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Author Topic: What I Do  (Read 10779 times)
ubizmo
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« on: November 15, 2012, 02:42:37 am »

Pat Anderson suggested that I give a description of how I make the videos that I post on YouTube. I think this is a good idea, if it will help others to learn from my mistakes, which have been many.

The procedure that I follow has been cobbled together by trial and error. My first videos, which are all taken down now, were either shot with a plain cheapo webcam, or with my Flip camcorder, using its audio. These were a mess, which is why they're mostly gone now.

Equipment: I have a Nady RSM-4 ribbon mic. To get sound into the computer, I use a mixer with a USB output; there are various ones to choose from, some pretty inexpensive. I don't use any reverb at the mixer end. My computer is an absolutely lame cheapo Acer, a couple of years old, with a single core processor. It would be hard to imagine a worse computer for video and audio editing. I use Audacity for recording and editing.

For the record, Audacity is an extremely resource-intensive program, so using it to record in real time on a junk computer like this one is asking for trouble. The computer can't really keep up with the video processing needed to draw the Audacity wave form and the audio processing at the same time. But I'll get to that in a minute.

My "studio" is just a spare bedroom where I keep my computer and musical stuff, not to mention papers, cell phone batteries, and other debris. I have a collection of contact juggling balls in here too.

Step 1 is to find a backing track, usually. These days I don't use midis much. I buy tracks for a few dollars from jazzbacks or soulbacks, or a few other places. I import the track into Audacity and I'm ready to begin.

Step 2 is to practice, listening to the music a few times and getting a feel for the chord changes etc. Then play along a few times.

Step 3 is to do a sound check and try to get the recording level right. This is tricky, and there is a tendency for there to be some hiss; I've never quite figured out why. I do my best to minimize it, but it's always there.

Step 4 is to get my BlackBerry PlayBook, which I use for video. I set it up on top of a square Ikea lamp that I have on the desk, about chest height. It has a back-facing camera, so I can now center myself. With my old Flip camcorder this was more difficult.

Step 5. Using headphones, I play the recorded music from Audacity and record at the same time. Before doing so, I minimize the Audacity window so that I can see the record and stop buttons, but not much else. I do this to keep the wave form off the screen, so the computer doesn't skip due to the processing load. If I make a mistake, I just undo the record and start over, but I keep the video running. Eventually I get something I'm satisfied with, or I run out of time. I turn off the PlayBook video recorder.

Step 6. I enlarge the Audacity window again for editing.

Step 7. I zoom in on the music, so I can drag the recorder track "back in time" a bit, to correct the latency. I do this by ear: drag a little and listen.

Step 8. I experiment with reverb until I find something that works. I use a plug-in called DX Reverb Lite, by Anwidasoft. It has 20+ reverb settings, which I try out. It took a long time to get reasonably good at this, and I'm still learning. I quickly learned that it's generally not possible to just pick one reverb setting and stick with it. The kind of backing track used changes things a lot. When the backing track has fairly dense instrumentation, heavier reverb is necessary for the ocarina to hold up. Sparser accompaniment calls for much lighter reverb. The effect should be natural sounding, and this isn't easy. Sound engineers earn their money. Anyway, I apply a reverb setting and then undo if I don't like it. I don't use compression, for the simple reason that I don't know how to do it well enough to have it sound right. So I gave up on it.

Step 9. I apply a fade-out effect to the end of the music, if necessary. I silence and click beats at the start, and any noise. I then mix the tracks and export as mp3.

Step 10. I import the video from the PlayBook into Windows Movie Maker 2.6 (after converting the video to .AVI).

Step 11. Usually I've done a few takes, so I first trim off all the unneeded video, leaving only the take that I want to use. But I leave a bit extra at the beginning.

Step 12. I import the mp3 audio that I made in Audacity.

Step 13. I listen with both audio tracks turned on. At first they'll be way off, but I start trimming the video track down, along with the native PlayBook audio that goes with it. Eventually the audio comes into sync with the mp3 that I imported. When I'm getting close, I trim as little as one frame at a time until the sync is exact, with no beats.

Step 14. I mute the native PlayBook audio; it's not needed anymore.

