Can Shotcut Cut a LAMPG Video?

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

I hear Mac users have it easy when it comes time to edit their Look At Me Play Guitar videos – their free iMovie application handles trimming heads and tails, syncing external audio, and rendering high quality video. Until recently those of us in PC land have either opened our wallets, struggled with the Microsoft offering, or struggled with some open source alternatives.

Lately, though, things have changed a bit. For folks with a big hardware budget and a willingness to learn, DaVinci Resolve is available as a free download. Hitfilm Express is also available for free. And good old Shotcut has either gotten more solid, or I’ve finally absorbed enough to avoid crashing.

Since my hardware won’t handle Resolve and Hitfilm is strongly oriented toward special effects, I’ve been putting together a test video using Shotcut.

What Works for Me

Shotcut starts up ready to go to work, and I get started by dragging my audio and video files from a File Explorer window into the Shotcut playlist panel. One of the tutorial videos I watched suggested that I should use the playlist as a media bin. Be prepared for Shotcut to take some time to ingest a file and don’t panic if nothing seems to be happening.

One of the things that has helped me get a handle on Shotcut was to enlarge the timeline area by pulling up the drag handle in the middle of the screen. Another trick is to zoom out on the timeline so that the whole clip is visible.

When I drag a clip from the playlist to the timeline area Shotcut creates a new track in the timeline. But when I drag the second clip, in this case the audio track, it appends to the first track even if I’m dragging to the empty space below the first track. My solution has been to use the right click menu to create an audio track, then dragging the audio clip from the playlist panel to this new track.

With a good clap resulting in an obvious spike on both the camera audio and the secondary audio waveforms it’s easy to drag the clips into sync. Once I get the spikes near each other I position the cursor near one of the spikes and use the timeline zoom to get a closer view so I can fine tune the placement. A quick listen makes it obvious – if there’s only one sharp clap we have sync. Any smeared sound or echo or double clap means we need to tweak a bit.

With the two tracks in sync I mute the audio on the camera track. Then I trim the beginning and end of the two clips, drag them both to the start of the timeline, and export my edited clip.

Here’s a video demonstrating this workflow. I’m bringing together a 4K video I shot with my Lumix LX100 and a WAV audio file from my Zoom H6. The subject is one chorus of our old standby, Salomila.

And here’s the video that resulted from that tutorial/demo:

What’s Currently Missing

I’m really pleased with the speed and export quality of Shotcut. Once I learned to enlarge the timeline area and zoom out on the timeline to see the whole picture, I haven’t had any unexpected issues (tech talk for crashing). And the more I’ve explored the features the more impressed I’ve been. There’s a nice selection of audio effects like EQ, compression, and reverb that might be helpful for our LAMPG videos.

With all the happy discoveries, I’m still having trouble figuring out a simple way to overlay titles in my videos. I’ve come up with a couple of techniques, but I’m surprised at the need for workarounds. Perhaps I’m missing something in the program’s capabilities.

But the big reason I won’t be switching to Shotcut as my regular Non Linear Editor is the lack of one critical feature. The feature lacking in Shotcut is keyframing. This is the ability to set a parameter at one point in the video, set a different value of that parameter later in the video, and have the program make a smooth change from one to the other. A simple example would be the position of a title moving from the bottom to the top of the screen. Without keyframing these kinds of simple effects are difficult or impossible. Not every parameter is keyframable in every NLE, but it’s the mark of a powerful tool when keyframing is widely implemented in the editing and effects tools. Even REAPER has parameter automation for its video filter.

So I’m sticking with Edius for my video editing, but I’ll be keeping an eye on Shotcut. They publish a menu of planned enhancements, and keyframing is at the top of that list. I’ll be very interested to see what Shotcut can do with that addition.


