Sound editing can be an unenviable job: against some sometimes absurdly tight deadlines, you have to work with complex, extensive changes to the film or TV show. Virtual Katy is a piece of software that integrates with Final Cut and Avid video editing and handles conforming — basically, taking all those changes and making everything fit. It’s not a wildly expensive piece of software, ranging from US$400 to $1000. But it’s surprisingly elegant, at least from my layperson’s point of view. If you’ve ever been curious how these things work, check out the short quick start tutorial.
VK is used professionally on some interesting and geek-pleasing projects, ranging from Lord of the Rings to South Park. Boy, those two projects need it, too: Lord of the Rings was infamous for its far-reaching, deep edits (composer Howard Shore talked about that), whereas South Park gets wrapped up literally a few hours before you see it air in the U.S. on Comedy Central. Naturally, VK loves to send out press releases about these projects.
This one caught my eye: VK is used by Douglas Sinclair, sound editor on the new, slicker Doctor Who. (More stories in VK’s press release PDF, with the sales pitch but interesting nonetheless.) The whole process happens in just two and a half weeks per episode. That’s more lavish than, oh, say, South Park. (They get a few days, but by contrast, South Park sound editor D.A. Young told me things like explosion sounds often don’t line up with the effects when the show first airs!). But just over two weeks is pretty tight given the cinematic level of sound and visual effects Doctor Who requires. Conforming comes in as visual effects are finalized and trailers and re-caps are generated.
And all of this gives me both another chance to talk about Doctor Who and an opportunity to run a picture of David Tennant for my girlfriend. Previous examples of me finding excuses to talk about Who:
Note: Anyone who actually does use these tools — since I know nothing as I don’t do post production! — please feel free to say hello in comments, whether you’ve used VK or anything else. One person has already stepped up. I do prefer hearing from real people to hearing from press releases, as regular readers know. -PK