Update 9/11/2011: For a faster and more efficient way to replace your camcorder’s audio signal with the HQ, separately recorded audio, follow my Synchronizing Tutorial Part 2!
At a certain point of their career, every musician needs to synchronize audio and video signals from different sources. Even the modern consumer HD video cameras often produce a highly unstatisfying sound. In most cases, therefore, I would record audio signal of a performance separately with my studio equipment or a portable audio recorder such as Zoom H2 and synchronize audio and video signals afterwards. In this article I will explain how I go about this process.
Software needed: Logic Studio (Logic and Soundtrack Pro), iMovie and if iMovie doesn’t support your camera’s video file format – MPEG Streamclip (free video converter and editor for Mac and Windows).
1. Save the video file(s) from the video camera as an iMovie event.
In case iMovie doesn’t support your video camera’s file format (such as .MPG many Sony camcorders use) you’ll need to encode those files to QuickTime (.mov file format). The easiest way to do this is by using MPEG Streamclip. However, to be able to view and encode .MPG files you’ll first have to install the QuickTime MPEG 2 Playback Component (around 20 Euro).
Here are some shortcuts for using MPEG Streamclip:
To move the cursor to a certain point: cmd+G
To set the beginning of the exported file: I
To set the ending of the exported file: O
To save the selected portion of the video clip, click File > Export As.
2. Edit the audio file in Logic
Add any necessary effects to the audio file such as equalization, reverb, compressing/limiting etc. Also, consider applying crossfades (fade-in, fade-out) in-between the pieces.
In case I have a single video file of a concert, I would only bounce one big audio file with the fade-ins/outs on the right spots. This is a practical approach as this way you just need to synchronize the sources once, leaving you only the assignment of slicing up a large video file at the end.
If, however, you are given a separate video file for each piece, you’ll have to repeat the following steps multiple times. In this case you’ll need to bounce one audio file for each video clip as well.
3. Save audio as an uncompressed .aiff file by bouncing
-Select the section of audio that you want to bounce (green line).
-Edit > Bounce
Destination – PCM, File Format – Wave, Resolution – 16 Bit, Sample Rate – 44100, File Type – Interleaved, Dithering – POW-r #1 (Dithering)
4. Open the .mov video file in Soundtrack Pro
-Press CMD + N (New Multitrack Project)
-Drag the video file to the upper (video) track.
-Drag the audio file previously bounced in Logic to Track 1. Align the audio file to fit video perfectly. To do so you can zoom in the tracks and view both waveforms.
-Set the integrated audio signal from the video camera to Mute.
-File > Export > Master Mix (Save as aiff file, 48kHz, 16bit).
5. Create a New Project in iMovie
-Drag the same video clip previously opened in Soundtrack Pro from Event Library to your Project Library.
-Add the audio file previously saved in Soundtrack Pro. The audio should now match the video perfectly.
-Set the integrated audio signal from the video camera to Mute (double-click on the video to enter Inspector; Audio > Volume to 0%).
-Share > Export Movie > Large
6. Open the exported file as a new event in iMovie
-In the Event library you are now free to select only the portions of video you’d like to save separately by dragging one by one to a New Project Library. The reason why we hadn’t done so before is to avoid having to synchronize audio in video several times in Soundtrack Pro.
-Share > Export Movie > Large
How do you go about this process? What software are you using? Please leave a comment!