THX innovator named in new Apple audio patent

It is curious that iMovie for the Mac offers an auto-audio ducking feature, but Final Cut Pro X doesn’t. Curious because the free iMovie and the $299 Final Cut Pro X share a great deal of code and resources.

Audio ducking reduces the volume or dynamic range of other channels to make one channel’s sound easier to hear.

Tom Holman is a veteran movie sound expert. Lucasfilm’s THX cinema sound certification systemis named after him. Since 2011 he has worked for Apple. Last week Apple was awarded a patent with his name on it: ‘Metadata for ducking control.’ It describes a process where audio is analysed to generate metadata on how to adjust other audio channels at the point of playback:

Application of these ducking values may cause (1) the reduction in dynamic range of ducked channels/channel groups and/or (2) movement of channels/channel groups in the sound field. This ducking may improve intelligibility of audio in the non-ducked channel/channel group. For instance, a narration channel/channel group may be more clearly heard by listeners through the use of selective ducking of other channels/channel groups during playback.

I hope this kind of metadata will be generated, read and written by Final Cut Pro X and encoded in QuickTime codecs soon!

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