PluralEyes 3: Synchronizing Multiple Audio and Video (review and videos)

Many people use a dSLR camera to record video, and while most dSLRs capture great quality video they produce terrible sound. To get everything right, you’ll need a separate audio recorder and then synchronize audio and video in post-production. There are several ways of doing this, but the one you’ll definitely get a kick out of usingĀ is PluralEyes 3.

He’s aiming for the highest quality and an Oscar. It’s your average Hollywood director working with multiple cameras and multiple sound recordings to shoot one scene. To synchronize images and audio, professional movie makers use electronic clappers, the digital time code of their devices (a sequence of numeric codes generated at regular intervals by cameras and recorders) and the synchronization module of their NLE (Non-Linear Editing system).

For the amateur, the wedding videographer, freelance documentary maker, and everyone who hasn’t got a six-digit budget to spend on equipment, electronic clappers are too expensive (they go for around $2,000.00 apiece). Only the more expensive cameras and audio recorders come with timecode recording.

NLEs like Final Cut Pro X offer automatic synchronization of audio and video based on sound, but it’s far from perfect and usually balks at synchronizing clips of more than two different devices. PluralEyes 3 beta developed by Singular Software, a company that Red Giant Software recently acquired, works with sound too, but version 3 easily outperforms the sync feature of any NLE.

Original with not synchronized video and audio

PluralEyes 3 synchronizes audio and video from multiple cameras and multiple audio recorders. None of these need to be started or stopped at the same time. It’s a great tool to have if you’re shooting on your own or with a small team. You can set up multiple devices, press the record button on each of them as you go, and then synchronize the results on your Mac.

It’s incredibly fast, too. I tested it with four two-minute clips from four different devices of which one was continuously recording. The other three randomly started and stopped, but the whole thing on the device continuously recording was synchronized while my cursor was still on the “Synchronize” button.

Contrary to its previous versions, PluralEyes 3 has a proper interface with the ability to preview video clips and pre-listen audio clips, set options, and do a number of things that previously would have required a professional-level NLE. It will now even work with iMovie or Pinnacle Studio.

After PluralEyes 3 beta, the clips have been rearranged.

The interface is great if you don’t have an NLE on your current system, or if you want to synchronize your clips before ingesting them. However, you can now roundtrip a semi-finished Final Cut Pro X project via XML. The synchronized version appears in Final Cut Pro X as a new Event, leaving your original Timeline (or Sequence in FCP 7) untouched.

If you have a professional NLE such as Final Cut Pro 6 or 7, Media Composer, Premiere Pro, or Final Cut Pro X, you can use the XML method, which is the fastest. With other video editing applications, the workflow is less streamlined and files are more prone to accidental overwriting, but you can just as well sync clips to perfection.

PluralEyes 3 beta video audio synchronizing app's interface

PluralEyes 3 excels at synchronizing recordings with random gaps. If you try to sync those with Final Cut Pro X’s built-in functionality, for example, you’ll get a clip that is seriously messed up. With PluralEyes 3, the clips are rearranged along the Timeline to match the audio in the correct order.

Using two microphones and one camera, I just placed the video and audio clips on the Timeline in correct order. The result is a predictable mess.

After having exported Final Cut Pro X XML into PluralEyes 3 beta, and running its magic, this is what I ended up with. The gaps can be easily cut in Final Cut Pro X. If I had used two or more cameras, I would also have been able to export back into a Multicam clip!

Video and image credits: Erik Vlietinck

The beauty of PluralEyes 3 is that it is almost 100% fool proof. As long as there is sound the app can work with, it will return a perfect sync.

For, I’m Erik Vlietinck.


  • I agree, tried with some footage and it was incredibly quick. Much better than 2 imo but sadly not for windows…yet.

  • I’ve worked with Plural Eyes in the past and it’s OK if you have a controlled environment. The problem is this limits your locations where you can shoot. If you put the band in the back of a truck rolling down the highway, shoot in a loud busy area, near a water-fall, park the camera near a loud audio speaker or just a windy mountain top, the audio to the cameras is worthless. The better option is to use visual time code through a slate (as mentioned above) but these are typically not cost effective and limited to small areas where the cameras can see only one slate. The best option is the Microframe Sync Master. It’s like a Denecke slate that you can fit in your pocket for a fraction of the price and they’re extremely accurate. Check out the video here: