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Editing a two camera shoot of a live music performance

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Jack Robins
Editing a two camera shoot of a live music performance
on Jun 25, 2014 at 10:38:38 am

I have footage from a gig from two cameras that I need to edit, syncing it to a separate sound recording taken from the mixing desk during the gig. What's the best way to put this all together? Is there a way to sync the sound file to both cameras and then put them in the timeline as required? Any suggestions? I have version 10.0.8 on a Macbook Pro

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Mark Suszko
Re: Editing a two camera shoot of a live music performance
on Jun 25, 2014 at 11:19:20 pm

If you have money, Pluralize is a third-party product that handles this for you by comparing the shape of the waveforms in the audio and lining them all up. FCPX can also do this automagically, slicker than snot.

What you can do in FCP7 is use the multicam feature, which asks you to add a marker to each track, for example, at the spot where a clapper hits, or the first beat of a drum, or the flash of a photo strobe. Or, multicam can synch the tracks by their time code, if you took the advance step of locking the cameras together to jam synch their time code.

Multicam then lets you play back all the tracks and use the computer keyboard like a live video switcher, selecting between the available camera angles.

Assuming all of this is no good for some reason, you can do this:

Decide which track you are going to use the most. Lock that one in place with the little padlock icon.

Turn on visible audio waveforms in the timeline and make the display large, so you can see their shape. Find the beginning of the concert on the first locked off track and put a marker there.

Bring in the second track. Match it close to the marker from the first track. Trim it so that you're within a second or so of the start of the same performance there. Slide that track and it's connected audio back and forth until the waveforms are very close. Play the tracks together; you'll likely hear an echo. Stop playback and "nudge" the second track left or right a frame at a time, using the minus or plus { or} { keys, play a bit, and keep dialing it in a frame at a time, each time the echo gets shorter, you're on the right track, go another frame in that direction. When you are right on, the audio quality will change in a noticeable way: you'll get a phase change that sounds like reverb but isn't. Now you are just one frame off left or right. Decide that you're in the sweet spot, and lock that track down. Mute the second track, add the mix from the sound board and do the same procedure again. Lock it into place, turn off the audio on the first track, and now all you hear is board audio, synched to both cameras.

That ASSUMES that you rolled both cams without stopping at any point. If you started and stopped a camera, you'll have to re-do this process at every point where the recording was stopped.

This also ASSUMES that the board audio was recorded at the same sampling rate as the video was. If you find the audio and video seem to drift out of synch over a few minutes of playback, this is the number one reason it occurs: mis-matched sampling rates. FCP7 likes an AIFF file with the same sample rate as the cameras and your sequence settings used. Don't try to synch an MP3 to this, first convert it to AIFF using Apple compressor, or a free tool like MPEG Streamclip or Audacity.

If you're not using the multicam plugin for some reason, you can lock all audio tracks, play the tracks in realtime, and hit the M marker key at every beat where you want to make a camera cut. Go back to those markers, and use the "blade" tool to razor thru all the video tracks, ( I find I have to hit the B button for blade three times if I want to razor 3 tracks), see that you sliced thru at the in and out points, then delete the section in the top video track to reveal the shot in the track below, and keep drilling down like that depending on how many camera tracks you have. The process goes faster if the top track is your most-used shots, so there's less razoring needed.
Sounds tortuous, but I can blast thru 3 tracks like yours in this way in a very short time; you get a feel for it. If the cuts are not quite right, you can drag the edges forwards or back to adjust it, or add dissolves or wipes to those edges.

ne'cest pas?

One more thing: you may want to mix in a little bit from the camera audio with the board. Board operators mix for how the speakers in the room sound to them, in their standing spot. This means they may emphasize parts of the audio mix that make it sound good in just that room's particular acoustic environment, with those speakers, and the people absorbing certain frequencies with their bodies and he's maybe fighting a reverb problem or the drums seem too loud or weren't even mic'd in the first place... so that mix may sound poor on a TV or computer. it also won't carry much feeling of the people in the room cheering and the like, the liveness, so that's why you often re-mix the camera audio and other live recorders you put at the front of the stage, because you were thinking ahead when you did this ;-)

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