Red Giant Audio/Video Sync Program Pluraleyes Makes Editing a Lot Faster

Red Giant Audio/Video Sync Program Pluraleyes Makes Editing a Lot Faster

If you aren't using some sort of software to sync audio, you're sitting in your edit bay manually matching audio to video queues, be that sounds, video hints or timecodes. But what if you could just dump all your camera footage from an interview and all the audio from your recorder into one program and hit one button to sync them all quickly and accurately? You can with Red Giant Pluraleyes, and it's nearly perfect.

I say "nearly" because I have run into some hiccups, but by and large Pluraleyes does exactly what it claims to, and does it astoundingly quickly. Let me break down why I now use Pluraleyes all the time, and what process it replaced. 

Firstly, I nearly always record my audio separately, because I Iike to control the input and quality exactly to what I know works best in post. I don't rely on the camera at all to capture anything other than reference audio (audio I use as a reference during syncing). Generally speaking, audio quality is better when you record it separately, but has been a pain in the butt to sync, even using Adobe Premiere's build in functionality (as explained in the video below).

Now, the downside of the process in Premiere is you actually need to know exactly what audio clip corresponds to the video clip with which you want to sync. When your editing folders look like this...

...That might not be the easiest approach. You see, I don't remember which audio file went with which video file. The more I shoot, and the more I shoot before I get back to my main workstation, the worse this becomes. I can feasibly spend hours just trying to figure out which audio clip corresponds with which video clip. 

Pluraleyes takes all that out of the equation. Instead of needing to know specifics, I just need to know which day I shot all the footage. Since I am at least organized on a per-day basis, this isn't asking too much of me. All you have to do is drag in your video files from the multiple (or single) cameras and also bring in your audio. Click "Synchronize" and it's done! You can then export the file as a premiere XML and when you open that in Premiere, it comes in as a perfecly synced and organized timeline. What could have taken me all day now takes about 5 minutes.

I have found some hiccups though. Sometimes multiple syncs on the same batch of footage can result in different results. When would this happen? For example, if I bring in a batch of video files and a batch of audio files and I'm not sure which audio files I need, I often will just drag in a bunch and delete the extraneous ones after syncing. The problem here, though, is that sometimes audio and video clips that it once successfully synced oddly don't sync the next time, and I'm left with 95% of my work done instead of 100%. It's not a big deal because I can usually easily fix the one or two clips that failed to sync right very quickly in Premiere, but I would certainly like the product to work 100% how they say it will 100% of the time. 

I also ran into an issue where Sony a7S footage was unrecognized by the software, which was bizarre. I haven't had any trouble with other camera brands generating the same file type as the a7S video clips, so it was pretty strange that this was happening. 

My final weird issue came when I once did record audio internally on one camera and just wanted to sync that clip set with another camera that I was running. Because I did not have a standalone audio file, just two video files, Pluraleyes refused to export the XML for Premiere. It required an audio clip in order to consider the product "done." I got around this by separating the audio in Audition and bringing it in redundantly, but it was annoying. 

These issues aside, life with Pluraleyes is monumentally easier for me than life without it. I absolutely loathe the idea of going back to my previous method, since using Pluraleyes is just so... easy. And if you are a video editor like I am, you'll take quick and easy any day of the week. 

What I liked:

  • Fast, accurate audio syncing for multiple cameras and multiple audio streams
  • Program loads quickly and operates smoothly
  • Simply? It works.

What could use improvement

  • Sometimes give varying results for same series of clips
  • Didn't work for all video types
  • Won't sync unless you recorded audio separately

 

Pluraleyes from Red Giant is available for $200, which in my book basically pays for itself after one editing session with the amount of time it saved me. It's not perfect, but it's much closer than anything else I've tried in the past. 

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23 Comments

Chris Blair's picture

I use it, but I find it doesn't always work well with dslr scratch audio when there is decent amount of background noise. Learned this the hard way filming at a MLS game. I've never minded matching by hand, but if you were putting together an entire documentary, it would get real old really fast to hand jam it.

