Ideas for video editing

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This article will try to explain ways video can be edited and manipulated without seeing for the most part.


Before you start, you must make sure that the vlc media player is installed, as reaper will be able to read a greater variety of videos using the codecs from it. Also, we will be using handbrakefor transcoding videos into popular formats. Please note that this tool appears to be 64 bit only at time of writing (24 May 2019).

We also need to install the proper codecs. There is a very specific version that works. Newer versions of the ffmpeg library cause problems or inconsistencies with many video players. Downloads for ffmpeg, latest version compatible with REAPER:

How to install:

  • open reaper, then go to the options menu, then select Show REAPER resource path in explorer/finder
  • or alternatively on windows, press windows key plus r, then copy and paste:
  • %appdata%\REAPER\UserPlugins
  • or if using a portable reaper installation or some other set up that does not include the default locations, find the user plugins folder where osara was installed.

Now, extract all the dll files (windows) or all the files (mac) from the .bin directory inside the zip file you downloaded directly to the userPlugins folder. There is no real need to restart reaper after this step. After this reaper will have all of the necessary codecs and information to work opening and exporting video

The instructions you will find here are NVDA oriented and use reaper version 5.978 but they could most likely be applied successfully to jaws and other screen readers and reaper versions. Also, a basic understanding of automation and the usage of osara's parameter dialog is assumed. You should remember that in order for people to be able to see your changes the video window under the view menu needs to be enabled. You can edit video without using the video window though. It would probably go without saying, but its best to have sighted guidance or feedback when tweaking parameters and so on. IN most cases you can leave osara's parameter dialog opened.

It is also important to set the ruler units in the view menu to work in terms of time as opposed to beats and bars, unless you of course will opt for that way of working.

video editing tasks

The first thing you will need to do is to insert a media file into a blank track on a new project. Once you can confirm that your video has been imported successfully by getting it to play, its time to start editing.

basic video editing operations

Basic video editing in reaper works exactly the same way as in audio editing. This means that you can split and move items, copy and paste them, re-arrange their order, crop them according to a time selection, and so on. You can also edit the audio, by adding for example a noise reduction effect or using EQ so that wind noise is masked. This will not affect the video.

Reaper's stock video processor effect

This little plug-in is what can make reaper do more things with video. Its not very accessible, but you can accomplish some tasks with it. Do note that you can insert or make many copies of this effects so that one video processor controls fades, another one controls titles and so on. It would be wise to rename them if this is the case.

Another important thing to mention is the jump to time window. Opened from the view menu and or using control or command plus J, you get an edit box. Then you specify the time, by either entering it as minute:ssecond.millisecond, Measure|Beat|percent, measure.beat.percent or any similar form

adding fades and making transitions

There are subtle differences between fades and transitions, but they all have something in common--they use fades.

When you have a video item into a track, you can open the item fx chain for it and insert the video processor effect. You have to use object nav when using NVDA or, press shift tab about 4 times. Make sure you do not get past the presets combo box. Open that combo box and choose the "basic helpers: item fades affect video" preset. And that is it for that one. You can then use osara's dialog or the items properties dialog to set fades, their duration and their speed. To create a transition or a video crossfade, make sure that the items overlap just a little and then fade in and out accordingly. As long as the audio sounds good, the video will look good as well. The image will fade to black when fading out, or from black when fading in.

inserting titles

This procedure is sadly not very accessible. For inserting titles, go to the video processor and choose the title overlay preset. Hopefully there will be a way to access the edit box that is displayed in an accessible manner soon. It is currently impossible to focus with the regular cursor so you have to use object nav and click with mouse to focus. Because editing and what a screen reader reports is just not reliable, you could open a text editor, write the title exactly as you want it to be (short titles are recommended) then copy it to the clipboard. You should focus back to the fx window. Then, here is where you need to use object nav or locate the text with the mouse that says "this is a title" : it is actually in quotes, exactly as typed here. So you have to locate the closing quotes after the E and then do a left click. Then hit back space about 15 times to erase the this is a title text, leaving just the quotes and paste your text there. Then Press control plus s to save. You now have your first title! If you want to eventually include more titles, you can add more instances of the video processor plug-in within the fx chain.

setting zoom, opacity and pan

The video processor has a preset called basic helpers: track zoom/opacity/pan. Even though its controls are not accessible from the fx chain window, you can use osara's parameter list to control them. (when setting any of these relevant parameters it is recommended to stick to the slider. Edit box provides impractical values. Only page up and down keys may be used.

  • the opacity value sets the transparency of the video. Default is at 100% (video is fully visible)
  • the zoom parameter will zoom in (make bigger and closer) the video when values are higher and zoom out the video when values are smaller.
  • The y offset will move the video vertically (values above 50% are up)
  • the x offset will move the video from left to right, with higher values being the right side.
  • you can rotate the video as well.

using autiomation

You can bring the power of automation to video effects. The procedure is exactly the same described in the linked article, so a few tips which are relevant to video follow:

  • for effects which need an immediate transition, for instance showing or hiding the text overlays, use square shapes on the automation points. For zooming in the other hand, you may use other curves and shapes for more gradual adjustments over time.
  • you will want to select and enable the bypass envelope for every instance of the video processor or processors that you intend to use for the titles and the ending credits, if any.
  • Insert points when you want the title to show and when you want it to stop (the first point is already inserted for you anyway) So in the case of the first title you should go into the video for the duration you want the first one to show, then insert a point there and set the point to bypass, or 1.000.
  • For the rest, you should set the first point to bypass, insert another one for normal (to show the title) and a last one to bypass. This is true except on the last one which will show the credits so you would not need to bypass it at the end.

