Many things on video are more con­ve­nient to shoot on sev­er­al cam­eras at once. This allows, for exam­ple, not to make unnec­es­sary takes. In addi­tion, by glu­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly filmed plans of dif­fer­ent sizes, you can get a smoother and smoother edit­ing. How to shoot video on sev­er­al cam­eras, so that lat­er it is easy to edit, and how to orga­nize this edit­ing, we under­stand this mate­r­i­al.

Shoot­ing with mul­ti­ple cam­eras is often used / Pho­to: unsplash.com

Mul­ti-cam­era film­ing and mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing are used, for exam­ple, when film­ing pro­grams or inter­views, where you need to show one speak­er, then anoth­er. Or when shoot­ing one per­son in the frame, if lat­er it is planned to cut his per­for­mance into pieces and glue them togeth­er. This is use­ful if the speak­er makes an unpre­pared speech, stut­ters some­where.

How to shoot video for mul­ti­cam­era edit­ing
Why sync videos from dif­fer­ent cam­eras
How to sync videos from dif­fer­ent cam­eras in Adobe Pre­miere
How to sync videos from dif­fer­ent cam­eras in Plu­ralEyes
Adobe Pre­miere mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing

When shoot­ing, it can be from two cam­eras to infin­i­ty — depend­ing on the tasks. As a rule, cam­eras are placed on plans of dif­fer­ent sizes and at dif­fer­ent angles to what is hap­pen­ing. For exam­ple, if this is a talk show, one can be set to the gen­er­al plan, in which both speak­ers are vis­i­ble, and two more to the mid­dle one — in each of which one of the speak­ers will be vis­i­ble.

If this is a record­ing of a con­cert, a cook­ing show, or any oth­er video in which sev­er­al peo­ple do some­thing togeth­er, the scheme may be as fol­lows: two cam­eras on tripods, one in the hands of a per­son. One writes a gen­er­al plan in which all par­tic­i­pants can be seen, anoth­er one is direct­ed at the main par­tic­i­pant (soloist, invit­ed guest or pre­sen­ter), anoth­er one (in the hands of a per­son) catch­es close-ups: the hands of a gui­tarist, a knife in his hands, and so on.

Let’s see how it looks on the exam­ple of a clas­sic culi­nary show:

On the left are the first and sec­ond cam­eras, on the right are two frames from the third, mov­ing cam­era / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

With a com­pe­tent approach, one per­son can shoot with three cam­eras in this sit­u­a­tion.

An impor­tant point: you need to find out in advance how much video your par­tic­u­lar cam­era can con­tin­u­ous­ly record. For some DSLRs and mir­ror­less cam­eras that are not posi­tioned as cam­eras for video, these can be videos of 10–15 min­utes. If you are record­ing a long inter­view, you need to keep an eye on it and restart each cam­era in time.

Also, the length of the video that a par­tic­u­lar cam­era can record depends on its qual­i­ty. For exam­ple, Fuji­film X‑T20 can record 15 min­utes of video in Full HD, but only 10 in 4K. If you don’t take care of this, after shoot­ing you may find that you have lost most of the video from one or more cam­eras.

As a rule, this fea­ture is found in all cam­eras. The excep­tion is dif­fer­ent Pana­son­ic Lumix mod­els. They even have younger mod­els have no lim­it on the length of the video.

Next, we need to syn­chro­nize video from mul­ti­ple cam­eras. Syn­chro­niza­tion of dif­fer­ent videos goes by sound. What is man­u­al, what is auto­mat­ic — sound will always be used. There­fore, it is impor­tant that each cam­era record sound. If one of the cam­eras is far enough away from the par­tic­i­pants in the process and you are work­ing with­out a lava­lier or an addi­tion­al micro­phone, and the cam­era does not actu­al­ly hear the voic­es of the par­tic­i­pants in the show or inter­view, prob­lems may arise fur­ther. They may not arise if the work is going on in a qui­et room — a weak sound is enough for syn­chro­niza­tion, if only it were.

If one of the cam­eras is far away, you should make sure that it is not stand­ing under a hum­ming air con­di­tion­er, a loud speak­er, or that the oper­a­tor next to it is not chat­ting on the phone.

The first and most impor­tant con­di­tion for trou­ble-free mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing is the syn­chro­niza­tion of raw mate­ri­als from dif­fer­ent cam­eras. With­out this, peo­ple in the video will move their lips with­out falling into words — this is always notice­able.

You can syn­chro­nize the raw mate­r­i­al man­u­al­ly: for this you need to look at the peaks in the audio and adjust the tracks so that the peaks look par­al­lel.

These peaks look sim­i­lar. Most like­ly, if you move the bot­tom track to the right, the sound will become par­al­lel / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

In the cin­e­ma, includ­ing for syn­chro­niza­tion, crack­ers used to be used. The sharp and loud sound of the crack­er is dis­tin­guished by a sharp peak on all sound tracks, it can be used to accu­rate­ly syn­chro­nize the sound.

