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How do people here go about check sync?

I work a lot with animation and either get an OMF from the editor or Tracklay cut the dialogue for me. This would all be done to a crappy sized H264 Quicktime. I use it to mix and review a show (using a Mojo to a CRT TV.

Now I get a DNxHD Quicktime from the online editors here and play this back on my computer monitor (removing the QT offset) and watch a show before putting it to tape to ensure I'm perfectly in sync and check for any final picture changes.

Sadly I can't watch back 24p from the HDCAM-SR deck as my TV can't cope and this work around has convinced management not to fork out for some nice HD monitors for the mix studios.

I appreciate that sync is pretty easy to check with live action, but I've come to learn that in animation it can be fairly subjective especially when it's traditional animation and not photo-realistic along the lines of Pixar.

I'm fairly happy with this workflow but I'm curious how other people check for sync, if they do at all?

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It may also be good to make sure your system is calibrated/offset properly. Here's a nice device to do so: http://www.syncheck.com/

  • We do that every year to make sure we're all still good. Cheers anyway. Plus the whole facility is locked to a black and burst generator that feeds all the mix studios, online edit suites and all the tape decks. – ianjpalmer Aug 19 '10 at 13:38
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Many Times in animation you get a bad match between what the actor is saying and what the visuals are showing. In theory they should be a perfect match since the the animators had the actors performance prior to doing the drawings, but many things conspire against this. Rewrites and time being the biggest barriers. A line has to be changed for some reason (legal, plot development, the scene it is referencing was cut ect.) and then there is no time to re-animate the lips and a new line is plugged in in an ugly way. If you are confident your system is all in sync and do regular checks, then all you can do is your best to get it to look as spot on as possible. Playing back at half speed is a good trick for sure. I find in the situations where you can not make it work perfectly that the most important sync point is the start of the lip movement, I find our brains are way more forgiving of things not looking right at the end of a line then at the beginning of it. Also always err on the side of late rather then early, that really screws up the viewer when they hear someone's voice even a half frame early while they tend to not notice if it is up to two frames late.

But basically I think you are doing everything exactly right. So just keep up the high level of QC and you should be good. I am currently working on a japanese animation and doing the english dialog edit. There are some real lip sync challenges I am facing, so I feel your pain. The battle rages on.....

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You've gone long enough without an answer! :)

All I can do is share my experience, albiet less than authoritative. I've worked on only a couple of animated films, so take this as you may, but the way I ensure sync is to check the head and tail pops from the OMF against the picture. If those are in sync, then whatever is in between is good to go for me. At that point I'm free to design whatever works against the picture, knowing that so long as my pops stay in sync with their pops I'll be OK in the final mix.

Is that too simplistic?

  • It's more complicated than what I do which is watch like a hawk and replay at half-speed if I'm not sure. I guess my main problem with animation is that the lip sync doesn't perfectly match the dialogue from the actors. Sometimes it looks off when it's just bad animation. Cheers for the answer though, was feeling ignored ;) – ianjpalmer Aug 19 '10 at 8:41
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First, I don't use h264 videos in Pro Tools to determine any kind of sync.

Also, if you are using the Syncheck device, test every codec / frame rate combination that you use. They provide you with numerous test videos of different codecs and frame rates. Most will fall into a 1-2 frame ballpark of each other. However, some tax the system more heavily ( like those DNxHD files) and require a shift of 4-5 additional 1/4 frames.

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