Useful Tools- Part 2

Here are a few more of the tools I use all the time. Please do comment any of your own tips..


This can be a lifesaver. If you’ve ever had many different cameras and audio recording devices turning over at the same time but without any useful syncing clap or jam TC, then it can be a real timesaver. You simply throw the media from the different sources on to separate tracks of a timeline, send it to pluraleyes and it analyzes the audio waveforms from all the devices and moves them into sync- genius!

There are a couple of caveats, however, that can lead to a bit of frustration. Firstly, reliability. I have had a number of occasions where Pluraleyes has failed to correctly align the right sections of audio, even though they are clean recordings without much noise. Often, when this happens, it’s very hard to know the source of the problem, and you can find yourself re-running the process many times over with different processing options- never any the wiser as to what the issue is.
Secondly: TIME. Pluraleyes can take an incredibly long time to do it’s job. Mainly this is a problem with long sequences- so f you give it a break, and chop up your media into different sequences- e.g.- Day 1, Day 2 etc, then you should get quicker results. However, the 2 issues have sometimes combined in my experience and led to me wondering if I really have saved any time over manually syncing to visual cues in the end.
In short, Pluraleyes can be a gift from heaven that saves your life- but it’s not going to be right for every situation. I do wish it had existed a few years ago when I was presented with a boxfull of DV tapes that had been shooting on and off on 10 different cameras during a night of shooting a low budget music video. No slates, no claps, a repeated song performance- literally no discernible way to get the footage synced to the track apart from painstaking leg work. At one point I was using the distant flash on the top of Canary Wharf as a last resort- and that flashes about once every 5 seconds!!! Aaaargh- I’m coming out in a cold sweat even thinking about it. With Pluralyes (working properly) I would have avoided a MASSIVE amount of stress and time wasted- but a note to DPs and Directors- it doesn’t always work, and it’s release does not mean that you can completely stop caring about giving proper slates and claps to your editor!!

The development of FCP’s XML support over the last few years has led to a slew of supplementary applications that help editors by wrangling the data stored in FCP’s project files and using it in a variety of different ways. This application takes customizable logging data (like Scene, Take, notes etc) from clips in a sequence and creates a new version of the sequence with text overlays containing that information. This is a great timesaver for feature film dailies, when you need to send out rushes and execs/ director etc would like to see this information as they watch. It certainly saves alot of typing, and a nice feature is it’s compatibility with DVD Studio Pro. There’s a great 30 day demo version and then it’s $45. The creator- Spherico, has been messing with XMLs for a long time, and has a load of other tools and info that might be useful for your project too.

XMiL Exporter
Another XML manipulator- this application is great for features and documentaries, when you need to maintain a Filemaker Database to track footage and elements throughout your project. It translates FCP XMLs to a format that FMP can import easily, and also automates the creation of reference stills for cross-referencing in your Database. Using this tool, I was recently able to have a PDF pictureboard created in Scene order that I updated every day of the shoot. The director was able to keep track of the shape of the story by looking at representative frames of every single setup he had shot already- all in the order of the film. We found it extremely useful to have while planning pickups and keeping our eye on the structure of the film as a whole, and once we moved into post, we were able to print out the images so we could have a tangible visual continuity available at all times in the edit suite- Walter Murch style. It sosts $49 and it’s worth checking out their other offerings too.

~ by cutlertv on January 5, 2011.

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