By Jeremiah Hall (doddleNEWS)
Red Giant has released their new version of Shooter Suite, a software bundle for videographers. We’ve been looking at each piece of software and giving it a shot. This is the last one in the series, Red Giant’s Plural Eyes. For part one, Red Giant’s BulletProof, click here. For part two, Red Giant’s LUT Buddy, click here. For part three, Red Giant’s Instant 4K, click here. Four part four, Red Giant’s Frames, click here. For part 5, Red Giant’s DeNoiser II, click here.
I learned to cut multicamera shoots before non-linear editors had built-in tools for doing such a thing. At that point I was sub-contracted to edit video others had shot. It was mostly two or three-camera graduations and weddings. That meant I would lay down a master audio track, and lay down each camera track on a separate video track. I would then sync the whole thing using the scratch audio from the other cameras as a reference. The master audio track was one of the cameras plugged into the house audio board.
From there, I would sync sound, much like I would, when I was working on a synchronizer with film and mag-stock. Find an event that had a definite sound – the beginning of a speech, a hard consonant in the voice track, a hand hitting a podium – and line everything up to that point. It sometimes took longer to find a good sync-point than it did to cut the event. From there, I would checkerboard the whole thing. Syncing was a time-consuming process. I usually had to take a break before beginning to edit, just to let my ears and eyes settle down.
It was a nice way to make a little extra coin on the side, but I would not want to have to sync that way again. I longed for a simple shout of “marker” on the audio track, with a slate in front of the camera. There’s a reason we’ve been using that combo for close to a hundred years. It works.
If I do multicam now, it is in a controlled setting with a slate. Or it’s live and I’m punching it. Either way, I don’t have to worry about syncing the hard way. So when it came time to review Red Giant Software’s PluralEyes 3.5, I did something that I ordinarily would have found painful – I shot with two cameras, an audio recorder, and no slates. No markers. Not even me clapping my hands together in front of the lens.
PluralEyes is designed to take multiple cameras and sync them together using their respective soundtracks.
Here’s what I did. I shot my daughter counting from one to fifty on two different cameras. One, my beloved Canon, the other an old Kodak pocket cam that is my daughter’s – she got it for her birthday years ago, back when she was mad for a video camera. It’s small, hand-sized, and shot video to an SD card. It shoots up to HD quality, but I decided to go with the worst setting possible – VGA. On this camera, that’s what someone would set it to for using it as a webcam. I intentionally wanted something bad, to really differentiate between the two cameras when I cut it together, and prove I didn’t just shoot two different takes and cut them together.
So we did it. I took the footage, downloaded it onto my machine, and opened PluralEyes.
I’m not going to go into much detail about the controls. Everything seemed to be self-explanatory. Editors can add video camera tracks and audio recorder tracks. The buttons are simple: Add Media, Synchronize, Export Timeline. Editors can change the order of file names to suit. Editors can choose to mix the tracks automatically, or manually. There are simple mixing controls by each track. There are settings to fix audio drift. There is a setting for leveling audio. There is also nudging controls, to go left or right.
There was checkbox that made me smile a little, if nothing else from the honesty behind its naming. It is under the Sync tab and is labeled, “Try Really Hard.” A pop-up box explanation says, “Increases the percentage of clips that can be automatically synced, in difficult cases such as very short or noisy clips. Enabling this option results in longer sync times.”
I put my clips in individually. I hit the sync button. I muted the nat sound mics from the cameras and left on the track from the Tascam. I exported.
Exporting gives you some options if you are working with a compatible NLE capable of multi-cam. Since I work in an Adobe environment, I chose Premiere Pro for my exporting format. This gave me two check-boxes: Final Cut Pro XML (can be used for Premiere), and Create a sequence, with audio content replaced in video clips. I chose both and hit Export. The whole thing was saved in a new folder.
I opened Premiere Pro, and I imported the folder. I then used the sequence with audio content replaced, choosing to enable multi-cam editing, and cut a few seconds of it.
Here are the results, and boy you can tell which camera is which:
PluralEyes works with Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 And up, Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media composer from 5.5 Up, and Sony Vegas 10 up to 13. Mac users need at least OS 10.8.5. Windows users need a 64-bit operating system, at least Windows 7.
Now, my final thoughts on Shooter Suite 12.5. I know they call this Shooter Suite, but there are some solid post-production tools here. When I first read the descriptions, I thought BulletProof would be my favorite, and I probably would have little use for DeNoiser II. I was wrong. PluralEyes 3.5 became my favorite, if nothing else from the ease-of-use, followed by DeNoiser II. It is a powerful little tool.
BulletProof and LUT Buddy are both solid and useful tools. LUT Buddy could save a lot of time a heartache for videographers, editors and colorists. BulletProof could save a production. Instant 4K does an excellent job of trying to add missing detail when blowing up video. That leaves Frames… I rarely work with footage that is interlaced, so I’m not going to use this often. I think those working with older footage and/or cameraswill find it useful.
Shooter Suite 12.5 retails for a very affordable $399.00 for a full version. That right there is the cost for PluralEyes 3.5 and BulletProof alone. Think of it as buy two, get four free.
Filmmakers and videographers should look at Shooter Suite. Editors, even if they never touch a camera, should look at Shooter Suite.
Check it out at Red Giant Software’s site.