Hey everyone! I am really excited about this article because this is one of those skill sets that will save you a lot of time and money. As any filmmaker knows, we are constantly tight on a budget. No matter your level, you will hear yourself or someone else saying, “We don’t have the budget for that.” It’s incredibly stressful. Thankfully this won’t be something to stress about. So let’s learn how to sync audio in Final Cut Pro!
What Are The Benefits of Syncing Audio in Final Cut Pro?
As I stated earlier, budget is a huge reason. There is syncing software out there, Pluraleyes and Syncaila, to name a couple. Still, those will cost you $300 for a full-time license or $99 annually for a subscription-based model. Not all of us have that kind of budget. Fortunately for us, this doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war between time and money.
Another reason why syncing audio in Final Cut is great is that you don’t have to rely on as many workflows. Sometimes xmls don’t export properly, software updates, and plugins fail, leaving you strapped for time and wasting your time trying to figure out what went wrong. As someone who has dealt with all of these things in the past, I would really like for you to avoid that. When you get into feature-length projects or longer shorts, you will want to use sync software. But when you are first starting out, Final Cut Pro is an incredible one-stop shop for your filmmaking endeavors.
The third reason is a nice piggyback off of the workflows. This will save you so much TIME. For those of you who enjoy those 48-72 hour film festivals or have to deliver rushes, you spend a good chunk of time bouncing in your chair or pacing around your room waiting for audio to sync. You already have to worry about the wait time when you are dumping your footage, so you shouldn’t have to wait on this.
Pro Tip #1: Create an Event for Your Synced Clips
Before we jump in, here’s a pro tip. Create a new event for your clips. I always try to stay as organized as possible in the edit, and this will help you access your clips much easier. I like to make an event for every scene. That way, I can sandwich all of my footage from each scene in its own folder.
Can you imagine not doing that and having to find the right video clip and audio clip amongst all of the sound effects, room tone, false takes, and music? You might not be that far along in the editing process yet, but that sounds like utter chaos. Therefore, I highly recommend events.
How To Sync Audio in Final Cut Pro
Now that we are set up for success, and you have hopefully made some events for your footage, let’s talk sync!
How to Sync Audio
- In your project browser window, select the video clip you wish to sync
- Then select the audio clip you wish to sync
- Right-click and select “Synchronize Clips”
Synchronize keyboard shortcut: Option + Cmd + G
- Check the box “Use audio for synchronization.” Most of the time, you will be using the scratch audio (audio in the video clip) to sync your on-set audio before ADR if you plan to do that. So make sure you have that box checked.
Optional but strongly recommend: Select the event you want this clip to live under:
Pro Tip #2: Disable Audio Components on AV Clips
By checking this box, Final Cut will automatically disable the audio on your original video clip once it’s done syncing. This is really helpful, so you don’t have to do it yourself afterward. The audio from the video clip will still be there; it will just be muted, which is why you won’t see any waveforms under your clip. If you want to bring the audio back to check the sync, put your cursor at the bottom of the clip until you see “Adjust Volume” and drag it up.
If you look into the custom settings, you will be able to change your frame rate, resolution, how it’s rendered, and even change where you want your sync to start from. For sync, you can choose Content Created, Start of First Clip, or First Marker on the Clip. This gives you the ability to dial into where you specifically want the sync to start. For most of us, the Automatic setting will be just fine and is already selected for you.
Once you have your audio synced, your clip will look like this:
Note the interlocked circles on the left-hand side. You can then click on that clip which will open up a new timeline with your synced clip.
And with that, your clips should successfully be synced!
Can I sync clips already in the timeline?
No, you can only sync them through the browser window by creating a separate event.
Can I sync multiple clips at one time?
You can, but it will defeat the purpose of your sync. Let me explain why I DO NOT recommend it in the slightest. One, because you won’t have your clips organized properly, but more importantly, they will stack on top of each other in your timeline.
Then if you try to select your video and audio and move your clips off of each other, they will end up next to each other in the timeline. Then your clips will no longer be in sync. You will be taking about ten steps backward, trying to undo all of that and starting over.
That is why I recommend doing one clip at a time. I know it’s a lot of work, but it will help you in the long run.
What if I have Multiple Cameras?
Instead of selecting “Synchronize Clips” you will select all of your video and audio and then select “New Multi-Cam Clip.” It will then take you through the same steps as the Synchronize Clips option. Your multi-cam clip will now show up with 4 rectangles next to it and show up in your project browser similarly to synchronizing.
Additional Final Cut Pro Resources
If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting on FCP, here are some additional posts about Final Cut Pro:
Final Thoughts on Syncing audio in Final Cut
Syncing audio in Final Cut is as simple as that! Your project can be organized however you’d like, but if you are using the sync feature, you will have to get used to separate events. Either way, syncing audio in your edit software is a great way to speed up your workflow.
Drop a comment below and let me know if you found this helpful. I would also like to know how you all organize your timelines and footage.