LAMPG Video in HitFilm Express 2017

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Oh my, am I ever embarrassed. In my look at Shotcut I dismissed HitFilm Express after a very cursory trial. Now I’ve spent a bit more time with the program and discovered that HitFilm Express 2017 provides the holy grail for Look At Me Play Guitar video – automatic audio sync. I’ve only tried it on one clip, but HitFilm took my video and audio, compared the camera audio track to the external recording, and created a new merged file with the replacement audio and ready to edit.

As I mentioned in that previous post, HitFilm is as much a compositing tool as it is an editing tool. Compositing in video refers to merging layers of different material into a single scene. This might be green screen background replacement, or muzzle flashes added to a toy gun. I don’t expect to use much of the compositing power of HitFilm, but titling is done using the compositing tool so it’s still required learning.

If you visit the Shotcut home page then head over to the home of HitFilm I think you’ll see a big difference in approach. Dan Dennedy, author of Shotcut and the underlying MLT Framework, is operating in the open source world and he keeps things pretty low key. The HitFilm team led by Josh Davies offers the free HitFilm Express but are not shy about encouraging the purchase of feature packs and upgrades. And while the Shotcut download is simple and unhindered, HitFilm is yours only after you announce yourself to social media. A minor annoyance, for sure, but an example of a different ethos and the startup screen of each program reflects that difference as well.

Learning to Sync

I started off this exploration of HFE by simply dragging in the same video and audio clips I used in the Shotcut demo. While Shotcut and HitFilm (and Edius and many others) use different names and panel layouts, the idea of a place to hold media, a place to view media, and a place to arrange media in time seems to be the common paradigm. So I was able to create a synced final video just by fumbling around in HitFilm. It was only while I was surfing through YouTube tutorials that I learned that HFE 2017 includes automatic audio sync.

All it takes to align the external audio with the video clip is to select both clips in the Media panel, right click one of them, and choose sync. After a bit of processing HFE delivers a new copy of the video file with (Merged) appended to the file name. So far my experience only applies to a single short clip, but it was certainly a quick and painless process that worked accurately.

Here’s a video demonstrating the process in HitFilm Express 2017:

Learning HitFilm

You can find numerous HFE tutorials on YouTube. I learned a lot from the HitFilm channel and also from Shiny Films.

Versus Shotcut

Besides audio sync, HitFilm has another big advantage over Shotcut and that is keyframes. This feature adds a lot to any video program because it makes gradual changes possible, even easy. A slow zoom or pan, a gradual change in opacity, a moving title, all these operations are simple with keyframes and nearly impossible without.

HitFilm is a little sluggish compared to Shotcut, so folks with less powerful systems might find Shotcut more pleasant to use. HitFilm can be a bit frustrating when it starts lagging as I moved clips around, for instance.

I tried several different file formats in both programs, including clips from an iPhone and one from a Canon Vixia camcorder. Both programs handled these clips, but an old .MPG that I had hanging around worked in Shotcut but showed no video in HitFilm Express.

To be honest, I’m not going to make either of these my day-to-day NLE, especially since my copy of Edius 8 is paid for. But it’s just possible that my next full time NLE could be one of these two programs, the capability of this free software just gets more impressive.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 at 4:19 pm and is filed under Tutorials, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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    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.

      Welcome!

    Philosophy

      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.