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Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries

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David Powell
Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 5:38:07 am

Well a long thread about a problem that never got a solution veered off topic. Fortunately to a great discovery. In the course of the thread I made to assertions that FCPX did a lousy job of syncing long multiclips comprised of stop start dslr cams.

Note: This is probably NOT the case with say mutliple cameras shooting long clips. I'm talking cam on 60 seconds and off 30 over the course of say 1-3 hours with two or 3 good audio tracks from either a board or h4n.

Now I made my assertion off over a year's worth of maybe 30+ projects of this type. I've never had success with FCPX doing large volume, so I bought Plural Eyes which literally syncs a whole night in under 30 seconds flawlessly. Now that being said I've always had the problem that these long multi clips would not play on the Event Side. And I have blamed it on FCPX.

Well after being challenged by David Eaks and Bill Davis on both issues. I decided to test again. 3 hour event 2 cameras, two long direct audio sources of clean audio. Gave each source a camera name, created a multi clip and it chugged away for about 10 minutes and made a multi clip.

Surprise! Nothing was in sync. Not even close. Not really a surprise to me. I've tried this a dozen times. However I had never tested the playback issue. To my Unsarcastic surprise, the long FCP generated clip (out of sync as it were) did indeed playback just fine on the event side. So Plural Eyes is the issue on this problem (as is on the 5dmarkIII problem that got this all started. Scroll down to my previous thread for more info on that). So here is my big Sorry to Apple and the Cow for repeating that this was an issue for FCPX.

That being said, I dumped the same footage in Plural Eyes, it synced in under 60 seconds perfectly as it always has.

So to conclude my findings:

Apple's sync is weak. You have to do it in very small chunks which is a HUGE timekiller. But once it's done, the actual multi clip does not have any problems.

Plural Eyes syncs 1,000X's better than Apple, but the XML has some problems. It wont play back on the event side, has an issue with 5DmarkIII footage as well as some C100 footage I've encountered where it either won't play or it crashes at gaps where there's no video. If you pretranscode to prores you eliminate some of the problems but the clip still wont play on the event side which is a huge pita. And depending on your project might be a deal breaker because you can't make selects.

I've gotten used to it and found a way to get my projects done faster using P.E. But there are the pros and cons. Once again I TAKE BACK WHAT I SAID ABOUT APPLE MULTICLIPS HAVING EVENT LEVEL PLAYBACK ISSUES. It's definitely a Plural Eyes problem. So thank you Bill and David for pointing that one out. I wouldn't have thought of it otherwise. I still stand by my statements on the syncing capabilities. It's not really even debatable.

So hope that might help whoever's curious.


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Bret Williams
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 7:05:40 am

This might have been covered, but one thing I've noticed with stop and start shoots is that your cameras date and time better be correct. If one is on daylight savings, or has the wrong date, it'll sync up the first audio bits, but after the camera stops and starts, it has to use something to at least start looking for waveform match, and if the date is off, it'll never find it, probably because it only searches within a certain window of the matching date/time.

So if your H4N doesn't have it's date set right, or cam 2 is still on daylight savings, etc. ya get nuthin. Except perhaps the first part before camera breaks.


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Bill Davis
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 7:18:54 am

A fair report.

The only thing I'll point out is to wonder if PluralEyes is "actually" fully synchronizing those clips in the 60 seconds you're noting. It *may* in fact be simply lining them up for quick playback as separate files, but not actually creating a true compound clip with the video and audio in persistent, permanent lock step.

I suspect that Apples process is also may be doing what X does so well, which is create fast functional lower res thumbnails to let you work fast, and delay the final file renderings of the new compound media files for when more system resources are available.

I've seen lots of examples where complex content initially played back more or less out of sync, only to discover that the next day, when I've returned to the project after X has had had ample (often overnight) render time, sync issues will have vanished.

The whole "metadata driven and referential" nature of how X processes files definitely takes getting some used to.

FWIW.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Michael Garber
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 7:44:20 am

David -

It sounds like you've really explored all avenues here. But I was just wondering, have you tried creating a blank multiclip and then manually add angles, followed up by going angle by angle to sync to the master sound track? The key here would be to add the clips in the order of time shot.

