Those Pandemic Vids: Walkin' Papers


The pandemic was... well, you know. So many things. But one of the good things was my personal Esther (Biblical Esther) moment where I was kind of ready for such a time as this, because my weird grab bag of skills coalesced into the ability to make the pandemic music vid where everybody recorded their own part at home and we all sang together in our little windows.

This is "Walkin' Papers" that we did, partly to serenade our friend Vicki, whose kidneys tried to kill her and she was in the hospital trying to get them to cooperate. 



I had a lot of fun when people asked me if there's an app to make one of these. There isn't. Here's how I do it:

Make a track for people to sing to.

Have them video themselves singing their part to the track, wearing headphones.

Get the vid from them - since the vid files are huge, and since Dropbox is a nightmare, this was one of the hardest parts.

At this point I stripped the audio from the vid, dumped it into Cubase, tuned it in Melodyne and exported it as a separate .mp3 file to add in to the imovie. For the bigger choral piece that I did "Salvation is Created" I mixed it all in Cubase, including tempo and dynamic changes. So much work. So fun.

Make a video with each person's part embedded - picture-in-picture, overlay, whatever. Doing it in Imovie is a bit of a nightmare; I have to have one person's window in the vid and then use "split screen" to add the second, line up the parts, then publish that to a movie and add it to a new movie with the next part in as an overlay or split screen. It takes an enormous amount of processing power. And I'm very inexperienced at video editing.

Along with all the split screen stuff, each person's musical part was a separate file that had to be lined up with their video. I kept a bit of their "live" vid, mixed with the cleaned up studio version of their audio. I ended up doing several for church.

I love it that this online collaboration still happens after the pandemic. It's one of the many Covid-19 gifts we get to keep even when the pandemic is gone. If it... ever... is.


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