The Making of “a walk in the woods”

Part 2: The Video

A few days ago I posted a description of how I created the music for my video “a walk in the woods”, which you can view here. Today, I discuss how I made the video.

While composing the tune, I had a vision of accompanying it with video of walking through the woods, with the shots becoming more frantic as the tune progressed. Since the weather had been so rainy, it took a few days before I had a chance to venture out into the Lemoine Point Conservation Area. I hoped to spot the trilliums in bloom, but it was too soon for that.

This is a time of year when I love taking pictures in the woods. The trees are still bare and you can see much of the interior landscape unhindered by foliage. And the Spring weather is still comfortable.

I quickly had some good video of walking along the paths, with forward and side shots, as well as some shots of my feet walking. Not planned in advance were the shots of the squirrels and turkeys. Also unexpected were the stretches of muddy path along the eastern edge of the park. Unfortunately, at one point I got confused about when I was recording and when I wasn’t, and missed some shots of a couple of deer.

Back home, it was back to the computer. Just as I used free open-source software to create the music, the rest of the process also used free software. First, to capture the audio output from MuseScore, I used the program Audacity, a powerful multi-track audio editor and recorder. I made extensive use of Audacity for our Christmas video. But this time, I only needed Audacity to capture the audio. No additional tweaking was needed for the sound track.

The video was edited using the powerful open-source program Kdenlive. This is similar to Audacity, but for video. You can edit and combine video clips, applying various effects if needed. At any time you can play the video to see how things look. I used two video tracks, one with the audio muted. Regarding the effects, there are literally hundreds of different effects to choose from. I used only two: Greyscale and speed.

Before rendering the video, I needed to use one more piece of free open-source software, the GIMP, a powerful image-editing program. This is comparable to Photoshop, but of course, several hundred dollars cheaper. I used GIMP for the titles.

One design decision I mulled over for a few minutes was whether or not to desaturate the video. But choosing black and white was really a no-brainer. Often, monochrome is considered pretentious and stilted. But color can often be a distraction from the essence of the image, especially if the colors of the scene are boring. In a wooded area, the colors are mainly browns and greens. Well, mainly browns at this time of year. By leaving aside color, you can concentrate on other creative factors, such as the textures, lighting, and composition.

In conclusion, it’s truly amazing what kinds of tools are available to us for little or no cost. This video was produced using only open-source software available for free, running on a budget-priced computer I bought about seven years ago.

Cheers! Hans

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