Three Stereo Mic Arrays Compared

Friday, April 7th, 2017

The video forums and sites I visit go in a lot of different directions, but one of the most consistent points they make is the importance of audio in video. Those of us shooting “look at me play guitar” videos actually have it easy compared to folks doing documentaries or dramatic films, because we usually don’t mind having the microphone(s) visible in the shot, but since we’re showing off our music we really need the audio to shine. For acoustic players like me that means using microphones. The natural sound of the acoustic guitar just doesn’t come across with any pickup system I’ve found yet, so learning to position mics for a compelling recording is a big part of making a satisfactory video. (more…)


iRig Acoustic Stage Comparo

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Those folks at IK Multimedia have figured out how to trigger my impulse buy urge and they did it again with the iRig Acoustic Stage. The iRig Acoustic is a sound-hole mounted MEMS mic that plugs into a smartphone. The Stage version comes with an MEMS mic and a preamp/mixer. This Stage preamp offers tone control, anti-feedback, and the ability to mix an external source. (more…)


Look At Me Play Guitar – Sony HDR-MV1 vs Canon HF R500

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

I read lots of posts by guitar players and other performers who want to shoot video of themselves performing. They want decent quality video with decent or better audio, usually on a budget. And they usually don’t want to embark on a technical education project or take up a new hobby, they just want to point and shoot and play. (more…)


Self-Duet Videos in REAPER

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

I’ve shot a few self-duet vidoes over the last few years, playing both sides using different tunings or instruments or just having a lead with accompaniment. It took me a few years to figure out the tricks that make this kind of video work, but with some careful staging and framing of the shoot and a powerful NLE (Non-linear Editor) for the editing the process is actually pretty simple.

I’ve gotten requests to do a tutorial on self-duets, and happily REAPER video features have advanced enough to make self-duet edits a snap, so I set up in the living room and played through my old favorite, Salomila, on the slack key guitar with `ukulele accompaniment. And I did a tutorial video as I went through the process of editing a self-duet video in REAPER. (more…)


iOS Tools for LAMPG Videos

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

LAMPG – Look at Me Play Guitar – is certainly not the most absurd video genre we find on YouTube, but then that’s not a very high barrier, is it? For those of us who are not stars already, most of our videos will get only a handful of hits, make no money, and bring us no recognition, fame, or even infamy. But with all this I still find it more fun to make a good video than a bad one, so I’m always trying to learn to make these little movies better. (more…)


Wind Protection for the Sony HDR-MV1

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

In my comparison of the Sony HDR-MV1 to the Zoom Q4 I noted that the Zoom comes with wind protection in the form of a rather effective hairy windsock. This feature gives the Zoom a clear win over the Sony for outdoor recordings using the built-in mics. (more…)


Zoom Q4 vs Sony HDR-MV1

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

The digital camera market is so vigorous that it seems like every niche gets exploited. There are even video cameras aimed at musicians of all people. I call them “music cameras” and the basic idea is a small, light, simple camera with fairly high quality stereo audio. (more…)


About the Blog

    Howdy, my name is Fran Guidry and this is my Homebrewed Music blog.

    I play Hawaiian slack key guitar and recorded my solo acoustic CD at home. Most of the recording information I find on the internet seems focused on bands, drums, multitracking, and so on but my main focus is recording solo acoustic guitar. Lately I’ve been enjoying video recording along with audio, so that shows up in the blog as well.

    I’m also a guitar nut. I love big ones and little ones, handmades and factory guitars, cheap ones and expensive ones. So I’ll be sharing the fun of exploring guitars as well, along with the challenges of amplifying acoustic guitars for live performance.



    My recording philosophy is pragmatic, skeptical, not super critical. After all, the performance is by far the most important component of a track, and every aspect of any recording is a matter of taste.

    But I do like to know “about stuff.” Back in hifi days I learned about double blind testing. I learned that we humans can easily hear differences that don’t really exist. The more I’ve learned about our human auditory system, the more I’m skeptical of what people say they hear, especially if they claim that a particular microphone or preamp or cable has some magical property.

    I’ve only been recording since 2001, and when I started I found the usual places on the internet. I sought advice and accepted it, thought I would improve my recordings by using more expensive equipment. It didn’t work.

    Two things that did seem to lead to better recordings were experience and room treatment. Getting an appealing sound is the combination of many small details, and learning those details only comes from experience. Amd the sound of the recording space is obviously a big factor.

    I’ve only recorded seriously using digital technology, but I remember trying to record rehearsals and gigs back in analog days. I don’t have any nostalgia for analog recording and playback systems at all. I think even low end digital systems can capture marvelous recordings. So when I look at gear, I look for good specs: low noise, broad flat frequency response, wide dynamic range, low distortion. I’m not interested in colorful components, mics and preamps with a sound, I want the sound to be the sound of my guitar.

    But the last word is that I’m just learning and I hope you find something useful in my posts.