(originally posted on Echoes on 07/19/10)

by Keith Hatschek

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