Post Production

Final Cut Pro X Tutorial: Syncing Audio

Photo by mrgiles

Most DSLR shooters are already aware of PluralEyes and DualEyes. But the new version of Final Cut X will also sync external audio recorders with DSLR audio files. This lesson shows you how.

Preparing files

Without any pre-rendering, I imported the files. (I’ve heard that you can edit H.264 files from DSLR live, and I’m pleased to report it works fine — although reports say that for best — an perhaps quicker — response time, it’s recommended that you ProRes the files.

Not more decompressing slowing down my workflow!

Much easier than that:

  1. Open Final Cut X and select New Project (name the project) — Final Cut will keep (and show) your entire media library for all of your projects, so naming them and keeping your footage in organized folders is essential and wise. Post Production A) You can choose to set the video properties to your first clip or custom set it.
    B) Set audio and render properties.
  2. Select File  Import (or Import From Camera) Final Cut The library list looks like this sorted by date with the list view:
  3. Choose the settings you want and take note of “Create optimized media” FCPUG

A) Select your clips and tell the computer to either add it to an existing Event or create a new one.

B) Under Transcoding, check “Create optimized media” and Final Cut X will render it into an Apple ProRes 422 — and render it in the background as you start examining your clips and even editing them. The original files will get replaced by the ProRes files as it completed the render!

C) Also note you can select “Analyze for stabilization and rolling shutter” –allowing Final Cut to tell you what part of the clips contain undo shakiness and/or rolling shutter. You can correct them later. (It’s not doing it for you until you decide you want it to happen.) See, for example, this menu screen after I chose this selection:

  1. Final Cut Pro X It not only lists the files with “Excessive Shake,” but it marks it on the clip where the shakiness occurs, so you can fine tune it in the Inspector window, later.In addition, you can select color balance analysis, select shots that contain people (for organization, especially good for documentary interviews). Furthermore, Final Cut will also examine audio issues (and tell you which ones have issue after you select).

It’s as simple as that. What about synching audio? Do I need to use PluralEyes or DualEyes?

Frankly, I’ve never been able to get my version of PluralEyes to work successfully. As more users try this new feature in Apple, perhaps it’ll be hit or miss — but when I did a test this morning, it worked well.

Syncing external audio

I tested with a Rode NTG-2 shotgun microphone hooked up to the left channel of the Tascam DR-100, and just used my Canon 5D Mark II’s built-in mic as a reference.

After importing the files, I did the following:

  1. Select the video and audio clips to synchronize Film Post Production This will create a new synchronized compound clip:new final cut pro
  2. Drag this to the storyline and right click it, selecting “Open in Timeline”. This will reveal the compound clip: post on Final Cut X Play the clip and make sure that everything is lined up properly. Next we need to replace the original. (There’s probably a menu option that allows you to automatically replace synced audio, but I haven’t found it.)
  3. Right click on the original audio and select “Detach Audio.”FCPUG This will result in the original audio being moved below the external audio clip:Final Cut X
  4. Delete the original audio.
  5. Since the shotgun mic recorded only in one channel (left), you will only hear the audio coming from that one channel. If you want it coming through both left and right, then select the external audio clip and open the Inspector panel (Command-4). Expand the Channel Configuration and select: “Dual Mono.”Final Cut X

This will put the one channel of audio into both channels.

Final Cut X for artists not engineers (some initial thoughts)

The difference between this software and the previous versions was the lack of intuitive interface — a design more for engineers than artists. Final Cut X is for artists. And despite the fact that many rumors floated around that this is not a “Pro” version or a iMovie Pro, those rumors are likely based on the fact that Final Cut X allows users to import iMovie projects. Whatever. I can see why Apple wants to cater to this market, but since I’ve never used iMovie, I just overlook that and look under the hood — which is way more than iMovie (one person said it was like comparing a bicycle to a motorcycle). It doesn’t have all the features of the Final Cut Suite, but what it does have is intuitive and will likely meet most everyone’s need.

