Recording A Church Service, With No Audio Input
September 25, 2010 7:25 AM   Subscribe

How can I best go about better recording the audio from a sound system, and then syncing it with video taken from the opposite side of the church? Also, how can I turn out multiple DVDs cheaply?

So, I'm going to be recording church services as a way for shut-ins to watch, and burning them to DVDs and putting the services on YouTube (ratings and comments disabled, of course). I'm using a Sony Handicam DCR-SR68 consumer model, which I discovered, to my horror, doesn't have any sort of audio input.

The only problem is that the best vantage point in the church is on the balcony in the back, so by the time the audio reaches the camcorder's microphone, it's quite echo-y and muddy. It's hard to make out words, and it'd be impossible to interpret for a person hard of hearing. And I think the tiny microphone on it would be pretty lousy under any circumstance.

The church's sound system (which is comprised of professional equipment) does have a pair of RCA output ports that were being used by a tape recorder, but that's unused for years. I figure that if I could plug in a little digital voice recorder I have, or my laptop, to record the audio as an MP3.

Is there any software that could automatically sync up the audio, replacing the mediocre track with the higher quality one from the microphone? I imagine they'd probably have similar waveforms, it's just one would be muddy and the other would be relatively clear. I'm guessing I could even do it manually in Audacity, matching the peaks and troughs, but I get the feeling a program could pinpoint the sync more accurately.

Or should I just see if I can get the church to get a camcorder with audio input? I hate to ask that, as I'm doing this as a favor to the church (they've been very good to my family) and I hate to ask them to spend more money.

Also, is there a cheap, quick way to turn out multiple DVDs of the service? I have no idea how many people need video DVDs of it, but if it's more than 10 or so, I can't see manually burning each DVD manually each week. And I'd probably burn out my DVD burner. Is there a service where you can upload a DVD image and get DVDs sent out by mail or for pickup?
posted by mccarty.tim to Technology (8 answers total)
 
PS: And I just remembered that the service is an hour long, but YouTube only offers about 10 minutes or so for non-Director accounts. How hard is it to get a Director account?

Or is there another service I should upload with? How hard and bandwidth intensive would it be to use the church's website to share the videos?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:32 AM on September 25, 2010


And if this is impossible, just tell me, and I'll ask the church if they could exchange the camera. It's otherwise decent for what they want, with a good optical zoom and a large enough hard drive to handle any event they'd want to cover.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:50 AM on September 25, 2010


Are you on a Mac? I believe iMovie should be able to replace the audio fairly easily. (Actually, if you want to get fancy, the best audio would come from a mix of soundboard sound and house sound, especially for stuff like unison readings and hymns. Not sure if iMovie handles multiple tracks, though; think it does.)

To aid syncing them, in the future, while both the video and audio are recording, have someone go on stage before the service and make a big exaggerated noisemaking gesture, like an overhead clap. It'll be like a clapboard in movies, but free. For your existing videos, just adjust them by hand until it seems right, or look for an audio-visual sync clue, like a clap.

As far as upload services... I think Vimeo does longer-length uploads for free. (500 MB per week. A $5/mo Plus membership gives 5 GB per week, and 1 GB max file size.) On YouTube, you could always just split each service into 15-minute parts and string them together in a playlist.
posted by supercres at 8:24 AM on September 25, 2010


Personally I would record video with no audio at all rather than trying to do any kind of mixing. Just use the audio track from the front recorded as an MP3 and drop it in as the audio track in iMovie or whatever you're using to edit. A syncing cue at the start ala what supercres suggests will make this pretty easy.

And didn't I read somewhere that GodTube allows unlimited sized uploads? Do not use the church's website to host these.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2010


is the mixer near the balcony? a camera with audio inputs might not make a difference if you can't run cabling back there.

kunaki might work for you for dvd duplication. nice, self-service upload, inexpensive even with very small orders.

there is software to sync audio and video, but as long as both streams are complete/uninterrupted it's easy enough to do in a video editing package.

a vimeo plus account (~$60) allows you to upload 5gb/week.
posted by kimyo at 9:22 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, since an average week's video will probably just be an hour of SD video, I think I could work within the Vimeo size limits. Thanks for the Kunaki recommendation! I asked the pastor about how many shut-ins need DVDs, so I might not need it, but it's good to know. I never know when I might need to do a presentation and need to distribute 50 DVDs with code/assets on them.

As for the camera with audio inputs, if people were to say it would be impossible to sync it easily, I would try using one of those wireless RCA extenders.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:41 AM on September 25, 2010


Is there any software that could automatically sync up the audio, replacing the mediocre track with the higher quality one from the microphone?

Synchronizing video and audio tracks is what clapper boards were designed for. Or if you don't have one, you can have someone go up the front and clap their hands.

At least that works well enough when I've tried it - but you can always test it yourself to make sure it works with your equipment.

Also, is there a cheap, quick way to turn out multiple DVDs of the service? I have no idea how many people need video DVDs of it, but if it's more than 10 or so, I can't see manually burning each DVD manually each week.

"DVD replication" is the bulk process if you want hundreds, "DVD duplication" is the process used for small orders, usually involving 10 DVD-RW drives and a robot arm to move the disks about. I'd be surprised if it was cost-effective for 10 units, but for 50 disks it's much cheaper than replication.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:48 PM on September 25, 2010


There are sub-$500 units you can buy that duplicate five DVD-Rs at a time from one burned copy. The robot-arm-and-printer units cost more than $10,000.

If you're dealing with a small number of subscribers, though, standalone DVD burners are pretty rugged. I've burned literally hundreds a month at 8x speed on a mid-level Pioneer, and it keeps chugging along. An hour-long service shouldn't take more than ten minutes per disc with a Pioneer burner and Verbatim 8x media.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:46 PM on September 25, 2010


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