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TOPIC: As the Editor - Sync Sound

As the Editor - Sync Sound 15 Mar 2018 20:28 #94665

I am editing a documentary with a ton of audio files that are not synced with external sound for the dialogue. The audio is not cut at the same time as the clips and often does not have any indicator for a clapper to sync the sound. But my main problem is trying to understand, as the editor, what my job is. When I get the footage. Do I just edit the picture with the in camera sound and give it to the post sound person to sync later? How would they be able to sync the sound if I cut clips and cut off the clapper to sync the sound? Is someone else supposed to sync the sound before editing? I am very confused.
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As the Editor - Sync Sound 16 Mar 2018 00:31 #94666

  • JarrodMFay
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Of course it depends on the agreed upon post workflow and you should really talk to the producer for clarification. I would assume that you're stuck syncing those clips. I know a bunch of sound design folks and they are always handed off dialogue clips to work with that have already been synced. Sorry if that's not the answer you were hoping for. ;)
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As the Editor - Sync Sound 16 Mar 2018 01:34 #94667

  • joema
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SolidBrowser wrote:
I am editing a documentary with a ton of audio files that are not synced with external sound for the dialogue. The audio is not cut at the same time as the clips and often does not have any indicator for a clapper to sync the sound....Do I just edit the picture with the in camera sound and give it to the post sound person to sync later? How would they be able to sync the sound if I cut clips and cut off the clapper to sync the sound? Is someone else supposed to sync the sound before editing?...

I edit documentaries. There is no single workflow -- it should be agreed or specified beforehand. Procedures in the production phase affect post production tools, division of labor, and overall workflow. This includes coordinating what kind of turnovers the audio guy expects.

Some things are absolutely critical, such as setting the camera and audio recorder time of day clocks correctly. If the audio recorder time of day isn't set right, and the clips don't have filenames or metadata for this, and the clips are not kept in an obvious folder, it can be almost impossible to sync them.

Similarly if the cameras have external mics which by accident are left off and if the shot isn't slated, it can be difficult to sync. If it's a multi-cam b-roll sequence such as roving cameras doing start/stop shooting at a wedding reception and if an operator forgets to turn on the camera mic, it's very difficult to sync.

If there is an assistant editor, normally they do the sync. If only one editor, normally they do it. In theory the audio finisher could do it -- provided he's familiar with FCPX, the folder structure and filename conventions. That's often not the case.

We record multichannel polyphonic .WAV files with iXML annotation. FCPX handles this well and IMO it's easier than discrete file-per-channel WAV files without iXML. Our audio guy isn't familiar with this so we sync all audio sources before the hand off. Other groups may handle the division of labor differently.

If you have a small, savvy group of reviewers, they may tolerate rough cuts with just camera audio and no video correction. However in many cases the executive producer or review personnel don't understand this so syncing and selecting the best audio source and doing a quick, minimal exposure/color correction is needed.

If there are no shot notes, no SMPTE timecode, no consistent slate, and documented folder structure, you can at least import everything to FCPX and sort by date. The adjacent audio and video files are usually from the same shot. However it still takes a lot of time to examine these and label them in FCPX then inspect the sync. If the recorder time of day is off it's hard to do that.

It can be easier to just throw everything into Plural Eyes and sync it before importing to FCPX.

Our current practice is to have a dedicated data offload/logging person who coordinates with the production team and builds a spreadsheet as each camera card is offloaded. For scripted work it's sometimes possible to use aids like Movie*Slate, but for documentary this doesn't work so well. www.movie-slate.com

In theory we could use Shot Notes X for some of this: www.koptostudios.com/shot-notes-x/

Likewise Lumberjack is a great system if the production personnel use it consistently and properly: lumberjacksystem.com

So the more quality metadata is captured the easier the job for the post production team. Simply having all camera and recorder time of day clocks set properly helps a lot.

If the camera filenames cannot be customized in camera and they reset to 0000 upon changing cards (as on Sony Alpha cameras) this makes sync a lot harder. Likewise if multiple similar or identical cameras are used, such as Sony A6500 and A7RII or Panasonic G7, GH4 and GH5, when those are set to the same codec it's impossible to tell the files apart unless the files are uniquely named during offload. There is nothing in the video header to identify which file came from which camera, and without that they cannot be labeled in the FCPX inspector and without that FCPX cannot sync them.

The audio finisher is farther away (in workflow terms) from these peculiarities, so IMO it's better to handle these before the turnover to audio. Ideally it should be handled at offload time by the DIT but that's not always possible.
Last Edit: 16 Mar 2018 01:36 by joema.
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