slave 2 for a long time and did demo VS 3. I really didn’t feel there was anything in 3 that was worth the upgrade price. I’ll just stick with 2 and continue to export cues from Pro Tools and/or Logic.

Thanks again!
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
I'm just looking at using VS in my workflow - and noticed it is now onto Video Slave V4 which seems to bring a tonne of audio features folk have been asking for.
I'm still to 100% work out *how* I'll be integrating it into my flow, but I think Charlie's ideas are a good start.

A few things that I'm still to figure out exactly are :
How I deal with audio on the VS machine (it is going to be a separate machine for me.) I love that it can run the temp audio/temp tracks. However, I don't (yet) have a decent audio output from my video slave machine. I thought of using dante - but then would need to run dante PLUS my RME drivers on my composing machine, which feels like it might not be the most ideal scenario.
- I hate having the temp and dialog/sfx audio tracks in my DAW. I route the audio output of the VideoSlave machine into my main DAW's audio interface, and route that via the CueMix feature (or TotalMix if you're on RME) to my center speaker. Since I have a hardware mute button for the center speaker, I can use that to toggle the temp/dialog on and off. Much better than fiddling with on-screen mixer controls to deal with that. You could even use a $79 footswitch mute box (or build one for $15) to do this.

VideoSlave rocks!
So how are you routing the audio? Is it just analog out of your VS machine/analog into your other RME interface? Hm - I might look at a cheap interface in that case. Or even a cheap digital interface that does AES / ADAT or similar.

Another little question for any VS users here : how do you actually do the workflow for reviews?
In the past, my template composing session (that I use for each individual cue) has a number of different outputs. For exporting, the two I use most are Music only, and Music + Temp Dialog (with its own music group feeding it where I can do very rough dipping for the director). I always output both. Then import the music only to my preview session (a separate session with all reels + cues loaded) and use either the temp mix or music only mix to stripe back to short video files (or back to whole reels) for the director.

I always think that this scenario can be streamlined - and its like VS4 is *almost* there.

IE : don't run ANY temp audio in Nuendo. Just have it in VS4. Output my music cue (music only) and bump that straight to VS4. Then in VS4 I do all the exports as required. The only downside to this is that there doesn't seem to be a way to "dip" music with automation in VS4 (unless I'm missing something.) Is the alternative that I dip the music using a group in nuendo, and then just export a dipped and non-dipped version to VS4 - and then choose which to use depending on what is required. Of course, this stuffs up completely if I need to move a cue (I'd need to export it again to get a new non-dipped version depending on the volume automation required.) It all just seems messy. I'd love simple and clean, but cannot get my head around it right now. I'm not at the level where the music editor is available to me all the time to do various exports / temp mixes.

*Maybe* the best idea is just to always export my music at a level that just kinda works with the temp audio - and leave it at that. I'd be curious as to what others do. My experience with this is that older, more experienced directors/producers are more than happy with this / understand. Its the younger ones who come from a commercials background who demand a lot more nuance/feeling of "finished" early in the piece and therefore, dipping things is important.

Anyway - I'd appreciate any more discussion. I'm starting my demo of this and want to try get my head around it in the next week before starting on my next feature mid jan.
Thanks
 

X-Bassist

Senior Member
I use Video Slave 3 on another computer and if you run midi machine control, it will scrub and fully stay in sync with Pro Tools, which is pretty clever for a 2nd computer. I don't normally use the VS audio- easy enough to import the temp track so I can "see" where it is against the track (Import the video into PT with the audio, then take the video and engine offline). But when I want to check it I have a line out of the computer hooked into an input of my interface.

For me I'm not sure anything VS4 adds will be of use to me, since I'm loving how it works now and I only need it to sync video (saves much PT resources). You do have to connect to the midi network on the 2nd computer each time you boot, but VS remembers the last playlist you were on, and rolls once you connect. I really wish some of the cheaper options did these seemingly simple things. But a sale on VS thankfully put it in the rear view for the moment. ;)
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
So how are you routing the audio? Is it just analog out of your VS machine/analog into your other RME interface? Hm - I might look at a cheap interface in that case. Or even a cheap digital interface that does AES / ADAT or similar.

