When I started making videos of me playing guitar, I was using a small Nikon Finepix camera and noticed that the audio coming from the camera wasn’t the best quality. Then I decided that the fastest and cheapest way to get better audio was to get a USB microphone and I settled on the Blue Yeti because it could record in Stereo mode. But then I had another problem: I had to get the audio from my camera to match up with the audio that I was going to use from the USB microphone.

 

Syncing audio and video has got to be the most time consuming and somewhat frustrating task when it comes to making videos for Youtube. Nowadays I record video with the Sony A5000 which has decent sound, but the stereo microphones are located right next to the lens and there’s subsequently a lot of noise from the motors that control autofocus and stability.

 

What I used to do was extract the audio from the video, and then open both the camera audio and the USB mic audio in audacity and sync them there with the time shifter tool. Then I could export the newly mapped audio file as a fresh soundtrack and use that in my video, subsequently deleting the camera’s generated audio. There are all sorts of tutorials going about how to do this on Youtube and that’s what gave me the idea.

The HP Mini Laptop that runs Peppermint OS

 

 

But then I switched to a better video editor which let me see the audio waveform of both the camera and the microphone’s audio, so my next step was to do the audio syncing directly in the NLE. I don’t think this is as precise as doing it in Audacity because in Audacity I could literally zoom up to within microseconds on the waveform, but it was good enough for the video.

 

But this would also be time consuming and sometimes very slow and frustrating when dealing with large video files. Sometimes the lagging software would mean that I would have to wait for the mouse actions to load before doing anything else. Very frustrating.

 

 

Then I decided to search for ways to do this automatically and I found Shenidam. It’s a programme just for Linux but I happen to have an HP Mini laptop that runs Peppermint OS 8, so I decided to build Shenidam on that machine. But building software for me is time consuming and always involves extra steps.

 

Here's how I went about building Shenidam for the HP Mini computer:

 

On the getting started page it lists the various dependencies but then only has the source code. I didn’t feel like building even more software, so luckily I could use the builds in the repositories to speed up the process. Some of the things that I had to do were:

 

sudo apt install libsamplerate
sudo apt install libav-tools
sudo apt install libfftw3-double3
sudo apt install fftw3-dev
sudo apt install libboost-all

And then everything would compile correctly. Now all I needed to do was to shoot some videos with my camera, and simultaneously record the sound with my USB mic, and let Shenidam do its magic.

 

But when it comes to doing stuff automatically, I needed to go all in. All the way. Now I had fifteen camera files, fifteen audio files and damned if I were going to sync those one at a time. I needed a script to do this for me.

 

First I needed to get the audio out of my camera files. I organized my files so that the camera and audio files had the same name, except of course that the camera files have the extension .MTS and the microphone .WAV. Next, in DOS, I ran this to extract all the audio, convert it as a wav file and add the prefix cam-

 

for /R %i in (*.MTS) DO ffmpeg -i "%i" -vn -c:a pcm_s16le "cam-%~ni.wav"

 

I couldn’t seem to use the camera’s native AAC format because Shenidam silently fails when you attempt to use it on two different audio formats. So the camera audio here gets converted and saved in a .WAV container.

 

Next, armed with the audio from the microphone and the newly extracted camera audio, I plugged my drive into the HP Mini and under bash ran the following script:

 

for f in cam-*.wav; do shenidam -b ${f#cam-} -i $f -o ${f%%.*}-mapped.wav; done

 

Which would add the extension -mapped to the microphone audio and map it to a new file. Done!

 

Generally this method works really well although it really depends on microphone placement. I think if your microphone’s audio shows heavy clipping then Shenidam doesn’t work so well. But otherwise it’s a great tool.

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Cette session je suis professeur de guitare et d'ukulélé dans deux centre communautaires à Montréal. Le jeudi soir de 19h à 20h je serai au Centre communautaire de loisirs Saine-Catherine d'Alexandrie, dans le centre-sud, pour le cours de guitare populaire. Et lundi soir j'enseigne la guitare et l'ukulélé à la Maisonnette des parents situé dans la Petite-Patrie. Passez voir le site Web de ces organismes pour vous renseigner et vous inscrire aux cours, ils sont abordables et vous aurez beaucoup de plaisir!

