Nov 26, 2020: Grid arrangements.

Question: can I find a nice arrangement for any arbitrary number of videos that fill up the entire space and still look neat and regular?

I have updated the grid planner to make a neat arrangment without leaving empty space. Reference this cool paper on how to find “nice” arrangemetns for stars on the USA flag:

Summary: less wasted space and neater presentation.

Nov 20, 2020: Noise suppression

Noise suppression option

When submitting a song you can now select an option to suppress noise. This feature identifies the segments of a track that aren’t musical and actively silences those regions. This feature can automatically suppress coughs, breaths, and stray microphone bumps. The final output ends up being much cleaner.

This technique can’t catch stray noises mixed in with the music of the track, but it can catch and remove extraneous stuff in the lead in and rest spaces.

It’s not perfect, but it can reduce the number of manual edits you need to make, or for those that take the final result as is, clean up your final result quite a bit.

With everything, quality in, quality out. The better your source tracks and the clearer the recordings, the less magic needs to be done.

Nov 19, 2020: Google drive / folder syncing

I have added smarter and more complete folder syncing.

As part of the song request system, a link to a shared google drive folder must be included (view only) on the submissions form. The server fetches these files locally before it processes them. This mechanism avoids the need for logins and account tracking on the virtual choir server side.

Previously, the server would just pull all existing files from the shared folder. However, if a google drive folder is re-purposed (old contents deleted, new contents uploaded) those old contents could still be cached on the server. Then the new tracks would be mixed with the older tracks creating a gigantic mess!

The obvious expected behavior is for the server side to track any new files, changed files, or deleted files before processing a new submission. This now happens.

So among other things, you can replace or update a track and resubmit your song request. You can add or remove tracks and resubmit the song. You should get the expected results back.

Nov 19, 2020: Video wings

There is no good way to fit a portrait video in a landscape grid cell or visa versa. If you fit the entire video, the contents are much smaller scale and leave lots of blank space. If you zoom in to fill up the entire grid then the contents can be too big, and if the person’s face isn’t centered, it can be clipped in unfortunate ways.

I do two things to resolve this. (1) I do a half zoom and a half fit, which means I take the biggest square possible from the center of original video. (2) I fill in the blank space around the square with a blurry copy of the original video so it roughly matches color. This effect is often used in TV productions to make portrait videos look not quite as bad. The final effect is sublte, but nice, and it happens automatically.

Nov 18, 2020: Clap sync improvements

Improvements to the clap sync logic: Updated to a smarter and more robust strategy for finding the lead in space before the first clear notes. Sounds in the first or last second of the lead in segment are ignored (could be pressing the record button or taking a breath for the first note.) I also made the the threshold for determining the first note more dynamic relative to the contents of the sound sample. All of this should lead to fewer mistakes with syncing from claps.

Note, the system supports any number of claps, but a full measure of claps tends to be more accurate than a single standalone clap. Humans just aren’t that accurate when it comes down to sitting in a vacuum by yourself and nailing a single clap exactly right on.

Nov 14, 2020: Song names

We now ask for the song name on the request form. This is optional, but lets us compose a friendlier result email.

Commas “,” in song names actually caused an issue with the Filemail tool used to return your results. Commas are fine, but they are stripped out of any result file names if you ask for individual aligned tracks.

Nov 6, 2020: .webm

Add the .webm extension to the list of supported video formats.

Nov 4, 2020: Processing report

A log of the song processing details is created and returned with your result. If something unexpected happened, please read through the report carefully to see if there are any hints or messages that would help understand what went wrong.

Nov 4, 2020: Aligned video tracks

The system can now trim/pad all your raw video tracks so they all start at the exact same time alignment. If you plan to do your own creative video editing, this feature can save you a bunch of time by starting with all your audio and video tracks pre-aligned. Import these tracks into any editing tool and jump straight to the fun parts.

Oct 30, 2020: Audio mixing

Wow, I found an oversight in the mixing code that could lead to numerical saturation and result in audible clicks or crackling. This should now be completely resolved.