Flap­pers are still used, but we will try to do with­out them / Pho­to: unsplash.com

But in any case, you need to be able to work with a clap­per­board, and even with it, mak­ing accu­rate syn­chro­niza­tion man­u­al­ly is not the eas­i­est skill to mas­ter. Plus it’s long. It is bet­ter to entrust this to automa­tion, it will make syn­chro­niza­tion faster and more accu­rate.

Before syn­chro­niz­ing the video, you need to pre­pare it: to do this, you need to decom­pose the video shot by dif­fer­ent cam­eras — each into its own fold­er. Next, you need to make sure that all videos have the same res­o­lu­tion and the same frame rate — so that there are no prob­lems lat­er.

If the size or frame rate is dif­fer­ent some­where, you must first load this raw mate­r­i­al into Pre­mier sep­a­rate­ly and export it with the cor­rect set­tings. But it’s bet­ter, of course, to make sure that the set­tings are the same at the shoot­ing stage, and not waste time con­vert­ing.

You can sync videos using Adobe Pre­miere. This is con­ve­nient if you do the instal­la­tion in the same place. To begin with, we lay out the raw mate­ri­als from dif­fer­ent cam­eras on the tracks — each on its own.

On the low­est path we have a cam­era that shoots the table on which the host and guest are prepar­ing, above — a half-length plan, where you can see the peo­ple them­selves, from above — inter­rup­tions: large hands, faces, and so on / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Then select every­thing that needs to be syn­chro­nized, right-click on the selec­tion and give the com­mand Syn­chro­nize / Syn­chro­nize. Then the pro­gram does every­thing itself.

After select­ing this com­mand, a dia­log box will open in which you need to check the box Audio / Audio / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

As a rule, Pre­miere man­ages syn­chro­niza­tion quite accu­rate­ly. The only prob­lem is that it only works well with a small num­ber of videos. A video for a minute or two, con­sist­ing of three shots from three cam­eras, he will assem­ble with­out prob­lems. The speed of such an assem­bly can vary great­ly and take from a minute to 15–20 min­utes, depend­ing on the pow­er of the com­put­er. But with such a thir­ty-minute pro­gram, it may not be able to cope.

A clas­sic error that Pre­miere gives when work­ing with a large amount of mate­r­i­al. Espe­cial­ly if there are a lot of short cuts / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

In addi­tion, Pre­miere’s algo­rithms make syn­chro­niza­tion very slow and very resource-inten­sive for it. The more pow­er­ful the com­put­er, the faster the syn­chro­niza­tion will go. In addi­tion, it depends on the length of the video and the num­ber of tracks that need to be mixed. That is, if you have a large video of 30–40 min­utes, there is a good chance that Pre­miere will just crash in the mid­dle of the process.

There is an alter­na­tive soft­ware that is able to syn­chro­nize large vol­umes of videos with­out such prob­lems.

One of the most con­ve­nient tools for syn­chro­niz­ing video by sound for mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing is Red Giant Plu­ralEyes. The unequiv­o­cal advan­tages of this pro­gram: it copes with large vol­umes of video and works quick­ly. What Adobe Pre­miere will fid­dle with for half an hour, Plu­ralEyes will assem­ble in 10 min­utes. Of the minus­es: not too intu­itive inter­face and lack of Russ­ian lan­guage. The pro­gram is avail­able under a gen­er­al sub­scrip­tion to the man­u­fac­tur­er’s prod­ucts, which will cost from 3 to 5 thou­sand rubles per month, depend­ing on the tar­iff plan. There is a free tri­al ver­sion for 14 days.

The fastest and most accu­rate Plu­ralEyes works with .xml files, which means that you have to do some prepara­to­ry work in Adobe Pre­miere first. In the same way, we upload videos from dif­fer­ent cam­eras, as we did in the pre­vi­ous sec­tion — each on its own track. After that, the menu File choose a team Export — Final Cut For XML.

Next, the pro­gram will dis­play a dia­log box and ask where to save it — select the desired fold­er / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Then open Plu­ralEyes and in the menu File select item New Project from Pre­mier Pro.

Next, you will need to find your .xml file where you saved it / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Then you will have to wait a few min­utes. The pro­gram needs time to import and ren­der files with peaks. Depend­ing on the pow­er of the com­put­er and the size of the project, this can take from a minute to 10 min­utes.

When all the pieces look like those in the red frame, you can con­tin­ue to work / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photostore.Expert

When the files are ready, Plu­ralEyes may give you an error like this because some files are too short. He gives out in 8 cas­es out of 10.

You can ignore it, it will not inter­fere with fur­ther work / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Click OK and move on. It remains only to give the pro­gram a com­mand Syn­chro­nize and wait a lit­tle more.

The Syn­chro­nize but­ton is locat­ed on the top pan­el / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Typ­i­cal­ly, the syn­chro­niza­tion process takes 10–40 sec­onds. If the project is very large, it may take a cou­ple of min­utes. The syn­chro­niza­tion result looks like this: the video is decom­posed into tracks in accor­dance with the sound.