Cours de guitare

Notre premier cours!

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Janice Tuck from the Fun Music Company (www.funmusicco.com) has some great ideas for music games. One of them is Musical Tic Tac Toe. Musical Tic-Tac-Toe is a fun and engaging way for your students to improve the speed at which they read notes. You place a card with nine squares on a table and compete with your music student to see who can make a complete line first. This game is normally played by drawing Xs and Os on a sheet of paper with nine empty squares. In this version, the student has to name the note before claiming the square with a token. You can use any sort of tokens to cover the squares. I use guitar picks or Monopoly pieces. You can ask your student to play with picks while you use Monopoly or Clue props, or vice versa. A player must name the note he or she intends to claim before placing the token on the note. The person who manages to make a complete line with the tokens wins the game.

It is very easy to create a Musical Tic Tac Toe sheet with the Picture Bingo card generator provided by ESL games. Head over to http://www.eslactivities.com/picturebingo.php to create your cards. Scroll down to the BINGO card generator. A standard tic-tac-toe is a 3x3 grid with nine squares, so from the drop-down menu choose 3 rows and 3 columns and the "total pictures on card" box will be automatically updated to show "9". Next, you will need a bunch of note images to use. I've created a handy folder with images here. Download all the images to one file folder. Now when you click "Continue" on the BINGO card generator page, a popup will ask you to enter your images. You will have to point your browser to the appropriate folder and add images one at a time. Be sure not to upload the same image! You only need to upload nine images as that is the number of squares available for our Tic Tac Toe.

When you have finished adding all your images, click continue. Be sure to select the proper paper size (letter or A4) and make sure Free Space is set to "no". Click on continue and then you're done! Here is an example of what your finished Tic-tac-toe card will look like:

Please share your thoughts in the comments and let me know what games you enjoy playing with your students!

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I like to shoot videos with my Sony Alpha 5000 camera as I have a cheap smartphone that doesn't shoot great video. However I also like Instagram, and uploading to Instagram is made much easier with videos shot with the phone's video camera. It's easy enough to upload photos taken with the camera directly to Instagram just by copying them to the phone and opening them with the app. Video, however, is a different story, which makes sense because video is much more complex. There are many different video formats, codecs, etc. For example, the Sony Alpha 5000 shoots videos in 60i format.

Trial and Error

I was initially very frustrated with Instagram because it seemed so fussy. Videos which would upload easily to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube would render as a snowy mishmash on Instagram (at worst) or contain massive green lines (at best) and would just look horrible. As I mentionned before, videos taken directly from my camera wouldn't even be recognized by the Instagram app. With help from Google, I found some settings that seem to work with Avidemux and these settings convert video from my camera to Instagram ready format. Avidemux is according to the website a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding. It's very basic and fast and loads with minimum fuss.

The Settings

Instagram only allows a maximum of 60 seconds per video, so trim your video appropriately using the A and B markers. Next, under the video tab, choose Mpeg4 AVC (x264). Under the configuration tab, go down to Rate control and set the Encoding Mode to Average Bitrate (two pass) and change the average bitrate to 2000 kbit/s. You can also experiment with this number if the video doesn't turn out right. Now click on the Filters button and add a crop filter and a resize filter until your video becomes noticeably smaller, say in the neighbourhood of 640x386 or 480x336. It can be in square or rectangular format; whatever you prefer. Next make sure the video is set to 29.97 frames per second (again, change this under the filter tab if required). Now under the Audio tab, select the AAC (faac) encoding. Click the Configure button and set a 128kbps. And now click the filter button and make sure the audio is set to mix mono and have a 44100Hz (44.1kHz) sampling rate. Finally, just before saving your video, set the output format to the MP4 muxer.

Troubleshooting

The settings above must be followed or else your video will look like crap, with green lines and snow, or both. Check the settings above if this happens and make sure all the appropriate filters are applied. I find that sometimes resizing the video downwards often helps.

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