adamllis: Study of Syncing


I just thought this needed to be here, as so many ET moviemakers overlook the most powerful aspect of a gaming movie, syncing. I recommend everyone have a read, and start employing different kinds of sync, rather than just micro-syncing the effects to the music and giving us a boring movie.


Syncing, the interaction or relationship between the onscreen action and the musical track, is one of the most common non-video-based effect used in vids. Sycning that is done well somehow draws the viewer into the movie like nothing else. It is one of the more difficult techniques, but proper syncing can add power to any movie. I am a huge fan of good syncing, and I have tried to discover where its power comes from.

From my observations, I have classified the different types of syncing that appear in gaming movies (and other vids) into four different groups, which I call micro, mini, macro, and mood.

This is the most obvious syncing technique to the viewer. Micro syncing would be the use of many very short scenes or clips, each lined up with one beat in the song per clip. So for every beat in a fast part of a song, the editor would have a unique scene or picture displayed from the time the beat begins until right before the next beat sounds. Usually this technique is used to show small pieces of what's to come, since the clips are so short they don't add much to the vid. Often micro syncing leaves the viewer slightly overwhelmed by the flood of visual images and begins to draw the viewer into the vid.

Examples of Micro Syncing:
Insane by Zale: The intro has some nice micro syncing, leaves the viewer wanting more.
CPMA done by VoO by VoO: Around 7:45 is unique idea. He shows the same gib about 5 times from different angels, then leads into a new scene, all with quality micro syncing.
AnnhilatioN by own-age: Very nice, very quick micro syncing throughout.

This is what most people think about when they hear the word “syncing.” Mini syncing would be syncing an event or multiple events to music in a single scene. In micro syncing, the scene is not shown to its entirety, but in mini syncing the scene is shown completely. When only one event is synced, it’s cool but it’s not that cool. When two or more events are synced, that’s when the magic happens.

Mini syncing leaves the viewer pondering: “how did they make it fit with the music like that? did it really happen perfectly like that?” Often, in order to have the maximum syncing potential, the editor slightly adjusts the speed of the content differently throughout the scene. If it goes too fast or too slow, the flow of the vid can suffer. Mini syncing is what people remember; they can feel it coming when they watch the vid again.

Examples of Mini Syncing:
QHLAN by TheBeast and Jebur: Probably has some of the longest mini syncing scenes ever made, thanks to a fast game (QuakeWorld), fast music (JockJams), and a very creative mind.
Get Quaked by Joka: Some good mini syncing at 2:14 and throughout.
AnnhilatioN by own-age: This vid has the most impressive mini syncing to this day, and a large part of the vid's power can be attributed to it.

This technique is the most subtle of all the syncing techniques, and in some vids, it’s almost subconscious. What I mean is that macro syncing affects the viewer even without his knowledge. Macro syncing requires a dynamic song, one that has long ups and downs in its pace and sound, like a wave. Drum and Base does not usually have this type of flow. Also this syncing is bests with a game that has quick movement. Macro syncing is the interaction between the speed of the music and the speed of the visual image. This syncing takes place inside scenes in two different ways (at least that I have identified).

The first way is the physical movement of the player. When the player suddenly moves quickly through the level (or whatever) and the music suddenly changes pace, then that is macro syncing.

The other kind replaces the movement of the player with the movement of the visual image via mouse sensitivity. A player with a higher sensitivity looks around a lot more than a player with a lower sensitivity. This quick viewing creates a sense of speed that can easily increase the flow of the vid, and if it’s synced to music it is especially intense.

Examples of Macro Syncing:
GZ Done Extreme by some Russian dudes: Starting at 3:00, the music begins to slow done as we see some recams, then suddenly the scene changes and the player fires off a rocket jump script and flies forward just as the music picks back up again. Ahh, so beautiful.
Redemption by Vash: In the second half of the vid, as the color comes in and the game sound comes in (which is awesome), the music is picking up, and after we get game sound, we see a fight in a big room where the player is fighting off multiple enemies and shooting all around him rapidly. Hardcore macro syncing.

This type of syncing is similar to macro. It also is not very obvious on the first watch. Mood syncing would be when a scene has some degree of urgency or suspense, and the music also has a thrilling sound to it only at that part of the scene. The event is not one frag and is not expressed through one beat. Doing this with individual scenes is not very difficult, but doing macro syncing inside of a long scene is very impressive and powerful.

Examples of Mood Syncing:
AnnhilatioN by own-age: At the end of the first song when it goes all slowmo-ish, and he brings in scenes that all are very close games, the music fits perfectly because the mood has intensified.
Team Fortress Done Extreme 2 by Twisted: The "Offense" scene has some of the most interesting syncing I have ever seen, and the best mood syncing I have seen. Every important flag steal is complimented by a suspenseful and intense part of the song. Great work there. You have to watch many, many times to get all the syncing.

These four types of syncing are not the only ones. Screen flashing, another common type of syncing, was not covered here since it requires editing the footage, while the four I mentioned can be done simply by timing the footage, which I think is more powerful of an effect. Also, there are plenty of examples that are mixes or variations of the types I mentioned, but I think the four main types are those I pointed out (and named :] ).

Anyway, thanks for reading. Please post your comments on what you think makes syncing so powerful. :)


Have fun.
Good idea to put this here.
to sum up...simply watch annhilation 1000 times and copy as much as you can from it :X
I find it gets rather stale after the first track these days.
I usually stop watching at the Chataeu section now.
However the manson song at the start and its syncing is pure brilliance. I agree the rest can get dull
Old but pretty good
You could have tried to replace the movies with decent ones.
decent or at least recent
QuoteAnnhilatioN by own-age: This vid has the most impressive mini syncing to this day

"this day" is few years ago

The funny thing is, it is even valid to THIS VERY DAY.

No movie has rivaled AnnhilatioN in mini syncing, some have come close, but none have hit the level that own-age did.
the choice of music additionally to the kind of frags in quake 3 made this kind of syncimg easy to be accomplished, whereas the other sorts of sync seemed to have been left out mostly. recent movies on a top level however tried to mix them and therefor achieved higher level of comfort to watch imo
shows what moviemaking is nowadays, this has to be told with a tutorial :p
nicely written btw
Very interesting, but are there any tutorials how syncing is being made actually?

E.g. "syncing for dummies" :<
read the text its mentioned in there
omg u stole the article from ownage! :/
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