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PluralEyes, An NLE Essential App

PluralEyes makes it easy to sync clean audio with a single camera, or multiple cameras, in a variety of non-linear editors By Heath McKnight

After spending time with Singular Software's PluralEyes, I can say without a doubt, that I wish this software was available in the early days of Final Cut Pro and other non-linear edit systems (NLE). PluralEyes will easily sync video and audio, which is very useful when you have multiple sources of footage, but only one great track of audio. It does it quickly and efficiently, saving editors hours of time trying to sync the audio with all your video sources.

PluralEyes is a separate app from your NLE of choice, be it Final Cut Pro X or 7, Avid Media Composer, Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas Pro or EDIUS, so there are a couple of steps you'll need to take in your NLE before PluralEyes can do its magic. Let's say you shot a band playing a gig live with your main camera -- perhaps a Sony EX1 with the main audio running into the unit. In addition, you had a B and C camera, both running camera mic audio. Those cameras may be a smaller Sony A1u and a Canon T3i. What's really cool is that you don't need to do any sort of genlock time code sync, or even use a slate with a clapper.

Drop your clips onto separate tracks in FCP 7


What you do is take the three cameras' footage, and drop the video and audio clips onto separate tracks on your NLE's timeline (I'll explain using it on FCP X's magnetic timeline in a moment), then open PluralEyes to perform the sync.


Basically, it's communicating with your NLE, and it will recognize the timeline and project, and when you sync in the separate PluralEyes app, the changes will be reflected in your NLE, in my case FCP 7. I recommend visiting Singular Software's website for tutorials on the other supported NLEs for workflow information.

You can easily change sync options in PluralEyes

Once in PluralEyes, the small window will show the current project and sequence you're working on. If you have more than one of each open, you can use the drop-down menus to access them. On the bottom, you'll see "Sync Options;" click the change button. In here, you can click several checkmarks, including the key options, "Clips are in chronological order" (on your timeline), "Single output sequence," "Replace audio" (if you want the best, clean audio track synced with the video clips) and "Enable multiprocessing," for increased speed. You don't have to replace the audio, or even have the clips in chronological order for PluralEyes to work. Once you've chosen the sync options, hit OK, then hit the Sync button.

The audio is now synced to the cameras in FCP 7

Back in Final Cut Pro, you'll see the clips are on a new timeline created by PluralEyes -- your original is safe -- and are now synced up to the clean audio, even if some of the cameras weren't running the entire time. You can now delete the rough camera audio, as the clean audio is perfectly synced. If you chose to replace the audio, that's one step you can avoid, plus not only do you have a new PluralEyes-created sequence, it offers one without replacing the audio.

Editing with Multicam in FCP 7

In some cases, you may be shooting one camera and recording separate audio, but in the event of shooting multiple cameras, PluralEyes will create a multiclip, which you can then cut with your NLE's multicam editor.

Stack clips into secondary storylines in FCP X

In Final Cut Pro X, you'll drop your video clips into the main storyline, then drop in the clean audio. Since that clean audio isn't part of the primary storyline, Singular Software advises you select the clean audio, whether it's a single clip or multiple, then hit the Command button and the G-key, which makes a secondary storyline. If you have more footage, stack them up on the magnetic timeline, but keeping the same camera's multiple clips together, and create a secondary storyline (Command-G). Now, hit command-0 to pull up the Project Library, make sure this one is selected, then go to File and choose Export XML.

Export an XML file of the project

Open PluralEyes, and instead of it communicating with FCP X, you're going to hit the File button, and import the XML file. Then, click the Sync Options' Change button and make the sync selections you'd like. We didn't checkmark "Replace audio." Then hit the Sync button.

The audio and clips are synced in FCP X

The audio is synced with the video, and if you had multiple cameras, you also get a multicam clip in FCP X, and you can use the great new Multicam editing function to cut between your camera angles.

The Multicam clip in Final Cut Pro X


PluralEyes makes it easy to sync clean audio with a single camera, or multiple cameras, in a variety of non-linear editors. While I took a look at the software in both Final Cut Pro X and 7, you can use PluralEyes with Avid Media Composer, Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas Pro and EDIUS.

Visit for more information, plus excellent tutorials to get you started.

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:PluralEyes, NLE, Video Editing, audio video sync, nonlinear editing, FCP, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, EDIUS

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