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Syncing picture to Pro Tools

From: Music Editing for TV and Film in Pro Tools

Video: Syncing picture to Pro Tools

The next step is to sync our picture with the Pro Tools timeline. Now, typically you're going to know exactly what the frame rate is for the picture that you're going to be working to--that will be either communicated to you or typically you'll be working on a project where that information is the same from episode to episode or from reel to reel, so you've already established that--but if you don't know it for whatever reason, there are few ways that we can find the frame rate. So one of those is to use QuickTime. So let's go back to our example files, find our Video Files folder, and select ELI Clip 1, and open it, Command or Ctrl+O. Now that we have this open, we can go to the Window menu and Show Movie Inspector.

Syncing picture to Pro Tools

The next step is to sync our picture with the Pro Tools timeline. Now, typically you're going to know exactly what the frame rate is for the picture that you're going to be working to--that will be either communicated to you or typically you'll be working on a project where that information is the same from episode to episode or from reel to reel, so you've already established that--but if you don't know it for whatever reason, there are few ways that we can find the frame rate. So one of those is to use QuickTime. So let's go back to our example files, find our Video Files folder, and select ELI Clip 1, and open it, Command or Ctrl+O. Now that we have this open, we can go to the Window menu and Show Movie Inspector.

And in this Information window we can see that the frames per second is 29.97. So using this informational window within QuickTime is one way to figure out what the frame rate of your QuickTime movie is. So we can close that and go back to Pro Tools. So now I want to show you how to use Pro Tools to sync a QuickTime movie with the Pro Tools timeline, but before we do that, I want to show you one other way that you can sync the picture with Pro Tools if you don't know what the frame rate is. So in order to simulate this test, we're going to change our frame rate so that it doesn't match our picture file, since we already set it up in the template to match our picture file.

So let's go to the Setup > Session Setup window, and let's set this to 24 frames per second. Now we're going to use some of the tools built into Pro Tools to spot the QuickTime movie, and then we can check and see if it's in sync. So the first thing that we need to do is we need to switch our Hand Grabber tool to the Time Grabber tool, rather than a Separation Grabber tool. If you want to switch back to the Smart tool, you're welcome to do so.

If you do, you'll see that on the bottom- half of the region the Smart tool will turn into the Hand tool. Now the other thing we need to do is we need to enable Spot mode, which you can do by clicking the Spot mode button or by pressing the F3 key. If the F3 key does not do this on your computer, you need to change a setting. You can go to the System Preferences > Keyboard and check the box that says Use all F1, F2, et cetera, keys as standard function keys. Once that is set, you should be able to enable or disable Spot mode with the function key. And once Spot mode is enabled, with the Grabber tool you can click on the bottom-half of the region and the Spot dialog will pop up.

Now in this case, and in the most cases, the first frame of picture will show a timecode. And so when you click on the picture file in Pro Tools, you'll see the first frame of that picture, as we do here and we'll enter that time code in the Start field on the Spot dialog. So we'll type in 00:59:45:00 and click OK, and that will snap our picture file to that timecode. And now what we want to do is ensure that even though that Start frame is in the right place, we want to ensure that it's in sync elsewhere. And so if it's not in sync, we'll know right away because when we click elsewhere in the video, we'll see that the timecodes don't line up.

Like in this case, we're off by a second, and here we're still off by a second, and I'm going to zoom out and click later in the video. When we see that the timecodes don't line up, when we check different spots throughout the QuickTime video, that is a clear indicator that we're using the wrong frame rate, that is, as long as the first frame is in sync, which it is. So one way, by trial and error, to find out the correct frame rate, if you don't have that information already or you don't have QuickTime to figure it out, is to go into your Session Setup and try different frame rates until it locks up.

So let's try 29.97, which we already know is the correct frame rate for this video, and you can now see that by changing the frame rate, Pro Tools timeline in the video do not line up, so we're going to need to spot it again. So let's do the same thing. We're still in Spot mode. Hand Grabber tool on the bottom-half of the region. When we click, it will pop-up the Spot dialog, and we'll enter the timecode one more time. And now we can again check various points throughout the video, and this time we see that it is locked.

So, essentially when you click at different points in the video and the time- codes between the picture file and Pro Tools timeline are in sync, we know that we're at the right frame rate. So now that we have our picture file in place, we want to move our audio file to the right place as well. One of the quickest ways to do this is to use the Snap feature in Pro Tools, and what that does is it allows you to snap any audio file to the location of your cursor. So by double-clicking with the cursor our video file, the beginning of our selection is selected, and by using the Hand Grabber tool and the Ctrl key, we can snap our audio file to that same location.

