Auto Sync Audio via Timecode in Resolve 12

Rich Roddman Oct 8, 2015

  1. If you are working as a DIT like I do your often asked to sync the secondary sound from the set to the dailies. In prior versions of DaVinci Resolve this was an easy task. First you created a folder in the Media Pool. I would give it the same name as the card for simplicity. You would then import the video media into that bin. You would then import the matching audio sound files that share the same timecode into that bin. If you wanted to you could make a sub-bin in the main bin for the files for neatness. Once both the audio and video files were in the bin you would select all the video clips and right click to choose the option to Auto Sync Audio based on Timecode and your embedded camera audio would be replaced with the multi-track wav file from the sound dept.

    But if were to try that today using Resolve 12 (Which is still how the manual teaches how to do it) you would find the option to Auto Sync to be greyed out. This can cause a small panic when you have lots of dailies to make in a short time.

    The answer, found by pure luck, is to right click on the Bin that you created to place the Audio and Video media into. Then you can see the Auto Sync options for Timecode and Waveform available to you and working just as before. Hopefully this change will show up in the manual sometime soon.
  2. Thanks for the tip, Rich! As I am about to start an edit and grading project in R12, I am wondering ... what if you have audio and video in different bins for organizational purposes and are using R12? If you create an audio subfolder under your video, is R12 smart enough to look in there like in R11? If using R12 as a NLE and for color, I might have 20+ video folders and 20+ subfolders.
  3. Well... it does say that on page 206 in the manual (under "Syncing Audio"):

    Right-click the bin containing the matching audio and video clips, and choose one of the following commands from the contextual menu:

    Auto-Sync Audio Based on Timecode: Replaces each video clip’s previous audio channels with audio channels from the newly synced .wav files

    Auto-Sync Audio Based on Timecode and Append Tracks...

    I agree, there are a whole bunch of things moved around in Resolve 12 -- I'm still not happy with the way Timelines are handled, making them just another item to put in a bin -- but a lot of capabilities are still there.

    I've found that Resolve will generally dig down into the folders, but I'm reluctant to go very deep on folder structure just because of past experience with slowing the program down. But it should theoretically work.
    Scott Stacy likes this.

  4. You are correct Marc. I was looking at an older manual, my bad. I'm glad it was added to current version. I mainly wanted to get the answer of how to auto sync out there into something that could be found in a quick google search from set which is normally the first place they look instead of the manual.
  5. My overall feeling about syncing sound in general is that this is just a standard part of post-production, and has been going back to 1927. It's not that big a deal. Even without any slates, a good assistant can sync up 1 take in a minute or less if the sound is logged and has notes on scene & takes. Even if you have 1000 takes on a big show, that's only two days of work -- assuming the sound sync isn't drifting.

    Famously, Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese had a dozen assistants and took six months to sync up the Woodstock concert documentary in 1969 and 1970. I've done at least a dozen rock concert shows where we wound up having to do lots and lots of hand-syncing, and it's just a necessary part of the job. While I think of myself as "only" a colorist, I eventually developed a knack for reading lips and syncing by eye very quickly. One of the hardest shows I did was a Jay Leno Showtime special in the 1980s, which was about 20 hours of live 16mm documentary footage and standup routines. I'd say 90% of that was done with no slates, just reading lips and making educated guesses. I'm guessing it added another couple of days to the job, but it wasn't a nightmare -- it's just part of the job. It all got finished, the sync was fine, it looked good, everybody was happy, and I got paid. Not a big deal.

    I find a lot of younger people in the film business expect things to be automatic or easy, but they often are not. I think you have to go into this expecting things to require effort and for them to require some expertise. As it is, it's a miracle Resolve has tools like this, because if they save you even :30 seconds on syncing every shot, that's a day of labor saved.
    Andrew Webb likes this.

  6. Thanks for sharing elements from your past. I agree with you how there is an expectation for easy or letting the equipment do the task for you amongst many parts of out industry today. In the commercial side of production (can't speak for episodical or feature workflows) it seems that post starts when they call cut. Which in itself is becoming less and less often in favor of filling up the card instead of cutting. It's only data anyways not like we are burning film stock. All the metadata, secondary sound and color profiles are added to the dailies right then and very often the drives are shipped off at what ever the latest drop off time for Fed Ex is regardless if all of todays media made it on the drive or not.

