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Synchronization: Pro Tools LE and Final Cut Express

Q: “I’m doing some audio/video production for a client. He brought me DV tapes from a multi-camera shoot and wants me to do some audio sweetening and edit the video together. I intend to use Pro Tools LE and Final Cut Express. How much do I need to worry about synchronization?”

A: Broad topic. It mainly depends on the nature of the material, how picky everyone wants to be, and how the material was originally recorded. You said multiple cameras were used. If they were synchronized (which I doubt, if it was shot on DV) then life is going to be a lot easier because the audio and video will already be in sync. If not, you’re going to have to get all this to line up in editing. The first thing you should do is take care of this part. Get all the audio/video footage from all the different cameras lined up and in sync in Final Cut Express. Sometimes footage from different cameras will drift from each other over time (this is the downside of not synchronizing them at the shoot). The only thing you can do is make cuts at various points and slip the clips in time so they appear (and sound) in sync with each other. You may have to do some crossfades on the audio to cover up the edits. Once you get something basically cobbled together you can then export audio and video to Pro Tools and continue working on the audio there. Be sure to set up your Pro Tools session with the same sample rate as your DV audio, which is most likely 48 kHz. Then you can bring all of that work back in to Final Cut and it should stay in sync. It’s a little crude, but you can get amazingly good results with this method if you’re careful.

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