Knowledge Base

DAWLink

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.

Why DAWLink?

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, Video Slave/ADR Master 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.

Setup in Pro Tools

After running the DAW Link installer, you will find both a ReWire instrument and an AAX plugin in your plugin selection menu. To setup DAWLink, you need to load these two into one of your tracks. We recommend using a stereo Aux channel but you can also use an instrument or audio track. Drop the DAWLink ReWire instrument into the first insert slot. It's categorized under multichannel plug-in -> Instrument -> NLA DAW Link ReWire. Then, add the DAWLink plugin on the second insert slot. It can be found in multichannel plug-in -> Other -> DAWLink.

It should then look something like this:

Next, 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 AAX plugin hasn't yet received a message from the ReWire device. Just click into the session's timeline once or hit play and it should change to "ReWire connection established".

You can see that there are only a few settings - namely 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.

The only thing you need to do is set the destination Video Slave/ADR Master instance. The dropdown menu 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.

Restrictions

Unfortunately there are some restrictions when using DAWLink with Pro Tools. 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
    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. For proper operation, 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.
  • Half-speed playback
    Video Slave/ADR Master will not follow half-speed playback at the moment.
  • Scrubbing using the scrubber tool (F9)
    Video Slave/ADR Master will not properly follow scrubbing using the Scrubber tool.
  • Dragging regions
    When dragging regions in Pro Tools in the timeline, the image doesn't follow