My niece got married a while back and she asked me to make a video of the ceremony. I’m no professional videographer, but I hoped I was competent enough not to embarrass myself with the results.

I’ve missed out on the last few generations of camcorder technology, but I have a carefully-chosen Sony DCR-TRV38 from 2004 that (usually) does a fine job. The killer feature is that it can do anamorphic 16:9 widescreen recordings. Somehow the widescreen aspect adds several “pro points” to the end result (or it did, before everybody got an HD camera). My brother donated the use of a Zoom portable digital recorder we hid in the shrubbery to capture (relatively-) good audio of the ceremony.

Unfortunately, my recording of this precious event has some major flaws (other than those resulting from my cinematographic skill). As captured from the Firewire port, every so often the video drops a few frames. Each time this happens, the audio gets further out of sync with the video. I hadn’t used the camcorder for a while, and didn’t have time to give it a good run-through before the event, so I didn’t realize it was doing this.

I decided my niece wouldn’t give me a do-over on the wedding. I had to make do with what I had, which meant I would need to make an edit to the audio track at each video skip. I loaded the recording into iMovie and started editing.

I can report with some authority that iMovie is the wrong tool for this. It’s great when you just need to edit together some video clips, but audio is a second-class citizen by far. The nice editing operations you can do in video (in particular, splitting or duplicating a clip) just don’t apply to audio. I think it’s theoretically possible to do what I needed, but not in real life with real stress hormones.

As I was about to jump in the car and go to the Apple store to blow $200 on Final Cut Express to get this done, it occurred to me that I already have a pricey “pro” Apple product called Logic Studio. I use it all the time for music, but…wait a minute…doesn’t it have some sort of video feature too? Down to the basement studio I went to investigate.

It turns out that people use Logic to score film and video, and just for them Logic has a “Video” submenu that I don’t think I’ve ever opened in the years I’ve used the program. You can import a video, which stays in sync with the audio timeline. Of course, this is exactly what I needed. I rendered the video from iMovie, imported it into Logic, and went crazy with all the fine-tuning I needed to do on the audio. I even did a bunch of EQ and compression tweaking to improve the audibility of the ceremony. Finally, I exported the video with the new soundtrack, and voilá!

The point of telling this story is that your tools are probably hiding all sorts of goodies that you don’t know exist. If you stick to your well-worn paths, you’ll walk right by them. Take a look at those menus you never open. Maybe even skim the manual occasionally. You may not need these things now, but later perhaps you’ll say…wait a minute…