Step 15. I trim any excess video from the end, apply fade in from black and fade out to black, and make titles. Then it's done and I save to computer. This save can take up to an hour on my wheezing little computer.

That's pretty much the whole process from start to finish.


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Harp Player
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 10:43:58 pm »

That is a lot of steps.   

I would like to make one suggestion that might help you to get your audio and video in sync.  Their is a neat little program called media player classic.  The feature that makes it a great tool to help you sync audio and video is one where you can offset the audio either +/-.  I used to use it a lot when I was playing around with that sort of thing.  Another  nice thing about that program is you don't have to install it.

http://download.cnet.com/Media-Player-Classic/3000-2139_4-10518778.html

I just thought it might be a nice addition to your toolkit.


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Pat Anderson
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2012, 05:02:17 am »

Nice!  Thanks!


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ubizmo
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2012, 12:35:48 pm »

That is a lot of steps.   

I would like to make one suggestion that might help you to get your audio and video in sync.  Their is a neat little program called media player classic.  The feature that makes it a great tool to help you sync audio and video is one where you can offset the audio either +/-.  I used to use it a lot when I was playing around with that sort of thing.  Another  nice thing about that program is you don't have to install it.

http://download.cnet.com/Media-Player-Classic/3000-2139_4-10518778.html

I just thought it might be a nice addition to your toolkit.

Thanks, I'll take a look at it. In fact, the most time-consuming task, on the editing side of things, is finding the right reverb setting. It's just so easy to get this wrong. I don't want that echo-y "stairwell" sound; I want just enough to add some warmth, so the ocarina doesn't sound lost. But this depends so much on the backing track that there's no substitute for just trying one setting after another.


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Pat Anderson
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2012, 03:03:56 pm »

So it looks like the only reason you use a mixer is because the mike output has to be converted to a USB input to the computer, and you are not, mostly at least, actually mixing anything else with it?  So with a USB condenser mike (I undertand your studio mike is considerably higher quality), you would not really need a mixer?  The neat thing about my Samson GO mike is that you plug the headphones into it directly, and select the GO as both input and output for Audacity - this completely eliminates the audio track sync issue (latency) - the new track does not need to be moved at all to be perfectly synced with the previously recorded or imported track.

Thanks for posting this, now I really just need to find (or make) the time to get some tunes PROPERLY recorded!


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Harp Player
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2012, 05:51:33 pm »

Quote
finding the right reverb setting.

I agree that the reverb settings can be very hard to deal with.  I have heard so called professionals way over do things in that area.  The recordings i have heard of yours are very well done with just the right amount of effects to give a little depth without overdoing it.


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Pat Anderson
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2012, 07:18:35 pm »

I second that, Docjazz4 does great videos from a video production standpoint and plays well, but from the standpoint of the quality of the playing, the musicianship, the improv especially, Ubizmo's performances seem unmatched to me.  Anyone who is not familiar with his work should subscribe to his Youtube channel!

Quote
finding the right reverb setting.

I agree that the reverb settings can be very hard to deal with.  I have heard so called professionals way over do things in that area.  The recordings i have heard of yours are very well done with just the right amount of effects to give a little depth without overdoing it.


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ubizmo
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 11:15:28 pm »

So it looks like the only reason you use a mixer is because the mike output has to be converted to a USB input to the computer, and you are not, mostly at least, actually mixing anything else with it?  So with a USB condenser mike (I undertand your studio mike is considerably higher quality), you would not really need a mixer?  The neat thing about my Samson GO mike is that you plug the headphones into it directly, and select the GO as both input and output for Audacity - this completely eliminates the audio track sync issue (latency) - the new track does not need to be moved at all to be perfectly synced with the previously recorded or imported track.

Thanks for posting this, now I really just need to find (or make) the time to get some tunes PROPERLY recorded!

Yes, that's right. I need the mixer to get from the XLR cable output from the mike to USB input on the computer. I also have a small American Audio Pocket Recorder with built-in condenser mikes that works pretty well, once I get the recording level settings right. That thing is exquisitly sensitive though; when recording outdoors it picks up every sound in the vicinity.

