How to Sync Audio and Video Sources

Nothing turns off viewers faster than a video with bad audio. If you are recording with a mobile device or lower-end camera, they...

Nothing turns off viewers faster than a video with bad audio.
If you are recording with a mobile device or lower-end camera, they will most likely have very poor built-in mics that are designed to pick up a wide pattern of sound.

Unless you have a higher-end camera that has a built-in shotgun mic, you are going to want to consider recording audio separately from your video.
This means that you’ll need to learn how to sync audio files and video clips in your video editing process.

You may think you need complex programs like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated. A little bit of knowledge and a simple-to-use video editor like TechSmith Camtasia will go a long way.

Free Video Course: Learn everything you need to know with our free TechSmith Academy course, Basics: Syncing Audio and Video.

Step 1: Record Your Audio

Getting quality audio is crucial for your video to be successful. In addition to a good microphone, you’ll need an audio recorder to capture your sound. Your microphone will plug into the audio recorder, and capture at a higher quality than an on-camera microphone. More expensive  audio recorders use XLR cables while more affordable brands will use ⅛” jacks (the same as a standard headphone jack), so make sure you have the right cords for your device.

A few of the sound recorders that we recommend are:
photo of Zoom H4N pro digital multi track recorder from AmazonZoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder

  • Four channel recording
  • Built-in microphone
  • XLR InputsPrice = approximately $220

Zoom H1n handy recorder photo from amazon
Zoom H1n Handy Recorder

  • Built-in Microphone
  • ⅛” Microphone Input
  • Price = approximately $120

Tascam DR 05 photo from AmazonTASCAM DR 05

  • Built-in Microphone
  • ⅛” Microphone Input
  • Price = approximately $110

Tascam DR 40 photo from AmazonTASCAM DR 40

  • Four channel recording
  • Built-in microphone
  • XLR Inputs
  • Price = approximately $180

These are just a few options- there are many more on the market that you could look into as well.

As a best practice, you’ll want to get as close as possible to the subject to capture clearer sound. Your sound will degrade exponentially the further you are away.

Now you’re ready to record your audio clips.
*Pro tip- At the beginning of your recording, use the ‘clap method’. Clap your hands once on camera with the audio recording right before you start the scripted or planned content you want to record. We’ll tell you why later.

Step 2: Import Audio

Now that you’ve got your audio recorded, you’ll need to import your audio file, and your video file into your video editing software and start syncing clips.

You can import your audio and video tracks independently. Then, simply drag each clip onto your timeline.

Step 3: Sync audio with video

The most difficult part of syncing audio with video is actually lining up your audio and video tracks in the timeline. We will show you how to do this in Camtasia, which has a zoom function to help you line up your audio and video tracks.

You’ll want to make sure that you can scrub through the timeline at frame by frame basis. To do this, zoom all the way in!

This is where your clap comes in. This is an old trick that will create a spike in your audio .wav file so that when you later import your audio file into your video editing software, you will be able to see where you started recording. You may have even seen this method used in big Hollywood productions when they use a clapboard. The clapboard is used to give editors the visual marker, while the sound produced by the clap (the spike) provides the audio marker.
image of a clapboard
On your timeline, you will see an audio spike in the .wav file, and in the video you should see your clapboard or hands clapping. This will allow you to sync the video with the audio!
screenshot of Camtasia
If you forgot to include a clap or cue, you can manually find the starting points, note down the times, and drag them into alignment with each other.

Step 4: Celebrate!

person jumping in celebration
You did it! You recorded, imported, and synced your audio and video clips on the timeline. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trimming the ends and exporting, other times you have a lot more editing still to do.

Now you’re ready for what’s next, which could be transitions, adding captions, adding b-roll, merging clips – the editing options are endless for you to make your video as polished as you’d like!

Want to learn more? Our free TechSmith Academy course, Basics: Syncing Audio and Video, will walk you through the process.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Andy Owen

Andy Owen is the Video Production Specialist at TechSmith.

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