The Halloween Ambience Project

As I mentioned before, I’m working on a Halloween Ambience project using the Mac Pro 2013. This is a good project for that machine since it involves video and audio.

If you haven’t tried, go to YouTube and put in a search for “Halloween Ambience,” there are some fun videos out there with fun soundtracks you can use at Halloween.

My goal is to take some/most of those videos, split them into smaller clips, and play them on my machine as a Halloween compilation. It makes for a nice loop full of Halloween goodness.

Since these are YouTube videos, the first task is to download them locally using Downie.

Once downloaded, depending on audio, I extract it using Permute and store it as MP3. I can play that as background music or maybe an audio loop.

Now that I have the file and the full audio, it’s time to trim it down since I only want 20 minutes for my loop. Using Video Cut, Crop, & Join, I splice the video into a 20 minute clip. It has a Lossless cut feature, so it takes less than 5 seconds and no loss in quality.

Since I have the trimmed video and full audio, I don’t need the original file. No need to waste 3-12GB on the downloaded file.

I then load the 20 minute clip into Shotcut, an open source video editor that is simple to use and makes it very easy to add a Video Fade In and Video Fade Out filter. These are presets that drop right into place. Shotcut also takes out the audio with a click of the speaker icon.

With these tools it’s very easy to make compilation videos. And once I do this for Halloween, the process is the same for Thanksgiving, Christmas, seasonal videos, or just different animations from different ambient videos.

To be clear, these are for my personal machine and personal use, not to be uploaded, reused, or distributed in any way.

The total cost of the tools is $27 for Downie and Permute, and $3 for Video Cut, Crop and Join. Shotcut is a free tool although you can donate to the cause.

There are a couple of other things I can do since I have the audio. Since some of these ambience videos are very long 8+ hours, what to do with that massive audio file?

I don’t need 12 hours of ambience, but an hour would be nice. Using “easy Record and Trim,” I can trim that file down to an hour and use it for sleeping, studying, or as part of my background music. easy Record and Trim also has a lossless cut, so do you don’t have to load the file into an audio editor and reprocess it. It’s easy to carve out a small section in a couple of seconds.

I’ve done this for a couple of the ambient jazz collections out there. They make really good studying and writing music. You can trim the file to specific length, so once it ends after an hour, it’s time to move on to the next project. It becomes its own timer.

Some times downloading isn’t the best option.

I’ve run into the situation where the video file is incredibly cool, but it’s 12+ hours long. For a 1080p file, that’s a 10GB download when I only want to keep 20 minutes. This where screen capture comes in.

There are plenty of screen capture tools, but SnagIt has been my choice for many years. All I need to do is set SnagIt to record video rather than images, set the YouTube video to play in Full Screen, then press record. SnagIt captures the full screen, and I can let this let this play for my desired length, then save the results.

For my use, I capture 25-30 minutes, then trim off the front and back using Video Cut, Crop and Join. The resulting file is around 3GB, which is better than throwing away 10GB. SnagIt also skips the audio capture.

There are some great ambient video channels out there on YouTube. Not to mention LoFi, Trance, Synthwave and Chillwave, tropical beaches, campfires, cafes, and tons more. With just a little bit of work you can make some amazing playlists for writing, coding, studying, reading, or whatever mood you’re in.

As an aside, there is a noticeable difference between the 2010 and 2013 Mac Pro when it comes to video. Exporting a 20 minute file with the Fade In/Out on the 2010 takes roughly 10 minutes. The same export on the 2013 takes roughly 5 minutes.

I haven’t done a head to head comparison, nor does this even compete with the M2, but the 2013 definitely has a speed advantage over the 2010.

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