Tutorial: Syncing DSLR Video and Dual-System Audio With PluralEyes
Posted Aug 1, 2011

Grass Valley EDIUS 6 on EventDV.tvIn the fourth tutorial in our six-part series on Grass Valley EDIUS 6, we'll discuss Singular Software's PluralEyes, a third-party plug-in now available for EDIUS 6 that allows you, the editor, to easily sync all of your audio and video sources quickly on your timeline without going through the laborious task of doing it manually. Designed for anyone using dual-system audio on their shoots, it's especially helpful for DSLR shooters who need to use external audio devices to get pro-quality sound. PluralEyes will speed up your edits and, as we all know, "Time is money."

Step 1: Dropping the Video Clips and Audio Source into the Timeline
In the example we'll use in this tutorial, I've got 8 different clips that I'll set up for a multicam edit. I'll take my clips and randomly drop them down on my timeline in different spots so we can create a syncing challenge that will put PluralEyes through a good test. And let's put PluralEyes to a good, little test. I'm just going to randomly drop them all over. (We used this same section in the multicam tutorial that premiered a couple weeks ago.)

As I've got one more clip that I'm going to drop in, a DV clip that was shot with a good mic connected and will serve as our raw audio source. I'll going to turn off the video on this clip because we don't want to use the audio. I'll drag it down and drop it right here on our 1A track (Figure 1).

Grass Valley EDIUS 6
Figure 1. Adding the DV clip to the 8-track timeline as our audio source

Step 2: Syncing in PluralEyes
Now, it's time to let PluralEyes do its thing. To access PluralEyes, we go to the Tools menu and click on PluralEyes (Figure 2).

Grass Valley EDIUS 6
Figure 2. Selecting PluralEyes from the Tools menu

The PluralEyes Information Screen appears (Figure 3). Let's take a look at some of the options and see what we can do with it. The first option that is available is Clips Are Chronological. That's the default selection. You'll choose this one in cases when you've done your best to assure the clips are on the timeline chronologically, especially on any tracks where you have placed multiple clips. It will help PluralEyes do a better job and be more accurate in the sync process.

Singular Software PluralEyes
Figure 3. The PluralEyes Information Screen

The next option is Level Audio. If you choose this option, PluralEyes will take your louder clips and quiet them down, and take your quieter clips and raise the volume on them to get all the audio into the same ballpark, level-wise. That means it can do a better job of finding the sound stamps that it's going to link to when it starts to sync your clips.

This brings us to how Plural Eyes works: First, it reads through all of your audio files that are linked to the video files. Then it looks at the audio files that aren't linked with any video clips-such as those sourced from solid state audio recorders-and tries to find common areas that match. And then it's going to sync to those areas. This will leave you with a timeline that's ready to rock.

The next option is Try Really Hard. If you choose this option, PluralEyes will do exactly what it says: try really hard. Use this only for especially challenging sync jobs—like when the first 2 options don't work. It will take a little bit of extra time, but PluralEyes will go through as thoroughly as possible and it will do its very best job. It's really good to use this option, say, if you've got a clip with a lot of background noise and not a whole lot of points in the audio where PluralEyes can find a sound stamp on and grab onto your natural audio file or your good audio file and sync it to the video. In this type of scenario, PluralEyes is just going to try really hard to do a good job for you.

The last option is Replace Audio. With this option, PluralEyes locates the first audio-only track on your timeline. As all the files get synced up, it will actually impose the audio from that audio-only track onto all of the clips that it syncs to as the main audio. This option can be very handy in some situations. But there are other types of edits where you may not want it to go this route.

Now that we know what each option does, we'll press the sync button and see what happens. After PluralEyes does its work, as you can see in Figure 4, by all appearances, we're all synced up.

Singular Software PluralEyes
Figure 4. Video tracks are all synced up to the master audio track from the DV camera

Step 3: Testing the Sync
The timeline looks great now but, the question is, did it really work? To gauge how well PluralEyes has synced your audio and video, pick a random spot in the timeline and see how it did (Figure 5). If you watch (and listen to) the video tutorial above, you'll see (and hear) that PluralEyes did a good job on this set of clips. You'll note that audio levels are very high because every audio track is running. Before continuing with or completing the edit, I would probably keep my master audio track and go through my project and mute most of those other channels. I might select one or two of them to keep active, and then I would expand them to use as ambient sound to enrich the overall sound of the piece.

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Figure 5. Testing...

One other thing that's worth noting is that we have a new sequence now called Sequence 1 Synced with a big, long date code on it (Figure 6). What has happened is PluralEyes took our original sequence and left it completely intact from how we set it up. It has not touched any of that information. It's gone out and made a new sequence for you to work out of. This is helpful because if, for some reason, you need to start over or go back to your original setup, it's all right there for you. You've got both sequences. This is the one you're probably going to be working out of the most though. So you may want to rename it something a little shorter that will show up in the Sequence tab and be easier to read.

Grass Valley EDIUS 6
Figure 6. Sequence 1 Synced is a new synced sequence created by PluralEyes because it left our original sequence intact.

That's all for today's tutorial. Come back in a few weeks where we'll be talking about how to get creative in EDIUS using custom filter presets in nested sequences.

You can see other video tutorials in our ongoing series of EDIUS 6 tutorials on EventDV.tv's EDIUS channel on Vimeo.

Philip Hinkle (philip at frogmanproductions.com) runs Madison, Wis.-area video production company Frogman Productions. A 2008 EventDV 25 honoree and nationally recognized EDIUS instructor, he won a 2008 WEVA CEA Gold in the Social Event category and a 2006 4EVER Group AAA Diamond. He was a 2009 WEVA CEA judge and a featured speaker at WEVA Expo 2009. He is co-founder and vice-president of the Wisconsin Digital Media Group.