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Shooting multiple cameras without timecode?

You need a multicam sync painkiller.

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Do it like that:

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1. Perform mul­ti­cam shoot­ing

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2. Pipe all me­dia through Syncopa

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3. Get a ver­sa­tile XML file

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4. Import to NLE and ease your work­flow

Features:

Syncopa comes into play when you shoot several different cameras and sound recorders without timecode, and further multicam editing is intended.

It allows you to sync, sort and organize footage in a split second, and produce solid clean timeline ready to work with in NLE.

Autosync

Instant synchronization by start recording times using embedded metadata.

Syncopa supports wide range of popular DSLRs (Canon EOS, Nikon D), mirrorless (Lumix GH), action cameras (GoPro) and sound recorders (Zoom).

It will work with majority of camcorders and even smartphones.

Preview

Convenient visual footage representation on a timeline. Fast video preview.

Drag your footage directly in Syncopa's GUI. Familiar tracks & clips arrangement on a timeline allows you to review and make decisions faster.

Instant video and audio preview by simple click makes it even easier.

Organize

Fast media inspection and cleanup. Output sequence ready for multicam editing.

Remove orphan, accidental and test footage. Discard outtakes and bloopers, compact your sequence by effective empty space cut-out.

Get XML file, import it to your editing software and you're good to go.

Details:

Problem:

Multicam style editing assumes the ability to switch cameras freely at any moment (just like linear editing in realtime). This requires frame-to-frame accuracy synchronization of all camera angles.

It's OK in case your workflow employs filming equipment, which writes SMPTE timecode. But there are different tasks and different budgets.

What if you are shooting on entry level DSLRs?

You may try audio sync software (Pluraleyes) or using an old good clapboard. But sound is not an option in many cases. Cameras during shooting may be far away from each other, they may be in totally different environments. It might be a quiet event, like florist masterclass.

What if there were no sound at all? What if all cameramen turned cameras on and off randomly and independently? What if there were shot several hundreds of takes?

How in the world can you sync that kind of stuff?

Solution:

Fortunately, there is still a possibility.

Almost any recording device on the Earth produces media files according to their proper standards, which involves saving the metadata along with actual media information.

What's important for us, this metadata usually contains a timestamp of file creation moment, which means a recording start time and can be used as a sync guideline.

The pros of doing so are obvious:
— you can get the sync capability for virtually any recording device;
— extracting metadata is fast and you get the sequence in seconds.

There are essential cons though:
— metadata accuracy is not enough for frame-to-frame sync, so you still need some post work.

We are currently working on implementing other options including audio analysis, which hopefully allows us to forget this nightmare.
Watch the sneak peek

Downloads:

The latest version of Syncopa is 1.1. Build 2016 June 08.

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Windows

Syncopa-1.1.exe

Guide

First, download and install Syncopa. Then go to Account — Sign In and register a new account.

Make some tests in Free Mode with your equipment in order to make sure Syncopa fits your workflow. Free Mode is fully functional, but you can get an XML file only for sequence that contains no more than 5 clips total. This is enough to make tests with couple of cameras and sound recorder.

If you decided then to apply Syncopa for the real project, you'll want to have at least 100 credits on your account's balance (about $2) per project. To refill balance, contact developer. This is the early release and we accept payments by hand individually. We will consider a possibility of automatic billing, if the project becomes promising.

Basic workflow

1. Import footage from each camera to the individual track in Syncopa. This is important. Other way you may get intersections and unexpected results.

2. Turn the Sync All Switch on. Clips will be arranged in time according to extracted metadata. Use Fast Preview to see the whole picture and to remove redundant takes.

3. Keep an eye on obvious time shifts (internal camera's time differences). Correct them by sliding tracks. Use the beacons, guide shots and pronounced moments to align tracks together.

4. Cut routine breaks by Remove Holes option. Slider lets you change the threshold of how much time is considered to be a “hole” and gives a visual clue. Scissors button will actually remove the intervals marked red. Video clips stays untouched, audio cuts accordingly by setting In and Out points.

5. Set the project settings according to your workflow (you can change those in NLE, but FPS may affect the accuracy, so set it properly) Get an XML file, save it to a hard drive and import to your editing software.

Shooting advice

It is a good idea to set the same internal clock on all your recorders (i.e. for Canons you can use EOS utility — it will automatically sync camera time with computer when connected via USB, or you can do it by hand just by setting equal times and pushing OK button roughly at the same moment).

But this is really optional, because what really matters is the temporal relationship between shots, which stays consistent (of course if you didn't change camera internal time during shooting session).

Even if your cameras have totally different times, like messed up years, you can just slide tracks in Syncopa, bring them to the one starting point, and relative positions still will be correct.

For this reason, even better idea is to make some simultaneous “beacons” or guide shots a couple of times during the shooting session. Just a dummy shots, when all the cameramen start recording by a command (3-2-1 countdown or something). Then, when you synching, you can easily tell the beacons, align them and the rest footage will match together.

Controls:

Import footage

Go to Menu → Track → Import Media;
or double click in Track Bin area;
or just drag & drop directly onto track.

Slide whole track

Drag with Right Mouse Button.

Move selected clips

Hold Alt (Option) key
and drag with Right Mouse Button.

Multiple selection

Shift + Left Click;
or just draw a selection area.

Delete selected clips

Hit Del key;
or Right Click in Track Bin → Delete.

Build Waveforms

Menu → Edit → Build Waveworms
or hit 'W' key.

Fast Preview

Alt + Left Click on Windows;
⌥ + Left Click on Mac OS.

Navigate timeline

Use Mouse Wheel to zoom;
Shift + Mouse Wheel to scroll

Undo / Redo

Ctrl + Z / Ctrl + Shift + Z on Windows;
⌘ + Z / ⌘ + Shift + Z on Mac OS.

Conform Project Properties

Right Click footage in Track Bin →
Properties → Set as Project (experimental).

You can help

For obvious reasons, author can't test this tool with every camera or recorder available out there.

If you're interested, feel free to send us test shots from cameras you wish to add support to. Theoretically Syncopa may work with anything that records mov, mp4, mts, wav or mp3 formats (and may be some others).

Supported devices by far:

Cameras: Canon EOS (550D, 600D, 650D, 6D, 60D, 7D, 5D mark II),
Lumix DMC GH3, Nikon D3200, GoPro Hero 3, Sony HXR-NX70P,
Sound recorders: Zoom H4n, Olympus WS-831.

Tested with following editing software:

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015, Sony Vegas Pro 13, Grass Valley Edius Pro 6.
Should work with Final Cut Pro X, testing is needed. Any valuable feedback will be appreciated.

Contact us:

Let me know, what you think:

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Hi!
Our team developing Syncopa
and we wish you a painless editing!
Eugene Boodnik

You can always find me at:

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Official Syncopa community: vk.com/syncopa

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My personal social page: vk.com/stereozont

E-mail: info@syncopa.ru

Skype: stereozont