I now have 100 subscribers on YouTube, so I made another shout out video.
Posts in category Ukulele
Here’s my latest ukulele cover. It’s “Penny Lane” by the Beatles.
“Penny Lane” is a song by The Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon/McCartney. Recorded during the Sgt. Pepper sessions, “Penny Lane” was released in February 1967 as one side of a double A-sided single, along with “Strawberry Fields Forever“. The song was later included on the Magical Mystery Tour LP (1967). The single was the result of the record company wanting a new release after several months of no new Beatles releases. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song at #449 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
This is the first video I made since installing Windows with Sun Microsystems’ VirtualBox. I recorded the audio on my Sony MZ-NHF800 and used SonicStage to transfer the file to my computer and converted it to .WAV format. Then I used Audacity to add a tiny bit of reverb and a little bit of compression. After that, it was a simple matter of syncing the video and audio tracks in Kdenlive, cutting out the extra bits before and after the song, and adding the fade in/fade out. The URL graphic that pops up at the beginning was created with Inkscape.
I hope you enjoy. What is your favorite Beatles song?
Here’s a video I made with my dad singing to my mom and playing his baritone ukulele. Watch the video, then we’ll talk about how we made it.
We set up two cameras. Even though I have told you the on-camera mic isn’t good enough for sound with videos, I didn’t have my MiniDisc recorder with me. So we went with the best sound from the two cameras. Before he started playing, I started both cameras rolling and had him clap his hands in frame.
When I imported both video clips into Kdenlive, I put them in two different video tracks. I discarded the audio from the track that I didn’t want, and I placed it above the track in which I was keeping the sound. Then I found the frame from that clip where my dad’s hands came together, and I lined it up with the spike in the waveform from the other clip’s sound so the audio and video were synced up in both clips.
Whichever clip is highest on the stack of video clips is the video that will be shown when you render. It’s similar the layers in Gimp. To switch back and forth between the two camera angles, I simply used the razor tool to slice up the top video clip and deleted the portions I did not want. I left the bottom video clip (with the sound) intact.
I didn’t like the harsh cuts between camera angles, so I put Dissolve transitions on the ends of the top video clip, giving the smooth cuts back and forth, and the sound stays nice and constant through the whole thing. Finally, I added a Fade from black/Fade to black video effect and a Fade in/Fade out audio effect to the bottom video clip. Click on the screenshots below to see them full size:
Playing the ukulele is one of my hobbies. I find it easier than playing a guitar. I guess it’s because I have fewer strings to worry about. Here’s a video of me playing “Sloop John B,” made famous by the Beach Boys. After the video, we’ll talk about how it was made.
Recording good sound
If you want good sound, the microphone on your camcorder just isn’t going to cut it. A few years ago, I bought a Sony MZ-NHF800 MiniDisc recorder. I have a decent condenser microphone to go with it. To sync up the video and sound, I clap my hands one time on camera while the sound is recording on my MiniDisc. Then I import the sound and video into Kdenlive. The sound is shown as a waveform in the audio track. I line up the spike from the sound of the clap with the video frame where my hands come together. Of course, I mute the sound that was recorded by the camcorder so it doesn’t interfere with the good sound recording.
Now there is a small problem with using the MiniDisc. It is made by Sony, and being the proprietary fools that they are, it requires their closed source software, SonicStage, to transfer my recordings to a computer. This software only runs on Windows. The sound files that it transfers are a Sony proprietary format, and of course the only software that can convert them to .WAV files is SonicStage. So with this setup, I am stuck with a computer that has Windows on it, and that is the only thing I use that computer for. It kind of stinks because I’d like to put Ubuntu on it and actually use the computer for some stuff I like.
But there is a solution. There is a digital recorder available now called the Zoom H2. It has a built-in condenser microphone, records to an SD card, and records in .WAV format. So all you have to do is plug it into your USB port and it gets recognized as a mass storage device, from which you can copy the .WAV files straight over to your computer. I’ve heard several recordings made with the Zoom H2 and the sound quality is excellent. This podcast by Michael W. Dean (Warning: There is some cussing) was made with a Zoom H2. The cost is in the $150 to $200 range. I plan on buying one soon so I can be Windowless.
Recording good video
HD camcorders are getting cheaper by the day. I use an Aiptek Action HD-GVS. It’s a cheap little piece of junk, but it gets the job done. It records to an SD card. It does use the h.264 video codec, which is closed source, but Kdenlive handles it fine. I paid about $180 for it last year.
This is the software I use to edit my videos. It’s pretty straightforward. Having been used to Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, there were quite a few differences that I had to get used to. At first I kind of thought that Kdenlive was weak and couldn’t do much more than just put clips together. But now I’m finding out that it’s much more robust than I first thought. The URL that I flash across the screen, I made it with Inkscape and used Kdenlive’s compositor to make it move in and out of the picture. Kdenlive has several video and audio effects that you can apply. I used the simple fade in/fade out effects and that was about it.
Now, I cannot say that I am completely happy with the results I’ve been getting from Kdenlive. When I render my videos, Kdenlive has a preset for YouTube. I choose this, but it seems to be compressing a lot of information and the video quality isn’t as good coming out as it is going in. There are other presets available but, in my experience, they have crashed while rendering. In my opinion, that’s a common thread that I see across a lot of Linux stuff. Nothing ever quite works the way I expect it to at first. So it’s a bad thing, but it’s also a good thing at the same time because it gives me challenges and when I figure something out, I feel really good.
So that’s a quick overview of video editing in Linux. What video editing software do you use? Leave a comment.