Jaron Schneider's picture

And 90% of my work is documentary haha

Yeah it has its limits of course. If you can barely hear the voice in the audio, it isn't going to get it either.

Chris Blair's picture

I think that may have been most of my problem...scratch audio was too distorted and talents voice was too quiet. I guess I was hoping the program could sync up the background noise, ha ha.

David Geffin's picture

Chris, try adding a "hit" (snap, hand clap, slate board or other loud sound), close to the DSLR mic and your other audio source if you can, when you start rolling. These audio waveform spikes at the start of your roll if loud enough (and they will be if right near your DSLR mic) will be enough for PL Eyes to do it's job.

Jaron are you using Premiere CC? It has audio syncing built in. I'm still stuck in my ways like an old man on CS6 but i was thinking of upgrading based on this alone. I had a NIGHTMARE with Pl Eyes last week on a TED conference edit (5 cameras and external 8 channel audio, 7 talks, 24 hour turnaround) where it was having real trouble syncing. Someone mentioned CC has it in built now and it works well. I'm sure it's out there, but i'd love a PL Eyes VS Premiere CC comparison :) The problems it gave me this week were almost enough to kick it to the curb because it simply wouldn't work consistently and had me hand matching audio and some of the cameras some of the time on some of the talks and i just couldn't work out why it was being so inconsistent.

Chris Blair's picture

I totally agree David, I usually do the slap thing when I'm on a travel trip and use a clapper when I'm in-town, but this last time I had the talent where a Zoom H1 recorder the entire day and was hoping PL could sync it with my DSLR clips..I guess 8 hours of audio was a bit too much...plus all the crowd noise made it difficult. But I agree, using an audible spike is the way to go.

Check www.microphone.rocks it really eliminates a lot of work :)

Jaron Schneider's picture

I have tried the only way I knew how to sync in CC, which is what that dude was doing in CS6. Let's get together and you can show me how to do it in CC. Clearly I'm behind the times.

David Geffin's picture

JS, i only just found out the other week about in-program audio sync in CC (i'm still CS6).

I'm super keen to see how it works though - if it performs at least as well as Plural Eyes, it would be amazing not to have to faff about with exporting/importing XMLs!

Pluraleyes is an amazing piece of software ! It syncs quickly and perfectly 90% of the time.
What I never understood though, is why on Earth its workflow is “imcomplete” and therefore what to do with the resulting synced timeline.
If someone can enlighten me on this I would be very interested. In the meantime, let me explain.

Once you get a synced timeline in pluraleyes, you have 2 choices:
1. Export that timeline back to your NLE with corresponding synced clips in the media pool
2. Create new standalone quicktime files synced with the in-camera audio replaced by the one from your external recorders. You ingest those in your NLE afterwards.

The problem is that in both cases, the newly synced clips are not trimmed to video length. They start and end “somewhere” in between the video cuts. Therefore you get clips starting and ending by black videos … and the thumbnails in your media pool all look black !!! Completely useless.
When I was cutting in Premiere, I would then use the synced timeline from pluraleyes as a media pool to create my cut in a second timeline. Since I switched to FCPX, you cannot have 2 timelines ate the same time and cannot do that (you could do have “both timelines” in the same timeline when working but is cumbersome).

My ideal solution in FCPX would then be to use option 2 from pluraleyes. To generate new quicktime files with proper audio. But you cannot choose to keep the original in-camera sound to be part of the clips but muted. This would be very useful to avoid chimping when trying to fetch back that audio you’d like (or need !) to use because it gives an interesting color in the mix (in cases it is not bad audio of course).
I don’t see why pluraleyes doesn’t offer you the possibility of creating multitrack quicktime files with ALL audio included but with some tracks turned on and others turned off.

Not to mention that for complex projects, we need to handle metadata in all of this.

I hope my explanation is not too much of a mess and would be very interested if you guys have some insights about this.
Thank you very much !

Spy Black's picture

It tends to lock up sometimes too. I'm not sure why, as I feed it source data from the same cameras and recorders. Fortunately it did not lock up on the 1.5 hour project I'm on right now! Can't do without it tho.

