Go to app

Getting started

This guide will cover the basics of using Playback. Before starting, you'll want to make sure you create a Playback account. If you already have an account, log in here.

Create a project

Once you log in, get started by creating your first project. Click on either of the pink "Add project" buttons (fig. 1). A form will appear prompting you to provide an audio file, shoot date, and name for your project (the artist and song title, for instance).

Fig 1. Add project buttons

Any web-ready audio formatis supported. Your file is access-controlled so only you can listen to it.

You can edit a project's name and shoot date or swap its associated audio file by opening that project from the main screen and choosing "Edit project" () in the settings menu to the right of the its name in the header.

Add blocks

Once you’ve created your project, you'll see a screen with a black play bar at the bottom. You can use the seek control to manually scrub around the song, but you can probably do that on whatever program you’re already using, too. We're here for the harder part: divvying that song up into the manageable pieces that make matching it to visuals a breeze.

Click on the pink "Add block" button at the top of the left sidebar. Two markers will show up on the play bar at the bottom of the screen. Drag these to set the in and out times for your current block.

Tip: Set marker positions on the fly by playing the song and pressing the I (in) and O (out) keys to establish your block 🚀

You can also name your block, give it a description, and add notes about the shot(s) that take place while it’s playing. Add images to your notes by dragging and dropping them into the "Notes" input. Accepted file types include PNG, JPEG, and GIF (fig. 3).

Fig 3. Drag n' drop image uploads

Tip: The notes field accepts any valid Markdown input, so you can easily add lists and use different text formatting. Click here to learn about the basics of Markdown.

If you want to delete a block, select it and press the delete icon () on the top right side of the page. You can't undo this action, so be careful!

Play a block

When you have a block selected, you'll see its time range represented as a highlighted area on the play bar. From here, you can press play and hear only the part of the song selected in that block. Once a block finishes playing, the playhead will reset itself to the beginning of the block, so you can easily re-shoot a scene by pressing play again.

Once you’ve created other blocks, you can toggle between them by pressing either of the skip buttons ( or ) on the play bar or using the arrow keys.

But wait, there's more!

Adjust the song’s speed by pressing the rate settings button () on the right side of the play bar (fig. 2). You can speed up or slow down the music to achieve cool effects. For example, if you play your song back at 200% speed, shoot a scene, and then stretch the clip out in your video editing program so that it plays at 50% speed, the artist will appear to perform in real time while the action in the background takes place in slow motion.

Fig 2. The rate and buffers buttons on the bottom right side of the play bar

Press the buffers button () to apply 3-second time buffers to the start and end of a block (fig. 2). This can be useful when you need to show the artist mid-performance at the beginning of a sound block or when you need an extra few seconds to set context for the block at hand. Plus, your extended shots offer your video editor some extra footage to work with.

Download a printable PDF of a project's blocks with their respective time cues and notes sections by selecting "Download PDF" from the settings menu () in the project page header. This can be useful for storyboarding or providing an outline of your project for the folks involved.

You can search the content of a project by using the search box () in the project page header. Add detail to your blocks' name, description, or notes so that you can easily find them later using full-text search. Select a search result to jump to the corresponding block.

Offline use

Sometimes, music videos are shot out of range of a reliable wireless network (fig. 4). Fortunately, this isn't a problem for Playback. The website is available offline, but with limited functionality. You won't be able to create, update, or delete projects or blocks, but you can view and play ones that you've already loaded on a given device. Just navigate to on your laptop, tablet, or phone, and get to work!

Fig 4. You can even use Playback in the Mojave Desert

You can also install the website as an app on your Android or iOS mobile device for quick and easy access from the home screen or app drawer.