Video songs

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Lunkhead
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Video songs

Postby Lunkhead » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:38 pm

Anybody here ever made a "video song"? By that I mean, a video for a song where the video consists of clips of you playing every instrument you used to make the song. You see at least some footage of each track being recorded. This style of video/song was popularized by for example Pomplamoose, though Song Fight's own State Shirt, Josh Woodward, and Jonathan Mann have also made some.

I did a cover of Depeche Mode's "Policy of Truth" and I tried to take some footage of me recording each track, using my Samsung Galaxy S4. I copied all the different videos to my computer. I'm trying to use Adobe Premiere Elements to cobble them into a video, with the mp3 final mix of my cover as the soundtrack. I have no real video editing experience, and I'm finding it all to be a bit opaque. I was hoping that it would be fairly equivalent to using a DAW to edit audio, but it doesn't really feel like that.

I guess the biggest problem I'm having is that I can't seem to figure out how to make it reposition clips in fine grained enough increments to actually synch video up to the soundtrack. It seems to limit me to moving things only by 1/100th of a second, which is not actually a small enough time unit for me to line things up in e.g. a sample accurate way like in a DAW.

Also it just seems kind of stupid that my only option for lining up these clips with the audio is to manually drag them around until it LOOKS like they're lined up "close enough". That is super lame! My video clips have the click track I was recording to in their audio, so I'd love to just line the clicks up with the beats in the soundtrack, but that doesn't seem possible.

Anyway, video editing seems to really suck. :P
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Re: Video songs

Postby Caravan Ray » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:06 am

Lunkhead wrote:
Anyway, video editing seems to really suck. :P

Yes. That has been my experience too. I have only used iMovie - and I thought it would be similar to Garageband. But it isn't.

The only one I have done similar to what you mention is this one:


and yes - the whole syncing thing I found very difficult and I couldn't really get quite right.

I think I did the video playing along to the song - and got the sound from the song on the video - then tried to sync the video sound with the mp3. But I didn't seem to be able to cut and paste easily without everything moving around and going out of sync. I found the whole process quite unpleasant.
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Re: Video songs

Postby Generic » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:05 am

I did some video editing as a summer job back in high school and after freshman year of college. It was a pretty cool job and I learned a lot. I never did a music video or anything that required us to sync to an external audio source, so I don't have any relevant hands-on experience, but my understanding is that the professionals are able to do a lot of pre-video prep work to make sure their clips sync up properly when it comes time to do the editing.

There's some kind of magic by which the time code for each individual clip is matched during the recording process to the point in the song where it goes. That way, when it's editing time, you can just key in the time code for the moment you want the shot to begin, instead of lining it up the hard way and relying on your own hand-eye coordination. Perhaps someone who has actual music video experience, like Jimmy, could chime in here.
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Re: Video songs

Postby Lunkhead » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:31 am

I hope it's easier when you have more advanced tools and techniques and software, like you're saying Jon. I wonder though about if what the pros do applies to the video song situation, where you're recording yourself making the song, so you don't actually have the final soundtrack yet? I guess you could make a demo that's the same length as the final song is going to be for reference or something though.
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Re: Video songs

Postby roymond » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:42 am

roymond.com | songfights | covers
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Re: Video songs

Postby irwin » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:47 am

I had the same experience. I built up the song track by track in the DAW while also taking a video of each instrument. Mixed the tracks and imported that and the videos into iMovie, figuring it would be easy to just cut back and forth between the videos. Nope!

I tapped out a countin on each instrument as I went to give me an audio-visual aid to sync the final tracks, and that helped me get each video lined up with the audio, but every time I did an edit, the timing would be off again. Very frustrating! I found myself with a pocket calculator computing rollin frames vs rollout frames and overlap frames and i-frames and p-frames, and thought to myself, "Wait a minute- isn't this the kind of shit computers are supposed to do for me??"

Anyway, I'm sure iMovie is not the right tool for this job, but I can't justify any expenive software when all I'm doing is goofing around. It would probably also help if my camera could record something other than mpeg.
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Re: Video songs

Postby Lunkhead » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:01 am



That's neat, but, that guy also just drags/nudges the video clips left and right over and over and over again until they look close enough to being in synch. That seems crazily time consuming.
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Re: Video songs

Postby chocolatechips » Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:03 pm

I haven't ever made a video song but I do make videos for most of my songs using Vegas Video. you can set it to a tempo which makes it pretty easy to line things up (and to do rhythmic cuts)... but I haven't got real fancy with it.
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Re: Video songs

Postby Lunkhead » Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:10 pm

I did read that Vegas has support for setting a bpm for a project. Sounds potentially very useful. Sadly it looks like Vegas is Windows only.

