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Live music video/audio sync

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cameron ellis
Live music video/audio sync
on Jul 22, 2009 at 10:47:17 pm

Musician for 20 years, but I'm coordinating my first video demo shoot to produce a 5-10 minute "commercial" of what I can do. Not a whole set with an audiance, just highlights of a handful of songs. Remember the old late night Zamfir commercials? Ok, maybe not THAT bad but you get the idea.

What I do have is all the basic gear: A suitable venue/lights/haze made for video shoots, in house PA as well as my own submixed set-up (largely synthesized outfit that I accent with live keys, guitars and vox... just me) that I will send to in-house PA from one stereo pair, a couple HD 24p cameras and guys to man all the above.

Here's the question since the video aspect is all new territory. Whats the best PRE-production measure I can take to make syncing easier when I go to edit together the 2-3 video streams and 1 audio feed that I'm recording to DAT directly off the soundboard? Is that what clapboards are for? If it was one long non-stop take that would be simple... throw all 3-4 tracks into Vegas (the app I'm using to edit this) and start chopping across all of them. But since I'll be starting/stopping and doing various takes over a 3 hour period I can just see the nightmare ahead of me in trying to sync it all together at the editing stage.

Any ideas would be helpful on whats typically done. I need to make it look as good as possible since the demo essentially will be given to Performing Arts Centers to book gigs. Thanks!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Live music video/audio sync
on Jul 24, 2009 at 12:13:48 am

Hi Cameron,

Recording video and audio separately is called "double system recording," and this is exactly what the clapboard is for. You'd write every scene/take number on the clapboard, start audio and video records, shoot the clapboard with all cams, read it aloud for the record, and snap it. Line up the audio spike to the frame where the clapboard closes, and line up all views of the clapboard closing, and all your sources will be in sync.

As a performer, you might want to play to a track, or at very least a click track, to keep your timing consistent across takes so the edit will be smooth.

If your cameras feature TC IN, you could send them all the same time-of-day timecode from a TC generator, which would make camera sync a snap. The 24p cameras would have a different timebase (23.976 fps) than SMPTE DAT (29.97 fps), so I'd think you'd still need the clapboard to sync audio.

See the thread directly below this one for a quick note on studio multi-cam color matching.

Walter Soyka, Principal
Keen Live, Inc.
Presentation, Motion Graphics & Widescreen Design
RenderBreak: A Blog on Innovation in Production



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cameron ellis
Re: Live music video/audio sync
on Aug 3, 2009 at 5:47:13 pm

Hi Walter! Thanks for the advice. Since out of the 5 guys helping me I'm the only once that knows and understands what TC and SMPTE are I'd rather overly complicate things. And as it is, I think I'll be doing much of the directing. I perform over remixed versions of my studio tracks (with vox, leads, etc dropped out) so songs will always be same length. After long meditation I think I found a semi-workable solution.

PHASE 1: Play whole 5 song set non-stop, all 3 stationary cams (1 HD 24p front and 2 sides) record w/o stopping. Main audio is being fed to HD cam mic direct from board while side cams recording room audio for sync purposes only.
PHASE 2: Play 5 song set again but now cameras are mobile to catch action shots, highlights, & b-roll material.

END RESULT: 1 non-stop 30 minute audio track from first phase and 6 video streams. First 3 video streams already in sync with audio. Second 3 video streams need to be lined up. That should work, at least on paper it does. :) This may not be industry standard but for this project and no TC generators it sounds like it should work. Anbody have any thoughts on why this shouldnt work?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Live music video/audio sync
on Aug 4, 2009 at 2:19:58 am

Hi Cameron,

I think that would work beautifully. One suggestion -- add in a couple seconds of silence, a single frame of 1 KHz tone, and then another couple seconds of silence at the head and tail of your track. Those pops will give you a quick visual reference when lining up your B-roll shots on the timeline and make syncing a snap.

Walter Soyka, Principal
Keen Live, Inc.
Presentation, Motion Graphics & Widescreen Design
RenderBreak: A Blog on Innovation in Production



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