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Making a Video Using an iPhone, Flash, Garageband and iMovie

May 14th, 2010 Comments off

In addition to being part of Silicon Spark, Joanna Duff also is a singer-songwriter who plays at local venues every month or so for an additional creative release. Her next show is June 4th, and we decided to shoot a video. I have done a number of traditional software demonstration and training videos, and even produced a launch video for Hyperic’s Cloud Status. I really enjoy the creativity and recording. I have also been teaching myself more of the basics in Flash lately. Traditionally I assigned all Flash work to creative staff, but decided this would be a great time to practice some of the skills.

Here is the result:

To create the video, we really only purchased a few props including a remote control car, a toy dinosaur, and a 12 pack of Natty Light for all under $30. The rest we had.

  1. Plan the video. Joanna wrote a script for the voice over. It was just a short one page Word doc, but it helped guide us on what kind of footage we would want. We laid down the first cut of the audio so we would know how much video we needed to shoot. The first track was about 35 seconds so we figured we needed about 5 times that amount in footage of the racetrack, plus knew we were laying down a raw track of just Joanna for the end. (Ultimately, we thought of something funnier to put in the middle section, so I did re-record the audio later, but this was a good guide).
  2. Record the audio. We recorded the voice over using Garageband sound effects, wrapped over a vocal that I did using my Blue Snowball microphone. We could have used the built-in mic from my Mac, especially because it was meant to have noise in the background but I much prefer the clarity the microphone provides and to add in noise on purpose. For sound effects, we added crowd cheering, drag race and sports car racing from the iLife library. We also recorded the voice under the Male Speech instrument and then dropped the pitch -6 so that my female voice would sound a little more male.
  3. Shoot the video. We shot the video on Joanna’s iPhone. My backyard is currently a construction zone, so we had lots of woodscraps to create our “racetrack”.
  4. Create the video project. Then I created a new project and a new event in iMovie. We imported all the iPhone video clips right into our new event and started editing. I have also used Screenflow and Final Cut Pro in the past for video editing, but I wanted to compare the prowess of iMovie to the others. Final Cut Pro obviously has a lot more bells and whistles – particularly for layering and transitions on the video. But iMovie really did well. I laid down the car sound effects directly in iMovie and merged the crowd and my voice over in Garageband. I was able to mix them in iMovie fairly easily – just drag and drop. The audio track was constrained to how much video I laid down, so it was hard to use the length of audio as a guide for how much footage I needed to mix in, but overall that is fairly trivial.
  5. Build custom animation. Two sections needed flash footage, which I custom-built in Flash. These two pieces were fairly quick and dirty to make. I took a single graphic and made a 100 frame Motion Tween. A good reference for how easy it was to create is out here on Smartwebby. Essentially though I created two tracks. The lower track was all black so when my upper track spun there was no white space. The upper track had a black border and my image or text. Once I had created the top track, I placed my cursor out on track 100 and hit F5 to insert a frame. I then right clicked and created a motion tween. Then every 10 frames I went back and hit F6 to create a new keyframe and adjusted rotation and scale so it would spin and pulse. Publish the output as a Quicktime movie and you are ready to import that into your iMovie Event for use in your video.
  6. Finalize editing. I played with video clips ensuring the voice and sound effect track made sense with the video that was overlaid on top of it. This is important to give the video more impact and also the main reason it is important to lay down the audio first. Its way easier to clip in video footage than redo your voice over countless time to match the video.
  7. Export the movie. In iMovie,  using Share > Export Movie and selecting Large format as a .m4v, you will get a video that is high quality and ready to upload to YouTube.

The whole video took about 30 minutes of filming, including setting up the shots. We ended up with just over 6 minutes of video. The recording of audio and editing took about 2.5 hours – including building both the flash movies. This falls right in line with what it takes to build software demos (aside from the demo set up itself which can obviously vary). A good rule of thumb that I have for video production is it is roughly 3 hours of work for every minute of output on a custom build. This video seems about the same. Of course, if your video is templated and you are just importing clips and editing them together this estimate does not apply. We can shoot and edit a 6 minute guest video at the aquarium on Final Cut in about one hour and drop it into a much larger video template, but for a custom video – this seems about right.

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