I've found that this sometimes works a little better and is a bit quicker. Still not as fast as pluraleyes, though. But yeah, the Pluraleyes to FCP X workflow is a bit lacking.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP
My Moviola Webinar on Cutting News in FCP X


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David Powell
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 9:04:04 am

Michael Glad you mentioned this. I have tried this, and sometimes I'm forced to do it on some level. I've found that if a clip is too many seconds away from the sync point of the "monitor angle" it will not sync it. It will give me an "inadequate audio" prompt. However if I find the sync point and put clip close to it, it will sync. Too much work.

But! I was mulling over the dillema earlier and I'm going to try one more test which is:

Use plural to create a stacked project synce. Then create a blank multi-angle in fcp and copy each angle inside the angle editor. If they retain they're spatial relationships then it should stay in sync AND I should get playback from the Event! If it works, I'll get the best of both worlds. 30 second accurate sync from plural eyes, and properly managed whatever from FCP so that it plays smoothly.

Crossing my fingers.


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Michael Garber
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 9:14:43 am

Well, you'll have a new series of tests to tried since 10.1 just released.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP
My Moviola Webinar on Cutting News in FCP X


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James Ewart
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 9:24:11 am

For me sync never works without giving each camera a different name and angle named and adding approximate (ie not frame accurate) markers. Then it works perfectly. If I do not do this (it especially seems to need the markers) no cigar. But with this extra work it's perfect.


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James Ewart
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 9:26:42 am

10.1 released where?


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David Powell
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 10:09:25 am

James putting markers on every clip? No way. Like I said. Good solution for long clips not for 70 start/stop clips.

Michael. Thanfully 10.1 gives us better timeline functions for multi cam clips. Separate audio! Yes!


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James Ewart
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:03:53 pm

I think it is because I am using two or three almost identical Panasonic AVCHD cameras. The "look" too similar?

I found this on your tube from somebody wit the ams problem







of course it would be wonderful if it would all sync without this work.


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David Powell
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 4:26:13 pm

Like I've stated before, 2 or 3 or more long clips like that are easy to sync. I'm talking about 50 clips per camera in an environment that is not as sound friendly as interviews. Even so, that YouTube video was a good example. PE would have synced 150 clips before that guy could even press "make multicam".

Bill, in a project like yours I actually do use X to sync with great success. It works for me without markers. If I'm not mistaken the markers need to be in the same relative position on each clip where it meets audio no? How does this work for 50 clips in each angle or even 3?

Also I give each camera a name and use it in the options. I wonder if it makes a difference to use both camera and angle names? Not sure how or why it would.

The discovery of PE being the culprit of playback issues is making me want to make this work in X now if possible even if it requires extra setup. If it involves interaction with every clip in the angle than I've wasted too much time.

I'm going to do my PE sync and copy experiment today. I hope it works.


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James Ewart
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:04:07 pm

With me two cameras in a noisy kitchen with markers all good.
Camera name and angle did not help as much.
I am using one of this eececwllent digital iPad clapper boards...makes the edit simple and quick if markers need adding... Which they do for me.

http://www.jamesewart.co.uk


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David Powell
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:10:38 pm

Do you set a marker on each separate clip in the angle?


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James Ewart
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:12:09 pm

Yes on a non frame accurate clapper board clap...can be a second or so out does not seem to matter

http://www.jamesewart.co.uk


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David Powell
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:34:41 pm

Yes that's impossible for what I'm doing. Run and gun 3 hours of start and stop on each clip.


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James Ewart
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:41:10 pm
Last Edited By James Ewart on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:45:55 pm

To be fair I did one job "run and gun" in the same kitchen. No time for clapper and had two cameras starting and stopping perhaps 5 seconds apart.

Logging and putting markers on obvious sync points was a day of my time. But it worked. Initially I synced one take at a time but I just did a test and selected all the takes and it synced them beautifully into one long multi-cam clip which could have saved me probably another day... maybe more.

I lose track of time as I get paid by the job not by the day.


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David Powell
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:46:12 pm

Sounds like a kitchen has a lot more consistent volume control. When I say run and gun, I mean cameras running into different ruins and pulling the audio through the wall.


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David Powell
Test failed.
on Dec 20, 2013 at 2:07:50 am
Last Edited By David Powell on Dec 20, 2013 at 2:08:27 am

Well apparently you can't copy/paste multiple clips into an angle editor. Too bad. Guess I'll have to stick with the Plural Eyes route. Maybe they can fix the playback issue. I think Bill is on to something with the sync method differences going on internally between X and PE. Either that or there is some bad code in the XML, but thats all way above my pay grade, which isn't much to start with.


