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How to sync video with professional audio in Final Cut Pro X: the DSLR workflow

Easily sync your separately recorded audio with your Digital SLR video in Final Cut Pro X!

With the ever-growing popularity of DSLR cameras, the workflow of recording sound separately from the camera has become very popular.  Why?  Well, while the DSLR camera does record sound, the quality is pretty inferior.  Therefore, most people invest in a separate high quality sound recorder to capture their audio.  The potentially tedious thing about this process is that you have to sync up the sound later in the editing process.  Fortunately, however, Final Cut Pro X features an instantaneous way to do this, which just requires a little bit of legwork.

One note:   Final Cut Pro X needs to match waveform patterns for this process to work, so this will only work if you recorded some audio (however inferior) with your video on your DSLR camera.
  1. From the clip view in the Event Library, select the two clips that you want to synchronize, which should consist of the video with bad audio clip and the good audio only clip.
  2. Right-click on this selection, and choose Synchronize Clips, or press Option+Command+G.

    A new clip is created in the Event Library.  This clip contains two elements: the video plus the bad audio, and the good audio.  Because the bad audio is still synced to the video, you need to remove it.
  3. Edit this new (two element) clip into the Timeline.
  4. You now need to step into the clip to remove the bad audio.  Double-click on the clip to step inside of it.  You’ll see both the bad audio (which is still synced with your video), as well as the good audio below it.  Notice that the general waveform pattern is nearly identical.  This is how Final Cut Pro X performs the sync.
  5. Break apart the video clip from the bad audio by right-clicking on the top (video plus bad audio) clip and choosing “Break Apart Clip Items,” or by pressing Shift+Command+G.
    Now, you will see three elements: the video (on top), the bad audio (in the middle), and the good audio (on bottom).
  6. Click outside the clips in the gray area of the Timeline to deselect all clips.  Then, click again on the bad audio to select it and press Delete.
  7. You now have synced the video with the good audio.  To step outside of the nest, click on the left arrow (Go back in Timeline history button) in the upper-right corner of the Timeline.

    You are now free to edit this newly synced clip in any way that you wish.

As you can see, syncing video and audio is a relatively quick process.  You can of course follow these steps for not only footage captured with DSLR cameras, but for any footage with separately recorded audio.

If you have many clips to sync, you will need to perform the initial steps of actually syncing each video and audio clip one-by-one, but you can delete the bad audio in bulk.  Simply edit all of the synchronized clips into the Timeline, and perform a mass deletion of the bad audio.

Have you used the Synchronize Clips command in Final Cut Pro X, yet?  If so, let us know how you like it!

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  • http://YourSite(Optional) Foxman

    Nice one for this! Had a nightmare thinking the sync wasn’t working as I grouped my clips by keyword — obviously the new sync clips have no keywords so they don’t show up in the group — ended up with about 20 of the same clip synced in the event browser!

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Ashley

    Foxman — I did the same thing the first time I synced clips! Those keyword filters can trip you up if you’re not careful.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Andy


    I’m in Australia and always working in a 1080p, Pro Res 422, 25fps workflow. Currently When trying to sync footage and audio using this technique FCP X tries to sync it, then the project changes to 720p, 23.98 fps. Therefore I am currently having to do all syncing manually.

    Hopefully Apple will sort it soon.

    Here is a link about it.

  • Rick

    There’s actually an easier way to do this – if you select the new compound clip, then inspect the Audio portion, under “Channel Configuration”, you can see both audio tracks are checked. Just uncheck the “bad audio” channel, and it mutes the offending track.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Andy

    In regard to the problem I listed above. It has been rectified in the FCP X 10.0.1 update. Cheers

  • Premiumbeat


  • Premiumbeat

    Yeah really cool

  • Premiumbeat


  • Mika33

    Found this tip on twitter, wondering why the actual post is 8 month old..?
    There is no need to delete the bad audio. Simply select the desired audio track from the context menu when the synced multiclip is in your timeline.

  • woosync

    sometimes using standalone app is much faster(and better) we have worked on our app for 18 months to make it the fastest engine for synchronisation. WooWave Sync Pro

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  • Laurent Egli

    Its a great feature thanks, but how do you keep the audio timecode instead of creating a new one? My H4N generates time of the day timecode wich is very handy and I’d like to keep it while my dslr doesn’t . Thanks in advance

  • Benji J K

    I’m wondering if this still works with audio that’s not at the same speed. I have live video footage of a band, and trying to sync that with studio recorded version of the audio, except that the speeds are different in both. Does final cut now automatically retime the video to match? If there was such a thing, it would make final cut the one to beat.

  • Pingback: Ordentlig lyd med DSLR kamera…. | Pressefotograf Henrik Bo

  • Franco Pastorino

    I’ve got a question.. Using fcut prox 30day demo i’m tryng to sync a Professional mixed audio with 5 GoPro and 5 dslr, all of them 1080p 25 fps. Audio was recorded with Motu Digital performer 48khz 24bit 25fps. I’ve manually sync with a clip (a random one) and it keep synced for 20/30 seconds before it go out of sync. I did something wrong?
    Does somebody have a solution for this problem? I’ve tryed with fcut pro7 and adobe premiere cc and happen the same thing.

  • Ryan Petrus

    **There’s actually an app called DreamSync, a standalone application that’s built for the novice user as well as professionals. It syncs your footage and audio into one single clip so that it can then be imported into applications like iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut X, or any other editing suite.

    Both apps are effective depending on your editing workflow and how much (or little) time you want to dedicate to learning another interface for syncing audio/video footage.

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