I started trying to slog through the process in both iMovie and Premiere Elements and started to very painfully slowly make some progress, but I realized I completely forgot to shoot footage of me recording a couple key things (the whole glockenspiel track, the second verse, etc.) so I gave up. Will have to try again some other time...
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Re: Video songs

Postby Generic » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:36 am

Lunkhead wrote:...where you're recording yourself making the song, so you don't actually have the final soundtrack yet?


Is this how they're actually made? For some reason I had the impression that Pomplamoose was filming themselves playing along to a finished recording.

What about Jonathan Mann? He does a ton of these; have you asked him about this?
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Re: Video songs

Postby Lunkhead » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:51 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomplamoose

Their videos mostly take the form of "VideoSongs", a medium Jack Conte defines with two rules:
What you see is what you hear. (No lip-syncing for instruments or voice)
If you hear it, at some point you see it. (No hidden sounds)


Jonathan hasn't actually done very many of these (at least, not very many relative to the nearly 2000 song-a-day songs he's done). He went through a period where he was doing them but I think he basically realized they were too much work for him to do very often. This one comes to mind:



Back when he was doing Song-A-Day the album I did ask him about it a bit and at the time he said that you just had to drag the video clips back and forth till they lined up right.

I was going to ask him and State Shirt and Josh Woodward on Twitter, they seem to be most active there. I just thought I'd check in with y'all here first.
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Re: Video songs

Postby joshw » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:33 am

First off, they're a pain in the ass. But after some practice, they become fairly brainless.

I'm going to skip the artistic side, since it looks like you're more after the mechanical. I use Premiere Pro, which should be similar to Elements. I'm out of town and don't have it in front of me, so this is from memory.

Ok, so you sit down to make a VideoSong. Set up your camera, sit down to work on your first instrument. Start the video camera, clap your hands loudly, say "take 1". Start your DAW and record take 1. Stop your DAW, clap again, say "take 2". Repeat until you're done, stop the camera. Do this for all your instruments.

At this point, you've got a finished recording - mix it down and render to a WAV. You've also got a video file for each instrument. Copy to your computer, and name these Bass.wav, Guitar.wav, etc. Start up a Premiere project, import the WAV and all the videos. Copy the audio file to audio track 1.

Start with the most obscure instrument. Drag it onto video track 2. This will also copy the audio to audio track 2. Now for the fun part, synchronization. Expand audio tracks 1 & 2 so you can see the waveforms better. Turn down audio track 1. If you're lucky, you can mostly line them up visually. Drag and nudge them into place until they synchronize. Then, mute audio track 2 and make sure it looks legit. You may need to nudge a little more, since the audio from the video camera will be a few ms behind the DAW mics. Trust your eyes, not your ears. Repeat for each audio track in ascending order of importance, until you've got vocals on top.

Now that everything's synchronized. it's time to edit. Only the video on top will show. Go to the start, and every measure or two, add a split to all of the tracks. I *think* it's Ctrl-Shift-K, but that might just be a custom shortcut I added. To get the split spot just right, click to get it close, then hit the left/right arrows to scrub.

Now, to switch instruments, just delete the video takes on top of the one you want to use. If you want fancy split screen stuff, delete *all* the takes you're not using, and use the editor's crop, scale and position tools to arrange them the way you want.

That's the basic idea, let me know if anything's unclear!
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Re: Video songs

Postby Manhattan Glutton » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:49 am

I've thought about this before.

The best solution is to finish your song and then fake recording it.
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Re: Video songs

Postby Lunkhead » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:10 am

Thanks a lot, Josh, that's very helpful! That's not a process I had thought of or seen in the tutorials I've watched so far, and it seems like the best approach I've heard of yet.
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Re: Video songs

Postby Generic » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:16 am

I agree, I would not have thought about lining up cloned audio like that.

I may tackle one of these someday. Still not feeling quite up to it. Good luck, Sam!
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Re: Video songs

Postby josh » Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:57 am

Cool tutorial! I've wanted to do one of these for a while. Maybe songfight will give me an excuse to do it finally :-) I use Lightworks which is honestly a beast to learn, but it's also really powerful and free to use the only slighly crippled version (well, it's significantly crippled in that you can't output DVD quality... but most stuff is made for Youtube these days anyway).
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Re: Video songs

Postby Caravan Ray » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:52 am

Manhattan Glutton wrote:I've thought about this before.

The best solution is to finish your song and then fake recording it.

Yep - I'm with you MG.

I just finished recording "mandolin" solos for my Nur Ein entry. My 2TB hardrive would fill very quickly if I tried to video me doing it live - there were numerous retakes. And I don't really want to video myself recording solos at 80 bpm - and then speeding them up to 120 bpm. Makes me look like a cheat.

No - this "video song" thing sounds like it is for proper musicians. Wankers.

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