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How to Sync Video with Professional Audio in Final Cut Pro X

Tanner Shinnick

It’s a total breeze to sync separate audio and video files in Final Cut Pro X. Here’s how to do it in 5 easy steps.

You just wrapped your shoot. Your footage looks beautifully cinematic. Your audio was recorded separately — by a dedicated sound person wielding high-quality gear — and the results are crystal clear. Now, it’s time to work on your cut.

But first, because your video and audio were captured separately, you need to sync the files and get everything lined up and cohesive. No problem.

Well now it’s no problem. Back in the day, syncing audio and video was a bit of a chore, and it often required buggy third-party apps, or you had to do it old school (and manually) with a slate.

Fortunately, with FCPX, syncing audio and video is as fast and easy as a keyboard shortcut. Check it out.

(One important thing to note: For this process to work, Final Cut Pro X needs to match waveform patterns, so be sure to record an audio scratch track — however inferior — directly in your camera’s built-in audio channel. Without this camera-captured placeholder audio, FCPX can’t sync your files.)


Step 1: Import Your Files

Final Cut Pro X: Import Audio and Video Files

Begin by importing your audio and video files into your project.

First, import your audio and video files into our project. Easy step, right?


Step 2: Synchronize Your Clips

Final Cut Pro X: Synchronize Clips

Select Synchronize Clips from the dropdown menu.

Identify the two clips you want to utilize. Select both and right-click to bring down the dropdown menu. Click Synchronize Clips or use the shortcut Option + Command + G.


Step 3: Name Your Synchronized Clip

Final Cut Pro X: Name Your Synchronized Clip

Keep your files organized by naming your synchronized clip(s).

After FCPX analyzes the clips to determine the exact sync point, the program will create a new clip and ask you to give it a name. Remember — depending on the size of your project, you may end up with a lot of these clips, so keep organization in mind!


Step 4: Add New Clip to Timeline

Final Cut Pro X: Drag Clip into Timeline

Now, drag your clip into the timeline.

Once the new clip is created, simply drag the clip into your timeline.


Step 5: Verify Successful Sync

Open up your Audio Inspector window, identify which audio track is your main audio feed, and click to isolate the channel. Once isolated, playback your audio to ensure that it’s properly synced and sounds amazing.


Troubleshooting

It’s inevitable that, at some point, you’ll encounter issues while syncing your audio.

One common hiccup — linking the wrong video file to the wrong audio file. You’ll know this one when you see it, because, well, the audio will be wrong. To resolve it (prepare to have your mind blown), replace the wrong audio track with the correct audio track.

Audio drift is another common issue. This is when the audio and video are in sync at the beginning of the clip, but then slowly begin to drift over time. There are many causes — dropped video frames, sample rates not synced, buffer issues, etc.

To fix this, you’ll have to manually cut and align your audio to keep it synced over the length of the clip. You can avoid this before you even get to the edit by having a timecode device sync across both video and audio.


Get more tips, tricks, techniques, and hacks for working in Final Cut Pro X:


Cover image via Tanitka.