Some people probably appreciated the rocket-science knowledge needed to use Apple Color, for example, but in the version incorporated into Final Cut X it’s intuitive. I’ve also used Premiere and Avid and found them clunky and non-intuitive to learn. For those who want the old version, you’re welcome to it. I’m moving on, because my frustration level of not only using it, but also teaching it to beginning students in my intro to video class is way beyond frustrating. Final Cut X will be much easier to teach because of it’s intuitive nature while at the same time retaining application power.

For example, I was able to shape a mask over a person’s head, and by clicking on keyframes, I was able to map the motion of the person’s movement without any fuss or frustration—or a manual. I figured it out intuitively.

In addition, Final Cut X includes elements of Soundtrack Pro, so, in essence, you only need this version for $299 to do most DSLR projects.

With the new version, I find the intuitive nature of the software refreshing. It’s a new paradigm for editing and a joy to use.

I will cover the basics of Color and Audio in future posts.

Related posts:

   Paul Antico said on June 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Actually you do not need to get rid of the original audio and all those extra steps. Once you get your compound clip set up after syncing, go into it via the inspector, click audio, and select the soundtrack you want to use by unchecking the source/cam audio.

   wreciak said on July 1, 2011 at 11:20 pm

heh, really nice, but apple say: “which allows you to sync multiple video and audio clips using audio waveforms, creating a Compound Clip”. I was trying really hard, burt i just cannot sync more clips with one audio, or even more videoclips together. Any idea ow to deal with this?


   Dan McComb said on July 17, 2011 at 1:01 am

DualEyes appears to be the way to go if you want to sync multiple audio clips with multiple video clips. I’ve tried batching a whole bunch of audio and video clips within FCPX, and it creates a monster. But, the new FCPX audio sync works great with DualEyes when you batch-create new audio files for syncing, then link them (by name) using FCPX. I’ve posted about how to do that using proxy media (but it works same with original media) here:

   Greg Durfee said on August 12, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I think FCPX does an excellent job of creating the synchronized clip. Unfortunately, it only seems to provide one outcome for resolution and frame rate. My Canon 7D 1080P files faithfully show 1920 x 1080 in the event browser, along with the frame rate I selected to record (29.97 or 23.98). But, the resulting synchronized clip ALWAYS shows 720P resolution at 23.98. I’ve double-checked the frame rate in the timeline and confirmed it’s actually 23.98.

So, I’ve been shooting at 1920 x 1080 @ 23.98, and using Compressor to scale back up to 1080P.

Do you see the same thing and/or do you know a better workaround?



   Edward said on September 20, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for that. Just brought FCPX to do a pitch that we shot on 5D and the audio is separete.



   Peter Axtell said on September 23, 2011 at 3:19 am

I’m using a Sony A55 and just getting started. I’m trying to choose my first editor in all the choices. As I’m more the “artist” type than engineer type (I’m a musician) it might make sense to choose Final Cut Pro X because of the intuitive nature.
If you were just starting out, what editor would you choose?
Thanks for any help you can offer.

   Jack Bruce said on December 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Awesome tip, thanks, the more I use FCPX the more I like it, change is a good thing and if some people don’t like it that’s okay they can continue using the previous version.
I bought some new running shoes the other day, they give me blisters but I’ll brake them in, if it gets to painful I’ll put my old ones back on, but I won’t wine about it.

   James said on December 13, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I have imported video of a concert I shot with on mini dv tape into final cut pro X
I also have audio recorded on my Zoom H4N on 4 channels using the built in Zoom mics for room sound, I also plugged direct to the mixing board.
How do I sync and replace the audio with what I recorded from the H4N in Final Cut Pro X? I want a mix of both the live room and board.
Any suggestions on how to proceed?
By the way this is my first time using X on a project.

   Mike said on December 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Nope. This doesn’t work. Not for multiple video clips. In a practical environment, you will be shooting multiple DSLR clips and a single audio clip. (audio takes up less space so I usually just let that run.) I’ve done numerous tests with multiple video and a single audio track and, as a previous poster mentioned, it creates a monster that has nothing to do with syncing. As with much else in FCP X, this is an armature feature that doesn’t work in a real world (professional) environment.

   Farshid said on February 10, 2012 at 6:58 am

Is it possible to buy a DVD or register on line for classes or learn on line?

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