PluralEyes Discontinued – Pioneer in Syncing Videos Based on Waveforms

February 13th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 17
PluralEyes Discontinued - Pioneer in Syncing Videos Based on Waveforms

PluralEyes, whose sole purpose was to sync audio to video, is being retired or entering into a ‘limited maintenance mode’, in corporate speak. But we will remember PluralEyes with fondness as it gave thousands of new content creators the ability to make lots of stuff. We look back at how it all started and why it’s coming to an end.

PluralEyes had a simple message which chimed with thousands of content creators. Image credit: Maxon

PluralEyes was launched in 2009 and it’s no coincidence that Canon’s 5D Mark II came out at around the same time. The MKII wasn’t designed as an audio product (although it did have a scratch audio track) but an imaging one with its full frame sensor creating creamy and beautiful footage. The camera became a no-budget music video creator’s favorite, but the only problem was synching the track with the video in the edit.

Almost like magic and without knowing anything about timecode, you could import footage and audio into FCP and access PluralEyes as a plug-in. Hit synchronize and watch your timeline shuffle together like a well-drilled line of soldiers; the DSLR video revolution had begun.

Of course, you could get synch by nudging your video around and using the shark fin-shaped clap you had shot at the start of the track but PluralEyes saved you so much time to carry on creating. And it only cost $149 from a small software company called Singular. Using hand claps was not always ideal, especially in documentary or animal behavior scenarios but also felt a little amateurish. (Editing this way will also drive you crazy.)

How did PluralEyes work?

The software cleverly matched up waveforms to attain sync, which is something you can manually do and did before PluralEyes turned up. But the software also worked in Multicam timelines, especially if you didn’t have working timecode. You have to use the audio you are getting from the camera; for instance, the small and low-quality electret microphone in the Canon 5D MKII was mostly good enough to create a waveform that PluralEyes could recognize but add in some loud ambient sound and you could have problems. Usually, people used a dual audio system with a separate recorder.

The great thing with the software was that it would synch everything up even if you’d stopped and started your recorder. If it couldn’t synch up tracks it would put those in a separate timeline for you to figure out; usually, this was B roll and similar wild tracks for other use.

Singular Software was also prolific in their software updates and all of the NLEs were happy to have their synch abilities on their timelines through the plug-in or extension route. The company was soon able to offer corrected sync over longer runs when recorded on inaccurate recorders. Correcting sync drift on longer clips was something even much more expensive recorders couldn’t do.

Their version 4 software was a major user interface design and was pared down to the most important jobs – we just wanted sync! See the video below.

Why is PluralEyes coming to an end?

The German software developer Maxon bought up Red Giant, the previous developer of PluralEyes, in 2020. They have stated that technical support and critical bug fixes will end on February 1st, 2024. This announcement from Maxon explains their thinking behind the slow death of the software but it’s also surprisingly honest.

“PluralEyes pioneered automatically syncing sound, providing video editors with fast and accurate capabilities when limited other options were available. These capabilities are now standard in most modern video editing tools.”

– Maxon

For those users of the software, Maxon at least point them in the direction of new types of sync software within NLEs, “Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer all natively include syncing sound by waveform.” This is to say, the big editing companies eventually caught up with PluralEyes and developed their own waveform sync abilities. Maxon fails to say that the functionality of the syncing tools in these NLE’s in usually much more rudimentary compared to what PluralEyes was able to do.

However, we are not grumbling about corporate decisions and realize that all (good) things must come to an end.

But it’s true that in the content creation sphere PluralEyes will always be thought of as an important enabling tool for many non-technical and technical creators whose only urge was to produce programming.

And just to prove that PluralEyes was culturally relevant to those people, look at the video below and see history repeating itself with reference to the OG.

It would be great to hear from users of PluralEyes about how the software helped you out and how much you’ll miss it. Let us know in the comment section below.


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