Software Review: Using the PluralEyes Plug-in for Final Cut Pro
[ This article was first published in the February, 2010, issue of
Larry's Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]
If you do a lot of multicam work, you need to check into PluralEyes, by Singular Software. I first learned of this software in a conversation with Roz McNulty. Then, the developer Bruce Sharpe called to tell me about it. Let me give you a couple of examples about why this software can be very, very helpful.
Multiclips first showed up in Final Cut Pro 5 and they allow you to synchronize and view multiple clips at the same time. Generally, images you want to synch as multiclips are recorded by multiple cameras at the same time. (By the way, the images in this article were provided by Singular Software.)
The important thing to keep in mind with multiclips is that every clip in a multiclip needs to contain continuous timecode, as well as use the same compression codec, image size, and frame rate. As well, when you use Final Cut Pro to build your multiclips, you can only synch them five ways; using a common:
* Aux timecode track 1
* Aux timecode track 2
Many times, for professional productions, this is fine. A clapper slate or camera flash is used to set the In, or feeding all cameras common timecode are very common. However, what happens if every camera is running different timecodes and you don’t have a good In or Out point?
Yup. You have a problem. This is where PluralEyes almost performs magic.
TECHNIQUE #1 – SOMETHING SIMPLE
For instance, here three cameras are edited to the timeline. Notice that each camera includes synced audio. Clips are only put into the timeline, nothing has been done to align them.
Note: I’ve created a sequence in the Browser called PluralEyes. This MUST be the name of the sequence for PluralEyes to work and you can only have one project open at a time that contains a PluralEyes sequence.
Now, go to the Applications folder and open PluralEyes. It automatically looks into all open FCP project and finds the PluralEyes sequence.
It then displays a dialog asking if you want to Sync the clips in the Timeline – that is, to arrange them in the correct order so that the action they contain matches, or create a multiclip.
In this case, I want to create a multiclip to edit all three angles simultaneously, so I click Multiclip.
Here’s where the magic starts. PluralEyes listens to the audio in each clip and syncs the clips by aligning the audio. Once the clips are in sync, it creates a multiclip and loads it into the Browser.
Important note: In order for this to work, you must record audio on every camera; even it is only using the camera mike.
Note: This is a great technique to use for working with DSLR cameras, which are notorious for their poor sound quality. Record audio on the DSLR using the camera mike, and record good audio on your external audio gear. Load both files into Final Cut and sync using PluralEyes. No need for matching timecode or worrying that your DSLR audio sounds awful.
TECHNIQUE #2 – AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION
Here we have what can most charitably be called a complete mess. One camera recorded the entire song. The other two cameras were recording snatches of the piece, with constant stops and starts. No matching timecode, in fact, a total break in timecode.
Sigh… When I was very young, I once shot something like this. It took years for my crew to stop teasing me about it. Because even if editing is possible, it takes forever to match up all the clips to the music.
Open the PluralEyes application. In this case, we want to sync the clips to the Timeline. (Because there are breaks in timecode, creating a multiclip is not possible.) However, let’s give the application some help – click the Change button.
The Change button allows us to tell it that all clips are in chronological order — a reasonable assumption, since we are shooting a performance. And by checking Level Audio, we are telling the application to adjust audio levels during its analysis so it can hear the audio better. This does NOT affect the final audio in the Timeline.
Click OK to accept the Sync Options, then click Sync to begin the entire process.
When I click Sync, the software starts comparing the audio of every clip to every other clip.
In about 90 seconds, in this example, look what PluralEyes did — it aligned every clip, on every track, so that the audio matched. Since the video is synced to the audio, all the video clips are now aligned and synched as well!!
I can guarantee that if I had to do this manually, it would take me a LOT longer than 90 seconds.
I first discovered PluralEyes when Bruce Sharpe, the CEO of Singular Software called me and asked if I could demo this at a recent Final Cut Pro SuperMeet. Once I saw what it did, and picked my jaw up off the floor, I’ve been showing this at my seminars around the world.
I thought you might like to see it as well.
UPDATE: Sept. 2010
(I wrote this update for my September, 2010, newsletter.)
I’m editing a corporate video shot by an essentially inept crew. To give you an idea of what I’m working with, it was an outdoor interview between two people. One camera was shooting a static wide shot of a building while recording the audio of the interview, while the second camera was recording the video of the two people talking, but only using the camera mike for audio. The second camera was also located about 20 feet away from the speakers.
It probably won’t surprise you when I say that the operator of camera one did not think it important enough to actually INCLUDE the people speaking in his shot. Like I said, they were inept.
Naturally, they did not use a slate, nor did they start recording at the same time. How was I going to get these synced? About the only way is to play both audio tracks at the same time and adjust one until they slipped into sync. 15 – 20 minutes of my time wasted, at least.
Then, I remembered that I had PluralEyes installed on my system. For those of you that have not heard of this product, it was specifically designed to sync clips and create multiclips based upon their audio. However, it can also sync clips in a sequence — even if there are timecode breaks in the clips — by aligning the audio.
To make a long story short, what I thought would take a long chunk of time to get these stupid clips synced, PluralEyes did in 51 seconds – I timed it. And the sync was perfect.
I was a believer before. But now, I’m a fan.
You can learn more here: www.singularsoftware.com