How I Made The DOOM Cape Town-Launch Highlights Video On An Android Phone

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 16 May 2016
Category: Features Comments View Comments


Last week's launch of DOOM in Cape Town offered the perfect opportunity to experiment with video production and editing on an Android phone. Here's what happened - and what tools you can use to make your own video.

I am currently testing a BlackBerry PRIV (running Android 6.0.1, although you can edit video on earlier versions of the operating system as well). As part of the testing I wanted to try to shoot and edit an entire video on the device because it has hardware specifications that I assumed would allow for some heavier production work than just some screengrabs or photo montages. It also has a camera that supports 720p video and it's always best to start a video project with high quality video.

I had intended to do this experiment at FanCon but I was so busy during the convention that I didn't get a chance to shoot much video that would be appropriate for a highlights reel. Luckily the DOOM launch was a week later so I was able to plan ahead for that instead.

YouTube link
Above: The final video. Read on to find out how it was made.

Pre-Event Preparation

There are lots of video-editing apps for Android but it can be hard to find ones with specific tools you might be wanting to use. Some do some things well and then are useless in other areas. I ended up picking four apps from the Google Play store to try. One kept crashing on startup and another was really great and had some useful features but I couldn't figure out how to get it to export video that was more than about 360p so I was left with two: Videoshop and FilmoraGo.

I played around with both apps in the week leading up to the event to see what they could do and what their strengths and weaknesses were. From this I learnt that it would be better to capture footage using the built-in Android native BlackBerry Camera app and deal with the clips later, rather than capture video directly using Videoshop, which allows it. It also meant that if, during the editing process, it turned out that Videoshop wouldn't be suitable I wouldn't have any footage trapped in it and instead could use my files with another app.

I thought about what I knew of the apps' strengths and weaknesses, as well as the kinds of shots I would like to have in the final video (such as the "security camera" section) and therefore what filming I would need to do, so I had a plan in my head for the night but it was flexible. I also knew from previous events there would be a few physical limitations I would have to deal with and would probably not be able to solve: the room would be dark, which would limit certain kinds of shots I might want to film, and the only way to get in-game footage would be to film the monitors, which would either result in blown out or blurry footage because, again, this is a phone, not a film camera.

How I Made The DOOM Cape Town-Launch Highlights Video On An Android Phone
Above: Creating the "security camera" clip in Videoshop.
I knew I would need music and finding something can take a lot of time so during the week I looked online for a suitable piece of royalty-free stock music. I found a track called Dubstep at Bensound that I knew would be perfect for DOOM's intense action. I sent the original MP3 to the phone via Bluetooth and also edited a new, looping version on my computer using Audacity because my original intention was to loop the audio in Videoshop with a fade in and out and just edit footage until I had enough and was happy with the result.

Finally, I realised I needed some sort of production logo for the video intro and as I didn't have anything suitable I used the phone and Videoshop to make one during the week.

My prep was now complete and I was ready to capture footage at the event.

At The Event

During the launch I intentionally filmed (mainly) short clips to make it easier to simplify the editing later and to be able to find clips with specific footage on the device quickly. It would also mean less memory hogging on the phone during the editing process that would occur if it had to hold a long clip from which I might only need a small section. (It turned out that this decision became incredibly important later.)

Having said that, FilmoraGo does actually have a really useful previewing-and-selecting-interface that allows you to switch between clips quickly and skip around in clips to find what you're looking for but this is not normal for most apps.

How I Made The DOOM Cape Town-Launch Highlights Video On An Android Phone
Above: Selecting media files in FilmoraGo. There is also a screen that allows you to scroll through your files and preview them so that you can look for specific footage.
When I filmed I also made sure to give the clips a short lead-in time to allow for fine tuning the cut later in the editing process because FilmoraGo allows you to scrub and trim down to 1/10 of a second.

Editing The Video

Videoshop only allows you to apply effects to an entire project, not just sections of it, so I did the "security camera" section first and then saved it as a new clip. My original intention was to do the bulk of the work in Videoshop as separate clips that I would then compile on a final timeline in the app, possibly with some tweaking in FilmoraGo.

Videoshop has great features that allow you to add audio at any point in the timeline (although you can't have more than one audio file playing at the same time on separate tracks unless you hack the system by exporting a clip with audio and then placing more audio on top of that clip in a new project). This means you can use different music in different places in your project and also loop the audio with a properly pre-edited audio file.

Videoshop also has great text tools that allow you to place text anywhere on the timeline and tweak the display length, as well as whether or not to fade the text in and out. Unfortunately there is only one font but the control is very important for people who need to have text display in specific places.

