Problem Solving and the Music Video

This is a short story of what went into making a Christmas video, some of the problems that arose, what I learnt fixing problems and how it has been helpful.

A recent project has been to edit together a Christmas video for a company and redub with my own voice. This project was met with technical hiccups and problems to solve, here is what I learnt.

Downloading Youtube Audio

Most YouTube to MP3 services look sketchier than Ah-ha's Take on Me video, and via another project, I had a script that could download only audio from YouTube. See this gist for the source code. However, YouTube is often changing their internal systems, the library being used, PyTube, was erroring. Solving the problem was a bit of an issue, as just googling the Interpreter error brought up no solution. This is where I remembered that PyTube is open source, so to the issue tracker I ventured.

After a dive into an old issue, one of the contributors to the library had a patch. After finding the relevant module file and replacing the broken code. I had the audio. This was only step-one on a one hundred long to-do list - and had already eaten an hour of time.

Backing Track Audio and the issues with Audacity

Audacity (Audio Recording Software) is interacted with using an interface converting the analogue signal of a microphone into a digital signal, which can be manipulated. Unknown at the time, the audio interface I have has a large lag time. Whilst trying to fix the out of sync audio with my dubbed vocals, I ended up rigging another computer to record the vocals and re-syncing the audio later.

This was a bit of a janky solution, but a solution none the less. I managed to get what I needed and then find a more permanent fix.

MOV format and issues.

The version of Corel Video Studio I was using to piece together the video had an issue with video recorded on an iPhone. iPhones natively export to a MOV format, with very little choice in others. After another seemingly pointless time sink trying to find a solution, I remembered I had FFmpeg installed which is an insanely useful audio conversion library useable from the command line. After writing another short script to go over all the video files, run the FFmpeg command to convert them to the .mp4 format, the largest part of the project could be commenced.

Trivial projects and gauging time

This project was a really good example of how I am not very experienced in estimating times for things. I had in mind that this would have been around 4-6 hours to edit, record audio and sync up into one neat project. I know that pitfalls cannot be avoided, however, the final edit took an hour more than I alotted, audio recording, audio downloading and finding solutions to problems that arose ate up around 3 more hours than I had.

Maybe it is time I adopt the double it and add a half rule, but then again guestimations are never good in official projects. Saying that, this rule about close to the amount of time taken.

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