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How to sync multiple camcorders?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm trying to learn how to synchronize two or three camcorders recording the same live event from different locations. I will be editing the video on Final Cut Express (on a Mac Pro), but I don't know if that's even relevant.

I know that historically the clapboard was used in Hollywood to give film editors a clear sound from which to coordinate the start of a clip.

But today there must be some method to sync a few cameras that might be, for example, recording a marching band on a football field or a stage musical in front of a live audience. These are both situations where the clap (or some other initial sound) is not practical.

My purchase of two (3?) camcorders is on hold until I can find out how to do this. I know that the pro camcorders (costing many times what consumer ones do) have time stamp technology, but I don't know how they sync their clocks so that multiple cameras' AV tracks can be synced while editing. It would be interesting to find out how that's done, but spending several thousand dollars on (large and heavy) professional camcorders is not in the budget. (But I bet they'd be fun to have! )

Any help or links would be appreciated,
musical
post #2 of 10
http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html

heard about this from Kaido at Anandtech forums.
post #3 of 10
Pluraleyes seems to be highly regarded over @ DVINO.net, Cinema5D and DVXuser forums.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
I wanted to get back to you. I checked with the company that makes PluralEyes (Singular Software). PluralEyes is only compatible with Vegas Pro and Final Cut Professional/Studio.

Unfortunately, I use Final Cut Express. They told me that they are considering making a version for FCE, but have no plans at the moment.

Oh, well. I appreciate your posts. Thank you.

musical
post #5 of 10
You need cameras with genlock input to have multiple cameras clock their imaging sensors in sync. Then timecode input will help matching them in post production with frame accuracy, though time code isn't as important. The Sony EX3 can do this
post #6 of 10
Having timecode helps. Baring that use the audio track. Not ideal and a bit of a trial and error. And a major time suck. One advantage of recording in 60p, is that you can fudge a frame to always be within 1/4 of a frame from perfect sync. But alas, it requires that your cam have decent audio, that you use long video segments (less trial and error), and hopefully you're using like cameras to ensure that the clocks run at about the same speed and other concerns.

As far as the audio track. With the right genre, the lull between songs and the claps of the audience, or that first drum hit from complete silence makes for a good sync item. In other genre's where it's all white noise all the time, good luck with that.
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 View Post

As far as the audio track. With the right genre, the lull between songs and the claps of the audience, or that first drum hit from complete silence makes for a good sync item. In other genre's where it's all white noise all the time, good luck with that.

Just to add to that, it's much easier to align the clips using the audio tracks if you are doing it visually. Zoom in to the timeline where there is a clap, drum hit, or any sharp sound, and align them using the audio waveforms. If the cameras were clocked in sync through genlock, this will be accurate. If they were not synced, you will get pretty close within 1 frame, but they will not align precisely. And more often than not, you will get away with it. Just might need to remove delayed audio tracks from specific camera shots, unless the audio is captured only on one of the cameras.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Chevypower, you mentioned the Sony EX3. Do you mean the Sony PMWEX3, the camcorder that lists at the Sony site for $9,990?

If so, that's not in my budget (in fact, it may not be on my continent!) I was thinking more like ~$1,000 or maybe a little more for a camcorder.

I guess that this is something that designers of consumer camcorders, below, say, ~$1,500, don't take into account. (This would make sense given that most consumers buy a single camcorder for their needs.)

I once saw a musician with a t-shirt that read "Fix it in the mix" and I suppose that's where I'll be working to align tracks from different camcorders.

It's all an adventure. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
post #9 of 10
Instead of using a clap board to sync the cameras the simplest way (and infinitely more accurate) is to use a digital camera with a flash.
Simply position yourself with the digital camera where all of the cameras can 'see' the flash and trigger the flash.
Then, when you pull the video streams into your video editor, you can easily find the individual frames where the flash is located and calculate the offset times to know how much to move the start of each track. Using the flash is MUCH more accurate than using the audio track, which can be quite time consuming.
post #10 of 10
Did you just learn this technique? You posted in a thread that's almost 3 years old. It sounds like a very interesting technique and I'm sure it works if you have the time. I personally would pay for software made by Pluraleyes to do the syncing almost immediately. Much less work.
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