Sunk by sync

Reader Craig Crossman is less-than-tickled with the way iPhoto saves slideshows as QuickTime movies. He writes:

In iPhoto, when exporting a perfectly synchronized slide show to a QuickTime movie, the images and soundtrack becomes unsynced and don’t match the original.

This is a regrettably common complaint. iPhoto slideshows sync nicely when you play them within the application, but export them as QuickTime movies or iDVD projects, and your carefully wrought slideshow can lose its way. The obvious solution is to not use iPhoto in the first place. Instead, open a new iMovie project and import your pictures as still images. (You can import multiple images by dragging a folder full of them into the clip bin or by selecting the Media tab, clicking the Photos entry, and dragging an album into the timeline.) Make the stills the length you desire and add a sound track to one of the program’s two audio tracks. When things are to your liking, export it as a QuickTime movie or send it to iDVD by choosing Share > iDVD.

And if you’ve already exported your iPhoto slideshow as a QuickTime movie and you’d rather not recreate it in another application? Drag that movie into a new iMovie project, place it in the timeline, and choose Advanced > Extract Audio. As the command’s name hints, this places the movie’s audio into a track of its own. Once in that track you can shift it in an attempt to pull it back into line. Choose File > Export, choose the QuickTime tab in the sheet that appears, and select an export setting from the Compress Movie For pop-up menu (choosing Export Settings from this pop-up menu lets you configure QuickTime to within an inch of its life).

You can do something similar with the latest version of GarageBand. Launch GarageBand, choose New Movie Score from the opening window, and, in the resulting project, drag the movie into the Video Track. The video bits will appear in the Video Track and the audio track will appear below in a Video Sound track that’s created automatically. With the two tracks now separated, you can nudge the audio track so its more in line with the movie’s video. When you’ve tightened up the timing, choose Share > Export Movie to Disk, name the movie in the resulting Export to Disk dialog box, and click Save.

If the video track has become longer or shorter than the audio track you may be able to fix it with QuickTime Pro. Open the movie and choose Window > Show Movie Properties. In the Properties window that appears select the Sound Track and click the Extract button to create a new movie that contains just the audio track. Return to that Properties window and, with Sound Track still selected, click Delete to remove the sound track. (To be on the safe side you might want to work on a copy of the original movie.)

Select the movie that now contains only the video track, press Command-A to select all of its contents, and press Command-C to copy those contents. Select the movie that contains the audio track and choose Edit > Add to Selection & Scale. This scales the video track so it begins and ends with the audio track. With luck, this will sync a stretched or shrunken video track with the audio track.

These instructions apply specifically to QuickTime Pro 7. Earlier versions of QuickTime Pro also include a Scale command, but it’s named a little differently.

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