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David Eaks
Re: Test failed.
on Dec 20, 2013 at 11:41:28 am

I'm able to paste multiple clips into the angle editor, copied right from the event browser or the timeline, even using gap clips in the primary to space out clips (randomly spaced as a test) and they paste into the angle editor as expected (no gap clip but clips spaced accordingly). Just make sure to set the monitoring angle to the angle you want to paste into.

Hope it works for you.


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David Eaks
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 20, 2013 at 2:28:30 pm

David Powell- "after being challenged by David Eaks and Bill Davis on both issues".

Could you remind me which thread that was? Searching my previous posts, I can't seem to find it.

I really think that the audio is what's giving X a hard time syncing you're clips but when you say FCPX doesn't even get it right with simple two camera, good audio, long clips, there's got to be something up. I have no experience with Plural Eyes but the fact that it syncs so quickly with the bad audio you describe is impressive. If only the rest of the workflow was working correctly! Does plural eyes only use audio to sync?

In the situation you describe, you're really making it tough on yourself. Relying on audio from cameras that are roaming around between different rooms to sync the clips. This must have been discussed already but why aren't you syncing the cameras timecode at the start of the shoot? Sorry I don't remember all the details from the discussion thus far.

I just did a test. Clips from two cameras recording over a period of about 7hrs with 20-30 clips per camera, a few minutes per clip. Both Sony NX5s, start and stopped recording independently. Cam 1 audio is both the on-camera shotgun and a line feed from an audio board with boom mics. Cam 2 is shotgun only. 2 person interviews, both cameras close to the talent. Here is what I did.

-New event and project

-Import all of cam 1, select all these clips, enter camera name "cam1" and angle name "1" in the inspector

-Repeat for cam 2

-immediately select all of the clips (while they are still importing, just to make things difficult for X, I guess) and choose create new multicam clip. Choose to use audio for sync and arrange angles by angle name (which probably doesn't make a difference)

-wait 10 minutes for sync to finish

-open multicam clip in angle editor and check sync, it all looks good.


Maybe the sync wasn't incredibly fast, but simple as can be. This is my usual method and it almost always works flawlessly. Most of the time it's just two cameras with two 1hr clips each, for these I like the method Michael mentioned. I'll make a multicam clip with only one clip, then add the rest in the ballpark and sync to monitor angle. I think it's faster than FCPX doing it. In a case where one camera is significantly closer to the action, the delay will leave the image a couple frames off. It's easy enough to nudge all the clips from one angle into place at once. I always manually check sync no matter the method used. Since using FCPX multicam, I've been completely care free with no time code and start/stop recording at will, confident that FCPX will handle it (being conscious of my audio for syncing later). When I've demonstrated it to editor colleagues who do not use FCPX, they are thoroughly impressed with the resulting angle editor layout. But my cameras are not roaming around in separate rooms. For that I'd sync free run timecode for sure.

I think I already mentioned this in the other thread (the thread I couldn't find), but when I've had difficulty with syncing due to poor audio, I'll temporarily enhance the audio with loudness and background noise removal and/or manual adjustments. Even if it sounds terrible to the ear, and even "ruining" the better audio to match the other camera. FCPX is able to pick out matching sounds and sync the clips. I haven't had to do that more than a couple times but it has proven effective. If plural eyes only uses audio to sync, I'm fairly confident this will work for you in FCPX.


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David Powell
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 20, 2013 at 11:33:58 pm

David thanks for the reply.

By "challenge" I meant you challenged my assertion that FCPX wasn't up to the task of what I'm doing for syncing. And rightfully so, as it's working beautifully for you. I'm wondering if my lack of naming the angle makes a difference. It works perfectly on more controlled environments. I just name the cameras and choose "order by camera name" rather than angle. I thought it was more of an either or, but I'll try both and see what happens. I am curious why the copy paste didn't work for me. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that I'm copying from the plural eyes project. Doesn't make sense, but I'm gonna try it again now that i've upgraded and see what happens.

Unfortunately I have no control over the shoot, so tc syncing isn't gonna happen. If I were doing interviews, then I'm sure fcp would be up to the task. In fact I use it on such projects and it works great even at an hour length with multiple clips. But when volume is erratic to the camera, its not so great. But even after the initial sync, I find that I have to line the clips pretty close to where it matches before a "sync selection" is successful. Especially with a long multi clip.

The reason for all of this is that the FCP 7 workflow always relied on Plural Eyes for these jobs. And it worked pretty flawlessly. You used PE to create a sync map on then you exported each track as a reference, reimported them and used them as a few long clips to set in points and create a multi clip. Pretty easy.

