How I recorded my part for the Virtual Choir

When I heard of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, I was immediately sold. After a lot bit of procrastination, I finally got to recording my part. However, things went not as easy as I had thought.

The first obstacle I encountered was that my MacBook’s built-in microphone is extremely noisy, so I had to record the video and audio separately, since there’s anyway a conductor track to synchronize to (so the video and audio won’t shift out of sync, there will be only temporary discrepancies), and I will attempt the recording multiple times anyway.

The next unpleasant surprise: playing a video consumes so much CPU that the fan is turned on, which is way too noisy. This was also a showstopper. I would have tried CPU throttling, but unfortunately cputhrottle didn’t work: the binary archive was corrupted, and the source couldn’t in any way compile. I almost gave up, when the LG GT540 Android smartphone I just got for this Christmas came into mind: it could serve perfectly as the video player!

This also wasn’t easy as pie, though. After downloading the video with Video DownloadHelper and copying it to the SD card, Android’s pre-bundled Media Player couldn’t open it. I found the excellent arcMedia player, which could play it, but at an impossibly slow frame rate. So I had to resize it: I chose HandBrake, and with the preset iPod conversion profile selected (320×192), the downgraded video played smoothly even in the built-in Media Player.

So I finally grabbed the phone, my Yamaha Pocketrak 2G recorder and the printed sheet music (I preferred the SATB score to the part), and dwelved into the music. (Of course, our neighbor’s dog barked into the silence at the end – I already expected that, but I managed to cut it out.)

However, replacing the audio track of the video was also hampered: iMovie ’08 can’t import the clip it recorded to a project, so I had to Google again. After another fair amount of time, I found SimpleMovieX, which suited my needs. I separated the video & audio track, added the new audio track to the video, synchronized them a bit and at last, the dubbed version was ready.

You can view the result here. I’m glad to finally be able to join a worldwide choir in this innovative social media experiment.

One thought on “How I recorded my part for the Virtual Choir”

  1. Yeah, the CPU fans were a hell on a white MacBook. Luckily, I don’t here it anymore, the new books fans are much less noisy.

    Anyways, nice way to join this experiment. Grats!

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