04 September 2010

Syncing additional audio to movie file

Well, I've just re-registered my business as a photographer and filmmaker after so much time on stay-at-home-dad duty. Now it's OFFICIAL after all my talking and stuttered attempts at a return to my career.

Now the pressure's on to find and retain quality clients and nail down my filmmaking skills as that'll be the mainstay of what I'll be doing. I'll keep the stills to my street photography endeavours and to providing b-roll for my films.

As I've been learning about filmmaking I've been somewhat frustrated by audio. The gear I use handles gorgeous audio quality but it gets in the way of the viewfinder facility on my camera and so I've decided that I'll gather my audio separately instead and sync in post.

However, as I'm on a start up budget and cannot yet afford the power of Final Cut Pro, (unless someone out there has a multi license version and can help me out), I'll continue to use the very effective iMovie 09, which I very much enjoy using and which I think can yield professional quality. It certainly can handle everything I require at this stage. Except effective audio syncing.

But I have come up with a very effective solution that does not take too much time and therefore does not adversely affect my workflow. I use GarageBand.

Although FCP is very powerful and is perhaps the best option for broadcast quality outputting, certainly with regard to colour grading, iMovie is very, very useful and substantially more powerful when used with the rest of the iLife 09 suite of programs. I'm quite certain that many filmmakers are unaware of the potential of the iLife suite when combined sensibly.

Before I start my iMovie project, I pull my movie files and the accompanying audio files, gathered on another device, into GarageBand. Then I simply use the graphics to line up the camera's audio track with that of the field recorder. I find that clapping at the start and at the end helps to quickly anchor it all down. Then I drop the volume on the camera's audio, which is simply there for syncing purposes, trim the ends and save by exporting at full quality. That way the actual video file is untouched and the extra audio file simply embedded.

Once all the files are prepped this way, I'll import them into iMovie and make the film.

It seems so simple. There are so many people out there who are annoyed at Apple for ridding iMovie 08 and 9 of the timeline facility and yet there is such an effective work around.

Many people continue to use iMovie HD but if you want to work stills into your project, you simply have to use 08 or 09 as photos in the HD version simply fall apart. And you don't have the picture in picture facility which can be so useful in documentaries.

Okay, that's enough from me for now. My next post will be about my latest little film project with my kids. After that my posts will be all about readying my business after so long out of the loop.

Back soon.
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