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

Ashley Kennedy

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.
    Sync Clips
    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.
    Step-In Clip
  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).
    Three Elements Audio Sync
  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.
    Synced Good Audio Fixed
  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.
    Timeline History
    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!