Sync Cubase to external video playback

Hey, guys.

I enjoy YouTube interview videos with composers who use Cubase in scoring for picture, and very often see their studio set up with a big screen TV up on the wall with the picture they’re scoring to, and then their DAW running on a computer monitor by their keyboard / desk / etc.

While he’s using a different DAW, this interview about Jeff Russo writing for Star Trek: Discovery illustrates the kind of setup I’m talking about.

I know that Cubase has a popup window for video playback, but I haven’t found much on the web about how people set up these external systems. Perhaps computer A is doing video playback HDMI out to the large monitor on the wall and then somehow that’s synced to computer B running Cubase and its computer monitor. Not sure what the appropriate gear would be for that kind of thing.

If you have this sort of external video playback in your studio and wouldn’t mind talking a bit about your setup I’d love to get some ideas.


There are two popular ways of doing this in the film industry.

  1. Use protools to run picture and/or print stems into. You can have PT receive Midi Timecode (MTC) from Cubase. Last time I setup a system like this was years ago and it worked, but was tricky to setup and was kinda cumbersome. Maybe it’s gotten better since then.

  2. The second option is to use a program called VideoSlave on either your main computer or a second computer. This is what I use and it’s great. Much easier to setup and very easy to use. It’s also cheaper than PT, but you can’t print stems into it.

Thanks for the suggestions, most appreciated. I checked out VideoSlave but I run in a Windows environment and it appears to be Mac only. Have also checked to see if VLC will sync to timecode but no joy there, either.

Anyone else have solutions that are working for you in Windows?

I think he is just sync’ing two DAWs, or running a video editor that has sync.
There are many ways to sync DAWs and Video. It can easily be done with midi.

Other than using midi, it can also be done with SMPTE.

I use an old MOTU that I bought years back MTP/AV midi timepiece.

Rewire can also be used, and there are other software solutions available.

I think google might be your friend… “syncing daws on different machines”, or similar.

Thanks, man. After following the trail for VideoSlave, I did indeed find a solution. And while free wasn’t a requirement, it’s nice that it was. There’s a Windows program called VidPlayMTC that’'s based on ffmpeg, which I found at, and it does exactly what I was looking for.

For any Windows folks who are interested, here’s the tweaking process I went through to get it working properly.

I have a dual monitor setup in my office (which has a UR22 audio / midi interface), so I used that to see if this solution would play nice with Cubase. My first problem was routing MIDI. Sadly, the venerable MidiOx Midi Yoke loopback program only works with 32 bit apps. Since I plan on running video on a second computer anyway, I just ran a jumper cable between the MIDI in and out on the UR22. If you’re planning on using a single computer, dual monitor setup for this, you’ll either need to find some other loopback program or physically loop your MIDI device.

From there it was a matter of playing around, making some mistakes, and ultimately finding the path to wisdom. VidPlayMTC requires an audio output device whether you want to hear the video’s audio or not. I found that I had to start Cubase first and then VidPlayMTC or the latter would hold the driver and Cubase wouldn’t be able to open it. Starting with Cubase, then starting VidPlayMTC worked fine.

On the Cubase project sync setup, I had enabled both MIDI Clock and MTC. VidPlayMTC supports both, and this was causing some sync glitches. Once I unchecked MIDI Clock and left it with MTC, it worked pretty well. In my setup, the latency between when I press stop on Cubase and when the video stops is about 0:0:400, which makes sense given that I’m travelling down wires and back again. Overall it feels pretty responsive.

One of the nice things about using physical loopback for a test is that this exactly emulates the setup I’ll be using in the control room with two computers. All in all a nice solution, and the fact that it’s free makes it that much better.

Many thanks for everyone sharing their thoughts and ideas.

If you’re doing it all on the same computer then VidPlayVST might be a better choice.

Im on a Mac but our Windows 10 system runs similar.
Our Studio Mac build is just setup to use both the Laptop screen and an external screen ( 50" LCD TV ) over the audio desk area.
Our Windows setup is similar but, with a desktop build instead of a laptop. ( Radeon 570x that supports dual HDMI outputs.)

I may be confused by your description but, if you want to do it all on (1) system, this is how we do it…
Setup your computer to have extended displays.
Drag the Video temp ( rough ) onto a track in your Cubase project ( display 1 )
Cubase will create & display thumbnails of your Video temp along with whatever audio in the container ( FX, Foly, ect. )
You can choose to have frame markers on this track as well.
Navigate to STUDIO/VIDEO PLAYER or simply click F8
The Video player screen appears complete with SMPTE and your working temp is now in a separate window.
Drag the Video player window to the extended screen ( Display 2 )
Score to picture
Export working temp with Audio+Picture lock to H.264 currently ( Version 10.5, Hopfuly more in the future! )

I do appreciate the help, and that’s certainly an option that would work for many.

The reason I chose to run a standalone video player rather than using the one built into Cubase is the fact that the video player / engine has been at the heart of many problems over the years. If I can just skip it, then that’s one less thing to worry about going south on me. There may come a time when it evolves into a rock solid part of the system, and it probably works just fine for lots of folks. However, I don’t feel like rolling the dice on it and I have the spare computers, so the separate player was something I was able to do without spending any money.