A new video from my band

It’s been more than a year (sorry about that) but at last Snake Suspenderz has released a new video.

This one was recorded live at the fabulous Can Can in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. It’s the title track from our last CD.

I’m especially proud of it for two main reasons.

First, when I arrived at the Can Can I found that there wasn’t any safe place to simply set up my cameras on tripods and let them run. So, instead, I grabbed two people out of the audience, handed them my cameras and said, “go for it!” One was my housemate Gyan and the other was a fella named Guy who had seen us at the Art Car show during the Fremont Solstice Fest and liked us well enough to come on down to our gig. (I wrote about that here, and it has a video, it just wasn’t made by us.)

Since neither camera was “static” this video has a lot more movement, camera angles, etc. and is, in my opinion anyways, a lot more interesting visually than pretty much any other video I’ve made.

The second reason is how I managed to put together bits of audio from both cameras and tweak them into a nice soundtrack. I’ll get to all the geeky details after the video.

Serpentine – Snake Suspenderz

OK. Here comes all the audio geek stuff. You’ve been warned.

Along the same lines as “no room for a tripod,” I also couldn’t find a decent place to put my little audio recorder. I decided that the audio from the camera(s) would have to do. (They actually do a pretty decent job of audio recording, just not as good as the Zoom.) Since Gyan mostly stayed in one place, the audio from her camera formed the majority of the soundtrack. However, she turned off her camera right after the “woo!” that started the applause, and I wanted the applause in the video.

Fortunately, Guy turned off his camera shortly after the applause ended. So my first task was to extract the audio from both cameras and move those files from my Mac (where I do my videos) to my main Linux box (where audio is done). Don’t ask.

After a bit of futzing about in Ardour, I ended up with the last few moments of Guy’s audio merged nicely to the end of Gyan’s. Minor pat on the back for myself here. I saved that and opened it up in Audacity where I did all sorts of things, many of them for the first time.

First, I gave it a good EQ using my standard settings. This basically cleans up the ultra-low and ultra-high ends of the spectrum. Then I did some volume adjustments to a few areas, mostly lowering the volume from the end bits from Guy’s camera as his had recorded a lot “hotter” than the other one. Not a hardware issue, mind you, he was just more squarely in the midst of the audience and more in front of the main speakers than Gyan was.

About this time I noticed something odd. The cameras record sort of a “faux stereo” track. The left and right channels are pretty much the same, but for some odd reason one of them (can’t remember which right now) was definitely at a lower volume. So I split the stereo tracks into two mono tracks, deleted the hotter one—to leave me some “headroom” to play with—and duplicated the other one. I set one as left the other as right and re-merged them into a stereo track.

Next I did a general leveling on the stereo track. Leveling brings down the loud spikes a tad and raises up the rest of the audio a tad. It was sounding pretty good now except…

…since Gyan was standing on the opposite side of the stage from salamandir, the tuba wasn’t as strongly present as it should be. So I did a light bass boost at the 200Hz frequency and an even lighter one at 150Hz. Hoo! What a difference that made!

Lastly I ran it through the normalizer, raising the volume on the whole track until the peaks were all at 0dB. Any louder than that and you get clipping. Clipping sounds bad.

Now I put the finished audio track back on my Mac and started in with the video editing. You’ve seen and heard the results. I think it turned out pretty well. Tell me what you think in the comments!

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