Another little question for any VS users here : how do you actually do the workflow for reviews?
In the past, my template composing session (that I use for each individual cue) has a number of different outputs. For exporting, the two I use most are Music only, and Music + Temp Dialog (with its own music group feeding it where I can do very rough dipping for the director). I always output both. Then import the music only to my preview session (a separate session with all reels + cues loaded) and use either the temp mix or music only mix to stripe back to short video files (or back to whole reels) for the director.
My VideoSlave machine is a 2012 Mac Mini with SSD boot drive. HDMI comes right out the back of the Mini to my television, and audio from VideoSlave comes out of the headphone jack on the back of the Mini into a pair of 1/4" inputs on my MOTU 1248 which is part of the AVB audio interface setup on my Logic machine. The CueMix software on the MOTU's can route those 1/4" inputs directly to my speakers without routing it into Logic (or needing to create Aux inputs in Logic), so there is no chance that I'll be including the dialog/temp (or floor noise from those inputs) in any bounces done within Logic. CueMix, much like RME's TotalMix, can route incoming audio directly to outputs without that audio going through the DAW.

On my current setup I route dialog and temp to my center speaker, and my Dynaudio AIR system has dedicated hardware mute buttons right on the included remote for each of the channels in the 5.1 array. Since I don't route any music to the center channel, I can just use the center channel mute button as a quick+dirty mute button for the dialog+temp.

I may be switching to a Genelec monitoring system which only has a volume knob but no channel mute buttons, so for that situation I'll whip up a couple of analog mute boxes and place them in between the headphone output of the Mini and the 1/4" inputs on the MOTU setup. I could just use guitar A/B footswitches for that but I want slick lighted buttons permanently installed on my work surface, so it will take a little bit of fabrication. (I won't be doing it - I'll have a guitar tech whip something up). I might use something like this:

https://tesiswitch.com/shop?keywords=latching&olsPage=products/tesi-rg-latch-16mm-red-green-dual-led-latching-push-button-guitar-kill-switch-select-switch-color

I want them to light up red when muted, and green (for temp) and yellow (for dialog) when un-muted, and to be flush-mounted into the surface of my desk just above my trackball. So it will involve some drilling and minor soldering. No biggie.

As to your second question about workflow for reviews - I just send the music to the picture editor and they drop it in to whatever cut they have in front of them. Most of the projects I work on need asset control and security, so they won't be cool with me just burning QuickTimes and sending them to whoever via Dropbox, YouSendIt, or whatever. But the picture edit department already has secure servers using a service like Pix or similar. Since they need to be able to send edits, VFX previews, etc. to the directors+producers on a daily basis, and they need to be able to track who viewed what version, and when, that system is already in place. If the picture edit department is not operating when I'm working (like if it's a movie and they've already shut down editing) then I send my rough mixes to my music editor and let him deal with it.

However, sometimes security is looser, schedules are tighter, and/or the budget is lower, so in cases like that where I do need to send a QuickTime off to someone with my rough mixes alongside picture and dialog, I could just drop my rough mixes into VideoSlave and export to QuickTime right from there. This is a new feature and I haven't tested it though. You can do a similar thing in Logic ("Export Audio to Movie") but you need to have the dialog in your Logic project and I don't like doing that.

