Advanced Timing Techniques

Alright, this is where things get a little more complicated. Not much, but suffice to say these methods take more work.

As I've said before, the Premiere preview window isn't always the most reliable place to see if your video has synched. The only thing you can really trust is your ears and then finding out which exact point on the timeline you hear the right thing.

If you have timing woes, read through all of these and see which option works best for you.

I have to admit, some of these techniques I don't actually use but they might be useful to many of you. Everyone has their own style. Some people mark significant part of the audio with timeline markers, which is fine but I prefer to have the footage as the marker ^_^

Anyway, you have to find a method that works for you and I'm sure you will - these are just ideas, take them or leave them. Also, if you have any good timing methods yourself, let me know and I'll include them.

Method 1: Ultra Sonicman and the Super Cursor Ensynchrolater.

Click somewhere on the timeline. Tap the right cursor key.

You've just heard 1 frame's worth of audio.... can you work out what is was?... Maybe.

It's not an easy method but with practice you can train yourself to work out exactly what you've just heard in that tiny sample. With these superhuman skills you will then be able to just tap along the timeline and be able to find the perfect spot for your clip.

Dead easy, right? Well... it works but it's not always ideal. If there's a ton of stuff going on in the song sometimes that 1 frame will just sound like an absolute mess. Sometimes you can quickly tap along and sort of sing the 'tune' by picking up on the note in each frame which can then allow you to interpolate where you are in the song. Again, it's not always ideal.

(Note: when you do this you actually hear the 'next' frame rather than the one you've just passed over)

One thing you might want to try, though - play through it backwards. There are times when I've tried to get something to time and I've actually found it easier by working backwards and listening out for things.

Garmonbozia ^_^;;

Thankfully, there are methods that can make this process a little easier.

Method 2: High and Low Pass for added audibility.

This is a continuation of Ultra Sonicman's Super Cursor Ensyncholater which uses some Premiere Filters to help out with the audio detection.

This method is by no means perfect but it can be really useful in some situations.

High and Low pass filters work by removing sounds that are particular frequencies. So, a low pass filter is designed to let low frequency sounds pass through and be heard provided they are below a certain designated frequency. High pass does the same but for high frequency sounds.

Hence, if you are trying to sync with a bass sound then you might want to use the low pass filter so that when you are doing your timeline scrubbing, you only hear the sounds you care about for synching. The same principle can be used for high pitched sounds.

Method 3: Selective audio silencing.

This is the best thing I could think of for audio timing that was still practical. Many people will never need to use it but it does have its uses. There may be better methods too, but I can't think of them right now.

Premiere doesn't do itself any favours. You'd think that you'd be able to select a section, render it to preview and hear only that section. Well, you can't, really. Premiere will often continue playing beyond that section depending on what it feels like playing.

This is annoying. See, if it didn't do that you'd be able to select a section and then expand it frame by frame until you heard the sound you are after. So my solution is to silence the audio at a point so that when you play back a large section you can clearly hear when the audio goes silent. You then move the section along until you can finally hear the part of the audio you are after. Also, you can cut small sections out and if you don't hear your audio then you know that section is where you want to put your clip.

One way of doing this is with the audio rubber bands which is ok but I personally like to get things accurate frame by frame so you need to be able to hear exactly which frame something happens. To do this, do as follows:

1) Put another copy of your wave file in another audio channel and mute the original wav (make sure they are aligned correctly too)

2) Go to the section you are timing and use the razor tools to split up your second wave. Delete the bit on the right like follows:

Audio silencing

3) now select the area around where you are timing and press enter to render it. You don't need to actually see the video so you can deselect your video streams if you want faster rendering. Now, using the Selection tool, extend your clipped audio frame by frame and render the section to hear it. Basically what you are doing is 'revealing' more of the clip until you get to the first frame where you can hear the thing you are timing your video to. When you get to that frame you know exactly where to put the clip.

So, by using your ears instead of your eyes, you can work out exactly which frame you need to put your clip. If you are still having trouble working out the sounds, try adding the high/low pass method to this one.

Also, there are some DirectX audio plugins that you can get for free which can single out particular frequencies, so see the next section on effects for more info on these.

Method 4: The Educated Guess and Patterns for Fast Beats

So, you have a fast beat and you want something to flash on it, eh? Finding it difficult to time each beat? Well, it's very possible that the beat may not happen at a rate which really fits the frame by frame method that Premiere requires. This can make it tough to time. So, what you have to do is guess ^_^

If there's only a couple of beats, you can usually work them out with the above methods. If there's a whole drumroll worth, then good thing to do is to find the first beat and then put in a pattern to see if it matches when you play it back.

Here is an example from my video Her Circumstance - Poor Miyazawa (or, Monkey Wrench) v2 :

Monkey Wrench timeline - flashing image pattern to match beats

Here, for the fast drums in the chorus of this Foo Fighters song, I made the image invert (just like it often does in the anime) but at such speeds that it flashes. The beat was too fast to work out the exact pattern by listening to each frame (and the whole thing is too noisy to just see the beats on the waveform) so I found the first beat and the last one and made a pattern by taking the scene and chopping it up with the Razor tool and then deleting frames.

It worked.

You may have to mess around with different patterns but you'll find that, if it's really fast, most regular quick patterns will be convincing.

AbsoluteDestiny - June 2002