DIY Performance Video – Part 3: Titles & Distribution

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Check out this DIY performance video featuring Sugar Water Purple performing "Before This Began."

Over the past five weeks, we’ve explored the pre- and post-production processes involved with the DIY video shoot I did with the band Sugar Water Purple. We’ll wrap this series up by adding the final touches to the video and then publishing online via YouTube.

Step 3: Adding Titles

iMovie offers intuitive titling and transition features that help give your video a professional look.

iMovie comes with a nice assortment of titling options, readily accessible from the right side of the bar at the bottom of the project window (directly above the window in which your original source video is displayed).

Before adding the opening title, we decided to add three seconds of black screen, using the “Maps and Background” tool, which is represented by a globe at the far right of the small tool bar. This totally black video would be at the top of the finished video, over which we would add the opening credit that would include the song title, band name, location, and date of recording. To add the black Dan clicked on the “Black” option and dragged it up to the front of our Project, then trimmed it to three seconds.

To give the opening a more polished look, we decided to add an iMovie transition to smoothly move from the credits to the live setting. This was easy using one of a set of 20 pre-made transitions found in the “Transition” browser (it’s right next to the “Maps and Backgrounds” browser and looks like an hourglass). Choose one and drag it anywhere in the project window at the point where you want a transition. iMovie seamlessly added in the transition we had chosen, called a cross-dissolve, which lasted about three seconds. This gave us a smooth and professional-looking transition to the live setting.

Now it was time to add the opening title. While we had our play head parked on the opening black section, Dan clicked on the Titles Browser (a tool represented by a capital “T”) and selected the first title set shown, “Centered.” He clicked on it and an editing window appeared. We chose the “Show Fonts” option to pick a basic and easy-to-read font, knowing that the HD video would be compressed going to YouTube. We wanted to have different sizes for each line on the opening credits, but found that changing font size automatically altered all of the words on the screen. We learned that by clicking on the title we had added over the black and then choosing the Text menu and “Show Fonts,” we could then highlight any letter or word and change just that element. After a little tweaking the font sizes of the various lines, we had the opening titles nearly set. We decided to add an additional second to our opening black sequence, so that the credits would be on screen a bit longer.

Dan repeated the process at the end of the song, adding five seconds of black this time, typing the band’s MySpace address as the title for the closing segment. We repeated the same duration cross-dissolve, this time taking us from the live setting to the closing title. After taking a break to stretch, rotate our sore neck muscles and get away from the computer screen for a few minutes, we came back to double check our sync, and the opening and closing sequences we had created to frame the band’s performance. All in all, we felt that everything worked quite well. Total time to complete the first three steps of our post-production plan was just under two hours.

Step 4: Video Distribution

Among the many options to share your video, there are four quality levels available to post on YouTube.

Music video distribution has come a long way since I worked on my first music video back in 1983… when I had to make $25 U-matic dubs and ship them to managers, labels, and TV stations one at a time. For the Sugar Water Purple Video, we agreed to distribute the final product via YouTube, which is a straightforward process using iMovie’s built-in options.

After taking a day to get away from the project, I viewed the final video edit a few times and was still happy with the result, so decided to post it to YouTube. (You’ll need your own free YouTube account in order to post your videos online.) One of the menu options in iMovie is “Share,” which gives you various options to share your completed video projects. After selecting the YouTube option, a menu box appears with four different quality options: Mobile, Medium, Large, and HD. I had heard that YouTube now allowed posting of HD content, so I started out by selecting the HD option and went through the next steps in compressing and adding more credits information (songwriter, video and audio crew, etc.) to the file. This process took more than an hour, so I did a few other tasks while my computer crunched the HD video down to size.

You can add additional information and credits to your YouTube posting, as shown here including contact information, songwriting credits, etc.

Later that evening, I was ready to post the video to my YouTube account and started the process, again leaving the computer working with the small progress bar creeping along at a snail’s pace. I actually went to bed and the next morning was greeted by a message telling me that at 4 GB, my video file was too large to post to YouTube! (An article on YouTube confirms that uploads are limited to either 2GB or 10 minutes in length.) This was a bit disappointing as the HD video quality was really nice. I emailed a colleague who has been working a lot with DIY video and he suggested instead of using the HD setting, select the Mobile setting, which would compress the Sugar Water Purple video down to a 480×272 video image which would easily upload to YouTube and even be viewable on high-end cell phones such as the iPhone or Droid.

This time, the video compression took about twenty minutes and the successful uploading to YouTube took less than a half-hour. Voila! Our DIY video project was now ready for distribution, courtesy of YouTube. I emailed Dan and the band members so they could check out the video online and give the final distribution copy their approvals. Everyone thought it looked great and the band members especially commented on how good the audio mix sounded.

Post Mortem
Working as a team, the band and our crew had completed what we had set out to do: plan, shoot, edit, and distribute a DIY performance video for almost no money. Looking back on the experience and the end result, there are only a few things that I would have done differently. First, I would have taken more time to test out the cameras and tripods, especially since we wanted to pan, zoom, and tilt while we were video recording. Next, I would have arranged to have a mixing board with at least sixteen mic inputs for a band this size. As a result of being limited to ten inputs, we had to drop the background vocal harmony parts on the song. Finally, I would have taken more care to ensure that I actually performed a distinct, sharply articulated handclap as our sync pulse on each take. Since I was holding the sign with our various take numbers up and then fumbling with the paper signs while I counted down and prepared to clap, only take one had a really loud, clean handclap. Next time, I’ll have one of the band members hold up the signs with the song title and take numbers so I can just concentrate on my small but important contribution to making the next DIY video.