The last time I had to make my own QuickTimes I was doing real-time record: Play the rough mixes from ProTools (which in my rig is on a separate, dedicated, ProTools-only computer), with video and dialog coming from VideoSlave, mix the dialog against the ProTools audio live on the MOTU CueMix software, feed the video straight across, and capture the result in FinalCut on another computer (or on a DVD recorder back in the day). The reason I did it that way is because I want to manually ride the fader on the level of my rough mixes as it goes down. It just takes too much time to write or draw automation to duck the music around dialog - quicker to just do it live. I used to have to give a preview of an entire 42-minute tv episode every week, and I could just burn it in one pass. But it's been a few years since I did that. I don't think I'd need FinalCut anymore; a simple capture-to-QT app is out there I'm sure.
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
Oh thanks for all this!
Re audio - oh of course I can use the mac mini output - I just didn't even think of that! I also have a spare little apogee ONE around if noise is a problem.
Hm.
Nice!
Re speakers. I mix into quad most of the time - but aklso have another 8 channel system (for odd installation work.) . Its fairly trivial to setup a speaker in the centre (though how that will fit for me ergonomically is interesting... oh the fun of setting things up! I have no space between my main 43" computer monitor and screen for the pics to put a centre right now (and no other use for a centre speaker). I'll think about that.

I'm talking <$5million features, so edit department wont be available and they're not putting on a music editor for most of the time I'm on. So i'm in charge of doing it myself. I'll explore things with VS and let you know how I get along.

Re your ideas when changing to Genelec monitoring... have you tried the RME USB controller? I find it awesome - and am sure there's a way you could create mute buttons for dialog + temp audio using that... not sure about a colour - but you'd just set up 3 different rme snapshots depending on what you want to hear, and select them from a dedicated button on the controller.
 

KerrySmith

Member
I'm just looking at using VS in my workflow - and noticed it is now onto Video Slave V4 which seems to bring a tonne of audio features folk have been asking for.
I'm still to 100% work out *how* I'll be integrating it into my flow, but I think Charlie's ideas are a good start.

A few things that I'm still to figure out exactly are :
How I deal with audio on the VS machine (it is going to be a separate machine for me.) I love that it can run the temp audio/temp tracks. However, I don't (yet) have a decent audio output from my video slave machine. I thought of using dante - but then would need to run dante PLUS my RME drivers on my composing machine, which feels like it might not be the most ideal scenario.


So how are you routing the audio? Is it just analog out of your VS machine/analog into your other RME interface? Hm - I might look at a cheap interface in that case. Or even a cheap digital interface that does AES / ADAT or similar.

Another little question for any VS users here : how do you actually do the workflow for reviews?
In the past, my template composing session (that I use for each individual cue) has a number of different outputs. For exporting, the two I use most are Music only, and Music + Temp Dialog (with its own music group feeding it where I can do very rough dipping for the director). I always output both. Then import the music only to my preview session (a separate session with all reels + cues loaded) and use either the temp mix or music only mix to stripe back to short video files (or back to whole reels) for the director.

I always think that this scenario can be streamlined - and its like VS4 is *almost* there.

IE : don't run ANY temp audio in Nuendo. Just have it in VS4. Output my music cue (music only) and bump that straight to VS4. Then in VS4 I do all the exports as required. The only downside to this is that there doesn't seem to be a way to "dip" music with automation in VS4 (unless I'm missing something.) Is the alternative that I dip the music using a group in nuendo, and then just export a dipped and non-dipped version to VS4 - and then choose which to use depending on what is required. Of course, this stuffs up completely if I need to move a cue (I'd need to export it again to get a new non-dipped version depending on the volume automation required.) It all just seems messy. I'd love simple and clean, but cannot get my head around it right now. I'm not at the level where the music editor is available to me all the time to do various exports / temp mixes.

*Maybe* the best idea is just to always export my music at a level that just kinda works with the temp audio - and leave it at that. I'd be curious as to what others do. My experience with this is that older, more experienced directors/producers are more than happy with this / understand. Its the younger ones who come from a commercials background who demand a lot more nuance/feeling of "finished" early in the piece and therefore, dipping things is important.

Anyway - I'd appreciate any more discussion. I'm starting my demo of this and want to try get my head around it in the next week before starting on my next feature mid jan.
Thanks

FWIW - I run Video Slave on the same machine as my DAW (Cheesegrater Mac Pro). I route the VS audio to the SPDIF optical out of the computer, and connect that to a spare optical input on my converter. My template has a track that uses this input, and I have a dedicated mute “button” assigned on one of my controllers to toggle it on/off. Seems to work well.