Sync. It ain’t all clappers & code

If like me, you have spent countless hours and days pulling together all your audio for video takes, or correcting frame rates and frequency formats, then this little piece of software will help you pretty well!

Overtime audio engineers get to see waveforms and get use to reading the information within, I always find it to be a bit like the Matrix, after a while I just see blonde,  brunette, redhead…

So, you have recorded the clean audio onsite via a separate recording console (in picture Fostex FR-2LE and Marantz PMD660) and you have a good internal mic or external mic level onto the camera, well normally a good engineer would find a few peak points between the two audio recordings and sync them via that. A good engineer would have used a clapperboard on site to record a spike on to both units… And a great engineer that had lots of money would also have bought a timecode jammer to take over the reference timecode on all recordings.

But no matter which way you have done it, it all takes time in the edit depending on your method. Timecode will be the quickest and save money as you sync everything by one clock. It is truly great to see this method work and I love the fact that it really takes no effort, but you don’t always have the luxury of time code. Let’s look at a scenario that most filmmakers and professionals will come up against at some point.

You are on a location shoot, recording audio to a stereo recorder that does not have time code. The camera is a DSLR that has no additional mic inputs, and the runner has lost the clapperboard. Well… All is not lost to get perfect sound sync.

I always make sure that if I’m in this situation I make a loud clap or a recognizable sound that both camera and recording console with Mic attached can hear. This will give me an identifiable waveform that will allow me to easily align both recordings together. This sync in post is what normally takes the time, but like I said before after a while you get quick at it. Some NLE software currently includes a ‘scan audio and align’ process. It is hit and miss, but Final Cut X (uugh) and Avid media composer have such options.

How about syncing and prepping clips with the dailies and rushes a few minutes after the shoot? The editor would love this option and it saves so much time later for everyone. Editors and Directors are working with the clean audio from site and post mix just need to clean it up.

That’s where the new awesomeness of plural eyes 3 comes into play. ( So, here’s my advice. Have a DIT on set with you, some one that can transfer cards from cam and recorder to a hard disk, drop each in to the bins on Plural eyes and hit sync! Once done, either export an XML or the files with new sound. It really is that easy.

I’ve used it several times now with great success. Version 1 and 2 was a bit off in success of syncing but now this version is bang on. Watch the video of my latest project aligning. Nice.