By borrowing the cameras, tripods, Zoom recorder, mics and cables, and arranging to rent a local all-ages club on a Sunday afternoon, we got the video done for the following budget.

Black plastic sheeting for walls: $25
Black gaffer’s tape: $15
Case of water: $4
Hall rental: $50
Post-shoot pizzas for band and crew: $40

Total DIY Video Production Cost: $134

By careful planning, realistically defining what your goal is in making a performance video, and assuming you can borrow the necessary equipment and have access to a Mac or PC with DIY video editing software, you can experiment and learn how to make an effective music performance video to help advance your career.

Good luck and please feel free to post your own thoughts about any DIY music videos you have made.

Special thanks to Dan Faughnder, Erik Urbina, Ralph Roberts, Middagh Goodwin and the band Sugar Water Purple for collaborating on this project. Thanks also to James Gonzalez, Jeff Crawford, Jace Hargis and Dave Chase for the loan of various pieces of video and audio gear.

Story Links
DIY Performance Video Part 1: Pre-production and the Shoot

DIY Performance Video Part 2: Post-Production

iLife Suite of software from Apple (includes iMovie, Garage Band, iPhoto and iWeb) – $79 to purchase or upgrade, will only run on the Mac platform

Windows Live Movie Maker – don’t have a Mac? If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, try Microsoft’s free video creation app, which has many similar features to iMovie

9 thoughts on “DIY Performance Video – Part 3: Titles & Distribution

  1. Great article and a lot of good tips. I use AVS Video Editor it is very reasonable in price. It has tons of effects and light options as well as drag and drop options for different scenes. However using a green or blue plastic as a background will allow you to drop background footage into your video using AVS. I am not sure if iMovie will do this or not this effect gives your video a pro look. It will also do HD and all other high-end formats. I film every thing with white lighting then add the color lighting with AVS. I can control angle of exposure as well as duration and intensity. The camera movement and zooms seem to look better adding color lighting after shooting your video. Also if you plan on using fog it is fantastic as it makes the fog jump out at you. Film your fog with white light then add the color with AVS. I had to remove my video for some editing in the credits so I can‘t give you a link at this moment. As soon as I finish editing it I will upload it again then come back and post a link to it. In the mean time you can get a free trial of AVS @ avs4you(dot)com. I think if you try this video editor you will find your videos more exciting an fun to watch. Of course it take some time to learn but it is very rewarding.

    On the sound sync issue. I have found that recording the sound from the live shots of the band on the camera then lining you your mastered recording is easy. Lets say you shoot or just going to use the chorus of the song with the live band shot simply drag the mastered sound file so the chorus on the live shot and mastered sound file lineup now your in sync. Naturally this will take some practice until you get use to seeing an audio wave form soon you will be able to notice peaks in the sound wave that match. Preview your video from about for or five seconds before your chorus starts this way your eyes will focus watch the vocalist closely and listen if your synced your done. . If not zoom in and move your sound file the direction it needs to be moved. Keep repeating this step until your in sync.
    Now be sure to mute the sound file on the film do not mute the inserted mastered song. Save your file in your chosen format now you have the same sound quality on your video as the pros. Of course the sound quality is only as good as your mastered song file.

  2. BRAVO! This series on making a DIY video using imovie is immensely helpful – thanks mucho!! Glad to hear that You Tube now gives us a whopping 2GB of airtime these days.

  3. I would like to do a DIY video promo for my audio CD. Can you help me? I live in Newark NJ but am currently in Africa working on my next audio recording.


  4. What a coincidence,my friend and I were just running around to different video supply stores in pursuit of instructions and necessary gear/software to shoot mini promo videos for artists.I do record production so this was out of my league.we thought we’d have to purchase $3000 software.I have a mac pro with i-life so I have i-movie,i-dvd I come across this email depicting your diy journey and its like being in the middle of a desert and suddenly coming across a fountain of pure water.thank you

  5. Good interesting articles. You did a good job of explaining the processes.

    Regarding synching the audio and video: Rather than trying to synch the H4 audio and the video, it might have been easier to keep the camera audio, add the H4 audio on another track, synch the two audios and then delete the camera audio.

    Versions of the video: Your project had a few objectives which each of which could be better served with slightly different copies of the video. All could be created from the same post-production copy. For examples: A promotional copy could have the band’s name and website across the bottom of the screen during the entire video; An HD copy to be distributed on disk to family and friends; A You Tube copy for linking to the band’s web site; etc.


  6. One thing you could have done to maintain the HD format was change the output format H.264, MP4 would have resulted in a file under 1 gig, H.264 would still maintain brilliant colors, but not as large of a file as MPEG2. then you tube would give you all the options below whatever the maximum file size is that you uploaded preferable upload the file as 1080p for maximum depth. Personally I prefer to convert my own FLV files resulting in file sizes under 300 mb at 1080p. this video of mine was FLV on youtube.

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