Please solve my audio/video recording conundrum.
February 5, 2010 1:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm working on an art project and need to record some videos, add a separate audio track, and burn them to DVD. I have no idea how to do this. Complications inside.

I have Lumix GF1 camera that records video in AVCHD or Motion JPEG. The onboard mic is not good enough for my project, so I'll need to buy some sort of recorder and microphone (maybe a dictating machine with lapel-mic?), record a separate audio track, synch them up, make them mash together in the computer, and then output to DVD.

This is the first time I've tried anything like this - I have no idea what I'm doing.

Please help!

(I'm in the UK, if that's at all relevant.)
posted by SebastianKnight to Technology (8 answers total)
I'd guess Final Cut Pro would be your best bet. You can isolate sources as the video and audio track is already separated. So even if you imported into final cut straight from the camera and then deleted the native audio only to add it later from a second source then that would be fine. To burn to DVD you'd need to export out of final cut and use something like DVD studio pro.

I've only used these programs on a mac, so I'm less sure about the PC approach.
posted by multivalent at 1:53 PM on February 5, 2010

1. what kind of computer you have will matter. I.e Mac vs. pc, the computing power of the machine used, and its video card. Particularly if you record high quality video, or want to do a lot of editing/effects afterwards.

2. Then there's how you will attempt to get the data from the camera into your computer.

3. Likely you'd also need a dvd burner in/attached to your computer, and software that will let you burn a dvd from it. That may also be part of the same software that let you edit your video and audio together, but it may not.

4. if you use an external recorder, unless you are going to record something at a regular monotone speaking volume, you may want to rent/purchase something a little fancier, as often voice-only recording devices will not have a gain control or anything that lets you adjust how loud the input is. This will matter if you have somebody yelling, or any noise that's too loud, which will likely distort otherwise. A crappy microphone may not help in this case, either. If you are recording things around normal speaking voice level, though, you can often get away with some really stupid-cheap gear if you don't really care that it's that high-quality.

5. Consider how you're going to get the audio into your computer from the device you recorded it onto.


6. your choice of software for mixing and editing your video and sound.

Personally, for (not free) I really like Sony Vegas. No, it ain't cheap, but it does both of those things really well. I do not know what kinds of free software is out there to do what you wantj with video (Audacity is free for audio stuff), but surely there's something to let you create a dvd movie if Vegas won't do it.

As you can see Sebastian, this is a fairly big can of worms you have going here. It's not really difficult to make and edit simple videos these days; I suggest finding a live person whom you know (if you can) to show you what they use (since it is clear somebody is not going to show you how, based on your question, from a class you might be taking). But you do have to figure out what you're going to do beforehand lest you end up with a bunch of stuff you can't use because it doesn't all work together.

I'm afraid I can't easily solve your conundrum. There are also often plenty of "how to" videos for stuff on YouTube, that I've seen around, showing people how to do x y & z tasks for free with particular kinds of gear, and you can google around for those.
posted by bitterkitten at 1:54 PM on February 5, 2010

multi - Final Cut Pro is mac only.
posted by bitterkitten at 1:56 PM on February 5, 2010

Windows/OS X/Linux/Other? The options tend to be very platform dependent.
What's your budget?

Regarding audio, are you just looking to record some voice over or do you need to do production audio as well?
posted by jjb at 2:25 PM on February 5, 2010

Working with video and audio can get pretty complicated. Final Cut Pro, costs money and is pretty big to get your head around for someone new.

If all you are doing is combining a video and audio track together and aren't doing any real editing. Then I would say keep it very very simple. Mac is the most easy and reliable way to do this. Bring your video into i-video (you may have to convert AVCHD video to quicktime with a conversion program). You then just drag your video onto the timeline. Keep the original audio on tracks 1 & 2 so you can reference it for synch.

Any device you can plug a mic into would be fine for audio recording. Something that records a .wav or mp3 file would be useful. If you have a mac laptop you could record straight onto a track on garageband, with a lapel plugged into your mic input. When you record your audio and vision you should do a synch clap (same as what the professional clapper boards are used for). Means you get an audio and visual cue as to where everything meets up.

Bring your recording over to i-video, and put onto tracks 3&4. Synch up the audio with the original audio, will sound like it's slightly echoey. Then delete the bad audio from tracks 1 & 2. At the top hit the 'share' menu option, select burn to DVD. Insert a DVD, burn.

This is the most simple way I can think of without having to do it the professional expensive way. If you don't have access to a Mac, then you will need to do a lot more than this. These programmes come standard, so the PC route is a lot more difficult.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 3:24 PM on February 5, 2010

windows movie maker isn't that bad either actually. I belive it will do what you need, and it's free with windows.
posted by defcom1 at 4:01 PM on February 5, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone - this is really good stuff.

To answer your questions:

1. I have access to Macs and PCs at university. I have a crappy old PC at home that probably won't be up to the job.

2. My budget is very low, which is why I'm hoping to use a dictating machine for this project - I could really use one and this project will justify the purchase.

3. The audio track will just be me speaking to camera - however, I could be speaking quite energetically, varying in volume, emphasis and so on.

4. The video will be of me speaking to camera, occasionally switching to still photographs. No fancy editing or anything like that.

And if I could pose one specific question - am I right in assuming that recording Motion Jpeg will make the editing/encoding process easier? I understand that AVCHD is higher quality but not as well supported.

Thanks again.
posted by SebastianKnight at 12:35 AM on February 6, 2010

The mac vs. pc thing? Nah, not an issue.

You just want a 'pro' or 'prosumer' app - that'd be FCP, Premiere Pro, Vegas, etc. All can do this (on their relatively latest versions.)

Bascally, you'll bring in your video and audio, sync it and then go to town. As long as you don't have to do much post sync you'll be fine.

Syncing is about getting a sound (like a film slate/clapper) to sync them both up. The key thing is to get the audio recorder to get the sound in at 48khz, 25 fps (pal).

Please, please PLEASE, do some tests first.
posted by filmgeek at 2:55 PM on February 6, 2010

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