Jason Weiss's picture

I've used Pluraleyes with Premiere CC and found the workflow to be a bit more work that I was expecting, but it was still an enormously helpful tool. I was syncing 3-4 cameras for a music festival and found PE to do the job much better than Premiere's interal sync.
I also had no trouble importing and using A7s clips.

Jaron Schneider's picture

I think my issues with a7S clips were what Spy Black was describing as "locking up." But the fact it did it annoyed me and I felt compelled to mention it.

Tony Northrup's picture

You definitely don't need to separate your audio from your video. We usually plug external mics directly into our cameras and sync with PluralEyes, no need to separate the audio and video. When we import it into Premiere, all the audio channels from all the cameras are there, and we just remove or mute the channels we don't need.

I second this. While an external recorder will give you marginally better quality, I found that I can get really decent audio by using a good preamp (if your mic needs it) and plugging straight into the camera. You just need to make sure you can set the levels manually on your camera.

I think the idea that you absolutely need an external recorder comes from the early Canon HDSLR days where the camera would use it's own preamp and would also automatically adjust the gain level. That was pretty horrible.

Spy Black's picture

"I think the idea that you absolutely need an external recorder comes from..."

Not at all. Unless you're running wireless, or you're in a blocked set with a boom operator and possibly locked or stationary cameras, you're gonna have a hard time getting good clean audio. You can put external recorders and/or their mics up next to a talent or sound source, and it can stay with the sound source as it moves around in an environment/scene, or if the camera(s) move around in an environment/scene. You simply can't do that with camera-wired mics. A separate recorder is a must for clear, close-up sound recording.

Jaron Schneider's picture

The "Export" option was greyed out. I couldn't do it unless I added an audio stream. Glad it works for you though!

Spy Black's picture

"You definitely don't need to separate your audio from your video."

Depends on what you're doing. "Definitely" is not a good word to use when talking about audio for video. ;-)

Anonymous's picture

If you're on Premiere CC, it has this exact functionality built in--no need to spend the money on an external piece of software: http://www.tricedesigns.com/2013/06/18/my-favorite-new-feature-multi-cam...

David Geffin's picture

Blaise can it sync multiple clips with multiple external audio clips? I'm trying to find out the pro's and con's of the built in audio sync option in CC VS Plural Eyes (i'm still on CS6). It seems like it can't do multiple clips, is this right? If so, that's crazy but wondering if you might know.

Spy Black's picture

I'm also on CS6, and the only way I think you could do it would be to go through the ritual for every audio track, stacking your sequences as you go.

Right...

Anonymous's picture

Yes, it can absolutely handle multiple audio and video files at once. After I import my files to Premiere, I select all the audio and video files that I need to synchronize. Premiere goes through and matches the audio waveforms for everything I've selected. I can't remember if it creates a different sequence for each, or if it puts them into one timeline, but either way, it's way faster and easier than using an external piece of software.

Creative Cloud has a free 30-day trial that doesn't effect your CS6 installation. I'd suggest pulling it down and trying it out. This feature has saved me an immense amount of time and money.

In addition, if you're syncing multiple camera angles, this feature lets you easily create a multi-cam sequence that allows you to create a line cut in real time by pressing the number key corresponding with the camera number. Even when just dealing with a two-camera shoot, this has cut my time-to-delivery of rough cuts in half.

I am not, by the way, a paid shill. These just happen to be my favorite features in the new CC, and so I take every opportunity to geek out on them. They are so dang useful to me.

FCPX has this functionality built in and is very fast and accurate. Works with A7s clips just fine too.

Very great tips! I was using this method for years and did a great job.

BUT, one year ago I realized, that there are a lot of not professional people who want to shoot video at a distance, for example, while having sound recorded separately.

AND there is a BIG PROBLEM for majority! HOW TO SYNC?

AND I and my team came up with a solution, it called MICROPHONE ROCKS (www.microphone.rocks)

It Allows to shoot video using two smart devices, one as a camera and another as a microphone.

Everything sync AUTOMATICALLY at your smartphone. AND you never need to spend time on computer doing synchronization. Check it out: www.microphone.rocks