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Editing and Rendering Videos in Reaper

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 The Hard Baroquer blog is a hub for musicians to improve their playing. It is edited by Pana Markides, a home musician that has pursued music as a hobby for nearly 20 years. An intermediate guitarist, beginner bassist and even sometimes dabbling on the harmonica, he is always learning something.

By The Hard Baroquer

Reaper is first and foremost a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), so while it is capable of editing videos, it does so for the purpose of controlling the audio aspect of the video. Editing your videos in Reaper is easy to do, but doing it the first time requires a little bit of a learning curve and remembering a few things.

You can use use Reapers video editing function when you’re editing multiple takes of a video recording, or to replacing the audio channel with better quality audio from another source than your video recorder, or even to overlay music.

Import video files to Reaper with a video encoder plugin

First of all, you need to import your video file, but you’ll realise there’s no built-in tool for recognising video. So, you need to download and install the correct plugin to do this. Reaper supports video playback with VLC and the ffmpeg/libav encoder plugin.  

For editing video files, you’ll need to render them when you’re done, and for that you’ll need the ffmpeg/libav encoder plugin.

The Reaper wiki has extra information about video support.

Video file formats Reaper can render in

When it comes to rendering your video in reaper, you can choose to render it as:

  • AVI
  • MPEG1
  • MPEG2
  • QT/MOV/MP4
  • MKV
  • FLV
  • WEBM

QT, MOV and MP4 are counted as the same as they are similar formats that are propriety of their respective systems (QT and MOV are for Aple users and MP4 is for users not in the Apple sphere).

Installing ffmpeg/libav encoder plugin

Once you’ve downloaded the plugin using the link above (to save you the scroll, here it is again). You’ll need to know your operating system and bit (if you’re 32-bit or 64-bit, you’ll need to download the respective file).

Once you’ve done that, extract the folder and find the .dll file. Copy this and paste it in the folder where all your plugins are. This will be specific to you.

Re-start Reaper and you should be able to use the plugin and successfully import video files to edit.

Import video files to Reaper

Importing your video files to Reaper is a simple process – select the track you wish to import the video file to (otherwise it will be imported to a track you are using for audio), then select ‘Media File’ from the Insert tab. Alternatively use the INSERT key.

A file browser will open, and you can navigate to your chosen file and select it to open. The video file’s audio waveform will open in your selected track for editing.

Editing video in Reaper

Reaper is useful for replacing your video file’s audio with new audio, and for cutting out bad takes. For anything more than that, a dedicated video tool is needed. Reaper is an audio programme.

To edit your video file, simply work on the audio waveform. Cutting the waveform, cuts the video.

You’ll need to see what you’re working on, so in the View tab, select Video (Ctlr+Shift+V) and a video window will open.

Synchronising video and audio in Reaper

When recording your video, your new audio and video file may not be ready-to-go, as you may have begun recording them at separate points. To get the video and audio components in sync, do ensure you add a reference noise when you record as you’ll need this to ensure your desired audio channel and the video are synchronised. You can simply align the waveforms where you know the reference noise is (try a clap, or anything that will be registered on both recording devices).

If you are completely replacing the video file’s audio, then you need to slide down the volume slider in the video file’s track. Don’t mute.

Check your master volume

To save yourself the bother of re-rendering because the final video file is too loud or soft, check your master volume. If the final video is peaking at -6Db, then that’s as loud as you want it. Anywhere between -12Db and -6Db is acceptable. 0Db is too much.

People with more expertise that me will have stronger and different opinions than mine, but in a world where video content is on mobile phones, louder is likely more appropriate.

Rendering the edited video

Once you’re happy with the final video, it’s time to render the file into one package that other video reading programmes can understand. In the File tab, find Render, or Ctrl+Alt+R, and the Render window will give you the opportunity to instruct Reaper how to render the file.

Name the file and select where it is to be saved, and then select your filetype and other aspects of the final video file. You’ll need to select the format Video (ffmpeg/libav), below that you’ll select, according to your preference, either of:

  • AVI
  • MPEG1
  • MPEG2
  • QT/MOV/MP4
  • MKV
  • FLV
  • WEBM

For most digital purposes and short videos, QT/MOV/MP4 is where you’ll go.

Once you’ve selected all the aspects of the rendered file, wait for the file to render, and then you’re ready to go! You’ll need to know what video codec and audio codec you want to render to (defaults to those of your imported video file, if you don’t know what you want). You can adjust your framerate too, if there’s a specific frame rate you’re aiming for.

You might want to check the technical specification of wherever you’re planning to use the video (for instance social media platforms will require 30 fps – likely the default of your imported video anyways.)

Rendering multiple videos on Reaper

If you have a few things you’re planning to render, you can add the file to a render queue, so that you can get to work on the next project and render everything all at once.

To share on social media, ensure you render your video as MP4 by adding .mp4 to the file name.

If you’ve had no luck with that, I’ll be writing an article shortly to create videos specially for social media and work around this issue. Stay tuned!