This exam­ple clear­ly shows the prob­lem that was dis­cussed in the sec­tion on shoot­ing. Some­one did not restart one of the cam­eras in time, so part of the video is lost. The edit­ing will be a bit dif­fi­cult, but thanks to the oth­er two cam­eras, this prob­lem can be over­come / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Please note that the amount of mate­r­i­al that the pro­gram can work with depends on the pow­er of your com­put­er. If Plu­ralEyes fid­dles with the merg­ing for a long time, and then gives out some kind of rub­bish, where all the pieces of the video are mixed up, then you gave it too much.

As a rule, such prob­lems arise only with very large vol­umes of raw mate­ri­als — when it is, for exam­ple, a record­ing of a sem­i­nar for 6–8 hours.

To solve this prob­lem, you have to do this:

  • divide the raw mate­r­i­al into two approx­i­mate­ly equal parts — divide the files from each cam­era in half;
  • cre­ate two projects in Pre­miere, each from its own half;
  • repeat every­thing that we talked about in this sec­tion from the very begin­ning twice — once for each half.

If every­thing went well, you need to export the result in order to trans­fer it to Adobe Pre­miere, where we will mount it. It is impos­si­ble to mount in Plu­ralEyes, this is a high­ly spe­cial­ized soft­ware that is designed specif­i­cal­ly for syn­chro­niza­tion by sound. To export, click on the Export Time­line icon on the top pan­el.

In the dia­log box that appears, click Export again / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Plu­ralEyes has one unpleas­ant fea­ture: it does not allow you to choose a direc­to­ry for sav­ing the file and likes to save it to a place where Makar did not dri­ve the calves. For some rea­son, pro­gram­mers solved this prob­lem in a strange way — they offer to show where the file is merged. We show the mag­ic but­ton on the screen below.

If you click on this blue but­ton, the pro­gram will show where it saved our file / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

Next, open Adobe Pre­miere and open our file in it through the menu File/File — there we select a team Open Project and choose what Plu­ralEyes cre­at­ed. The result in Pre­miere looks like this:

All video frag­ments are arranged so as to be shown in par­al­lel / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Pre­miere has a spe­cial mode for work­ing with mul­ti-cam­era footage. To open it, you have to do a few things. First, select every­thing in the time­line (click on the time­line, then press Ctrl+A), right-click on it and select the com­mand Nest/Embed.

Next, in the sequence dia­log box, you will need to give a name. It does not mat­ter much, you can give any / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

Next, you need to right-click on the green bar of the built-in sequence to bring up the menu, and select Mul­ti Cam­era / Mul­ti-cam­era trans­fer — Enable / Enable:

Adobe Pre­miere inter­face in the process of enabling mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

That’s not all. Now we need to switch the video pre­view to the mul­ti-cam­era dis­play mode. To do this, right-click on the frame, call up the menu and select the com­mand Dis­play Mode / Mul­ti-Cam­era / Mul­ti-cam­era trans­mis­sion.

That’s it, you can start mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

If you did every­thing right, the pre­view will be divid­ed into sev­er­al cells, each of which will show video from one of the cam­eras.

Fur­ther, mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing is very sim­ple: start video play­back and switch between cam­eras using the but­tons 1, 2, 3, 4 on the key­board. Pre­miere will auto­mat­i­cal­ly cut the video after each switch. That is, it will cut off pieces accord­ing to the time­code after each switch to a new cam­era. Then you can con­tin­ue to work with these frag­ments as with any video in Pre­miere: crop, stretch more over the edge, swap, and so on.

The time­line shows the moments where we switched the cam­era / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Photosklad.Expert

If you want to change the cam­era in an already cut frag­ment, you need to stop play­back, click on the desired frag­ment and press the but­ton, 1, 2, 3 or 4 on the key­board to select the desired cam­era.

Such edit­ing is sim­i­lar to work­ing at the remote con­trol dur­ing a live broad­cast / Illus­tra­tion: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

This method has one big draw­back: if the com­put­er is not too pow­er­ful, the pro­gram may freeze. Espe­cial­ly if you do not have two cam­eras, but three or four, and they all record­ed video in high res­o­lu­tion.

If you can­not work in mul­ti­cam­era mode, you can work direct­ly on the time­line, crop­ping and shift­ing unnec­es­sary frag­ments. In any case, it is much more con­ve­nient to work when all video frag­ments are syn­chro­nized. So, for exam­ple, we get rid of the need to con­stant­ly mon­i­tor the phase of move­ment and adjust the pieces so that the move­ments look smooth — the automa­tion has already done every­thing for us.

For mul­ti-cam­era edit­ing, all the same tech­niques are used as for edit­ing from a sin­gle cam­era:

  • Alter­nate wide, medi­um and close-ups. Do not glue two com­mon or two large ones to each oth­er.
  • Show close-ups where nec­es­sary: ​​where some­thing is hap­pen­ing in the frame. For exam­ple, a per­son cuts an onion or tastes a ready-made dish. It makes no sense to show a large face if the per­son is just silent and look­ing at the cut­ting board.
  • Use the size change where you need to cut out a piece of video — if the speak­er stum­bles or just noth­ing hap­pens for a long time. This makes instal­la­tion smoother.
  • Try to make plans no longer than 10 sec­onds so that the view­er does not get bored.