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Will Montgomery

Sound Sync Music Video on SR2

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I've shot film for many years MOS, only syncing sound manually a few times. I have a new music video project where I'm shooting in a music studio while the performer is recording. He's an acoustic guitar player/singer and will have a band tracking at in the same session but probably not all playing at the same time.


I'm using a well-maintained & very quiet S16 SR2 with Cinema Electronics crystal sync. May use my 35mm Arri 2c with Steve's Cine crystal for a few close shots when they're not recording. Currently thinking of going B&W with Double-X or 500T and desaturating. Liking the idea of Double-X's grain at the moment.


Neither camera has any timecode abilities so what best practices are there for syncing sound in post? I will be running a Zoom H4n with 2 tracks of mics and two tracks of feed from the mixing board (probably syncing the final studio mix in the edit). In the past I've just used the first downstrokes on a guitar to get in the ball park then just manually slide the sound around until it syncs up. I won't need extended syncs...I'll be cutting between several takes (as each musician adds their tracks) so I can probably sync in 30 second to 1 minute segments for editing.


I'll be using an iPad timecode slate and possibly see about recording that timecode to one of the Zoom tracks.


My question is...is this practical? or should I just rent an SR3 and run timecode on the camera? (I know that's a whole world of hurt)


I will have to run some tests to feel comfortable either way but sound sync is a new world for me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


p.s. I should add that I've had moderate success with recording audio on a digital camera sitting on a tripod recording the entire session and just setting off a still camera flash, syncing the video with the film in post and bamm!... synced sound. Just have to make sure the digital camera audio section isn't doing anything strange with audio compression or auto levels.

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I've always used slates or hand claps to sync. Labs like timecode slates, slaved to the recorder so they can sync for you during the telecine process.


With that said, on music video's, I never sync the sound since ALL of your sound is from the same source; the song. I lay in the song and whatever picture matches I use. All you need to do is take notes on a piece of paper to which sections are at what foot count. This way in editing you aren't too lost. But it's really easy to sync music videos in post without recording any audio on set. Your idea of running a video camera is also a good one, that would give you a decent reference as well. If you had a camera with timecode output, you could run it to a device that would display it. Then simply turn the film camera towards the display before every take and you've got your sync marker! :)

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Good advice, thanks! I know there's no perfect solution...just trying to minimize the pain in post.


Since there will be multiple musicians doing multiple passes maybe I can get a time display from Pro Tools (or whatever they're using) and even sync it to the iPad slate and shoot that periodically. That would keep all those clips in the ballpark. I will investigate further.

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Any timecode marker that's directly related to the song will work fine. I didn't think of the protools one, but that's a great idea! :)


Can you sync the ipad app to pro tools? How killer would THAT be? :)

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Depends on if you are going to do a HD transfer or a data scan.


In a HD transfer the DaVinci 2K can be set to the smart slate timecode and that timecode can be recorded into DNxHD or ProRes with the right Telecine setup so if your sound recorder is jam synched to the smart slate the audio and picture can be auto synced in Avid and maybe Premiere Pro.


That is a standard film dailies workflow without recording timecode the the film i.e. a SR3-416-XProd etc. timecode camera.


Otherwise with a Data Scan you will probably be hand syncing the takes.

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