Sunday, July 20, 2014

I saw the future [Video] Making of.

You wanted me to smile. I did my best :p

With all the cropping and overlays my computer worked on the video mixdown for a full 12 hours and that in a miserable resolution. Amazingly, the video looks better after uploading it to YouTube. Whatever compression YouTube is using, it has nicely smoothened out some ugly pixelations that I couldn't get rid of.

The worst part of the video making is that my software screws up the audio timing upon export. Try as I might, the lip movements never quite seem to be in sync, even if they look perfectly fine before export. I am not sure exactly what causes the problem. One issue is that the timing of my camera seems to be slightly inaccurate. If I record a video with the audio running in the background and later add the same audio on a second track, the video runs too fast by about 100 ms over 3 minutes. That's already enough to note the delay and makes the editing really cumbersome. Another contributing factor seems to be simple errors in the data processing. The audio sometimes runs behind and then, with an ugly click, jumps back into place.

Another issue with the video is that, well, I don't have a video camera. I have a DSLR photo camera with a video option, but that has its limits. It does not for example automatically refocus during recording and it doesn't have a movable display either. That's a major problem since it means I can't focus the camera on myself. So I use a mop that I place in front of the blue screen, focus the camera on that, hit record, and then try to put myself in place of the mop. Needless to say, that doesn't always work, especially if I move around. This means my videos are crappy to begin with. They don't exactly get better with several imports and exports and rescalings and background removals and so on.

Oh yeah, and then the blue screen. After I noticed last time that pink is really a bad color for a background removal because skin tones are pink, not to mention lipstick, I asked Google. The internet in its eternal wisdom recommended a saturated blue rather than turquoise, which I had though of, and so I got myself a few meters of the cheapest royal blue fabric I could find online. When I replaced the background I turned into a zombie, and thus I was reminded I have blue eyes. For this reason I have replaced the background with something similar to the original color. And my eyes look bluer than they actually are.

This brings me to the audio. After I had to admit that my so-called songs sound plainly crappy, I bought and read a very recommendable book called "Mixing Audio" by Roey Izhaki. Since then I know words like multiband compressor and reverb tail. The audio mix still isn't particularly good, but at least it's better and since nobody else will do it, I'll go and congratulate myself on this awesomely punchy bass-kick loop which you'll only really appreciate if you download the mp3 and turn the volume up to max. Also note how the high frequency plings come out crystal clear after I figured out what an equalizer is good for.

My vocal recording and processing has reached its limits. There's only so much one can do without a studio environment. My microphone picks up all kinds of noise, from the cars passing by over the computer fan and the neighbor's washing machine to the church bells. I basically can't do recordings in one stretch, I have to repeat everything a few times and pick the best pieces. I've tried noise-removal tools, but the results sound terrible to me and, worse, they are not reproducible, which is a problem since I have to patch pieces together. So instead I push the vocals through several high-pass filters to get rid of the background noise. This leaves my voice sounding thinner than it is, so then I add some low-frequency reverb and a little chorus and it comes out sounding mostly fine.

I have given up on de-essing presets, they always leave me with a lisp on top of my German accent. Since I don't actually have a lot of vocals to deal with, I just treat all the 's' by hand in the final clip, and that sounds okay, at least to my ears.

Oh yeah, and I promise I'll not attempt again to hit a F#3, that was not a good idea. My voicebox clearly wasn't meant to support anything below B3. Which is strange as I evidently speak mostly in a frequency range so low that it is plainly unstable on my vocal cords. I do fairly well with everything between the middle and high C and have developed the rather strange habit of singing second and 3rd voices to myself when I get stuck on some calculation. I had the decency to remove the whole choir in the final version though ;)

Hope you enjoy this little excursion into the future. Altogether it was fun to make. And see, I even managed a smile, especially for you :o)


  1. Thank you for an insight into your production difficulties Bee, but...

    I assure you it was worth it. Good stuff maestro! [or "Maestra" if you prefer]


  2. Wonderful!

    You are truly inspired Sabine; people can be entertained and at the same time learn the fate of the Universe :-)

    The smile really becomes you! So use it more often in the future :-)

  3. Thanks for the kind words :o) Yeah, inspiration has never been my problem. I have a certain lack of patience though, which you can clearly see in my video productions...

  4. Synching sound with mouth may not work, re cartoons. Try putting sound a few msec ahead of mouth. Perhaps hearing doesn't process quite as fast as seeing.

    We cannot imagine the future. Star Trek, 1966 - 1969, communicators in the 2260s! 50 years later real world, smart phones. A future of hope, pre-loaded with social advocacy, real world obtains planetary desperation. Potemkin villages are evolved into green screens. Progress!

    Fight the good fight, have a priest's hole, make music in slow moments.

  5. Uncle,

    I can only modify the timing by the frame rate that is 25/second, so I get nowhere close to ms timing. 25/second is just about small enough to not notice the mismatch if you hit exactly the right frame. Best,


  6. Let there be light:

  7. Really good work. It amazes me what some humans can do. Most of us dawdle along, as though the universe will support life forever.

  8. To be perfectly honest, I don't think, that the blogging people do appreciate your somewhat creepy performances very much, Bee...


  9. @Zephir ~ You calling someone "somewhat creepy" sure takes the biscuit ~ have you no personal awareness at all? I'm sure Bee doesn't care what "blogging people" think. You need to go for a walk & breathe in some "aether" you miserable little troll.


    @Zephir How dare you try to end this beauty? How dare you try to end this beauty!
    @Zephir By your book? Hitchslapped!

  11. /*..You calling someone "somewhat creepy" sure takes the biscuit..*/

    I think I know, what and why I'm saying. BTW I do care what the other people think about my posts neither...

  12. Zephir, Michael:

    Peace, please.

    Zephir, you do realize that it's a video hosted on YouTube, yes?

  13. I love these videos! More, please!

  14. Are you channeling Anne Clark for a bit there?

  15. Our darkness? Yeah, I guess that would have been a fitting title too :)


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