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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Make a music video with help from these gadgets

About a week ago my son came to me asking for help with a project for his Advanced Placement European History class. He and four of his classmates were assigned to make two music videos about Soviet Russia during the Lenin and Stalin eras. They had written lyrics to two songs and wanted to lip sync in the video. During the holidays I did the same thing in my "12 Days of Gadgets" video, so we used the same technique. When the videos were done and we started showing them to people, they wanted to know how we did it. So here are the gadgets and the methods we used.

First, my son found two YouTube videos with karaoke tracks for the songs they wanted to use. Using a Firefox plug-in that gives you a button for downloading YouTube videos, I grabbed the videos and used a free utility called MPEG Streamclip to extract the audio tracks.

small.jpgThe music was then brought into Apple's GarageBand and a Samson Meteor Mic was used to record the melody lines with the new lyrics. For those who don't have GarageBand, the free Audacity audio editor would be a good choice. My son handled all the audio editing and when he was done, the soundtracks were converted to mp3 files and uploaded to our DropBox account.

If you aren't familiar with DropBox, it's a fantastic, free service that gives you 2GB of cloud storage space. You can install DropBox on your computers, tablets or phones and everything in your DropBox folder can be accessed on all your devices. You also can put files in the "Public" folder to share links to files with anyone. When you put an audio or video file in your DropBox, screen_shot_2011-05-20_at_12.06.14_pm.pngthe file will stream to your device when you select it. It's like having your own streaming server. We could have just used iTunes but since the soundtrack files changed several times during production, it was easier to use DropBox and not have to worry about syncing his iPhone each time.

They used a small point and shoot digital SLR (with 720p HD video) to shoot the various scenes. When they were shooting, he played the soundtracks on his iPhone streaming from the DropBox account and the "cast" sang along to do the lip syncing. In some shots someone was holding the iPhone off camera and in others he just had it in his pocket.

Once he had all the clips, I assembled the videos in Final Cut Pro (under his direction) by visually pairing their lips with the two soundtrack files. Many of the clips had a lot of shake in them so the "SmoothCam" filter was applied.

And that's it! It was a fun project and my son and his classmates, the call themselves The Five Year Plan, did a great job. It's not very hard to do if you have the right gadgets and know how to use them. Try to make your own music video and send me the link!

[Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 1:01pm]


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