Topics covered in this article:
- Input Configuration window
- Input/Master switch
- Input/Master status indicator
- Setting and modifying input assignments for Beds/width and Objects
- Creating and managing groups
- Assigning inputs to groups
- Input descriptions
The default input configuration in the Dolby Atmos Renderer assigns the first 10 inputs to a 7.1.2 Bed and the remaining 118 inputs as Objects, for a total of 128 inputs.
The use of a single 7.1.2 composite Bed is sufficient for many projects. However, greater flexibility can be achieved with custom input configurations that allow for multiple Beds, as well as Bed and Object inputs grouped together into stems. Beyond making the input configuration clearer by splitting inputs into groups, these types of configurations also facilitate the ability to create stem re-renders without multiple mastering passes, and allow for export of an ADM BWF master geared for localization work. Grouping Renderer inputs also makes working with multiple playback systems simpler (possible when using a Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite license on an external Renderer), as Dialog, Music, and FX playback systems, for example, can address clearly defined and labeled inputs.
The I/O setup in Pro Tools must match the input configuration of the Renderer. This can be done manually, or by choosing Default > Use Atmos Renderer in Pro Tools I/O setup, which will load the current input configuration from the Renderer directly.
Version 3.7 of the Dolby Atmos Renderer introduces the Input/Master switch, which decouples the input configuration from that of an open Master file.
With the Input/Master switch toggled to Input, it is now possible to adjust the input configuration as needed, independent of an open Master file, and configure Pro Tools and the “Input” of the input configuration for monitoring. An open Master file will no longer result in Renderer inputs being unavailable. It is also possible to copy the input configuration from an open .atmos Master file to the “input” to enable punching into it or for use in creating a new Master file. Conversely, program level metadata updates, including group definitions and membership, can be copied from the “Input” to an open .atmos Master file to update these settings in the Master file.
Input/Master Status Indicator
If the Input and Master sides of the input configuration do not match, an orange indicator will be visible in the bottom left of the Renderer main window.
This indicator will turn off when the “Input” and “Master” match, indicating that punch-ins to the open Master are permitted.
Modifying the Input Configuration
Open the Input Configuration window from the menu bar by choosing Window > Input Configuration or by pressing Command+I (Mac) or Ctrl+I (Windows). If the Binaural Setting plug-in is in use in the DAW, the “Input” side of the input configuration will be controlled remotely, as indicated by an info box.
The columns across the top of the Input Configuration window are labeled:
- Input – 1 to 128
- Assignment – Clicking any input assignment allows changes to the existing input assignment from a drop-down menu. An input can be:
- set as Unassigned ---
- set as an Object
- set as the first (left channel) of a Bed
- Bed widths can be (2.0, 3.0, 5.0, 5.1, 7.0, 7.1, 7.0.2, 7.1.2)
- Assigning an input to a Bed will overwrite the assignments to subsequent channels of the Bed width; e.g., assigning Input 11 to a 7.1.2 will overwrite the assignments for inputs 12–20. A warning dialog box will appear confirming this.
- Any inputs can be assigned to Beds. They do not have to precede Object assignments. Beds and Object assignments can be interspersed to keep stems together. Again, the DAW I/O and Renderer Input Configuration must match.
- Changing assignments will overwrite existing input descriptions and Group membership.
- Inputs assigned to a Bed can be displayed as expanded or collapsed using the arrow to the left of the first input assigned to that Bed.
- Signal – The same colors (green, yellow, red) are used in the main Renderer window to indicate input level.
- Description – This free-form text field also allows for sequential numbering of contiguous Object assignments. When Pro Tools is connected to the Renderer, up to 32 characters from this field are displayed in the Pro Tools I/O Setup Bus page in the Mapping to Renderer column. Input descriptions are useful for keeping Pro Tools sessions and the Renderer input configuration organized. To enter a description:
- Click within the input under the Description column header to bring up the entry box (defined by a blue outline).
- Type in a description and press enter when finished.
- To use sequential numbering in the description field for contiguous object inputs:
- Click the input assigned to an Object; the input will highlight in grey.
- Shift-click another input to highlight a range of inputs assigned to Objects.
- Click within the first highlighted input under the Description column header to bring up the entry box defined by a blue outline.
- Type in an entry followed by a number, e.g., FX Object 1.
- Hold down Control+Option+Command and press the Return or Enter key on the keyboard.
- The highlighted inputs will share a description followed by incremented numbering.
- Inputs assigned to Beds can be selected in the range as well but will not have numbering applied.
- Group – Groups are used to group together a collection of Beds, Objects, or both for re-rendering. The primary use of groups is to create channel-based stem outputs by grouping the bed and objects for a specific stem together, e.g, Dialog or FX.
To assign an input to a group:
- Click any input under the Group column header to bring up the drop-down menu of available groups.
- Multiple inputs can be assigned to a group at the same time by using Shift-click to highlight a selection of inputs prior to the group assignment. This method is used to assign a bed and objects to a Group.
- Group assignments can be made to an existing .atmos master file that is unlocked for editing.
- Clear all – Clears all input assignments. There is no warning dialog.
- Use default – Reverts to inputs 1 through 10 assigned to a 7.1.2 Bed and inputs 11 through 128 assigned to Objects. There is no warning dialog.
- Groups – Opens the Groups dialog. This is where custom groups can be added, deleted, or edited. By default, the groups list is prepopulated with four Standard Groups commonly used in post-production: Dialog, Music, Effects, and Narration. To add and delete custom groups:
- Click within the free text field defined by a blue outline.
- Enter the custom group name and click Add group.
- The custom group name will now appear in the group list and in the available group list drop-down menu when assigning inputs.
- The custom group will display in the list with an x next to its name, indicating that it can be deleted.
Click on the x to delete a custom group. If any inputs are currently assigned to a custom group, a warning dialog will appear.
- Custom Groups can be added to and modified on an existing .atmos master file that is unlocked for editing.
The input configuration is written to the master file and will be loaded along with the file. Input configurations can also be exported as part of a file that includes Binaural and Re-render configurations.
Any input assignments to the Standard Groups of Dialog, Music, Effects, and Narration can also be optionally displayed in the main Renderer Window > Object View.
The Dolby Atmos Binaural Settings Plug-in
The Dolby Atmos Binaural Settings plug-in can be used to make input assignments remotely from a DAW. Aside from the convenience of running in the DAW itself, plug-in presets can be saved, which allows input configuration (and other information) to be saved with the session or project itself. If the input configuration shown in the plug-in differs from an open Master file, the Input status mismatch indicator will illuminate. While inputs can be assigned to groups from the plug-in, custom groups can only be created from the Renderer.
If custom groups are needed when using the plug-in:
- the plug-in should be disconnected from the Renderer
- the custom group should be created in the Renderer input configuration window
- the custom group should be applied to one input
- click accept
- reconnect the plug-in to the Renderer
When the plug-in is reconnected, the custom group will be available from the group drop down menu and the input previously assigned to it can be cleared if needed.
The plug-in can be inserted on any mono or stereo track and establishes communication with the Dolby Atmos Renderer independently of the DAW. This is done by entering the IP address or hostname of the external Renderer, or entering localhost if the Renderer is running internally.
As noted, the “Input” side of the input configuration will be controlled by the plug-in when it is connected to the Renderer.
With an editable master file open, use the Copy settings from Input to Master button from the Input configuration window to conform the master. Changes made to Group assignments from the settings plug-in can also be written to an open editable master file from the Input Configuration window using the Copy groups from input to master.
The Binaural metadata functions of this plug-in are discussed in a subsequent article.
Next: Module 7.3 – Re-renders
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