Automation can also be used to give some effects to the text. For example, you can get the title to be very small, and then grow large at the beginning, using the text height parameter. there is also a more detailed procedure that describes what you need to set in the manual to achieve this and it goes over how to create titles... the instructions are just not as accessible as they have been presented here.

working with multiple video tracks and other video tips

Reaper follows the same logic that most video editing programs use. If you insert multiple video items one per track, it will give priority to the one that is at the top. So even though you might have two videos playing at the same time, only the one in the top most track will be visible. This allows for interesting shifting of camera focus when you have a video that was done using multiple cameras. In this case, you would need to automate the mute envelope for each track, and then toggle it according to what you want. The points will have to be lined up so when a track is muted, the other one is unmuted right at the same time. There is also an option in the preferences which inverts this, so that tracks at the bottom of the list will have the hhighest priority.

You can use the item properties dialog to display a lot of useful information, and also to ignore the audio of a video (if you have for example an audio mix of a musical track you were recording live and want to use that audio instead). Just make sure the audio you want to use is the track with the lowestpriority.

If you want to make a quick video using a sound file and a photo, this is possible too. The reaper community has been rather conspicuously quiet with this. You should insert the picture first, then the audio file. Go to the properties for the audio file and copy the value for its length to the clipboard. Then go to the image item and paste the length of your audio item from clipboard and you are all set! as long as loop source is checked. In this case, the picture will be showing for as long as the video is playing.

other video editing considerations

Some people will notice that when playing back a video item, or editing a video in reaper their computer's performance may dip or be sluggish or slow. Unfortunately, there is not much to this other than either expand your ram memory, or troubleshoot or upgrade your graphics card which is responsible for almost all image processing.

In some cases, when working with multiple tracks some people might report that when muting and unmuting between tracks will make the program supposedly lag and show a blank frame. As much as this is visible, the reality is that if you have indeed muted a track and subsequently unmuted another one at exactly the same point in the timeline, there will be no dropped or blank frames whatsoever whene xporting or rendering, so it might very well be a computer component which is causing the issue, or just that your computer cannot keep up with the processing.

rendering video

So now you have a video masterpiece. You are almost ready to export your video and tell the world about it! the dialog is accessed exactly the same and is in fact, the same you use to render audio. For most people, the following method proves to be consistent and reliable, though thanks to new advances in reaper and vlc, its possible to export directly from reaper to mp4, see below.

method 1, detailed output format control

First, render your video with the following settings in Reaper : MKV container, HUFFYUV video codec, 24 bit PCM audio This will produce a rather large file. Check your video dimensions and frame rate before starting the render, so they match the source video in your timeline. Now use that resulting file as a source video and open it in Handbrake, pick your preset and where Handbrake should save your video, and off you go.

Handbrake and other video encoding applications offer much better control over the target format. You produce an excellent source with Reaper and use the best video encoding applications to produce your desired results.

method 2: Exporting video directly from reaper

This method has been tested with the mp4 format. It presents a very reasonable size with no apparent loss or quality degradation. Tldr: choose the video format, set it as Video (ffmpeg/libav encoder) and then use the second combo box box to set the format to QT/MOV/MP4. You can leave all the defaults and then append the desired extension to the file name and render. A more detailed explanation and description follows.

  • First, choose the video output format in the render dialog The option should be Video (ffmpeg/libav encoder)
  • Then use the second combo box box to set the format to QT/MOV/MP4
  • Check or adjust your resolution or dimensions,, though for most tasks including youtube upload the default 1920×1080 is good.
  • then comes the frames per second. Default of 30.0 is also good for most applications.
  • In video codec you should select the more efficient MPEG-2
  • the current default bit rate of 2048 Kpbs should also be good enough for most applications.
    • When using other codecs, there is a number you have to type. This refers most likely to quality setting. In h.264 or MPEG, which are not as efficient, reaper will not transcode things lower than 25% but these options are there if you need them for legacy devices or programs.
  • You can leave audio settings as they are, or tweak them but beware that most containers require certain specific audio formats so that video plays back correctly.
  • finally, when naming the file, you simply put the extension you want at the end of the file name (such as demo.mp4 or demo.avi) and the encoding will take place according to this.

You can follow this link for more information on video codecs and containers.

the final result

For demo purposes and to describe and recap what we have done, this section was purposefully placed last. in this simple music homemade video the following happens:

  1. The title and artist of the first tune appears, going from small to large for about 10 seconds, then disappearing completely.
  2. The video fades and the audio fades do match, so as the music volume goes down, the video fades into black. As the music volume comes up (yes, its a bigger cross fade) the video also emerges again
  3. Immediately after this, the second title and artist of the second song is displayed for about 10 seconds
  4. More video and audio crossfades again, and the third title comes in for about 10 seconds.
  5. At the end of the video, credits are shown for about 8 seconds and the video again fades to black. All titles are located in the bottom lower part of the screen, centered so they do not interfere with what is being shown in the video. This was achieved by tweaking the x and y position parameters.