    The Post Houses seem to have less interest in preforming these functions. I haven't been able to figure out if they just have the time or no longer have assistants to do the jobs or it's a budget thing and production doesn't want to pay for it. What worse are the agencies that have an in-house edit department. They seem to have even less of an understanding for the overall process. Now I don't like making blanket statements like that but unfortunately it has been truer more often than not.

    As this technology continues to evolve giving us great tools like Resolve that let us do things we would never have thought of just a few years ago, the expectations of what can be accomplished continues to grow. What seems to be getting lost is the ability to manage those expectations from all that is possible to what is actually realistic.
    Andrew Webb likes this.
  7. I think it is true that post starts the moment the day wraps, but what's sad is that I think there's been a trend for the last 5-6 years, since film began to fade, for crews to have a kind of disrespect for the frame. I've been on 35mm film sets many times, and there was a palpable change the moment the AD yelled "Roll camera!", because everybody instinctively knew, "oooooh, that's money being spent! Film is expensive! Let's get this right!" Now, because data is cheap, there's more of a lackadaisical attitude, which to me has resulted in much too much footage being shot. Even if the material technically has no physical value, it still wastes time, it crushes the assistant editors and others who have to go through all the dailies, and also makes the editor's job that much harder.

    This is a D.I.T. / assistant editor function, not necessarily that of a post house. Traditional post houses are involved in VFX, sound mixing, conforming, color-correction, titling, duplication, and delivery. Dailies is sometimes part of it, but I think in general the D.I.T. crew is now the main source for dailies. There are post houses that still have full-staff dailies departments -- Light Iron Digital is one, Technicolor is another, and so does Deluxe, eFilm and Fotokem here in LA -- but I think that's largely a freelance business now.

    My point is that people tend to react negatively when presented with something as simple as sound syncing, when I know it's just not that hard to do. I could take a person off the street, and with maybe 2-3 days of training, they'd be reasonably fast at syncing dailies. Where they might have trouble would be all the other stuff that goes along with that job: organizing files, entering the metadata, backing up data, creating viewable dailies files, sending out reports to various departments, and so on. The other crucial job function is knowing what to do when the train falls off the tracks: bad timecode, garbled data, camera unintentionally off-speed, multiple camera formats, and so on. Knowing how to solve those problems so that the editor is completely ready to go at 8AM is critical.

    Syncing itself is nothing -- keeping track of all the pieces is hard.

  8. Marc, I couldn't agree more with all of your points.
  9. Not in studio level production. There is very, very little studio level production in which creating dailies for editorial and viewing, and archiving original materials is done by set personnel. It is usually done by the very companies you just mentioned, with the addition of Bling and a few others, because on those projects it's not just making files. It's creating and maintaining pipelines for VFX and other post steps, and providing expertise in those areas. It's also creating archival elements (primarily LTO tape today) that have been verified properly, and in many cases, providing a colorist, working in a sensible viewing environment, to either match what the DIT doesn't have time to match or do the color work entirely. Sometimes it's done in facilities, sometimes it's done on remote systems deployed on location. It really depends on the production location and the past experience and desires of the producers.

    All true, which partially (only partially) explains my previous paragraph.
  10. Which is why dailies could and should be done in the cutting room itself (or on location) by assistant editors. Who are compensated per the union contract rather than whatever Name of Post House feels like paying.

  11. It's not a question of cost, and it's not a question of guild affiliation. Creating dailies is a lab function, not an editorial function. The skill set required for dailies processing and archiving on studio level shows is different than that of an assistant editor, as are the hours required to do it (both the length and the time of day it's done), the turnarounds expected, the level of interaction with production personnel, the communication with studio personnel, the levels of verification and the hours required to create LTO tape archives, the addressing of numerous security concerns, and a number of other issues. It's not just loading, synching, and logging. I'm not saying that trained editorial personnel couldn't do it, but the fact is that dailies processing today is more complex than it's ever been, and further from the cutting room mentality than ever before. If you don't believe that, my guess is you've never been involved in such projects, but anyone who has would tell you exactly what I just said.
    Arthur Ditner likes this.

    I disagree.
    Loading syncing and logging may be all that assistant editors are tasked with today, but in the past all those things you list were very much a part of the job. Dailies work is no more complex nowadays than in the past, it's just not spread out across multiple different businesses and locations, each doing one small part of the process (lab, cutting room, telecine, etc.). And for that very reason - the fact that the large physical infrastructure required by film and tape are no longer required - the work can be done by one or two people with the appropriate gear and know how, as you mention. I think those people should be covered by the editor's guild contract (and obviously if you looked at my imdb link it'll be clear that I have a selfish agenda along with my pro-labor idealogical bent. :))
    Andrew Webb likes this.
  13. I'm not going to belabor this, but I am going to post this one final response.

