Video Surgeon Review by Eric Parsons
Video Surgeon is video motion analysis software that is marketed towards anyone that uses video material for teaching, coaching or learning. This software allows the user to capture, slow down/speed up, loop, transpose, zoom and freeze video frame by frame. Motion analysis software is extensively used in the professional sports industry to capture, study and analyze athletic performance. Video Surgeon is now making these tools available to musicians who wish to use these same techniques to improve their musical performances.
Video Surgeon is a Windows based program (Currently beta testing with the Mac version and it should be available in about a month’s time) that is available via digital download from the manufacturer. The process of downloading, installing and activating the software was quick and easy.
Video Surgeon provides an extensive amount of support documentation which includes a user guide, a quick start guide, a selection of training videos and a help desk. Since I have used another TMJ created product “Song Surgeon” extensively, I found the interface and various options to be quite similar and was quickly up and running. For those that are new to either program, I would recommend that you take the time and step through the various guides to become familiarized with the wide variety of options available to the user.
All video manipulations are performed and viewed from a single screen. Selectable icons are available on the top of the screen providing access to drop down menu driven commands with additional adjustable parameters on the left side of the screen.
Video Surgeon can open and view most of the common video file formats including: avi, mp4, m4v, mpg, mpg2,mov, flv, mkv, wmv, mts and rm. Video Surgeon will also save a projects as a Video Surgeon Project file (.vsp file). Video Surgeon can access these files from your hard drive, a camera, rip them from an unprotected DVD, or download from the internet.
Video Surgeon can slow the tempo to 25% of the original speed or speed it up to a maximum of 200% of the original tempo. There is both a slider control for quick adjustments and step buttons for finer adjustments.
Pitch can be increased or decreased by a maximum of 12 half steps (one full octave) in either direction. The pitch parameter has the same slider and step buttons for adjustment.
Start and stop points for looping can be set by either playing the songs and pressing the start and end buttons at the appropriate time or by clicking on the “Edit button” and manually keying in the time designation for the start and stop points of the loop. The timeline area can be expanded (zoomed in) to allow for more precise set points.
Markers can be added to allow the user to quickly locate a position within an open file. Markers can also be repositioned by dragging.
- Playback Controls
There are buttons for play, pause, and stop. There is a volume slider and a zoom slider for magnifying the video image. There is also a set of Freeze Frame Buttons that allow the user to incrementally step through the paused video either by one frame at a time or by designated increments of .1 second, .25 seconds or 1 second intervals.
- Aspect Ratio
Video Surgeon has a button in the Top Menu that allows the user to change the size and aspect ration of the open video. This is important, because some videos have different aspect ratios and would appear distorted without the ability to adjust this parameter.
- The Youtube Sniffer
This is one of the coolest features of Video Surgeon. The sniffer allows the user to download videos from Youtube into Video Surgeon for manipulation. Having worked with Song Surgeon for a while now, I realize the magnitude and difficultly of this task. Youtube is continually changing parameters and Video Surgeon is constantly being updated to meet these new requirements. Note: there is also a Main Sniffer for non-Youtube videos.
Video Surgeon provides additional editing capabilities of Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Silence and Synchronous and Asynchronous Editing.
A video file can be loaded either from the hard drive or from Youtube via the Youtube sniffer. While the video is playing, starting and stopping loop points can be readily set by clicking the appropriate button at the desired time. The start and stop times can be further refined and adjusted by clicking the Edit button which allows for entering more precise numerical data. When slowing down a part, the audio and video remain at a high level of quality (as long as the initial audio and video was of high definition). I found Video Surgeon to be easy to use and a valuable tool for musicians that aspire to learn new musical phrases and techniques from video recordings. For more information go to: Video Surgeon
Note: I wish to thank James Todd (Founder/Owner of TMJ, Inc.) for his assistance with the production of the exported video clips. My computer is a few generations behind the bleeding edge and experienced some technical difficulties at the most inopportune of times. I also want to send a Shout Out to Scott Devine for giving me permission to use clips of his video lesson in the examples.