Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Problem Solving on My ALA Advocacy Video

Recording at conferences and conventions is tricky. You have almost no control of the lighting in the hall. You are lucky if you just get an echo. Generally you will have to deal with air conditioner noise, electrical hums and the sounds of people walking back and forth.

And yet companies still give presentations on the floor of expos with underpowered microphones. And people like me try to record those presentations with a point and share camcorder.

Recording Device: Kodak Zi10 that records in 1280x720 mp4 with monaural sound. Hey, when the battery dies on your main camcorder and the 1st back-up is about to hit tilt, this is the last solder in the line.

Place of Recording: Anaheim Convention Center. This is a huge convention center that goes on for city blocks. The ceiling seems to be about fifty feet high. Just a huge, honking wide, open space.

The Problems:

  • The audio is not great.
  • Too far away from the speaker, can’t really be fixed but moving closer would have helped. The reality is I couldn’t move closer. There was a couch in front of me with participants and then the speaker in front of the couch. 
  • Hand held and shaky. My hands and purse was full of swag. What can I say?
  • This open caption version has a lost in video quality. Still learning how to do captions so hopefully I will get better at it.

Making the Cuts

This is an portion of a presentation. The speaker is talking about library advocacy in the public and governmental space. Her main point, as I understand it, is to appeal to the interests of the funders, what are they going to get out of supporting a library system. In the clip that I selected the speaker gives an example of about the use of the ideological high ground.

This is a simple video; a title, the clip and the closing credits. This is the process I used to make the video.

Cleaning Up the Audio
 Bad audio is unfixable. But if you can reduce the amount of audio ickyness in your video the better. It would be better not to record bad audio but in some situations it can’t be helped.

One of the first things I did was to edit the video down into the final form. Doing this after the final edit make it a heck of a lot easier to sync the improved sound with the video.

In order to improve the audio I exported the sound to a WAV file. Most video editing programs have a basic level audio feature that allows you to increase the volume of the audio but may or may not have anything to make speech clear and understandable.

If you are on the broke side of the fence you can use a program like The Levelator. I’m using a program called iZotope Music and Speech Cleaner. It has modules that deal with electrical hum and voice enhancements.

It is a balance between raising her voice above the background noise in the hall and distorting her voice.

If I remove too much of the background noise the speakers voice gets tinny. If I improve the vocal sound too much via the software the entire audio is distorted.

Once I have the audio at an acceptable level I imported back into my video editing program.

Here is another option that I need to seriously consider. Captioning. I have yet to find an easy, effective way to caption or subtitle a video. 

I have friends in the hearing impaired community that are ticked off when a spoken word video is posted without captions. I’m testing out a caption solution. I manage to create open captions using Camtasia Studio 8 but the video quality dropped. And there is some flicker action I can't seem to fix.

I will upload a non-caption version and compare. I can also add a transcript if it is really bad.

Putting It Together

Not much more to do. I need remove the original audio and add the corrected soundtrack.  Add a few title cards and I’m done. This is really a quick clean up edit.  One video finished and five more to go.

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