    I've been in this business since the late 1970's, and at no time have assistant editors been responsible for color timing of dailies, working during "graveyard shift" hours to prep dailies, archiving the original camera and sound elements, dealing with uploads to digital dailies services and other entities, maintaining camera metadata, creating multiple audio mixes for different purposes, making and distributing DVDs, or any number of other things I didn't even bring up. Not on film, not on video, and not on digital files. Nor are they tasked with loading and synching today because that's all done for them by the dailies operator. And before you point out that the assistant editors COULD do this, I will also say that since the introduction of electronic cutting way back in the mid 1980's, many, many assistant editors - especially the younger ones (surprisingly) seem to have very little knowledge of how to do any of that. I constantly have to field calls with questions like "I can't find the bin." Followed by "how do I make a bin?" And even when I tell them "you push the button that says New Bin" they still can't figure it out. That's the sad reality, regardless of what the guild wants you to believe. And, by the way, I happen to still be a card carrying member of Local 700 (still pay my dues just because I believe in the need for the union, although I get absolutely nothing out of it other than a magazine subscription and monthly screenings), and as much as I would like to support their stand, they have done little to nothing to show me that they are training Guild personnel to do what it is you claim they should be doing. Nor have I gotten any indication from the many assistant editors that I know that tells me they're interested, either. All they want to do is complain that companies are somehow stealing "covered work," but if I ask them to send me a list of qualified personnel who are on the roster, they can't. Because basically there aren't any. I don't care whose fault that is, but it is true.

    For the most part, dailies work IS being done by one or two people on any given show, whether they happen to be physically located in a post company, on location, in a production office, next to the editorial department (yes, that's often the case), in a hotel room, or anywhere else that dailies work is done today. They just don't happen to be assistant editors because neither the assistant editors nor the guild that represents them have ever made any serious effort to embrace that work. The company I work for would be happy to hire guild personnel, or better yet, have production hire them, if there were qualified personnel available and willing to work for what the studios are willing to pay for that job. There aren't, and they're not. So please don't try to make this a political struggle of some sort, because it isn't. It's simply what the industry has evolved to, good or bad.
  14. Well, gotta advocate for what you believe in I guess. I believe that no matter what you want to call them, the people making $25-$30 an hour doing dailies should be getting paid at least assistant scale and that their work hours should count towards MPIPHP benefits.

    Sorry for hijacking this thread, and I'll get you my resume, Mike....
    Tim Whiting likes this.
  15. Last I checked, Technicolor has no union people on staff in Hollywood or Vancouver or London, certainly not doing dailies. And that would be for Local 600 camera or Local 700 editing. They could well have DITs, but they didn't through 2010. The staff in Culver City was union for part of Technicolor's operation there (now owned by Deluxe)

    I have seen companies that have used assistant editors for dailies prep, but it's not common for big studio productions. Bling Digital is one of them.
  16. I was being hypothetical, Marc. I wasn't putting out job offers, I wasn't implying any union or non-union status for Tech, and I wasn't advertising for such people. I was simply illustrating a point, the point being that Local 700 doesn't really have trained dailies operators available regardless of the potential employers union status. As for DIT's, Technicolor does not hire them because they don't provide those services, at least not in Los Angeles and London. They do work with DIT's (yes, Union DIT's.....) on many productions and occasionally supply some equipment to them. Beyond that, I am not going to reveal or discuss internal information about my employer on a public forum other than to say that your statements are not completely accurate. However, this isn't a contest, so please, just knock it off.

    And BTW, I can almost guarantee that if Bling hires an assistant editor, they're not being hired under a union contract because as far as I know, Bling isn't a signatory (at least not in California). If they're simply using someone hired by production, well, I think I already addressed that.

