As someone who mixes audio for self-shooters, I often get the sync audio as 2 tracks, the camera mic and a personal lav mic on the talent. My workflow has been to go through the clips and select which one sounds better because I couldn’t use them both because of varying timing differences between them.
Now with Auto-Align Post from Sound Radix, because it can fix the timing differences dynamically throughout a clip, I can now use them both together, and in this free video tutorial, I am going to show you how.
To give Auto-Align Post a good workout, I created some test content in a church, which also gave me a reverberant sound field to see how Auto-Align Post would handle less than ideal source material. I used a static shotgun mic representing the camera mic and a personal lav mic on myself, as the talent, recreating the typical workflows I have to deal with.
When you play both tracks together you hear the classic phasing effect as the time delay changes whilst I am moving about in front of the static shotgun mic.
Choose Your Reference Source
Once you have opened the Auto-Align Post you can see that the plug-in tells you what you need to do. With Auto-Align Post you need to choose which track will be the reference and which you are going to process to pull it into time with the reference. In this example, I am going to use the shotgun mic as the reference and process the lav mic. You do this by using the side-chain feature in the Pro Tools plug-in. When you click on the side-chain button you get a list of the tracks in your session. In this case, I want to choose the Shotgun Mic track as that is my reference.
It's An AudioSuite Plug-in
As Auto-Align Post is an AudioSuite plug-in we need to make sure the clip we want to process is highlighted, in this case, the Lav Radio Mic and then as the plug-in tells us, we can click on Preview or Render.
Clicking on Preview, Auto-Align Post then analyses the 2 tracks and then displays what it has found.
What Is In The GUI?
The bottom half of the plug-in in the Main Viewer. It has a time scale, a phase meter and a waveform view. Above the main viewer, we have the navigation bar. Before we go on, let me explain the what the colours mean…
- Pink shows the waveform of the Reference Track.
- Teal shows the waveform of the selected audio to be processed.
- White shows the areas where both waveforms overlap.
The navigation bar shows the complete clip and the box represents what we can see in the main viewer. You can click and drag the box along the clip and you can adjust the start and finish of the box by getting hold of the left or right edges on the box.
Alternatively, in the main viewer, you can use the mouse scroll wheel to determine which part of the clip we will see in the main viewer. To zoom in or out, we can either use the plus and minus buttons near the bottom of the plug-in or hold down the Shift key and use the mouse scroll wheel.
View Aligned Or Source
Once you are zoomed in enough you will be able to compare the aligned version with the unaligned original by clicking on the View button. You can see the before and after and also see what the combined audio will look like by studying what the white waveform displays. Watch what happens when you switch between Source and Aligned and see how the pink and teal waveforms line up and check out how the white changes as you switch between Source and Aligned.
Once you are happy, click Render and Auto-Align Post creates a new version of the selected file, just like any AudioSuite Plug-in and the two clips will now be in sync.
You can choose to bypass the Preview option and go straight for the Render option. I find myself doing this more and more as I have got to trust Auto-Align Post.
One tip worth considering is because Auto-Align Post is an AudioSuite plug-in making changes at a later date can be problematic. To protect yourself consider creating duplicate playlists or use dump tracks where you can store unprocessed versions just in case you need to come back and change something.
You Can Have The Best Of Both Worlds
The best bit about using this new plug-in from Sound Radix is that now you can have the best of both worlds, the round and full sound from the boom with the immediate present sound of the lav always in sync. Job done.