@Harp Player -- Thanks for the compliments. It has been a long struggle, and I still don't always get the results I hope for. Often it's my own laziness to blame. As I type this, I'm sitting at the same place where I record most things. There's a wall about 4 feet in front of me. This is a Bad Idea, and I really should put some kind of sound-absorbing material up, such as egg cartons. But I don't, and as a result I get certain "hot" pitches and others that are weak. High notes that sound really loud to my ear sometimes come out thin in the recording. That's because the lower pitches are being strengthened by reflection from the wall. With a proper surface there, the low and high notes would be closer together in volume, and the result would be better.

I should experiment with facing a different direction. The room is fairly small, but that might help.


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Treblemaker
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2012, 04:11:02 am »

I hate displaying my ignorance for all to see   Roll Eyes  but it is what it is. Does anyone have a Mac with GarageBand, and iMovie? Can these be used with a camera or iPhone to make a video? I'm not good enough to do a video yet, but maybe down the road a little. I do want to purchase a Ribbon Mic like Ubizmo suggests. Thanks.


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Treblemaker
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2012, 05:18:10 am »

Equipment: I have a Nady RSM-4 ribbon mic.
Hi Ubizmo,
I don't think they make the Nady RSM-4 ribbon mic. any more. I tried to find one on the internet, even tried Ebay and Amazon. Since I can't find it (I will keep on looking) do you have an alternative to suggest? Thanks.


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Pat Anderson
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2012, 03:20:21 am »

I have a Mac (two actually, a late 2006 white Macbook, and a late 2011 Macbook Pro). I use Audacity, not Garage Band, for recording and multitracking the sound track.  I also use Kdenlive, not iMove, for my video editor, although I have been playing with the Final Cut Pro X Trial Version - I like it but not enough to part with $300!  Kdenlive is actually a Linux program that has to be installed with MacPorts, it is really easy to install on Lion but hard on Snow Leopard, and in either case, it helps if you are a bit of a geek. 

So far, I have simply been using my Samson GO mike and Photobooth on the Mac for recording both video and sound, and not editing it at all.  I am still working on actually using Audacity for recording sound and some other means, like a digital SLR, to capture video and then bring both sound and video into Kdenlive. 

My New Year's resolution is to figure this all out, and upload one quality video a month to Youtube!

I hate displaying my ignorance for all to see   Roll Eyes  but it is what it is. Does anyone have a Mac with GarageBand, and iMovie? Can these be used with a camera or iPhone to make a video? I'm not good enough to do a video yet, but maybe down the road a little. I do want to purchase a Ribbon Mic like Ubizmo suggests. Thanks.


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Treblemaker
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2012, 01:03:29 am »

Wow  thanks for the info, Pat. I'll try those. You have a good New Years resolution!!!


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Pat Anderson
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2012, 07:14:22 pm »

Here is a picture of the setup for recording "Frosty the Snowman."  I actually did the guitar track first, followed by the MO-C track (twice), in Audacity and then exported the WAV file.  Then I did the video.  Finally I brought the video and audio into Kdenlive, matched up the wave patterns between the Audacity file and the video file, muted the audio on the video file, and rendered to an MP4 file.  I didn't video the guitar backing track.

I like the Samson GO mike but I am thinking I should get a mike stand with a boom, because the mike is just a little too far away (it is on the microfiber cloth next to the MacBook Pro).  The GO mike really is not the right mike for that.

Now, if I could just master the darn instruments! My problem is, I have to be satisfied with what I have when "play time" is over, which obviously always could be a lot better!



« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 07:17:54 pm by Pat Anderson » Logged
Pat Anderson
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2012, 09:20:32 pm »

OK, necessity is the mother of invention!  I had an old stand for an electronic flash I bought from Spiratone in New York in the 1970s - has been gathering dust in various places over the last 40+ years, it looked too useful to throw out!  So it has now been recycled as my mike stand.  It does not have proper vibration damping, I need to work on that a bit, but now I can position the mike exactly where I want it, close to either the guitar or the ocarina!  Look for it to show up in my next video! 


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Treblemaker
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2012, 07:21:04 pm »

Keep sharing Pat, It's interesting. I need all the help I can get  Roll Eyes


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