Singular Software DualEyes Review
I reviewed Singular Softwares ‘PluralEyes’ just over a year ago and as a plugin for Final Cut Pro and it works wonders and saved me countless hours work by syncing multiple DSLR camera recordings with sound recorded on my Zoom H4n.
I switched from FCP to Premiere Pro around six months ago and although Singular Software did come up with a PluralEyes solution for Premiere users it requires the export and re-import of FCP xml, which although workable was never quite as nice as having the plugin work from within the NLE. When re-importing the FCP xml my Premiere projects were filling up with unwanted duplicate assets and the process proved to be slightly clunky, sometimes resulting in unexpected results.
I reverted to syncing by hand and have managed to get quite good at it recently, partly by better planning and using a strict shooting procedure that results in the shots from my cameras starting at similar points. Doing this makes syncing the two cameras fairly easy but it’s still a chore lining those up with the audio from the H4n.
Singular Software approached me recently asking if I’d like to try out DualEyes. DualEyes differs from PluralEyes because rather than being a plugin, it’s a stand alone app and is designed with just one task in mind, to sync DSLR footage with the audio recorded on a separate device.
Unlike PluralEyes, DualEyes does not sync multiple cameras to an audio track, it simply takes one or more video clips along with one or more audio clips and either creates new video clips with the audio replaced or creates a new set of audio clips that are the same length as the video clips in question.
In order to try the software out I decided to use it on a project that I’m currently working on. This project involved shooting two camera DSLR interviews along with external audio recorded on my Zoom H4n.
The image below shows the basic layout of my project folder which contains the contents from a days shoot, two 32GB cards from my Canon 5D, two 32GB cards from the Canon 7D and eight wav files from the H4n. Each wav file represents the audio recording from an interview.
When launching DualEyes you’re presented with a very simple interface that allows you to either open an existing project or create a New Project.
After choosing ‘New Project’ you have to give it a name and the location where tghe project file is going to be saved.
Next your presented with a very simple GUI with just three buttons for adding and removing media files and starting the project. I was a little confused by the Scissors icon to begin with as it doesn’t really scream ‘Sync’ but that’s what it does.
Next it’s just a simple case of adding media, in my case I added all of the shots from my 5D as well as all of the wav files from my H4n. I could have added the shots from the 7D as well but for my use there was no point in doing that, I’ll explain more about that later.
In case your wondering, you can simply select the media in the finder and drag it into DualEyes, you don’t have to keep using the + button.
Now, before pressing sync you need to make a few important choices from the Option menu.
Timing differences between audio and video can cause drift, which manifests itself as audio and video being synced on one segment of the video but unsynced in a different segment. The Correct Drift option corrects this so that everything is in sync all the time.
This option is useful when the audio levels vary a lot between clips. This can happen, for example, in an interview where the on-camera mic is close to one person talking and the audio from the other person comes from a lavalier mic. If you choose this option, DualEyes will do some extra processing to compensate. It is almost always safe to use this option, but it takes a little longer.
Try Really Hard
This tells DualEyes to spend extra time trying to find the sync. It can take 5-10 times as long so you will want to use it only on the most stubborn sync problems or when you are willing to let it run for a long time.
Infer Chronological Order
It is often the case that the names of the media files, when sorted alphabetically, are in the same order that the recordings were made. If so, then checking this option will give a hint to DualEyes that will help it sync faster and more reliably.
Use Existing Extracted Audio
DualEyes extracts audio from each media file to a temporary file. Turning this option on will save time if you need to re-run DualEyes on the same project. It will re-use the file that has been previously extracted.
Replace Audio for MOV and AVI files
DualEyes can create a new file which contains the video from the original clip and the synced audio for MOV and AVI files. The video is not re-encoded, but the compressed data is simply copied from the original file resulting in no loss of quality.
Based on previous experience with PluralEyes I decided to leave all of these unchecked and only employ them if I ran into any difficulties syncing. The one you really want to pay a lot of attention to is the last one Replace Audio for MOV and AVI files as that’s going to have a big impact on what DualEyes does.
I decided to leave that unchecked because I really didn’t want a duplicate set of video clips with the audio from the H4n embedded. I can see that in some projects that might be more useful but I already had all of my video content imported into Premiere and don’t like creating duplicates if I can help it. That’s one of the great things about Premiere after all, you can use the raw clips from the camera without the need to transcode and create duplicates.
So with everything set it was just a case of hitting the Sync button and waiting while DualEyes worked it’s magic. I noticed that DualEyes didn’t really make use of my machines resources, the CPU cores and RAM were barely even trying so it doesn’t appear the app is fully optimized to push the latest mac hardware to the max.
It took around 20 minutes for DualEyes to do it’s thing but eventually it reported the following…
After some investigation I found that the two files not synced were just blank clips which explained why DualEyes hadn’t dealt with them. The 45 new .wav files produced were saved in the same folders that contained the video clips, one for each .MOV file.
So the next job was to import those into Premiere and then see how they synced up with the original clips from the 5D. I dragged all of the 5D shots from one of the interviews into a timeline and then all of the matching DualEyes wav files onto the next audio track. Everything lined up perfectly, a huge saving in time over trying to line each video clip up on a single wav containing the whole interview.
As I said at the beginning though these interviews were shot with two cameras so there was still some manual work involved. It would be pointless running the same procedure on my 7D shots as they’re slightly different lengths than the 5D shots so the only way forward was to then drag all of my 7D shots onto the timeline and line those up by ear / eye to match the 5D shots. As I started the 7D at the same time as the 5D each time though that’s a a fairly easy process of just lining up the waveforms from each camera.
DualEyes does a fantastic job of creating matching audio clips or new video clips with external sound embedded. If you’re not doing multicam projects yet still working with a DSLR and external audio it’s the perfect tool for the job.
When it comes to multicam it’s not quite as useful as having PluralEyes, but without a native Premiere plugin of PluralEyes it’s still actually very useful as it takes the pain out of trying to match your shots with the audio track. I’ll certainly be adding it to my Premiere Pro workflow.