So, we have discussed some basics in making videos for your SingSnap karaoke songs. With the first official SingSnap contest of the year under way, it is a good time to dive into getting your creative vision onto the screen. Perhaps you are not quite ready to make a personal appearance, so today’s article will concentrate on how to get a memorable performance without your actual presence onscreen. Yep, we are talking slideshows or what I like to call picture stories.
Just a couple of things before we start: SingSnap member Dinalydia has a wonderful way for you to get tips and experiment with video on her Creative Video For All – Continued! thread in the SingSnap Challenges & Themes – Active forum. This is a great way to get some feedback on your videos and learn new techniques from the SingSnap Community. She also has a wonderful tutorial on using facial and hand gestures in your videos to express yourself more completely when you only have a small area to work in.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I would share your videos inspired by this series. SingSnap member Shetlandbob has shared two of his very first attempts at video presentations using some of the advice I’ve shared so far. Please check out My Own Kind of Hat and American Saturday Night and let him know what you think.
HERE WE GO
Ok, now to get started. It is fairly easy to put together a nice montage of clips, but to do it in a way that tells a story can be a bit trickier. If you want to get the emotion of the song across without using yourself as the main focus, you need to find suitable photos and/or video clips that will help you tell your story in a way that engages your audience and keeps them glued to the screen.
BE A RESPONSIBLE DIRECTOR
One warning about using images and videos from the web. Just because you can find something in a Google search does not mean that it is free for you to use. If you use a photo, image or video that is copyrighted by someone else (and everything that is published online is copyrighted by the way) without their express permission or license, you run the risk of your video being pulled off the SingSnap servers in the event we get a take down notice by the owner. This will happen with no notice, so be aware of that.
Beachfront B-Roll - an amazing collection of video clips of all kinds.
free-video-footage - some fun professional clips as well as audio and photos.
movietools.info - some really nice video loops in different categories.
Public Domain Comedy – old comedy bits from television shows that are in the public domain. Please note that they are in Quicktime format and if your video does not support Quicktime, you’d have to convert it when you down load it to wmv or mov format.
videvo – Some really nice graphical videos including countdowns. Again, if you have a software that does not support Quicktime, you will need to convert the video.
Stock Photos For Free.com – Amazing graphics and images you can use for overlays and backgrounds.
StockFreeImages - searchable database with thousands of free images. Each image comes with its own credit line, so be sure to copy and paste that into your images credits.
stock.xchng - lots of great images that are searchable by keyword. Some of the images require credit lines, so be sure to check the Availability information and use the credit line if required.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Ok, now that we know where to get images, how do we use them? If you have never used video editing software before, this may be the biggest learning curve you face in learning how to do videos. You can use online slideshows, but most of them simply put pictures together. What you really want is to have your images timed with your song, and to do that, you need some kind of video editing software.
Newer Windows machines come with Windows Movie Maker pre-installed, and Macs come with iLife which includes iMovie. Older Windows computers may not have come with Movie Maker, but you can download it free at Microsoft’s website. Note that for older machines, you may have to also download Service Pack 2 as well. There are, of course other, more advanced, software available, but they can come with a pretty hefty price tag.
The below instructions are for Windows Live Movie Maker because I have a PC, however if you have a Mac, you can still follow along as the general concept is the same although the buttons and menus may be located and named differently.
Locate Windows Live Movie Maker and open it. You will get a fresh canvas to work on. Obviously, the first order of business is to import the images you want to use. Click on “Add videos and photos”. Locate the images you want to use. Note: When getting ready to put your video together, it is very helpful to have all the images you are going to use saved in one folder. It makes it much easier to find them, and you can add them by bulk as well. This isn’t crucial, but is a time saver.
Go ahead and add the first image. You do not need to worry about adding images in order as you can rearrange them later. If you have several images in one folder, you can click the small box next to each file name to select two or more and when you are done, click Open. You will see your images populate the large window on the right. This is your timeline.
If your image opens up with Text already attached (that isn’t already part of the image), you will probably want to remove this. Some of my files were saved with the website url as the file name, and I don’t want this included in my video, so I need to get rid of it. Right click on the text beneath the image and choose “Remove”. Now is the time to arrange your images in the order you’d like them to be in, if they are not already there. Click and drag the image to the spot you want it to go. Sometimes, you may want to use the same image more than once. You can do this by right clicking on the image, choose Copy and then right click the area you want it to go and choose Paste.
Now it’s time to have a little fun. Notice the areas I’ve marked in purple and yellow on the ANIMATIONS tab. The purple area contains a big list of Transitions. Transitions are what take you smoothly from one image to the next usually with some kind of graphic element such as stars, stripes, etc. Click on the image that you want to put a transition IN FRONT of, and choose one from the list. If you hover over each one, you can see a quick preview of what they do. NOTE: On the first slide, there are only a few transitions available UNLESS you put a title slide in front of it (see more on that later).
The yellow area is for Pan and Zoom. Most of you know what Zoom means (making larger or smaller). Pan is moving the image smoothly from one area of the screen to another. Again, you can hover over the various options to get a quick preview.
Experiment with these to find an effect combination that works for you. These are optional and do not have to be added, but makes for a more professional look.