How I Made The DOOM Cape Town-Launch Highlights Video On An Android Phone
Above: FilmoraGo doesn't have a timeline but it does offer a workspace into which you can easily add, move around, and delete items.
In contrast FilmoraGo doesn't have a timeline so it only allows you to use preset title screens that will display at a fixed time in a clip. Although they are very attractive it's incredibly difficult to edit the text because it doesn't display properly when you're typing. The lack of a timeline also means you can't place audio anywhere you want to. You pick a music file, it starts playing at the beginning of the project, and, if it runs out before the end of the project, it just restarts the audio again, so you have to make sure you have a file with a natural loop that you have to fade in at the beginning of the video.

The audio and text control were the two main reasons, therefore, that I initially chose Videoshop as my primary editing app.

After creating the "security camera" clip I reimported it into VideoShop and continued editing using game footage. I exported an experiment of this to import into FilmoraGo to test how the project was doing and, to my dismay, I discovered that the fast pace of the game footage sections were rendered badly by Videoshop (it looked like when you are on a slow Internet connection and YouTube down samples the footage and it becomes blurry and blocky).

I had no choice but to abandon Videoshop and switch to FilmoraGo to finish the project because most of what was left to work with was game footage. If this has been the FanCon video I had originally envisioned I think Videoshop would have managed it, however.

This presented a problem because it meant now that I had to come up with a new plan for the audio and the text. I decided to create video to the length of the audio but ended up overshooting it by the end of the production. The app also unfortunately created and threw an audio artifact right at the start of the video. I went back into Audacity on my computer and edited a new music file that was slightly extended because I wanted the original tracks' intro, not a fade-in on a loop, but there was no way to get rid of the audio artifact because it's not in the music file.

How I Made The DOOM Cape Town-Launch Highlights Video On An Android Phone
Above: Applying transitions in FilmoraGo.
To solve the text problem I made an image in Gimp on the computer, sent it to the phone via Bluetooth, and imported that into the project. I placed a Bokeh filter over it to give it some life. I also used the fancy title ability to place the "DOOM Launch Cape Town" text at the beginning of the video on the security-camera section.

I then continued to edit and found that benefits of FilmoraGo include the ability to adjust the volume of the audio of each clip in the project individually (although in this case I muted them all) and the ability to add a wide selection of transitions between clips, which helps to smooth certain kinds of cuts that can otherwise be jarring. Videoshop only offers four transitions - two of which are flashes and two of which are fades. (I actually used the two fades for the logo video.)

How I Made The DOOM Cape Town-Launch Highlights Video On An Android Phone
Above: Editing a clip in FilmoraGo.
I also discovered that when you "trim" a clip in FilmoraGo it doesn't actually split or remove the rest of the video. Instead you're really selecting a portion of the clip that will display in the final video. This means it's easy to go back to the clip to fine tune the scrubbing later if necessary or pick an entirely new section from it if you need to but it also means all of that data sits in the phone's memory.

At about the point at which I had prepared about a minute of video FilmoraGo started to struggle, primarily with applying transitions. (Bear in mind that it was working with 720p video.) The phone would freeze for quite a while as it tried to calculate and apply the transition frames and the project clips would stutter in places on playback, making it impossible to fine tune the cuts.

How I Made The DOOM Cape Town-Launch Highlights Video On An Android Phone
Above: I was forced to split the video into two separate projects in FilmoraGo because I was pushing the limits of the app and the phone and needed to free up some resources to continue.
I therefore made the decision to export what I had done as a complete video file called "Part 1". I then started a new project in FilmoraGo to create the second half of the video and used the "Part 1" file as the first import video. After this there was no going back to the first part without a lot of hassle but the phone's resources were then released to allow me to compile another minute of footage to end the video properly. It was a risky but good decision.

After three hours of consistent, mainly linear, progress I was reasonably satisfied and decided to call it quits as this was a phone and research experiment, not my feature-film magnum opus. There are a few small things I would fix, given infinite time, but on the whole I'm really happy with the result.

As far as I'm concerned the project was a success and the BlackBerry handled the workload well. The impact on the battery was less than I was expecting (I unfortunately wasn't paying attention because I was so engrossed in the editing but I would estimate that it was less than a 40% drain). The device also didn't heat up the way it does when you play games (more on that in my review once I've finished testing). If you haven't watched the video yet head to the top of the article and have a look and if you have any questions about the apps leave a comment below.

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Mandy J Watson attended the DOOM launch courtesy of MWEB. DOOM is available worldwide now. The BlackBerry PRIV is on loan for testing purposes.

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Tags: #cape_town, #games, #technology

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