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PluralEyes - Sound Synching Software from Singular Software

By David Hague

(c) Auscam Online Auscam is our partner in Australasia and has a website at www.auscamonline.com plus their magazine can be subscribed to from that address or by emailing david@auscamonline.com

For me, one of the most enjoyable parts of being 'into' amateur video is making short movies. I don't mean the 'doco' type or travel movies, but movies with a cast of characters and a plot. I know, I know, these will never see the light of a projector in a movie theatre or have me giving a speech at the Academy Awards, but for fun and a learning experience, I don't think they can be beaten.

As our club has learned more about this, naturally we began to use not only the primary sound from the camera but began adding a microphone on a boom or radio mics then synching the sound 'in post'. (I feel so knowledgeable when I use 'in' jargon!) Now if you have ever done this, especially for a movie where you have literally dozens of clips taken that will eventually make up a 30 second scene, by the end of a day's shoot, you have made yourself a pretty sizable task of synching this all together.

Yes, of course, a properly used clapper board with clearly enunciated identification of the scene and 'take' makes it a lot easier, but doing it a couple of hundred times eventually does take the gloss off the novelty.

Enter Singular Software's range of sound synching software that is nothing short of marvellous.

The PluralEyes interface

Let's expand the scenario described above. You have been shooting your 'magnum opus' for two or three days on the way to a 10 minute drama. You have your master scene shoots, a range of POV, over the shoulder, jib, etc. shots that number about 250 and the same, similar or even greater number of audio clips recorded to - say - SD card device.

In case you think I am overstating the case, I recently edited 654 video clips into a 25 minute movie - and there was a lot more sound left over!

Now you absolutely can go through the process of lining up each video clip with its corresponding audio clip, using the clapper spike on the waveforms to get the clip in synch and chose the best possible sound. If you can do this at a rate of more than one clip a minute, I 'takes me 'at orf to ya, guv'nor!' But if you travel at my speed, this is at least a four hour job and that is ONLY if both the sound and the video clips are all in the same order. In my case, unfortunately, they were not, plus there was a lot of stuff that was totally unrelated to the project in hand.

 

Then, recently at the FAMM conference in Canberra, one of my erudite colleagues told me about Singular Software and sent me on the hunt for a review copy to find out more.

Ah! The travails I suffer for my faithful reader! Remind me to tell you about the trip to Norfolk Island. (No - maybe not!)

This is what I found out.

Singular Software has a range of sound synching software available.

PluralEyes is the flagship. It works specifically with particular nominated software so you must obtain the one that suits your software. PluralEyes will only play with Green Valley Edius, Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, Apple's Final Cut Pro and Avid's Media composer. For each of these editing program, Singular Software provides a specific set in instructions which, at first to me at least, sounded a bit arcane, but in fact turned out to be easy to follow. The end result is an additional sequence inserted into to your project with the sounds all lined up.

The timeline with the Sequence ready to be exported to the XML file. (Click to see larger image.)

Dual Eyes is more like the generic version of PluralEyes. It does the same thing but will deal with a whole lot of other programs. While I have not tried it, my assumption is that you will have to import the synced sound sequence into your editing software manually.

Finally Cloud Eyes is an online service mainly aimed at providing this synching type of service for eventual internet publication.

While Singular Software won't go into details as to how they actually achieve the synching of the video/audio with other audio sources, (I did actually ask!) it seems a reasonable guess that matching audio track wave forms could be part of the process. But really, I don't know how it works at the nitty gritty level.

The Sequence now imported back after PluralEyes processing. (Click to see larger image)

On the assumption that PluralEyes for Adobe Premiere Pro is similar to that for the others, the work flow is as follows:

The video, along with its integrated audio files is imported into the timeline into what Premiere Pro calls a Sequence. Then the sound clips from the other audio source are imported to another audio track in the same sequence. Each additional sound source must have its own audio track.

This Sequence is then Exported to a Final Cut Pro XML file, which happens with surprising speed and is then imported into PluralEyes. There are some self-explanatory options that you may select - 'Clips are chronological', Use Clip Markers, Replace Audio, Level Audio Try Really Hard & Enable Multiprocessing - but the advice is generally to start first with nothing selected. It seems only sensible to enable Multiprocessing is you have that type of computer.

This IS a pretty intensive CPU operation that you are asking PluralEyes to do. I went to the Task Manager and watched the work of the CPU and I have never seen my machine work this hard. It simply consumes processing power and as much memory as you have to offer. However, it is all to a good cause in the end. When it's done its stuff, PluralEyes tells you where to find the resulting XML file.

That output file is then imported into Premiere Pro and results in a new folder called 'Whatever you called the project_synced' inside of which is a new Sequence called by default 'The Name of the Sequence_Synced". By double clicking this sequence it opens in the timeline and there you have it - the results of all that work by PluralEyes.

Along the top of the timeline, there is now a series of markers which when you hover over them individually identify the associated group of clips as either synched or not synched. In the normal course of events, you shouldn't have too many unsynched sound clips. If you do, then something ain't right and you might have to look at your work flow during recording. Note that the audio tracks will be split into the two component tracks during this process.

From this point on, it is all plain sailing and largely dependent on your work flow.

If movie making is your bag, then I strongly suggest you go to http://www.singularsoftware.com/index.html
and check out what they have in their bag of goodies. Pretty much anything readers of this magazine are going to want will cost $149USD and if you are 'into' movie making, then the 30 day trial will probably convince you of the worth of these programs.

Vendor:       Singular Software
                   California, USA

Price:           $149 US

AusCam Ratings

Performance:

8.5

Documentation:

8

Features:

9

Installation:

10

Value:

10

Help:

9


We liked: The 30 day trail, the fact that is worked without fuss, is only about 10MB as a download and would save a huge amount of time during post-production of a movie.

We didn't like: It takes a lot of computer time if the project is long or the clips are not arranged in parallel or chronologically - so do it overnight!


Page: 1


David is the owner and publisher of AusCam Online. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.

Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.

David can be contacted via david@auscamonline.com


Related Keywords:PluralEyes, Singular Software, video editing, audio production, audio editing, digital video, NLE, Post Production, Auscam

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