Shoot me, I'm making a silly video
January 3, 2010 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Recording fun music videos - tools question.

How can I make multi-track video recordings (for example)? I'd like to do it with the software tools I have, preferably, or something inexpensive. I've already figured out how to make a one-take video, and edit clips end-to-end. What I'm imagining is recording video takes side-by-side like you can do in Garage Band with audio, then transition between them with cuts. It doesn't have to be professional quality - it's just for sharing with friends.

Here's what I tried: record first track with iMovie. Imported into Garage Band as audio. Started recording a second take (on a different instrument) with iMovie. Switched to Garage Band and pressed play. Imported second take from iMovie into Garage Band as audio. Pulled all my hair out trying to sync the two tracks. Envisioned the same problem later trying to sync Garage Band audio with iMovie clips.

There must be an easier way. Is there, with only the standard iLife ('08, I never had a reason to upgrade - until now maybe) tools? I've heard the name FinalCut Pro - would that do it, and is it expensive and/or worth the expense?
posted by ctmf to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Final Cut is professional move editing software, and priced as such. Totally worth it for making a professional movie; probably not worth buying for "fun."

It sounds like all you want is two video tracks- there must be cheap programs that do that. I actually thought iMovie would but maybe I'm wrong- I never use it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:53 PM on January 3, 2010

I'm not entirely clear what you're trying to re: "takes" and syncing.

Are you trying to record two different instruments and layer those together? Then you need two audio tracks.

If it's just two "camera angles" and both have the same audio, you don't want to switch between audio. You want to pick the best audio track and dump the other one, than sync up the visuals. Things may go a little out of sync if you played it a little different each time, but many music videos don't keep 1000% perfect sync.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:57 PM on January 3, 2010

At any rate, you would usually make a final mix of the song in an audio program, export it as a single audio file, then sync the visuals with that. You wouldn't want to have all the audio tracks floating around your video program usually.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:59 PM on January 3, 2010

Response by poster: No, I want to play the song on one instrument, then play it over again with a different one, layering the audio. That's easy with Garage Band. So that will be the audio track for the whole video - all the instruments playing at once. The trick is, I want to switch between video scenes of me playing the different instruments, synchronized with the sound, like in the example video in the question. I can't figure out how to have iMovie do that without recording video on a separate camera of (me recording audio in garage band), and then synching the imported video clips over the Garage Band soundtrack (if that would even work).

The girl in the video (and others of hers) look like she's just using her computer to do this. I guess what I'm asking is, how did she do that?
posted by ctmf at 8:09 PM on January 3, 2010

Ok, iMovie seems like it only has one video track, so it won't be good to do this.

If you can get Final Cut, there is a feature called "multiclip" where you link all your tracks, it plays like four at once, and you press a button when you want to make a switch to one angle or another. This feature is made to do exactly what you want. However, it's complicated- I only learned how to do it in an "advanced Final Cut" class. And again, if you want it legally, the software costs like $2k I think.

If you can get a lesser program, but one with multitracks (someone else will have to weigh in on this), here is what you do:

Say you have three "angles" or takes. Make three video layers and get them all synced up so they all line up with the audio. In all video editors, the topmost layer "covers" the rest. So at first you would only see the 3rd layer throughout the song. But then you can start cutting chunks out of the 2nd and 3rd layers to "expose" what is below in certain parts of the song. The exact way to do this varies by program, but I find this the best way to do it and keep it in sync with the audio (with the exception of Final Cut's multi-clip.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:35 PM on January 3, 2010

There's no easy, built-in way to do this in iMovie.

If you're willing to pay $70 for a plugin, however, you can use the Multi-Camera plugin from GeeThree's Slick Volume 10 plugin set for iMovie. You have to use iMovie HD 6.x in order to use these plugins, however, as the newer iMovie 08/09 does not have plugin capabilities.

Thankfully Apple still lets you download iMovie HD 6 for free, and it works just fine.

You could also do this a bit easier in Final Cut Express (the much cheaper, watered down, $199 version of Final Cut Pro), as it gives you multiple tracks of video to work with. But since the Express version lacks the true "multicam" sync capability that exists in Final Cut Pro, you'll have to manually edit between the different takes, which can get tedious, depending on how fast paced you want your edits to be.
posted by melorama at 10:12 PM on January 3, 2010

The easy way to do this is to record the audio first and then shoot multiple videos of yourself playing along to it (w/o bothering to capture the audio), all the way through the song. Then do a bunch of fades or cuts between the various vids of you faking along to it. You'll just need a video editor that supports multiple video tracks. I didn't know that iMovie doesn't support that (thanks, melorama), so Final Cut Express might be a good option. I've done this sort of thing before with Sony Vegas, but that's a Windows-only, non-cheap option.
posted by wheat at 8:31 AM on January 4, 2010

You still need to capture the audio when you record each video iteration, in order to make them easier to sync up.

Unless you add an audible 2-pop to the music track before recording the video, you need some way to sync up the different tracks to each other. On a multitrack editing package like Final Cut Express, you can just visually line up the audio waveforms of each track to each other. If you dont hear any "slapback" echoing or delay when you play all the audio tracks together at once, you can be sure that everything is synced up perfectly.
posted by melorama at 10:29 AM on January 4, 2010

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