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Syncing audio and video

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Jenn Lindsay
Syncing audio and video
on Sep 12, 2016 at 2:58:11 pm

Hello folks! I hope everyone is well!

A few months ago I filmed several interviews and live scenes for an industrial-type doc. I film with a Canon Rebel T5i with a Sennheiser shotgun boom, but the building I have to film in has ghastly blowy central air that can't be turned off in my interview room. So I recently invested in a lovely RODE wireless lavalier mic for interviews, and record directly into my H4 Zoom. I also use the H4 Zoom when I'm getting b-roll and live scenes.

I'm a one-man band with filming, lighting, interviewing people, choosing shots, and audio. I'm finally at the point where I think I have the right equipment for my shooting conditions, but I've still got too much going on to carefully label all of my audio clips in the H4 Zoom. I will admit there is also a chance the H4 Zoom might not have the correct date and time settings on the clips either. Welcome to my learning curve.

While recording audio, since I have so much going on, when I turn the camera off of shooting mode for whatever reason (change battery, change SD card) I tend to keep the audio running. And when I'm shooting b-roll (a staff meeting, for instance), I shoot sporadically but run the audio recording consistently because I only have so many hands.

Now I've got to face what to me seems a big challenge. How in the world do I synchronize this video and audio? My main problem is that the audio clips are usually way longer than the video clips. From experience trying to sync these things I've discovered that smaller video fragments don't always find the right place in the audio to sync.

Anyway, please let me know where you think I should start, and tips for how to avoid this next time!!

Thank you!
Jenn Lindsay

http://www.JennLindsay.com
iMac 27-inch, 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7. 4GB GPU.
FCPX


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Joe Marler
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 12, 2016 at 4:26:12 pm

This is a common situation, and there is no easy answer which works in all cases. Sometimes creating a multicam clip may work better, even if you only have one audio and one video source: http://www.fcpworks.com/sync-or-multicam-clips/

Another useful workaround is to simply delete (or don't import) the short clips that don't contain value. The presence of these makes sync failure more likely.

By using a clapper board, smart slate app (which usually emit a series of beeps) or even just clapping your hands before the take, this creates a unique sound which makes audio sync more reliable. If done on camera it also facilitates the old standby of syncing it yourself manually. You can sometimes help FCPX by using timeline markers on each track, then let it fine-tune the sync. However this is often impractical for many discontinuous A/V clips with long gaps.

Ultimately, the FCPX ability to reliably sync clips via audio (while useful) is limited when compared to a dedicated sync tool like Plural Eyes: https://www.redgiant.com/products/pluraleyes/

Another issue is when FCPX syncs a continuous audio track to an intermittent A/V track, it spaces out the A/V clips. This is logical but often you don't want the non-sync'd intervals.

Yet another issue is when FCPX fails to properly sync a clip, it just gives its best guess and places it somewhere with no warning. When Premiere CC or Plural Eyes fail to sync, they raise an error.

There are relatively low-cost timecode-based sync devices called Tentacle, but a couple of these still cost more than Plural Eyes and they add complexity: http://www.tentaclesync.com/

IMO using Plural Eyes is the best approach for cases where FCPX will not sync reliably.


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Noah Kadner
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 12, 2016 at 4:55:54 pm

Yep totally agree. Pluraleyes would make short work of what you have and get you into a multicam edit very quickly. Worth every penny.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP Exchange - FCPX Workshops
XinTwo - FCPX Training


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Jenn Lindsay
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 12, 2016 at 6:15:34 pm

Awesome, thank you to both of you for this help. I just bought PluralEyes after looking at what it does.

If I just have one cam and one source of audio, do I need to create a multicam clip? Or do I just dump aaaaaalllllll the video clips and high quality audio I need synced into one project and export the xml?

I watched the PluralEyes tutorial but it's not really clear to me why I need to create a multicam clip.

Thank you again!
Jenn

http://www.JennLindsay.com
iMac 27-inch, 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7. 4GB GPU.
FCPX


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Noah Kadner
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 12, 2016 at 8:21:41 pm

Sure you can have a single angle of video that's synced to your *hopefully* higher quality recorded audio. It would work as a regular clip in FCPX just not needing the angle viewer.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP Exchange - FCPX Workshops
XinTwo - FCPX Training


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Harlan Rumjahn
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 14, 2016 at 7:01:43 pm

Hi Jenn, I have a setup and method of working that is very similar to yours. I love being able to control everything, but it is a pain in the butt much of the time I agree ;)

My workflow is pretty chaotic, but it seems to work okay. I record all kinds of audio and video and, just like you, have way longer audio files. I don't label anything. At the end of the day I dump all of my audio and video files onto my computer (MacBook Pro) and start labeling the audio files. For example, if I shot a scene in a bathroom, I would label the audio that I captured there as "bathroom". Like rocket science, eh? ;)

Each day of my project I create a folder for that day and do the same thing. So at the end of 5 days I'll have five folders, each containing a bunch of video clips and labeled audio files.

The fun part is the edit. I edit the videos together, not caring yet about the audio. When the edit is complete then I go back and match the high quality audio to the scratch audio that came with the video files. This way, basing the audio I need off the edit, I can go directly to the portions of the audio in the audio files. I can skip the part about syncing all kinds of audio with video that I won't be using. It's a targeted way of getting the audio.

I found that in FCPX it's not that hard to do a scrub through the audio file--happens in real time by scrubbing the timeline indicator over the waveform of the file--find the portions I need, then lift them out and drag them down to my timeline. From there it's manual syncing, but that's no big deal, just brainless (which I like ;).

I hope this helps you. Good luck!


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Chris Sebes
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 15, 2016 at 3:40:43 pm

I'm going to also suggest PluralEyes. Made my life 10x easier on more than one occasion.

Chris Sebes
Senior Video Editor
http://www.MediaMixStudios.com


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Mark Smith
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 15, 2016 at 11:54:08 pm

I don't use plural eyes, but I have been syncing clips in X. I had about an hour audio record with small shoot I did which had more camera stops and starts than I realized.

I did have common timecode on audio and camera. What I had to do is basically sub- clip the audio record, favorite the audio sub clips and named those clips so that they matched the camera clips. I was having trouble selecting and syncing the audio sub clips to the camera clips in the list view but for whatever reason once I switched to the filmstrip view every clip sync'ed just fine.


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Fred Dorsett
Re: Syncing audio and video
on Sep 24, 2016 at 2:03:28 pm

Hi Jenn
I would recommend the Tentaclesync System mentioned above.
It is foolproof and the software syncs up all in seconds with no issues as every thing is linked/locked together with time code.
Before I got the Tentacle Time code System, I used Pluraleyes and found it 85% reliable, but with Time code you get 100% fuss free reliability.
Well worth the money IMHO.
Fred

CANON 7D.
ARRIFLEX S16BL.
PANASONIC AF100
Canon, Nikon & Zeiss glass.

Adobe Production Premium CS5.
Autodesk Maya.
Stop Motion Pro.
Avid Pro Tools.


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