  17. You're making an assumption about pay levels that is not really accurate. And you're making an assumption about benefits that is not necessarily accurate, either. The picture post industry outside of production employed editorial personnel has never been heavily unionized in the electronic/digital era. The vast majority of picture post facilities (not necessarily sound post production, which still has a strong union presence) in Los Angeles and elsewhere are and have been non-union for many years, and have provided full benefits to full time employees that are largely the equal of those provided by the union. The employees have never felt the need to join the union so they haven't. At this point in time there are only two major picture post facilities that are operating under a union contract (Level 3 Post and Universal Digital Services). In the case of Level 3, it is a legacy contract that dates back to the days of Compact Video. And in the case of Universal they are located on the studio lot and owned by the studio, which is a signatory company. There are some individual employees at other companies that are still being paid under a union contract based on their previous employer having being acquired, but in general the picture post industry is and has been mostly non-union going back to the late 1980s.
  18. Correct, Bling and byDeluxe (with rare exceptions) and most other post houses are not union at all.

    I would say there is one more big union facility in town, and that would be the Deluxe facility on the Sony lot, formerly owned by Sony. I believe they're still all Local 700 over there, because that was part of the deal when Sony sold them the facility.

    The picture post industry has generally been non-union, though I have worked at TransAmerican Video and also Compact Video, both of which were 695 back in the day. Compact famously went bankrupt on a Friday and reopened under a new name and tried to shut out the union, but the courts eventually forced the new owners to go back to the union contract.

    CBS TV City is also all union, and they do have quite a bit of post staff there, but none doing dailies. They do a degree of editing, color correction, and VFX. And virtually all major feature film editors are in Local 700 as are their assistants, plus the post sups are in the PGA. But not at 90% of the post-production facilities.

    What's interesting to me is the number of TV shows that use a lot of non-union employees, but they still have the IATSE "bug" in the end credits. I'm amazed how IA still allows this. Even worse when the colorist gets no credit, but I digress.

  19. I think you already know the answer to that. Personnel who work for post companies and facilities are not "employees" of production. They are employees of the company they work for which is not a signatory. It is the production company's choice as to who does the post work, and as long as that's the case, and they're not employing those people directly, the union basically has nothing to say about it. Personally, I see the union as vital and necessary in the freelance world of production, in part because for many years (prior to the Affordable Care Act), it was almost impossible to get health insurance as an individual in the United States if you were ever sick at any point in your life. The only way for many, if not most people, was to be a full time employee of a company that saw fit to offer health insurance as an employment benefit. So in a freelance industry, the way around that, and the only way to have benefits that would follow you from job to job was to offer it through an "umbrella" organization that served all studios and productions - namely, Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plans. Even there, you had (and still have) to maintain your hours in order to maintain your benefits. But for many years it's worked as a way of providing benefits to a freelance industry. Post facilities didn't fit that description as most of their employees are full time. In recent years that has changed somewhat, but employees at post companies have long been reluctant to commit to union representation, with its more specific job descriptions, initiation fees (often waived for new signatories, but I digress.....), and continuing dues. Particularly when they're already being paid at higher than union scale, and already have benefits that are at least the equal of the motion picture plans.

    It was not "part of the deal" and, in fact, Deluxe tried exactly what they tried with Level 3 a number of years ago, which was to declare the contract null in void when the facility was sold. The employees had a new election and voted to remain in the union, so Deluxe had to accept that. This is all detailed in this article, among other places: Deluxe Culver City Post-Production Staff Vote For IATSE Contract | Deadline
    Marc Wielage likes this.
  20. I'm not making assumptions - that's what Deluxe pays, that's what Bling pays, that's what smaller operations like EPS Cineworks pay....that's the going rate. If Tech pays more, that's awesome and I'm glad because as you point it the overall skill set required is evidently greater nowadays than that required of assistant editors, who start at $36-and-change per hour on a 45 hour guarantee, or DITs who make even more.

    Full time employess of Technicolor etc. get benefits. Also awesome. When you send a cart out here to Austin, and hire a local freelance schmuck like me to do the work, it's another story though, correct? Even though I'm a member of an IA local, my work hours aren't recognized by that local because I'm your casual or contract employee and not employed by the show itself.
    An analogy *in my opinion* would be if Panavision were providing shows with camera assistants along with their equipment packages and paying those assistants whatever Panavision pays people, and not what local 600 says ACs are supposed to get.

    I thnk eventually the people who sign the cheques are going to notice that the dailies work is being done by one or two people with a computer and begin to wonder why they're paying a post house to provide that, but only time will tell.

    A post supervisor friend of mine advised me not to start making noise about this union business because it would piss a lot of people off. Evidently he was right. :-(
    Marc Wielage likes this.

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