Setting up DAWLink with your DAW
What is DAWLink?
DAWLink was developed as a link between Video Slave or ADR Master and your DAW using different - non-MIDI based - technologies for faster response times, easier setup and overall smoother operation.
Previously, Video Slave/ADR Master used MIDI Timecode for synchronized playback and MIDI Machine Control for locating while not playing. This worked well but had some drawbacks. To work around a bug with the MTC Pro Tools sends while looping for example, Video Slave/ADR Master also needed to be attached as a HUI controller when using Pro Tools. For synchronized playback on another machine on the local network than the one that hosts the DAW, additional services like Apple's own network MIDI or a physical MIDI connection were needed.
While this all has been working for years we felt like there was a need for an easier and better way to connect Video Slave/ADR Master to the DAW. Ideally, the user would have as few setup steps as possible and the setup would be easy if Video Slave/ADR Master runs on the same machine but also when running it on another machine on the local network. That's the whole idea behind DAWLink.
How does it work?
For best operation, we wanted to avoid the need for separate applications of some sort and we wanted to allow the user to stay within his DAW at all times. So we came up with the idea of a plugin living directly in the DAW session.
Technically speaking, DAWLink consists of two parts:
- a ReWire bundle
- a DAW plugin
For the first part, DAWLink acts as ReWire device that can be connected to the DAW just like any other ReWire slave. ReWire provides very accurate timing information so it is the perfect interface to act as a timing source. As ReWire doesn't have any kind of user interface for settings etc, the ReWire bundle is accompanied by a VST/AU/AAX plugin which provides a user interface to setup the connection to Video Slave/ADR Master along with a few other settings.
DAWLink was developed to replace formerly used MIDI protocols so please make sure to disable all MIDI communications setup previously (MTC, MMC and HUI) when using DAWLink to get the right behavior. You must however keep the HUI connection active when using ADR Master.
You can grab the DAWLink installer directly from the DAWLink site. The ZIP file contains both an installer for Mac (.pkg) and for Windows (.exe). When running the installer for your respective operating system you can choose which components should be installed. You currently have five options as shown in the screenshot below (four on Windows as AU is a Mac-only format):
The DAWLink ReWire device must be installed for DAW Link to work properly. You also need to install at least one of the actual audio plugins. Which format you need depends on the DAW(s) you're using.
The ReWire bundle however does not need to be installed by all means. The ReWire bundle is the file that contains the actual ReWire protocol implementation. All ReWire-enabled applications on the same machine use the ReWire bundle. DAWLink will only install the ReWire bundle if the currently installed one is older.
If you're using other applications relying on ReWire (other DAWs but also apps like SourceConnect do for example), it may make sense to skip installing the ReWire bundle to make sure they are still working as expected after installing DAWLink. However, it is usually not a problem to have the latest ReWire version installed.
If DAWLink doesn't work as expected after running the installer, please try running it again with the ReWire bundle.
At the time of this writing there are some restrictions when using DAWLink with some DAWs. These may or may not be an issue for you but we still want to list them here so you're aware of them. As we still think that DAWLink improves and simplifies the user experience, we provide it as is while we're looking into finding ways to overcome these limitations. What you currently cannot do with DAWLink:
- Tempo changes (all DAWs)
Video Slave/ADR Master needs an absolute time reference and it can only determine that through ReWire using the position in "musical units" in combination with the tempo. When the tempo changes, the timecode cannot be calculated correctly, hence this is unsupported at the moment.
- Half-speed playback (Pro Tools only)
Video Slave/ADR Master will not follow half-speed playback at the moment.
- Scrubbing using the scrubber tool in Pro Tools (F9)
Video Slave/ADR Master will not properly follow scrubbing using the Scrubber tool out of the box. DAWLink will however create a virtual MMC MIDI port which you can use in Pro Tools as an MMC destination.
- Wrong timecode positions towards the end of very long sessions
If you're working in really long sessions, you may notice that Video Slave jumps to seemingly random spots after moving after a certain position (something in the ballpark of 19:25:00:00 at 120 bpm). The reason is a technical limitation with ReWire's maximum timing value. As ReWire doesn't count seconds but musical ticks, you can extend this maximum value easily by setting the session's tempo to e.g. 60 bpm.
