Multicam Follow-Up

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the December, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]



Eric Wrate has been taking me to task over my recent webinar on multiclips. Here is a summary of his concerns:

[Larry’s webinar] suffers from the problems so many tutorials I come across. The illustrated part DOES NOT START AT THE BEGINNING.


1. In setting up a Multicam, it is necessary to start right from importing the material from the camera. Not having it pre set up, so that most people do not understand how you arrived there. You ignore that fact that you start the demo with pre-loaded – pre-set up clips – all the same length and all with Time Code.


2. Also, most people are NOT using Time Code, so the set up you describe is of little help.


3. Also, you do not deal with this situation:. Camera 1, runs non stop – but Camera 2 stops and starts through out the shoot (as happens on most shoots).


I think you need to issue an amended tutorial to anybody that has purchased your Webinar.

Larry replies: Eric, thanks for writing. My excuse is that I only had an hour for the webinar and the only video clips I had to work with had matching timecode. So, let me see if I can answer your questions here in this article.

First, a bit of background. In order to create a multiclip in Final Cut Pro, all the clips in it MUST match for codec, frame rate, and image size. They must also contain continuous, uninterrupted timecode.

So, the answer to your third question — how do you create a multiclip where one camera is running continuously, but the second camera starts and stops?– is that you can not. Final Cut does not support it.

However, there is a great utility called PluralEyes, from Singular Software, that solves this problem by aligning clips in the Timeline based upon their audio. In order to use PluralEyes, all cameras must record audio with their video. PluralEyes then matches the audio to align the clips.

You can find out more about PluralEyes by visiting their website:

For more information, I created a webinar tutorial on using PluralEyes, along with other new software, which you can download here.


Your first two questions are harder, and both relate to the same subject: how do I setup a multiclip?

First, for those interested in reviewing the beginning of the webinar, you can watch an introductory video here. This explains the basics of multiclips.

Next, you don’t need to do anything special when capturing a clip that will become a multiclip. The KEY is that all the clips match, technically. it makes no difference if you use File > Log & Capture, or File > Log & Transfer, or File > Import.

Specifically, all clips in a multiclip must:

However you do it, you need to get all your clips loaded into Final Cut Pro.

There are five ways you can synchronize the clips in a multiclip:

* By setting a common In
* By setting a common Out
* By matching the timecode on the timecode track
* By matching the timecode on auxiliary timecode track 1
* By matching the timecode on auxiliary timecode track 2

Since the last three options all require timecode, and because I showed how that’s done in the webinar, we will ignore them for this article.

As I mentioned in the webinar, one of the critical elements you need to think about prior to production is determining how you want to get your multiclips in sync.

Timecode is used when you are originating from a remote truck. However, for many lower-budget productions, we need Plan B.

For productions where your crew can be seen, a clapper slate is ideal. Have all your cameras start recording, and shoot a common slate to provide an audio and visual sync point you can use later in editing.

Where your crew can’t be seen, a simple flash camera generates a short burst of light that can be used for sync.

The key is to have all your cameras recording and pointing at the same thing to use for sync.

NOTE: In those situations where all cameras don’t start recording at the same time, and can’t shoot a sync point, you can use a tail slate, or clap, or camera flash at the end. Then set a common Out to use as a reference.

It is critically important that once cameras start rolling, they don’t stop recording until the performance is done. Since multiclips do not support breaks in timecode, as soon as they stop, they drop out of the multiclip. If they MUST stop and start, then you will need to use PluralEyes for sync and you won’t be able to use multiclips.

Once you’ve recorded the sync point, you need to set a common In. The easiest, and best, way to do this is to load each clip into the Viewer, find the sync point and set an In. (Or an Out, if you are syncing after the event is over.)

Clips loaded from the Browser into the Viewer retain the In or the Out when they go back to the Browser.

So, the steps are:

1. Ingest your clips as appropriate, using Log & Transfer, Log & Capture, or File > Import.
2. Load each clip into the Viewer and set an In, or Out, at the sync point.
3. Select all the clips you want to build into a multiclip in the Browser
4. Select Modify > Make Multiclip.

At this point, the rest of my webinar is exactly the same.

Hope this helps.

UPDATE – Dec. 31, 2010

Jim Clark writes:

Another great newsletter and thanks! In the section on multiclips, you say:

“So, the answer to your third question — how do you create a multiclip where one camera is running continuously, but the second camera starts and stops?– is that you can not. Final Cut does not support it.”

Well, if you’re using tape cameras and shooting a performance that’s longer than the length of the tape, then you will wind up with time code breaks. We use headsets to direct each camera when to change tapes so there is always two cameras recording. But that doesn’t stop you from using the multiclip function. Here’s how I do it.

– you need a continuous audio track for reference that has no breaks in it. You can use whatever record device you want for this that will capture high quality sound without any breaks.


– put all of the clips into a FCP sequence with each camera taking a track. There will be a break in the video in each track where the tape change occured


– put the reference audio into the same sequence


– synch all the video to the reference track. you will wind up with some breaks in the video when tapes are being changed, but that’s not a problem


– export each of the synch’ed video tracks as a QT file. there will be black video in sections where the tape was being changed, that will appear as just black in the multiclip


– re -import all of the video tracks and they will be synched to the reference track and ready to convert into a multiclip

I’ve done this many times and it solves the problem of timecode breaks.

Larry replies: Thanks, Jim. This is a great way to solve the timecode break problem. Also, when it comes to aligning clips, PluralEyes is worth adding to your workflow.

UPDATE – JAN. 1, 2011

Philip Hodgetts reminds me:

Sync-N-Link, from Intelligent Assistance, will do the same for those with matching timecode; discontinuous clip support was a customer request.

Larry replies: Thanks, Philip. I totally forgot about that software.

UPDATE — Jan. 5, 2011

Ed Grogan adds:

Read comments on multiclips.

  1. Have been doing multiclip since I got FCP. Actually bought it for that purpose. I shoot with 2 or more cameras.
  2. I can edit using multiclip when camera stops and starts. I just make the first clip as a multiclip. Cut the timeline when the camera restarts and insert a new multiclip based on the new starting point.
  3. The thing I do differently is if I have three cameras, I have at least 6 channels of audio available so my project have multiple audio channels. In fact a show I did in August had 16 channels of audio with 3 video tracks. Multicam does not do well with this but I do have an efficient workflow that makes this a non problem.
  4. Pluraleyes has two problems that I will address with them (based on 3 above). If camera 1 and camera 2 are visually on sync but if track one-camera 1’s audio if from a mic on the talent and track one-camera 2’s audio is from a shotgun mic 60 feet away, the sound between the two mics is offset by two frames. (speed of sound about 1050 fps) Pluraleyes will sync the two clip using the sound and the video will be off by these two frames. I have a fix for this which I will discuss with them at NAB.

Larry replies: Ed, thanks for sending this.


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