Join Robbie Carman for an in-depth discussion in this video Methods for getting good sync in the field, part of Premiere Pro Guru: Sync Sound Workflow.
- Success in a sync sound workflow is almost entirely tied to having a repeatable and dependable sync method while out in the field. In addition, sync sound workflows work their best when you actually have audio in two places. High-quality audio to a digital audio recorder and reference audio going to the cameras being used on the shoot. In this movie, I want to talk about both of these things. Now, the most accurate way to ensure easy sync between your cameras and an audio recorder, is shared (Smpte) timecode.
The idea is that a timecode generator feeds all of the cameras and the digital audio recorder on a shoot. Because each device is being fed the same timecode, when you get into post-production, all you should have to do is align timecodes of all the different angles, and your high-quality audio. If timecode syncing should fail as a backup, you have reference audio from the cameras that you can use to sync. Now, of course, there are a couple issues with this approach. First, your cameras as well as your digital audio recorder, have to be able to accept a timecode input.
You must have a capable timecode source. Running timecode to all the devices, also potentially means wires, which are not practical in every shooting situation. A hybrid approach to real Smpte timecode, is to use time-of-day timecode. As its name implies, this type of timecode is simply a running clock based on the time of day. Many camera systems digital audio recorders and even apps for mobile devices, support time-of-day timecode.
When time-of-day timecode is used, it's important that all the devices have the same start time. Now, chances are you won't be able to get the time-of-day timecode on each device to perfectly match, so just be prepared that you'll probably still have to do a little adjusting in post. Probably, the most popular method for syncing, is by using a slate. Slates come in various forms. Some simply allow you to write scene information on them, and then use a clapper to provide all of the cameras, and the digital audio recorder an audible sync point.
Some slates also allow for timecode input. That timecode can be either the scene that's being fed to other devices, or digital slates can also use time-of-day timecode. Even if the cameras themselves weren't using time-of-day timecode, they could still shoot the slate, and that timecode could be used to sync the cameras. On the digital audio recorder, the time-of-day timecode could be aligned as closely as possible to the digital slate, but really more often, the clapper is still used as a backup sync point for a digital audio recorder.
Now, these days mobile devices such as phones, and tablets are also being used for slates all the time. On IOS and Android for example, a quick search of their respected stores for slate brings up dozens of options. These types of slates allow you to quickly input shoot info and other medadata. Some even include basic chip charts, and of course, all of them can provide countdowns and an audible beep that mimics a traditional slate. These apps, they vary in price.
Many of them are really useful. Probably the one that I use the most often is called DSLT slate, it's really good. Now without timecode or slates, is it possile to create sync points that you can use later on and post? Absolutely. Probably the easiest thing to do is use a clap of the hands. The louder the clap the better. With this method as with slates, you want all of the cameras and the digital audio recorder to hear the clap as a sync point.
While not ideal, if you forget any sort of mark as a sync point, things like doors closing, foot steps, or some other audible noise can be used later in post as a last resort to sync things up. Finally, it's really important that you record reference audio to any camera being used on a shoot. This reference audio doesn't have to be perfect, but reference audio is really important if other sync methods fail. Tools like Premier Pro and PluralEyes can automatically compare the wave forms of your reference audio with your high-quality audio, and automatically sync them together.
Okay, so now that we've taken look at sync methods in the field, up next we'll take a look at how audio is synced in post.
- Getting a good sync when recording in the field
- Organizing audio and video with bins
- Marking sync points
- Choosing a sync method from the Project panel
- Syncing clips manually in the Timeline
- Examining metadata for merged clips
- Syncing multiple video angles to a single audio track
- Syncing with PluralEyes