What's one way to get a strobe flash effect in video (you know, virtually, in software) that's synchronized to the beat of a music track?

Or for that matter, how do I synchronize ANY effect with music?

  • there are many tools and plugins which will identify beats and output a trigger - some are configurable to only search for beats in particular frequency ranges, others auto-tune themselves.
    – Dr Mayhem
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 10:55
  • @DrMayhem Could you maybe name a few? Wouldn't that be sufficient as an answer? Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 14:06
  • Once I hunt down named ones -yes, but I can't do a useful search at work ;-P
    – Dr Mayhem
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Trapcode's Sound Keys will do the job:

From the promotional text:

Now it's easy to synchronize motion and sound in After Effects. With Trapcode Sound Keys, your audio-intensive animations no longer require extensive keyframing. Visually select parts of an audio track and convert them into keyframes, syncing footage with audio using amplitude or frequency ranges. Sound Keys is applied as a regular VFX effect, so you can save its settings with your project, generate keyframes into output parameters, and link keyframes to expressions. The possibilities are huge, just like the beat.

By using the generated key frames you can hook them up to almost any effect or behavior that you want.

A basic example of using this plugin to drive a few "strobes":


Assuming that you're using AE...

The old fashioned way:

  • Select your layer, hit 0 (on the numeric keypad) to do a ram preview
  • Wait till the preview is loaded into the ram
  • When the preview begins to playback, hit * (on the numeric key pad) at each beat
  • As soon as you stop playback, you'll have a marker at each beat
  • now you're ready to begin key framing according to the beats

Red Giant's - Trapcode Sound Keys is probably the best plugin out there for automating it. http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/products/all/trapcode-sound-keys/

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