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   Software Review
   SonicFire Pro 4
   Publisher: SmartSound, Inc.
   Genre: Audio composing for video
   Platform: Windows & Mac

   MSRP: $199 for the Standard Version; $399
   for the Filmmaker Edition

   Download Demo: Click Here
   Video Walkthrough: Click Here
   Release Dates: May 1, 2006
   Review Date: May 15, 2006
   Reviewed By: Jeremy Hanke
Final Score:

Few groups of people have a bigger rift between them than video guys and audio guys. Everything from pre-assumed importance to the way we talk is different between us. As a video guy, I tend to look at a new HDV camera and be impressed by the overall video quality that's available. Then my audio guy has to point out that the idiots who made the camera compress all their audio to sub-mp3 quality. This means that if you ever happen to shoot a sequence that needs any audio touch-up afterwards, you're pretty much screwed, because the compressed audio tends to shatter like sugar candy in a deep freeze if you try to fix it after the fact.

Video guys tend to think that people will remember a film based on the visuals alone, whereas the audio guys know that 70% of any film is its audio. In fact, you can actually have crappy camera work combined with poor lighting and awful editing, and people will still watch a film if your audio is clean and clear. (How else can we explain why more than three people watched the migraine-inducing The Bourne Supremacy?)

These are just the things that pop to the forefront during the production phase of any relationship between video and audio people. When it gets to post-production, things really get nuts, because, in addition to our differing priorities, audio and video guys don't even speak the same language. By the time you get to the scoring stage of your film, all the video and audio guys have headaches from having to try to translate ideas to one another and everyone just wants to get the film finished. This is obviously not the mindset we want to go into during one of the most connecting elements of filmmaking, yet we've all been there.

Well, there may be no way to make a universal language that both video and audio guys speak, but the good folks at SmartSound have come up with a way to make scoring much more accessible to video guys. Their new SonicFire Pro 4 might be just the ticket if you want to either be able to score your upcoming film yourself or give your score composer a good aural template from which to compose a final score for you.

When SmartSound created SonicFire Pro, they created a scoring software that's designed to mirror a traditional video editing system. You can import video directly into the program and then lay in professional audio either from single or multi-layer CDs that come with your software or from music downloaded from SmartSound's website. Once you have both in the timeline, you can then adjust the music to fit any length of video and the specially composed music will taylor-fit that space and timing. To give you more options per song, each song has multiple variations which you can switch between in order to come up with just the sound you're looking for.

These abilities are possible because when these songs were originally recorded for SmartSound, different versions of the songs were recorded and the entire song was broken up into bite-sized blocks. These blocks of data are connected and re-connected by the program based on how long you make a specific track to be. Make a tracks 5 seconds long and it will have a different connectivity than a track that is a minute long. Additionally, the number of variations is different based on the length you select. A ten second clip may only have four variations of style, whereas a two minute clip may have twelve variations.

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