Merging Audio and Video Clips

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the March, 2011, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


David Bogard writes:

I recently came upon a problem I cannot find the answer to: I am shooting video with a Canon 5D Mark II and recording the audio on a separate recorder. When I drop the video and the audio I recorded on the camera onto the timeline along with the separately recorded audio, I want to discard the camera audio once I have synced everything. That being done I have only the separate audio and the video. Now the question: Is there any way I can link the video and audio together so that they “travel” together just as the original camera audio would with the video? I know I can select the two and look in “Modify” and link them, but that seems to be only for that one move and no more. How can I permanently link them? Is it possible?

Larry replies: Modify > Link links the two clips permanently in that sequence.

If you want to link them for use in multiple sequences, dragged the linked clip back into the Browser. This creates a Merged clip. They will remain linked for any sequence and act as though you captured the two clips from the same source.

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2 Responses to Merging Audio and Video Clips

  1. Jesús Pérez says:

    Yes, that is true. But there are two big problems or downsides to how Merged clips work in Final Cut Pro 7:

    1. Merged clips can’t be traced back to the original master clips from which they were created. FCP considers any merged clip as an independent master clips, which means, it is no longer affiliated to the original clips it was created from. For instance, you cannot Match Frame the audio track of a Merged clip back to the original audio master clip (like you can in Avid). The same thing applies to the video track and the original video master clip. The only thing you can do is go to “View > Match Frame > Source File” and the original files (video and audio) will instantly open in the viewer… But they don’t track back to the Browser with the “View > Reveal Master Clip” command because in fact they are not master clips but media files outside the project… Avid has a more natural way of tracking a synced clip (subclip in Avid’s terminology) back to the original master clips it is created from, by simply match framing different tracks of the synced clip (audio or video). And FCP7 never quite got it to work as well.

    2. Out-of-Sync indicators don’t always work with Merged Clips. In FCP, with regular master clips, when we unlink the video and audio of a clip in the timeline, we always get out-of-sync indicators, according to the FCP7 User Manual, because both items belong to the same media file… Well, since Merged Clips come from different media files, these items only show out-of-sync indicators if they are linked. And that’s not really helpfull at all… You might have a merged clip unlinked in the timeline for whatever reason, and then, if you move the video away from the audio (or viceversa) you would get items out of sync without a single warning from FCP. This alone is serious enough, and something that would never happen in Avid. But it’s even more serious when you consider how easy it is to unlink clips in Final Cut. I mean, you don’t even have to unlink the clip voluntarialy; sometimes, if you just make a few cuts with the razor blade on the video track of a merged clip, part of the video items or segments of this clip will no longer have the underlined line (which means they are no longer linked to the audio tracks below them).

    I think this is one of the biggest reasons why Red Giant’s Plural Eyes 3 is gaining success. Besides the obvious advantages of speeding up the syncing process, it gives editors the choice to make completely independent merged clips right from Plural Eyes (Quicktime reference files or self contained media files) that once you import inside Final Cut Pro (or Premiere Pro) will always show out-of-sync indicators in the timeline no matter if the video and audio tracks are linked together in the timeline or not.

  2. Mila says:

    Hi thanks for a very useful and informative article. I understand the two drawbacks you describe, but I’m puzzled about whether Pluraleyes offers the solution. Because when I select the option to make completely independent merged clips right from Plural Eyes, it ‘downmixes’ (or whatever the proper technical term for it is) all the sound channels (in my case 6) into a single audio channel. I haven’t been able to figure out whether its possible to do this direct export into an independent clip from Plural Eyes but to keep all the audio channels I recorded? If not, doesn’t that limit the sound designer later on in the process, because he no longer has all the separate audio channels to mix?

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