So by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking with the Hand Grabber tool, our audio file is going to snap to the beginning of the cursor or the selection, which in this case is the exact length of our picture file. And this will work again in Grid or Slip mode, so let's go into Grid mode, hold down the Ctrl key, and click in the bottom half of the region, and our audio file is going to snap to be perfectly aligned with our picture file. Now there is another way you can do this. So I'm going to undo, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. And if you stay in Spot mode, you can quite simply do the same thing you did with the picture file. Enter the time code again and you get the same result.

Now I'm going to zoom this picture and audio region to the full width of the screen using a key command Option+F or Alt+F. Now that we've zoomed our region selection to the width of the Pro Tools Edit window, one of the things that I like to do, once we've gotten our picture in sync, is to lock the video and audio file so that they can't accidentally be moved. So I'm going to put us back in Grid mode, and I'm going to use Ctrl+L or Command+L to lock the audio file. I'm going to select the video file and lock it as well.

And this is very handy because in case you accidentally grabbed or bumped or moved a region, you're going to get a little warning dialog box that asks you if you are sure you want to do this. A lot of people like to do this; a lot of people don't. You can do it however you like, but this is, for me, a nice safety feature in case you accidentally move something that you didn't mean to move. One last thing I wanted to point out is that when the picture files burn-in and the Pro Tools timeline don't match, it is often an indicator that we're using the wrong frame rate. But every once in a while, due to an anomaly with computer software or hardware malfunction, there may be a missing frame, literally a missing frame of still image in the picture file or in the burn-in itself, and when that happens it can cause a single-frame difference between the burn-in on the picture and the Pro Tools timeline, and you will see that single-frame difference recurring by the exact same amount.

And typically when that dropped frame happens it's something you can fix, but it may not be. And we're not going to go into that so much in this course, but I just wanted to bring it up in case, perhaps on another project that you're working on, if you ever see something like that, you're aware that it is a possibility and that it does happen. If in doubt, you can always get a new video from the production that you're working, or possibly fix it yourself.

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This video is part of

Image for Music Editing for TV and Film in Pro Tools
Music Editing for TV and Film in Pro Tools

35 video lessons · 3141 viewers

Skye Lewin
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 49s
    1. Welcome
      52s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 32s
    3. A word about the film and music used in this course
      25s
  2. 25m 4s
    1. Creating a template session for working to picture
      7m 29s
    2. Importing a picture file
      3m 17s
    3. What is time code?
      4m 17s
    4. Syncing picture to Pro Tools
      6m 58s
    5. Importing audio files
      3m 3s
  3. 48m 36s
    1. Using the Zoom and View commands
      9m 54s
    2. Utilizing the edit modes
      7m 59s
    3. Navigating with key commands
      7m 57s
    4. Creating and using sync points
      3m 20s
    5. Using the snap editing commands
      5m 16s
    6. Using memory locations
      8m 12s
    7. Customizing crossfades
      5m 58s
  4. 1h 11m
    1. Auditioning music to picture
      10m 21s
    2. Editing to acquire multiple sync points within the same "cue"
      6m 2s
    3. Editing to maintain or change the arc/build of the cue to fit the scene
      15m 11s
    4. Editing the start and end of the cue
      9m 55s
    5. Setting up for a 30-second condensed edit
      4m 5s
    6. First pass of a 30-second condensed edit
      11m 17s
    7. Improving the 30-second condensed edit
      14m 41s
  5. 26m 49s
    1. Exploring alternate edits of the same song
      8m 17s
    2. Editing different songs to the same scene
      18m 32s
  6. 11m 25s
    1. Mixing the edit
      5m 26s
    2. Bouncing down the edit
      2m 47s
    3. Compressing the QuickTime files
      3m 12s
  7. 12m 19s
    1. Conforming the edit to picture if the scene has shifted
      5m 27s
    2. Conforming the edit if a shot's length changes within the scene
      6m 52s
  8. 10m 34s
    1. Removing profanities by reversing audio
      2m 8s
    2. Removing profanities with instrumentals
      2m 36s
    3. Keeping a song in sequence
      1m 19s
    4. Layering audio
      1m 36s
    5. Time stretching
      2m 55s
  9. 38s
    1. Goodbye
      38s

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