Video Editing in Reaper | How do I make highlights – Mikulski
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Video Editing in Reaper | How do I make highlights

This guide can be useful for musicians to create video content more comfortably. Especially for those who are engaged in live-looping or performing music under the "click".

Being a livelooper and streamer, I soon came up with the idea that highlights (interesting fragments from streams) in the context of live looping can be made much more exciting than just cropping the video at the beginning and at the end of the desired segment.
After all, performing using a looper, especially improvised, is always a time-stretched process: switching instruments, pre-takes before recording loops, conversations with chat, and so on. As a result, such jam can last for 10-15 minutes. But what if we remove all unnecessary gestures and leave only effective actions? As a result, it turns out a video clip for 3-5 minutes, which generally looks and sounds like a decent demo recording. At the same time, superpowers of editing are added: no one forbids changing the order of the parties, repeating them or adding effects.

In the end, the amount of such content I had was enough to create a Mikulski_Radio – broadcast 24/7, where all my highlights are uploaded.

In general, the technology is very simple and requires a minimum of video editing skills, but painstaking: the stream rushes to the timeline of the video editor (which can display a sound wave, I use the free Kdenlive) and then the necessary fragments are cut at the beginning and at the end of the loops, and then aligned with the sound wave and join the rest.

That’s how I solved this problem for a very long time and even learned to do it quickly enough. But I still kept in mind how much easier it would be if the timeline of the video editor relied not on timecode or frames, but on BPM.
And only recently I discovered that Reaper (I used another DAW) allows you to make such an elementary installation and then export the project to a video file!

Project preparation

After dropping the video to Reaper, you need to perform several actions.

First of all, so that the audio does not stretch when the tempo of the project changes, you need to right-click on the track and set -> Track timebase -> Beat (position only).
By default, the setting is set to Project timebase.

To open the video preview window, select View -> Video in the upper context menu or use the default keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + V.

By pulling the tab at the bottom of the preview window, you can pin it anywhere on the Reaper workspace.

For example, under the timeline.
To “unfasten” the window and place it somewhere else (for example, to take it to the second monitor), you need to right-click on the tab to open the menu and press the check mark on the Dock.

Now it’s time to pick up the Tempo of the track. In my opinion, the simplest and most logical way is to select (the Time selection slider at the top) 4 bars on the timeline, turn on the repeat mode (the button to the right of Play or the R hotkey, by default). And by disabling “sticking” to the grid (the magnet icon on the left-top or Alt+S, by default), adjust the first stroke of the fragment, then change the tempo until the resulting loop converges.

To make it easier for yourself and not to cut everything manually, you can use automatic splitting of the clip into fixed segments. Action – Split items at timeline grid cuts the selected clip with the frequency that is set in the vertical grid display settings of the project.

To change the grid parameters, you need to right-click on the icon with a magnet or on the icon next to it to the left (or Alt+L, by default), which enables/disables the grid display and set the desired value in the Show grid, line spacing column.

Then select the clip to be cut, and select Actions -> Show action list from the upper context menu and search for Split items at timeline grid, select this action and press Run.

Immediately, in the Shortcuts for selected action field, you can assign a hotkey for this action. For example, Ctrl+Alt+Shift+G (by default, this combination is free).

After that, the track will be divided into clips of the same duration.
In this example, 4 bars long.

But it is much easier and more convenient to configure the control panel (Toolbar) for such purposes:

Right-clicking on the free space of the panel where the grid and snapping tools are located will open a menu where you need to select Open toolbar -> and any Toolbar except the Main toolbar (this is the panel where the magnet icon and the others are located).

A window will open with a single Edit me button, clicking on which the Customize menus/toolbars editor will be opened, where you can rename the name of the panel (Retitle), as well as add any actions from the Actions list to the panel in the form of buttons. To do this, click on Add…

The desired action is selected from the list, the Select button is pressed at the bottom and it gets into the Customize menus/toolbars editor, where, if desired, you can assign an icon for this action -> Icon…

When all the settings have been made, it remains only to click Apply to save the changes for the panel being edited.
It can be fixed above the timeline by right-clicking on it -> Position toolbar -> At top of main window

Here is a list of actions that change the size of the grid and for dividing clips by this grid:
Grid: Set to 1/2
Grid: Set to 1/4
Grid: Set to 1/8
Grid: Set to 1/16
Grid: Set to 1/32
Grid: Set to 1
Grid: Set to 2
Grid: Set to 4
Item: Split items at timeline grid


Now you can change the grid and cut by clicking on the buttons in this panel. Very convenient and visual.

Overlay video without sound

If you want to leave the audio track of the clip intact and overlay the video without sound from another clip on top, then one nuance should be taken into account here:
If you create a new track on top of the main one, put the desired clip there and turn on Mute, the video display will also turn off. Therefore, in this case, you should remove the track volume with the fader in -inf.
Then the audio from this clip will not be heard, but the video will be displayed.

Export

When the project is edited and it’s time to export it to a video file, then select in the upper context menu
File -> Render...

A window opens with the export settings.
There are several options for video with sound:
For those who experienced – Video (ffmpeg/libav encoder): mov format and more subtle rendering settings via the options fields (attributes can be edited).
And simpler – MPEG-4/Windows Media: classic mp4, which we will consider.

In general, there is nothing complicated here:

Source – By default, the Master Mix (which is appropriate in this case). You can select individual tracks, individual clips, etc.

Bounds – boundaries. The whole project, only highlighted on the timeline, etc.

Next, you specify the path where to export the file, the sampling rate for audio, the resampling mode (by default, it seems to me, quite an adequate value).

And finally, the Primary output format video settings (in the Secondary output format tab, you can specify another export, for example, for another format).

MPEG-4/Windows Media is assigned in the Format field. The desired resolution for the video and the number of frames, as well as the bitrate for video and audio, are specified.
But it is worth noting that the maximum bitrate for audio is supported only 192 kbps. That is, it can be set higher in the settings, but the output file will still be 192kbps.
Therefore, if this is critical for you, then you can do the main export without audio by setting Audio: NONE (you will get a video file in m4a format), and in the auxiliary export audio in any desired format. To then assemble the video and audio tracks into a video editor and render them there in a higher bitrate for sound.

More complex editing

Well, we figured out how to make the simplest possible editing, where the clip follows the clip. And what to do when a more creative approach is required? To be honest, I’m not sure about such a possibility inside the Reaper, I haven’t dug so deep. But I admit that there are craftsmen who have built plugins for this DAW for more complicated work with video.

However, you can export all the resulting working clips separately in order to work with them in the video editor in the future. However, it should be borne in mind that smooth loops on the BPM – on the timeline of the video editor will “walk” a little in their duration due to the different number of frames. But it will still be able to make the work easier than if you adjust all these clips manually and by eye 😉

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