Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Musical Travesty creates Video Opportunity? - Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video

Two weeks ago we went to a backyard party on Labor Day.  The hostess was feeling uninhibited (thanks to free-flowing alcohol) so she dusted off her decades-old accordion.  Our unscheduled entertainment included vocal stylings by her husband.  Both the instrumentalist and singer chose to use a melodic key that had never before been heard on planet earth.

This was a magic moment, one of those rare occasions that cry out for a video archive.  So I used my iPhone 4S.  It was well past sunset, and the only light was provided by gas flame in a fire pit.  The raw footage is incredibly dark, with host and hostess silhouetted in the fading light of the western sky.  Take a look at what I was able to do in a half-hour edit using Final Cut Pro X:

The original sound was nearly unintelligible.  I boosted levels using FCPX's built-in audio effect "Compressor" plus some keyframed volume adjustments.   The vocalist (who is singing some aberration of Julida Polka) was slurring his words, so I added titles for the lyrics.

The silhouetted video was a real problem.  No combination of FCPX's built-in filters seemed to boost the lighting levels acceptably.  I had obtained a deeply-discounted copy of Crumplepop's "Finisher" plug-in at the 2012 NAB show, but never used it before.  Adjustments to Finisher's Subject, Background, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, and Detail sliders helped a lot.  Then I completed the enhancement with FCPX's built-in "Spotlight" filter.

The result is grainy and imperfect; but most importantly it's funny!
This is a hobby, after all.  We have to embrace magic moments like these and find a way to make our audience laugh.  And it's even better when friends deserve to be embarrassed!

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