Setup in your DAW
Audio Plugin Setup
The DAWLink installer will install a ReWire device and also an audio plugin to be used in your DAW of choice. Setting up the ReWire device is different with all common DAWs so we added a separate section for each DAW below. Setting up the audio plugin however is easy and (almost) identical in all common DAWs. Just add the DAWLink plugin to a stereo audio/aux/instrument track. When you have done so, open the DAWLink plugin window:
When loading in the plugin it will likely show "ReWire connection not (yet) established" at first. This doesn't mean anything bad in particular, just that the plugin hasn't yet received a message from the ReWire device. After you have loaded the ReWire device (see below), just click into the session's timeline once or hit play and it should change to "ReWire connection established".
The DAWLink plugin user interface is separated in several sections which will be discussed in the following.
To connect to a Video Slave/ADR Master instance running either on the same machine or on a machine in the local network, just select it from the Destination list. The list is refreshed automatically when new instances appear or disappear but it might take a few seconds after starting/closing Video Slave/ADR Master for it to show up in or to be deleted from the list.
To set up DAWLink for synchronization purposes only two settings are required: the session start timecode and the timecode frame rate. DAWLink cannot determine these settings through ReWire, so we added controls for the user to set them manually. In the case of Pro Tools however, session start and TC frame rate can be determined through the AAX interface so no user interaction is required. For the other DAWs you have to set these manually here. Please make sure that the TC and frame rate match your projects's settings.
Some DAWs don't support higher frame rates than 30 fps. If you're using higher frame rate videos in Video Slave, you can set the frame rate of DAWLink to a frame rate of up to 60 fps manually in the UI using the dropdown menu.
If you require higher latency values in your session (e.g. if you're using a large number of plugins in your mix session) you may need to compensate for the resulting delay to make sure the playback is in sync. You can enter the delay compensation value in samples here. The value will only be applied during playback.
If you want to use DAWLink only for the purpose of linking the DAW project with a Video Slave / ADR Master project, you can also turn off the sending of synchronization information here.
As stated above, you can now also connect your Video Slave / ADR Master project with your DAW session. This lets you remotely open a Video Slave/ADR Master project. There's even an option to load the project automatically when the DAW session is loaded. This integrates Video Slave and ADR Master into the DAW and it makes it session handling a lot easier - especially if Video Slave/ADR Master runs on another machine on the network (not running the DAW).
To link a project, open the project in Video Slave or ADR Master and wait for it to show up in the text box next to "Current Project". When it's popped up, hit "Connect". You'll then see the project path in the text box next to "Connected Project". You can now either choose to load the project manually using the "Load" button or also enable the checkbox "Load connected Project Automatically" to make sure it's loaded when the DAW session is opened. Please be aware though that if the Video Slave/ADR Master project was moved or renamed you will need to relink it.
ReWire Setup in Pro Tools
The setup of ReWire in Pro Tools is rather straight forward.Just drop the DAWLink ReWire instrument into the first insert slot of the same track where you have also placed the DAW Link AAX plugin. It's categorized under multichannel plug-in -> Instrument -> NLA DAW Link ReWire. Move the DAWLink AAX plugin to the second insert slot. It can be found in multichannel plug-in -> Other -> DAWLink.
It should then look something like this:
Due to the fact that ReWire is a protocol based on musical units, please make sure that the Conductor Track in Pro Tools is turned off and that the song tempo marker is at the very left of the timeline in the tempo track. Otherwise, the timecode positions will be completely off.
ReWire Setup in Logic
ReWire devices are loaded by Logic automatically if a certain preference is set when the application is launched. You can check if ReWire is enabled and enable it if needed by opening the application's Audio preferences (Logic Pro X -> Preferences -> Audio). At the bottom you will find a dropdown menu next to "ReWire Behavior". Set it to "Live Mode (Rewire and Internal)".
This setting will be stored independently of the project and you will only need to enable it once.
ReWire Setup in Cubase/Nuendo
To load the DAWLink ReWire device, it must be loaded in Cubase in a project independent matter. To enable the ReWire device, pick Studio -> ReWire -> ReWire Setup... and check the NLA DAW Link ReWire box.
You can then enable the ReWire device by selecting it using the Studio -> ReWire menu. This setting will be stored independently of the project and you will only need to enable it once.