animating to sound

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  04 April 2013
animating to sound

I'm having an issue with animating to sound. I've loaded a 48k, 16-bit stereo aif file onto null object's soundtrack. With the waveform displayed, i'll run the animation and I'll notice that the audio skips (either forward or backward, I can't really tell) much like a cd player would.

I'm thinking it's to resync itself after drifting? All I know is that when the playhead hits definitive peaks in the waveform, the sound is clearly out of sync. My timings seem to be on as I'm handkeying to certain sections, but when I playback from the start, they are off as the sound tries to resync.

Does anyone else experience this and if so what are your workarounds? I'm trusting the waveform at this point as a hit point reference but obviously would love a correctly synced audio track as well.

Running Mac 10.8.2 & C4D 14.034

Thanks in advance
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  04 April 2013
The sync is definitely tied to viewport playback and the overall heaviness of a scene. Simplifying makes a big difference in taxing the system less and staying in sync: disable all textures, solo only the portion needing animation in the object manager, use constant shading (line) in viewport, etc.

My scene is pretty average in size/heaviness but doing the above helps tremendously with regard to sound/scene playback sync and workflow in general.

Hope this helps others
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  04 April 2013
Happens if the scene takes longer to redraw than the allocated timeslot allows. E.g. if your scene is running at 25 frames per second, the redraw must be finished in less then 1/25th second to "keep up". If it doesn't, the drawing of the viewport will lag behind, the audio will be ahead. Once that happens, the audio jumps back to where the video currently is, and the sound will repeat.

(I don't actually know how far ahead the audio must be for this to happen; seems to be more than one frame.)

To sync with audio, you need to uncheck the option "All frames". Then the audio will take the lead, and if the video lags behind because the scene is heavy, it will skip a frame to catch up. Of course, you may miss an important frame because of that, but the general timing is easier to judge.
(And the sound is less jarring, too...)
  04 April 2013
Good stuff Cairyn! Thanks for the under the hood explanation and workflow tip!
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  04 April 2013
I find that aiff is not ideal. C4D seems to be much happier with .wav files, and I would also recommend a lower bit rate. Just add back in the higher def sound once animation is complete.
  04 April 2013
Hmm.. well most of the time, when animating to sound, you are going to orchestrate movements to coincide with downbeats in the music. I find it's pretty easy to see where these events happen just by looking at the waveform, unless the song is compressed to the hilt, and has no real dynamic.

The same is true of animating to VO. It isn't hard to see the words in the waveform, and one needn't have smooth scrubbing to be able to narrow things down.

So, my suggestion when working with audio is to use your eyes. It has served me well for 3D content, After Effects work (where working with audio is even worse than in Cinema), and even in Final Cut or Premiere which deal with scrubbing audio just fine. For me, it still all comes down to those tell-tale peaks in the waveform display.
Mac Pro 12 x 2.6 GHz 64GB Quadro K5000
OSX 10.10.4
MacBook Pro 4 x 2.3GHz 16GB GeForce GT 750M
OSX 10.10.5
C4D R18 Studio/CC/VizRT
Will's Works
  04 April 2013
You can always do it the way the old animators did it, figure out the BPM of the music, then use that to figure out how many frames apart things should happen so that they land on (or off) the beats.

Nice little app here that simplifies that process :
Or you can figure it out using :
ie 120 BPM at 24 FPS = 12 beat (key poses 12 frames apart will match up).


Last edited by Horganovski : 04 April 2013 at 10:11 PM.
  04 April 2013
don't use 48K audio in C4D. I always use a 44.1 K audiofile. No sync problems that way.
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by demafleez: Does anyone else experience this and if so what are your workarounds? I'm trusting the waveform at this point as a hit point reference but obviously would love a correctly synced audio track as well.

Do you have soundkeys for AE? If so, try running the audio through that, and using the neat filtering to pick out the exact frequencies. Push them out to a data track and bring in the keyframes to Cinema; that way you can get a much clearer view of the bass or whatever, by looking at the fcurves, with much less guesswork when timing stuff up.

Also I've been using Marker Manager from Bret Bays - really nice plugin lets you punch out timeline markers without fuss to sync to.

Plus turning off 'All Frames' is crucial, as mentioned.

Cheers! C
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  07 July 2013

I think that Horganovsky and Demafleez probably talks about two different things. If Demafleez have problem only with sound lags in animation playing then workaround with temporary sound quality lowering will be good. But if problem is general with animating to sound and if sound is music then Horganovsky's solution is necessary. Then subject is more complex. If you are interested in problem: please read my article about it: Mathematical synchronization of image and sound in an animated film

Article isn't related strictly with Cinema 4D, but solutions which I described can be applied in this software.
Good luck!
  07 July 2013
Interesting article, thanks for the link.

Where it gets really messy is when you are animating lipsync. A lot of people say that the animation should lead the sound by a frame or two overall so that it reads correctly, which would be nice and simple.. but I believe in reality it's more complicated than that as it's really only certain sounds like 'B' or 'P' where the mouth has to open before we actually hear the sound, so the typical closed/puckered lips for 'B' and 'P' definitely have to hit before the sound, but not all sounds follow this 'rule' so neatly.

Then there's the fun where you spend a lot of time finessing your lipsync animation so that it looks spot on on your machine, upload it to Vimeo and realize that their compression has knocked it out of sync again.. arrgh!! LOL

  07 July 2013
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