The next bit of fun is adding some interesting effects to your images if you want to, and if it makes sense for your song. Click on the Visual Effects tab and hover over each effect to get a quick preview. Some of the effects simply change the color, but there are a few animated effects that you could try. Below, I selected the Threshold effect for my first image. You’ll notice that I also made a duplicate of this image to put right behind it.
As the video starts, the first image will show the kitty with the threshold effect applied. I changed the transition slightly so that when the second image starts, it will look like it is changing into the regularly colored kitty. (I have a full copy of my video below so you can see how that looks).
Now for the tedious part: timing your video to your recording. You DID make your audio recording first, right? I guarantee you are going to get sick of the sound of your own voice before this part of the process is over. Because you are working with 3 different programs (your video editing program, ManyCam or other webcam software, and SingSnap’s recorder), you will need to tweak and re-tweak several times before you get a good match. So here we go.
It’s a good idea to put a title slide on your video for three reasons.
- You are then not limited on the number of transitions you can choose from for your first image,
- It’s a nice introduction and,
- It can help you tweak the timing so much more easily.
To insert a title slide, click on your very first image. Go to the Home tab and click the teeny tiny little box at the very top of the 3 small boxes next to Snapshot (seen in the inset in the screen shot below). Once you’ve added the slide, you can now edit the text, the background, how the text appears on the screen, etc. The important thing to do here is to set the duration. Set it at around 8 to 10 seconds. This should give you plenty of room to cover the silence at the start of the recording as well as any music intro on most songs. You can easily add or subtract time from this setting to get the start of your actual video synced with the start of your vocals.
Open your SingSnap recording and click the “Harmonize your recording” button. On the next page, click the “Harmonize your recording” button once more to open the recording in duet/harmonize format. If you have two monitors – AWESOME. Put SingSnap up on one and your video software up on the other. If you don’t, try to arrange the windows in such a way that you can quickly access the PLAY buttons on both.
Now, click PLAY (green arrow) on the SingSnap player and as quickly as possible, click the Play button on your video (the play button is just beneath the video preview window). Note the places you want the images to change. For your title slide, determine how many seconds you need it to stay on the screen before moving onto the first image. Stop both programs and go to the video editor. Under the Edit tab, use the Duration box to input the time needed in seconds. You can use full seconds by using the drop down if you like, or you can edit directly in the box if you need to refine it even further. Using a stop watch might help as well.
Go back and forth in this manner until all of your slides are lined up the way you like them. I told you that you’d get sick of your own voice, didn’t I? When changing the duration of slides, you can also change the duration of the transitions under the Animations tab. Sometimes a slide is so short that the transition takes up almost the whole time, so setting the transition duration lower, or even higher sometimes, can make for a better flowing show.
Now that you have your video synced up (you think – evil laugh) to your audio, save your show. Click the little drop down box at the top left and select Save Project As (this saves the project so you can edit it – VERY important). Name your project and Save. Now, click the little drop down again and select Save Movie. Choose the output type you want (I usually just select the “Recommended” option), then hit Save. This can take several minutes depending on how long it is and how many bells and whistles you added. Go grab a water or cup of coffee, and meet me back here.
Open up ManyCam (this is the one I have written instructions for, but if you have a different cam software, feel free to use it). Click on the Video tab and then Video Gallery. Click the Add button and then “Movie(s)”. Locate your video and open it. Now arrange the SingSnap window and the ManyCam window so you can quickly get to both control panels. Be sure to choose the ManyCam window on the SingSnap recorder (it should show the very beginning of your video in the preview area)
Click the RECORD (red circle) button on the SingSnap recorder and as quickly as possible click the Play button on ManyCam. (Be sure that you have your microphone or mixer turned off OR you turn Record Volume on the SingSnap recorder all the way down – you don’t want all your clicking noises heard on your song). Note whether the video now starts where you had planned it to. Determine if you need to wait a beat before clicking Play on ManyCam or if you need to try to click faster.
If that method does not get your video in sync well enough, now is when you will say THANK YOU ANNIE! for making you create a title slide. Go back to your video software and open up the project that you saved earlier…not the movie…the project. Click on your title slide and either add or shave off some time and resave both the project and the movie.
Delete the old one from ManyCam by clicking its thumbnail and then the small red X at the upper right of the thumbnail. Add your new version back into ManyCam and see if you fixed the problem. With the title slide, you shouldn’t have to mess around with tweaking each individual slide; simply shaving some time off the beginning or even adding a few milliseconds to it should be enough.
Preview your SingSnap recording, and save it. Phew! You are DONE! Congratulations!
This may seem like a very time consuming process, and it is. I’m not gonna lie to you. It can be well worth it though in terms of increased views and comments, and it may take you at least one step further in any contest you enter. If nothing else, it certainly adds an element of entertainment that elevates your recording to another level. With everything, practice makes perfect, so play with it whenever you can, and have fun. It’s addictive though…beware.
If you want to share your videos with me, please please please do! Send me a link to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to see them. Below is the teeny tiny little video I created during this instructional process.
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How To: Make A Video For Your SingSnap Karaoke Songs – Part 2 - the offer for $15 off of ManyCam Pro ends in 2 days!
References - (I’ve put all the links to the video and image sites here)