JT's Blog

Things that interest me, things that happened to me, things that I like, even some things that I don't like...

I Can't Belt! Don't Ask Me!

A few days ago I was watching a news program where the topic was the court's declaration that same sex marriage was now legal in Utah, and something that someone said suggested a song parody and video to me. As it happened, Apple had just released a major upgrade to their Final Cut Pro X software, and I decided this would be just what I needed to give me some experience working with the revised program, as well as learning how to do green screen and lip synching. I didn't seriously expect to release the video in the wild, as it would just be a self-teaching project. What could go wrong?

It didn't take long before I had sketched out parodic words to a well-known popular song, so the next step would be to record the soundtrack. I found a karaoke version of the song on Amazon.com, and fired up Amadeus Pro to lay down my vocal track.

As it happens, Amadeus Pro is a very powerful audio editing program, but if one only uses it occasionally (like I do), it can be rather daunting to figure out how to make it do what one wants. But that was just another learning experience, and as I worked with it I found it could do just about anything that I wanted it to do.

Except one thing. I can't sing, and try as I might, I couldn't figure out how to fiddle with the software to make my voice acceptable--even to me.

I thought adding a touch of reverb would sweeten up anyone's voice. Not mine, apparently. I did multiple takes, and re-takes, and re-takes of the re-takes. All told I spent an entire afternoon plus the following morning and some of that afternoon, but try as I might, I couldn't coax a listenable performance out of me.

Now here's the thing. The song that I picked is a show tune (actually, it's originally from a movie, but it's by a couple of venerable Broadway songwriters), so I thought I could partially mask my lack of a good singing voice by just belting it out.

Nope.

It turns out that belting a tune is not a simple matter. Every time I thought I was belting, on playback I found that I was using my head voice. Well, call it an approximation of a head voice.

Suddenly I have even more respect for Ethel Merman.

As I have now found out, there is more to belting out a tune, than, uh, just trying to belt out a tune.

Eventually, however, I decided enough was enough. I wasn't going to release the video, was I? Well, maybe to one or two people who might get the joke, but certainly not to the general public. So I simply took the best of a bad lot, and decided to start recording the video.

Now the real fun began. Several years ago I had purchased a green screen kit from Amazon.com, but I had never gotten around to trying it. (That's not the one I bought, but it looks very close.)

So I dug out the kit and watched the accompanying DVD, which made setting it up look like child's play. They even showed a bunch of children making a movie with it.

And for once one of those videos was correct, it wasn't particularly hard to set the thing up. Right up until I was ready to put a bulb into one of the lamps. One of the bulbs was smashed. Presumably it had arrived like that however many years ago, and I had just never inspected the contents.

Oh well, Amazon.com still carries the replacement bulbs.

Tomorrow is another day.