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Best in-the-field documentary shoot practices for easier/efficient Plural Eyes syncing?

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Nick Ravich
Best in-the-field documentary shoot practices for easier/efficient Plural Eyes syncing?
on Jan 14, 2011 at 3:32:42 pm

Doing a very traditional (odd to say it) HDSLR-audio workflow. So double system - Rode mic on the camera (typically Canon 5D or 7D) to record better than internal mic reference and then "master" recording on Zoom H4n (typically a lav and shotgun/boom inputs, 48 kHZ 24 bit WAV files.) Then mass sync.ing with Plural Eyes in FCP. But unfortunately I'm getting VERY mixed results. Probably only successfully sync.ing up about a 1/3 of the clips for any given shoot after the first PE pass (lining up all audio & video clips chronologically, and checking of the sequential/chronological and try really hard functions.)

Here's the important thing to know about my production. We’re straight up doc shooting, ie shooting A LOT of footage thru out course of the day. Averaging 200-300 individual video files, 20-30 individual Zoom WAV files per shoot day, without any kind of scripting.

So I understand there's some inherent complications in this, that I'm going to have to do a certain amount of more targeted PE sync.ing, as well as straight up old school manual syncing in FCP.

But anyone have any suggestions on what I can do in the field to make sync.ing life a little easier in the edit room? Right now I’m slating in the field – as much as possible, and that's difficult given the unscripted nature of what we're doing – as well as very carefully saving the WAV files in separate individual Zoom folders per the CF cards. So all CF card 1 associated audio is in Zoom Folder 1, CF2 audio in Folder 2, etc. (I know they generate duplicate names, so I rename later.)

Should I do more than slate - maybe an audible countdown? Should I record more individual Zoom WAV files? Is there some way I can "game" Plural Eyes, ie produce in the field that audio characteristic that best helps PE to sync?

Any suggestions would be really helpful. Or even just pointing me to pre-existing online resources that deal with this. The footage is really staring to pile up.

Thanks, Nick.


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Ty Ford
Re: Best in-the-field documentary shoot practices for easier/efficient Plural Eyes syncing?
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:27:55 pm

Hey Nick, welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

First, can you do a test to send the exact same audio to the Zoom and to the camera to see if that solves you sync problem?

While you ARE recording one source (perhaps), you are using two different microphones. That in itself could be the root of your syncing problems. Find a way, coming out of your mixer to feed both the Zoom and the camera with the exact same audio and let us know what happens.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Bouke Vahl
Re: Best in-the-field documentary shoot practices for easier/efficient Plural Eyes syncing?
on Jan 15, 2011 at 10:05:48 am

Does the Zoom use any form of timestamp in the BWF's nowadays?
I've seen a few testclips that all had 00:00:00:00 as timestamp, but recently had a few with a more meaningfull one.

If there is indeed ' some ' form of timestamping that is related to TOD, i can make something that does the recalculation for you.
(Meaning, you just have to sync one, and the rest will be changed accordingly)

But of course this only goes if the Zoom writes a (fairly accurate) timestamp.
(If it is computer style clock, it will be rounded to whole seconds, and that of course sucks...)

To do it the ' pro ' way, get a master TC generator and use that to send out LTC to both the cam and the (noisy) M channel of the Zoom, and use FCPauxTC reader to match the files.
I'm currently working on the helper apps to get it to work better with the Zoom (have it working here, just not released yet).
So if you need it, drop me a line (my email is on my site...)

Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Nick Ravich
Re: Best in-the-field documentary shoot practices for easier/efficient Plural Eyes syncing?
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:19:24 pm

Thanks Bouke.

As far as I know there's no timestamp associated with the Zoom H4n-generated files - and they're WAV files.

Understood about a more pro style method to generate TC for audio - problem is, production scale is such, that we're relying on less than experienced operators (ie myself) with limited knowledge/funds for kind of gear you're suggesting. That's why I'm hoping to make this DIY Zoom/Plural Eyes workflow work - it's something we can pull off given our means.

And if we were to get some kind of audio TOD TC generated, don't quite know how I'd jam that to the HDSLRs (esp 5D) - there's limited to none inputs on these cameras (basically a stereo mini in.) Cameras have internal clocks, but sync.ing that would be a necessarily imprecise eyeballing. Also, the TOD TC that does get associated with the video files (AVCHD H264s) is only generated/visible after doing an FCP log and transfer ingest using Canon EOS movie plug-in - and I don't know if FCP is generating that TC itself, or actually referencing back to record cameras original clock.

Nick.


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Best in-the-field documentary shoot practices for easier/efficient Plural Eyes syncing?
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:57:12 pm

time for a bit of education:
The time data for the video is in the THM files.
However, the Canon plugin rounds it to whole seconds. (and that is wrong...)
My QTchange application reads it more accurate (see my site)

to get common timecode, you can use a TC generator. Can be an Iphone / droid app nowadays.
(it does not have to be accurate, as long as both the Zoom and the Cam get the same signal.

Using FCPauxTC reader and the helper applications you can sync them.
(See FCPauxTC reader on my site.)

For the Wave files the Zoom writes, they are actual BWF files.
(the extension for BWF is .wav. BWF is the same as wav, but with a bit of extra metadata)

I'm still curious about the BWF. If there is indeed a timestamp other than 00:00:00:00, you should only have to sync one clip to get all done.
If you can mail me a few files, that would be great. (bouke at videotoolshed dot com)

Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Nick Ravich
Re: Best in-the-field documentary shoot practices for easier/efficient Plural Eyes syncing?
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:01:52 pm

Thanks Tom - sorry didn't respond to your comment sooner.

Good idea but unfortunately, a little impractical given specifics of my production. Almost all gear per each shoot is rented or provided by owner-operators - so test is tough - and HDSLR audio is such that some of the cameras (namely Canon 7D) don't have any real record level controls.

Nick.


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