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In this tutorial I'll show how to set up a dubbing session or any video related sessions in Cubase.

Before getting ready for a dubbing session or a background scoring session, there's a number of things that need to be taken care of. I'll show you how to properly import the video, how to sync it and various other techniques that will help you to do your work smoothly.

Importing the Video

The first thing to decide before you import a video into Cubase is that if the format of the video is supported in Cubase. Cubase supports formats such as MPEG, QuickTime, AVI and WMV

If the video is in any other format than these four formats, it is better to convert the file into a supported format. This makes the importing easier and prevents errors.

Another important aspect that you have to decide is the playback engine. There are basically 3 playback engines in Cubase:

  1. DirectShow
  2. Video for Windows, and
  3. QuickTime

In any normal Windows machine, DirectShow and Video for Windows are built in by default. QuickTime player can be downloaded and installed from the Apple website. 

The free QuickTime offers basic playback and for other advanced options such as cutting and editing of the video, you have to buy the Pro version of QuickTime. This option will be available only if you have installed QuickTime in your computer.

The feet and frames settings also must be set up properly if you are using Pro Tools.


Thumbnails help to identify the scenes and shots of the film and makes the navigation very easy. They can also increase the processing load on the computer if there are so many thumbnails to be generated. 

If you don’t have a high-end machine and want to make the work feel smoother, try switching off the thumbnails. You will be able to navigate the video just by looking at the video window.

Another option is to adjust the video cache size to suit your needs and the capabilities of your computer. Make it a high value if your video is long and has to show many thumbnails.

Although disabling the thumbnail can help speed up your processes, it will be tough if you have no idea about the video and have to manually search to find the appropriate location.

Video Options

The video track has several options that let you control the video playback and other settings. They are:

  • Lock: When this option is activated, the video will be locked and the movement of the video file will be restricted. This is very useful if you don’t want to make any changes to the video and want it to stay stationary.
  • Show Frame Numbers: If this option is activated, each thumbnail in the video track will have the number of the frame written along with it. This helps you to easily identify scenes and positions according to the frame number.
  • Snap Thumbnails: This option locks the thumbnails to the exact start position in the video. It will only show one thumbnail per frame. This helps in syncing the track easily and in identifying the scenes and frames easily.
  • Mute Video: This option is really useful if you want to reduce the load on the processor. When this option is activated, the video playback will be stopped, but the rest of the tracks in the project will continue to be played back. This way you can listen to whatever you made without adding extra load to the system.

To play the video on an external monitor, you can either use a graphics card that supports multi-head overlay or connect the video via FireWire. If you are using FireWire, set the Outputs as FireWire in the Video Player options under the Devices menu. You can also set the quality and the resolutions according to the video.

If you want to see the video in the computer window, rather than the external monitor, you can activate the Video Window by pressing F8 or by going to the Video option from the Devices menu.

An important setting that you have to consider while importing a video is to import the audio and to generate the thumbnail cache. It is always better to activate these two options if you need to listen to the audio from the video. 

Cubase automatically converted the audio stream from the video and puts it onto a new track. This is useful if you want to listen to the pilot track in the video during dubbing or want to listen to the dialogues to create the mood for the music.

Creating the thumbnail cache is very useful because it helps you to identify the scenes and positions very easily.

You can set these options to be the default ones when you import a video through the File menu or I you simply drag and drop the video on the timeline. To set these two options as the default settings, go the Preferences under the File menu and select Video under Editing

Activate the checkboxes beside the Extract Audio on Import Video File and Generate Thumbnail Cache on Import Video File options.

In case you didn’t activate the thumbnail cache option during importing, you can always do this later in the Pool window. Select the video file in the Pool window and select Generate Thumbnail Cache from the secondary-click context menu or select Generate Thumbnail Cache from the Media menu.


As you’ve learned in this tutorial, video importing and playing back is a very important step in setting up a session for dubbing or for background scoring. Next time you import a video into Cubase, ensure that you check all the settings given in this tutorial and make the best out of the system.

Always ensure that you're concentrating on the creative part and creating better outputs. The technical side needs attention, because if all the creative parts turns out great and the technical part is not good, then the entire project will be average.

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