The only reason there's a problem here is because PE's XML isn't working on the event side. What I'm doing at this point is working. I would just love to use the event side to make selects rather than having to do it from the storyline. I actually don't care that PE syncs faster than FCP. I'm willing to wait so long as it's accurate. I'm going to try angle instead of name and see if that makes a difference and also try and figure out why the copy paste won't work from the PE project to the angle editor.

Thanks for your help and input.


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David Eaks
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 20, 2013 at 11:57:49 pm
Last Edited By David Eaks on Dec 21, 2013 at 12:01:17 am

I understood what you meant by "challenge" and didn't take it offensively. I literally couldn't find the previous thread or my reply to you. Something funny is going on with the COW. Does everyone else have two posts with broken links from the COW news droid stuck at the top of new posts?

[David Powell] " I wonder if it has to do with the fact that I'm copying from the plural eyes project."

Maybe if you first paste the clips from the plural eyes project to a regular timeline, they will Copy/paste into the angle editor.

I also did a second sync test, this time with a third set of clips, which were the Ki Pro recordings of a live mix between those two cameras, also start and stopped independently. Imported and named the camera "Ki Pro" and the angle "3", then created another multicam clip with all three angles. It finished in 6 minutes. Because of the slight delay from the boom mics to the camera mics, the picture was a frame or two off in one clip or another. If I was actually going to use this multicam clip it wouldn't take long to nudge the clips into place relative to the audio that will be used in the timeline. It would probably be even easier if I turned off the line feed on cam 1, so it would sync perfectly with cam 2 (both same distance from talent), leaving only the Ki Pro out by a frame.

I actually did a screen recording of these tests. I sped it up and blurred the content but it shows exactly what I did. Of course, again, the audio is clean and controlled (except for the ranch dogs, loud bugs in the trees, and location visitors coming and going. All causing many retakes) which isn't really a fair comparison.

*Edit
...and here is the screen capture-







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James Ewart
Re: Plural Eyes vs FCPX Test results: Confirmations and discoveries
on Dec 21, 2013 at 7:31:16 am
Last Edited By James Ewart on Dec 21, 2013 at 7:33:10 am

Have you found yourself in an environment where there are a number of not super well-disciplined camera people with SLR's 'boshing' all over the place without really sparing even half a second's thought for the person (editor) who is left (or lumbered even) with the responsibility of syncing it all up and putting it all together?

If so I empathise and fear you are not alone. Trying perhaps to find the least painful workflow to get everything joined up so you can actually start doing your job.


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David Powell
It worked!
on Dec 21, 2013 at 10:14:06 am

Ok for some reason I wasn't able to copy paste from the storyline the first time but don't need to anyway. I copied each angle from the Plural Eyes generated multi clip in the angle editor and pasted it in a dummy multi clip, using the start timecode of the first clip on each angle. And the clip plays as it should on the event side.

Now I have playback on the event level and a way to to sync wild, non tc synced run and gun cameras with speed. Hopefully Plural Eyes can fix this problem but I won't complain about an additional 5 minutes of setup. This has irked me to no end for the last year.


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David Eaks
Re: It worked!
on Dec 21, 2013 at 10:20:05 am

That's awesome. Glad you got a workflow that does what you need figured out.

Now, I wonder how well FCPX 10.1 syncs... ; )


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David Powell
Re: It worked!
on Dec 21, 2013 at 10:44:55 am

I appreciate the help along the way. I actually tried first in 10.1. Couldn't sync it. Maybe I'm not smart enough to do it in X. As long as I'm not losing time (I believe I'm gaining quite a deal) its all good.


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David Eaks
Re: It worked!
on Dec 21, 2013 at 11:11:55 am

For sure, I have fun with it. I don't doubt that it's just X having trouble with the audio and not your fault, there really isn't all that much to it. Makes sense that Plural Eyes could be a better sync solution for what you need to do, being that it's a dedicated app purpose built for syncing.

Out of curiosity, did you ever try letting FCPX enhance the audio before attempting to sync?


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David Powell
Re: It worked!
on Dec 21, 2013 at 11:19:59 am

Never tried the audio enhance. Never really thought of it to be honest.


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David Eaks
Re: It worked!
on Dec 21, 2013 at 11:22:46 am

Oh, yeah I mentioned it earlier in the thread. It's worked for me in the past. Enhance, sync, disable enhancements.


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