Need to create a karaoke video, but I'm picky.
November 14, 2011 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a piece of software that I can use to create a karaoke video with Japanese text that scrolls at a constant rate.

Next weekend I will be trying to teach a Japanese song to a small classroom of beginner Japanese-language students. To accomplish this, I would like to create a karaoke video to go along with it, and have the students sing along to the video.

There appears to be a lot of software out there for creating karaoke videos, however, I am looking for the following features specifically:
  • Text that scrolls at a constant rate - Rather than have stationary words on the screen that light up or have a bouncing ball of some kind, I would like the words to scroll across the screen from right to left at a constant speed. That way people unfamiliar with the melody and timing could see how long until the next note is sung just be looking at how far away it is. The constant-rate scrolling I'm looking for is similar to how the arrows scroll in Dance Dance Revolution, or how the music scrolls in Mario Paint.
  • Support for Japanese text - I'd like to display the lyrics in hiragana. Presumably any program will full unicode support will do.
  • Ability to export a completed movie file - I'll be bringing the karaoke video on a USB drive that will play on the Windows machine attached to projector in the classroom. I don't want to (and may not be allowed to) install special software on the machine. I just want to bring the movie file
  • The ability to show the actual musical score would be nice - This isn't important, just a "nice to have feature". But if the musical notation was read from a MIDI file I supplied and displayed along with the text scrolling right-to-left, that'd be awesome.
  • Free or cheap - I'm hoping there's a free solution for this. If not, I'm willing to spend a bit of money, but not much. I will probably only use this program one time ever.
Does anyone know of a piece of software that meets my needs? If I can't find one I'll probably do the video in Adobe Flash, but that would be a lot more work than I'm hoping I'll have to put into this.

Also, I should mention that the song I'm teaching is pretty specific to this one class and isn't something I can download or find a pre-made video for elsewhere.

Thanks Mefites!
posted by Vorteks to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
You could do that with Flash, but it ain't cheap.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:28 AM on November 14, 2011

Response by poster: @Chocolate Pickle - Flash is my worst-case-scenario contingency plan, as I mentioned in my question. I already have the software, but I'm just afraid of how much time it would take to do it in Flash. I'm hoping someone has a solution that's a little more plug-and-play.
posted by Vorteks at 9:38 AM on November 14, 2011

I don't understand the bit about "Scrolling at a constant rate" especially as a way to help people who are unfamiliar with the melody and timing- typically you'd want the lyrics to be showing up in bouncing ball fashion because that helps people understand the timing.

That said, are you just looking for a one-off/few-off solution, i.e., to make one or a few such videos? If so and repeatability/streamlined production aren't critical, then here's what I'd recommend:
  1. Show the musical score: The freeware program "Music Animation Machine" will take an input midi file and show it graphically. Great examples can be seen on youtube videos like this one, especially that intuitive top half view, so I believe if you have a midi file of this song, this might be the bulk of what you need.
  2. Scroll/show the words: For this, I believe MAM might be able to do this, but you could also do it far more simply by having for example a simple HTML page with the marquee tag or other process to have the words show up scrolling at the timing you want along the top of the browser screen. This would also support the character sets you care about if you can view them on your own computer already (which presumably you can if you're the kind of person who is teaching Japanese classes). I know the marquee tag gets a bum rap, but you may have hit on the single use case that ever justified it. :)
  3. Ability to export as a movie: Once you've solved the first two problems, then you have a much easier task: simply capture what's on your screen to a movie, and that's what you bring to class. There are a number of free programs to basically video record your screen to a captured file of which I believe the (free) is an example.

If you break the problem down this way, it's really two simpler problems: first, create a display on your screen that has all the parts you want- the marquee scrolling characters, the graphic display of the music, etc.- and then second, capturing that to a simple portable video that doesn't require all the extra software.

Imagine that you have your browser open to full resolution and the top/bottom part of it is scrolling the words/characters using simple html like marquee etc. Then you have MAM opened in the foreground as a windowed app that is as wide as the browser, but not full height- so you can see the scrolling words above/below the windows MAM program. Let this all play out while you're capturing the screen using (free) programs like VLC or HyperCam or whatever is the hot thing to screen capture your audio/video display.
posted by hincandenza at 2:10 PM on November 14, 2011

Response by poster: @hincandenza - Thanks! Actually, what is shown in the bottom half of the youtube video you linked to is very close to what I am trying to do. According to the youtube description, it was done in Sibelius, which turns out costs $600. Ouch.

I am creating a MIDI of the song - with hiragana lyrics included - in Anvil Studio, a midi editing program. The problem with using the display from that program is that when it reaches the end of a measure or group of measures, it jumps ahead instantly without any sort of transition or place marker, which is very jarring. I feel like even a lot of karaoke videos have that same problem - when the end of a set of lyrics is reached, they are quickly cleared from the screen and replaced with a new set, which you must begin singing immediately before you get a good look at them. I thought having a constant scrolling rate would be best so that students could really get a good look at the incoming characters for a few seconds before having to sing them. No abrupt changes.

I guess what would be best at this point would be a program to read my MIDI file and create a nice large-scale video of it scrolling to the end.
posted by Vorteks at 3:04 PM on November 14, 2011

Reading their site, you can download a non-saving demo version of Sibelius to try out. Why not do that once your file is completed in Anvil? Open it in Sibelius and then do the playback; given the way demos work, that'll probably be fine but you just can't save any changes.
posted by hincandenza at 6:22 PM on November 14, 2011

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