Learning How to Record & Edit Videos

A couple of weeks ago, I created a video on YouTube in an attempt to start an open conversation about online privacy. As I keep working on these videos, I learn more about recording and editing. Here are some of my experiences.

The trouble started when I got my new lavalier microphone. I knew it would not plug into my camera, so that wasn’t a big surprise. I planned to use it with my phone while recording with the camera at the same time, later combining the audio and video feeds in ffmpeg.

When I tested this scenario however, I realized there was another issue: the time delay between the time I press “record” on my phone and when I do the same thing on my camera. The audio file has a different timeframe than the video, and I will need to compensate for that in ffmpeg, listening to audio and watching the video at the same time.

To make things a bit more complicated, ffmpeg didn’t create a workable MP4 file. This, I learned about a week later1, was because the WEBM format from the webcam which I used did not convert well to MP4 with ffmpeg because I didn’t specify the correct codec. The result was misconfigured timestamps: I cut the main MP4 to about 10 different smaller MP4 I wanted to keep, but when I merged them together to a new MP4, these cuts were happening at the wrong places.

Sitting down and sipping some green tea during a break at work, I figured I might have been too stubborn, and forced myself to use only ffmpeg. I’ve toyed around with OpenShot before but didn’t need it for the basic adjustment I’ve done so far. Yes, re-learning some of the ins and outs of this program had to happen, but I would be able to handle more complicated video editing and audio. In other words, it was time to give OpenShot another Shot… (unlike my humor).

I’m happy to report things are going well. OpenShot can handle my WEBM edits well and convert them to MP4 without issues, so far. I developed a system that allows me to cut and edit videos better than I can on ffmpeg; that’s because I can see what I’m editing in real-time.

So far, OpenShot has two downsides. First, I can’t edit large videos. I learned this the hard way when I tried to make edits for a 10GB recording and crashed the PC. Second, ffmpeg exports videos (called “projects” once you work on them in the program) result in huge files, an increase of about 10 times the size. Thankfully, ffmpeg knowledge helps me here. I can cut large videos to chunks with ffmpeg easy enough and then edit inside OpenShot, and I can compress large videos back 10 times the size (and more) without losing much quality.

My next Video is going to be up soon on YouTube, but for readers of this blog, I want to upload these to PeerTube. Updates will come soon.


  1. Learning and doing all of this while balancing my job and the blog means I have to not just have the time to sit down and resolve these issues, but also the mental capacity to do so. That’s yet another factor I’m learning to balance into the equation. ↩︎