With the popularity of HD-DSLRs, many shooters are recording sound separately because of the camera's limitations with audio. For the past year, I've been shooting my spots on the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera. The video looks terrific but the audio is clunky. The camera has no audio level setting so audio is always a guess. (Blackmagic solved this issue and many more with the release of the Ursa.)
As a solution, I always hire a sound guy to record audio separately. At the end of the shoot, he gives me a flash drive containing the audio files.
It used to be a tedious process to manually "glue" the audio back to the picture in post, but with Red Giant's PluralEyes it's simple. In fact it's so easy, I don't even need to use a clapboard or timecode.
PluralEyes works as a both a standalone program or inside of your NLE with the extension. I prefer working inside of Adobe Premiere, but PluralEyes also works inside Apple Final Cut Pro, FCPX, Avid Media Composer/Symphony, and Sony Vegas Pro.
PluralEyes working as an Extension inside Premiere Pro. Please click on any image for a larger view.
I drag all of my clips onto the timeline and then drag in the corresponding audio. I make sure to eliminate all of the non-audio b-roll clips from the timeline, and then I'm ready to begin.
There are 3 steps to align your audio to the footage: Add Media, Synchronize and Export Timeline.
The first step is automatic when you add files or a timeline. It might take a few minutes to analyze depending on the length of your timeline or the amount of files. The "Preparing Media" progress bar will tell you when it's ready to synchronize.
Through the NLE extension, PluralEyes opens independently in its own window to analyze the clips from the Premiere timeline you assembled.
The PluralEyes timeline before processing begins
As a standalone app, you need to simply drag your footage folders/files and corresponding audio folder/files into the project window. PluralEyes automatically creates a timeline and begins to analyze the files.
Next, click the "Synchronize" button and PluralEyes aligns the audio with the camera footage. It can even sync the audio with multiple cameras.
When I'm shooting interviews, I stop and start my camera to index the clips, but my sound guy will often let his audio recorder roll. It really doesn't matter to PluralEyes. It will sift through the audio waveforms and find the matching camera footage for perfect alignment. Plural Eyes even fixes camera "drift" for longer takes when the sound "drifts" out of sync.
The last step is "Export Timeline". This will create a timeline with the audio synced under the camera audio and footage and import it into the Premiere project. I especially like the option to also create a separate timeline with replaced audio trimmed to the length of the clip.
The standalone version will export a timeline of your choosing which you can import into your NLE.
I have a few shooting tips to prepare for PluralEyes.
If a clip is too short, PluralEyes might not have enough to analyze. Make sure your camera mic is enabled and within proximity to the subject.
As a protection, I have my sound guy plug a Â¼ inch jack from his recorder into my Blackmagic camera. (DSLR cameras have a mini-jack input.) I have used low and slightly over-modulated camera audio levels, but PluralEyes has always been able to analyze it.
Also, you might consider syncing your clips in separate batches. I tried dragging a day's worth of shooting onto a timeline and I found PluralEyes a bit sluggish. As I mentioned, I like to delete any non-audio b-roll clips or erroneous audio files from the timeline to help speed up the process.
I can remember the hours I used to spend aligning audio with picture, but Plural Eyes makes this process fast and easy so I can focus on editing. I'm not sure what's going on behind the scenes of this useful program but I assume the analysis of waveforms are compared for matches and then paired together.
PluralEyes can be purchased on its own or as part of the Red Giant Shooter Suite.
has been shooting spots for 35 years, using cinematic production values on low budgets to create what he calls 30-second movies. Take a look at his work at Chicago Spots
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