How To Record Drum Covers With Your GoPro Session, Mac And Electronic Drums
So, you’ve learnt your favourite song and want to show the world on YouTube, but you’re not sure what’s the best way to record your performance. But you have one issue — your GoPro doesn’t have a mic input.
If you have a GoPro Session like me, there’s simply no way to get your audio into the GoPro as you play. But fortunately, there is a workaround, and Garageband on the Mac makes it quick and easy.
In this post, I’ll explain the simple method I use to produce my drum covers. you’ll need the following gear:
- An electronic drum kit (I use a Roland TD-11 module)
- A USB cable or audio interface
- A GoPro
- A Mac with Garageband
- Superior Drummer (optional)
Yes, you can use a PC to do this, but unfortunately I can‘t help as I’ve not used a PC for music for years!
Plugging in your module
The way you do this depends on how old your drum module is, and by extension, what connections it has.
If like me, you have a relatively new drum module, it’ll have a USB input allowing the module to act as an audio interface. You can then use this to record the modules sounds directly into your software (Garageband in this instance), or record the sounds as MIDI, allowing you to trigger drum software like Superior Drummer.
If you have an older kit, you’ll likely have a midi-out and audio out ports. You’ll need an interface to connect it to your laptop. If you’re triggering drum software, try the Roland UM-ONE. I had the old Roland UM-TWO for my old electronic kit which worked great and ensured low-latency playing, meaning you can hear yourself play without any annoying delay, which can put you out of time. Watch out for budget midi adaptors, which tend to have latency issues.
If you’re recording the audio from your module, you’ll need to buy an audio interface, so head out to your local music store!
Setting up Garageband
With your module plugged in and powered on, open up Garageband. Go to Garageband /Preferences and confirm your module is listed as the audio unit (or your audio interface, if that’s what your using.)
If you use midi, you don’t need to do this step, instead, go to the Audio MIDI Setup app under Applications / Utilities.
If you’re triggering drum software, create a new software track, and load in your drum software as an Audio Unit:
Alternatively if you’re recording audio, set up a stereo audio track
Next, load in the audio track you’re covering. You can either use the original track and play drums over the top, or find a drumless version, either on Youtube or via dedicated drumless track sites.
At this point it’s worth hitting play and play along, making sure the backing track isn’t too loud or too quiet.
Another thing you can do is set up another software track and set up a count-in, like this:
Yes, there is a count-in function built in to Garageband, but that’s at the beginning of each take only, whereas in some songs the drums come in later. This way, you can create your own count-in where you need it.
To make this easier, it helps to set up the correct tempo in the Garageband project first and lining up the track with the beat.
Mounting your GoPro
The next step is to mount your GoPro. You can use the GoPro app to help you find a good camera angle that gets everything in.
I usually mount my GoPro to a boom stand above the kit using a clamp mount. Theres plenty of other options though, for example using a mic stand if you want a high angle view, and a mic adaptor for your camera. Or, invest in a camera tripod!
As your GoPro doesn’t have a mic input, you’ll need to record both on your Mac and on the GoPro at the same time, then merge the two recordings later. So when you’re recording, make sure you hit record on both devices at the start.
But wait! There’s one step you should do before you play to make things easier. Hit one of the drums hard so it registers both in your Garageband recording and through the mic on the camera. You can use this to sync up the sound later on.
Once you’re done, end the recording on both the Mac and GoPro. You’ll then need to import the footage from the GoPro onto your Mac and ready for the final stage of the process.
Syncing Audio and Video
When your file is ready, drag and drop it into your Garageband project. You’ll see that the video file is added, along with the audio track from your camera:
The audio track is the important bit here. Scroll through the track and look for the waveforms picked up by the microphone when you hit the drums. Can you see the big hit on the drum that you played at the start of the track?
When you find it, take your drum recording track and slide it across to line up with the waveform. You may need to trim the start of the track a bit to make this work.
You should end up with the two track in sync, a bit like this:
See how the MIDI notes in green line up with the waveforms in orange? That’s now in sync. If you’re recording your drums via audio, do the same but line up the waveforms.
The next step is to play the track and watch the video to ensure everything looks good. You can also zoom in on the track using the slider on the top right hand side to ensure the two tracks are lined up as best as possible.
Next, simply mute or delete the GoPro audio track.
Now watch through the video and adjust the audio levels to your liking. It is a drum cover, so you may want the backing track to be a bit quieter than the drums.
Exporting your video
With your track synced and sound levels to your liking, it’s time to export the video. Simply go to File/Movie/Export Audio to Movie:
In the next dialogue box, choose full quality:
The file that’s output will then have the audio track replaced by your new drum track.
The final step is to trim the clip, either with Qucktime or iMovie, and it’s ready to publish!
No mic input on your camera doesn’t mean you can’t record drum covers with your electronic drum kit. Yes, there’s a couple of extra steps involved, but Garageband makes it easy to do, and it’s simpler than many video apps like iMovie which simply aren’t suited to syncing audio to video.