July 27, 2009
An Overview of Broadcast Wave File Software Utilities

Perhaps you are an assistant editor tasked with ingesting and syncing a batch of Broadcast Wave files recorded in the field.. You try to sync by timecode, but you notice that each file has a different timecode offset. Then, on one particularly long take, you notice that the audio starts in sync, but slowly drifts out of sync.

Despite the best of workflow intentions, things go wrong. Settings are misunderstood or miscommunicated; editing software is upgraded or changed. Stuff happens.

Fortunately, all does not have to be lost. Depending on what  you need to edit, report or listen to in a batch of Broadcast Wave files, there is a utility for you!

Here is a brief overview of the BWF utilities that we've found useful:

Name Price Windows Mac
BWF Manager Free X X
BWF Splitter $99.00 X X
BWF Combiner $99.00 X X
BWF Timecoder $99.00 X X
BWFWidget $49.95 X  
BWFWidget Pro w/ BWF-O-Matic $99.00 X  
BWF-D-Base $25.00 X  
iXML Metadata Reader Free   X
Majax Free X X
ReMetacator $200.00   X
Wave Agent Free X X
  • BWF Manager
    http://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/pro_support/pro_bwf_manager.shtml
    Publisher: Fostex
    Price: Free!
    Platform: Mac/Windows
    Works with: BWF files from all recorders (up to 8 tracks)
    Comments: Made for getting BWF files into or out of the Fostex DV40 and DV824, and works with files from all manufacturers.  Useful for batch creating poly files if they were delivered in mono. Also useful for splitting a large poly into mono files.
     
  • BWF Splitter & BWF Combiner
    http://www.one-n.com/
    Publisher: One-N Corporation
    Price: $99.00 (each)
    Platform: Mac/Windows
    Works with: BWF files from any recorder, up to 24 tracks
    Comments: Although pricey, this pair of utilities has a clean interface and gets the job of (you guessed it) splitting and combining BWF files in batch mode VERY quickly.
     
  • BWF Timecoder
    http://www.one-n.com/
    Publisher: One-N Corporation
    Price: $99.00
    Platform: Mac/Windows
    Works with: BWF files from any recorder
    Comments: This ingenious utility will create a SMPTE LTC track based on the timestamp of the BWF file. Perfect for transcription services that get BWF files from the field with no timecode track, and also for creating music video playback masters for non-BWF playback devices (e.g. GarageBand) - simply plug the “audio out” of your computer  into a timecode reader or slate.
     
  • BWFWidget / BWFWidget Pro / BWF-O-Matic / BWF-D-Base
    http://www.bwfwidget.com/
    Publisher: GoodSound / Courtney Goodin
    Price: BWFWidget: $49.95 / BWFWidget Pro w/BWF-O-Matic: $99.00 / BWF-D-Base: $25.00
    Platform: Windows
    Works with: BWF files from all recorders (up to 24 tracks)
    Comments: BWFWidget is handy for viewing metadata, and has a large timecode window which can be dragged to an external monitor for “poor man's” playback slate on music videos.

    BWFWidget Pro can view and edit metadata and create PDF reports, as well as correct for pull up/down issues.  It is also able to vari-speed playback while adjusting the timecode playback window. 

    Finally, BWFWidget Pro has feature specifically designed for transcription: It can batch encode and playback MP3 files with timecode, and can automatically copy the timecode value to the clipboard whenever the file is paused (thus facilitating timecoded transcripts). BWF-O-Matic can split and combine BWF files, and BWF-D-Base can create a database of all sound related media within a project.
     
  • IXML Metadata Reader
    http://www.ixml.info/
    Publisher: Gallery Software
    Price: Free!
    Platform: Mac
    Works with: BWF files with iXML
    Comments: Useful for verifying metadata stored within the iXML of a BWF file.
     
  • Majax
    http://www.aaton.com/products/sound/majax/ 
    (available at http://soft.aaton.com/swcantar)
    Publisher: Aaton SA
    Price: Free!
    Platform: Mac/Windows
    Works with: BWF files recorded by the Aaton Cantar
    Comments: Any editing room or post facility that deals with Cantar created BWF files should download this utility immediately! This free utility can manipulate metadata, mix, rename, split, combine and rotate Cantar files, and create .pdf sound reports.
     
  • ReMetacator
    http://www.maggot.co.nz/software/remetacator.shtml
    Publisher: Maggot Software
    Price: $200.00
    Platform: Mac
    Works with: BWF files from all recorders
    Comments: Like a lot of the free software listed here, ReMetacator can change the TC frame rate and sample rate stamp. What’s unique about this software is that it can also change the BWF chunk header to correct for Deva and Avid incompatibilities (among other issues), and make it’s changes in batch mode across multiple files.
     
  • Wave Agent
    http://www.sounddevices.com/products/waveagent.htm
    Publisher: Sound Devices
    Price: Free!
    Platform: Mac/Windows
    Works with: BWF files from all recorders (up to 12 tracks)
    Comments: Can batch rename, split, combine and create reports from BWF files. Can view and edit metadata, including timestamps and pull-up/pull down correction. Extremely useful for troubleshooting Avid and FCP issues involving drifting time code. In addition, the playback mixer can be used to “audition” mixes of takes, even from mono files. Perfect for loggers and assistant editors needing to verify track contents.

For a case study of solving a BWF problem using some of the above software, see the Anatomy of a BWF SNAFU feature in this month's issue


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An Overview of Broadcast Wave File Software Utilities
Anatomy of a BWF SNAFU
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