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Supercharging PluralEyes with Keyboard Maestro

(Here's a tech post from August that never got published. It's running today to celebrate the wrap on production for Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse, pictured below.)

As the assistant editor of the sci-fi road comedy Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse, I’ve been speeding up my workflow with PluralEyes[1] . We’ve been shooting two cameras at once, and PluralEyes compares the scratch audio recorded by the cameras with the audio recorded by our sound man in order to put all three tracks in sync.

Here’s a rundown on how I start prepping a scene. After importing and labeling the footage, and grouping the audio, I lay out a rough sync map in a sequence as follows: camera A on my first video track, camera B on my second video track, and audio from the sound guy on the bottom-most audio tracks[2] . Then I sync each scene separately. If I had the entire movie delivered to me on drives, maybe I’d do this in a different order, but I’m breaking down the footage on set, while we’re shooting.

And now we start stacking our shortcut software. My favorite tool for adding keyboard shortcuts that don’t exist is Keyboard Maestro. What I like about it here is that I can run through all my scenes in PluralEyes without taking my hands off the keyboard. I created a shortcut for opening a sequence from Final Cut Pro 7[3], Cmd-Shift-f, (for Final Cut!) that lets me open a sequence from the FCP project that I have open currently.

Then comes my favorite macro. It’s so simple, but it makes everything feel so much faster. Every new PluralEyes ‘project’ resorts to the default settings, and there’s no built-in shortcut for the very handy ‘Level Audio’ menu item, so Cmd-Shift-s (for sync!) clicks the level audio button for me, and then it starts the synchronize process. 

When the sync is done and you’re ready to send it back to FCP, I use Cmd-Shift-e. This one is actually built into PluralEyes! It uses your last export settings to export without opening the dialogue window. So you do need to do a regular export (Cmd-e) once, to set it up. Here’s what I use. 

And that’s it. Open a sequence (⌘-⇧-f), choose your timeline, sync it with the leveling tool on (⌘-⇧-s), and ship it back to Final Cut (⌘-⇧-e)! Here’s a little screencast of me zipping through a scene so you can see how fast this is. 

Bonus tip!

Here’s one little extra thing I have set up. PluralEyes leaves a lot of little debris files near the media it works on, so I have a set of Hazel rules that watches my work drive and cleans up after them.

As you can see, it's actually two rules watching one folder. Here's the first one. If it finds a folder named Pluraleyes_Synctemp that I haven’t touched in an hour (which is beyond generous!), it moves that folder to the trash. 

And here's the second one. What's it's doing is checking to see if there are any subfolders and if so, running all of my rules (1. Check for PluralEyes files, 2. Check for subfolders) in them. If you had to apply the first rule to every folder that needed it individually, it would be useless. It's the recursion recipe that makes it sing!

And that's really it.  The stats show that these more tech-oriented posts are helpful to people googling their problems away, but I bet if you're here for the pithy movie reviews, they're kind of a bore. If this helps you out, leave a comment, let me know!

  1. This is to do with PluralEyes version 3. Version 2 was, in my experience, slower than syncing by hand. V3 is fast and fun to watch, when it works.  ↩

  2. For best results on the first try, I separate my audio based on how many tracks the sound guy was recording. All of the takes with just one audio track might go on A4 for instance, the takes with two audio tracks might get A5 and A6, three tracks gets A7–9, And so on. It’s better for PluralEyes to think these are separate audio recorders then one recorder that’s making a lot of mistakes.  ↩

  3. Yep, Final Cut Pro 7. Editor’s choice. These techniques are applicable to other editing software, but this is about how I sped up my own workflow while providing what my client requested. Namely, an FCP 7 project file.  ↩

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