Reaper Video Basics: Adding Photos, Music, and Cross-fading

Many of you were probably unaware that Reaper had a basic video editing processor. While not exactly Hollywood standard, it is functional enough to splice together a decent video. Considering how Reaper is a DAW first and foremost this opens up a lot of options for scoring films and videos. I am going to give a quick demo on how to start off using Reaper video. This first tutorial will be really basic, just adding photos and music. I will show you how to fade between them and even use LFOs which can be used to create zooms and movement.

If you haven't already, when first using Reaper Video, you will need to download some free video codecs. This is simply because of licensing restrictions which prevent them being packaged with Reaper commercially.

The link above directs you to a forum which contains all the links and details for getting that set up. Now then onto the actual video editing!

When you open Reaper, your first instinct is to add a track. The process is the same for video, in fact, as Reaper doesn't have tracks dedicated to audio or video, you do it exactly the same. Press ctrl+t (cmd+t on mac) to add a new track.

The next stage is setting up the track for video. Just click on the FX button and search for video.

Once you have selected the video processor, you are now free to drop a video or image file into that track from anywhere on your computer. In this example, I have an image of Danger Mouse that I'll drag in.

Now, that's great but how do we see the video? Just open up the video window from the View tab (or hit ctrl+shift+v).

You should now see a video window. If the cursor is over the image item, then the image will show up in the video, if not, it will be a green screen.

Let's click off the video window and the processor screen for now and add a song. Simply do this by adding another track and dragging a song in from it's location on the computer.

Perfect, now you can see the image item and the song. We want them to both run for the same length of time so let the image item start at the start of the audio and drag the right hand side of it so it will run the length of the song.

And now the image runs for the length of the song.

Re-open the video window (ctrl+shift+v) and hit play. You should see the picture show up on the screen as the song plays. The next stage would be to consider adding different pictures. You can chop up picture items just like audio ones and you can move them around as you like. You should not that making picture items overlap does NOT crossfade them for you. 

As you can see here, I have made the video cut to an image of Nicolas Cage as the second drop of Darude's Sandstorm comes into being. 

So let's say we do want to crossfade, how do we do that? The first thing to realise is that tracks set for video are stacked. That means that only one plays at once, usually the highest up track, which takes priority. 

This means that if we have two video tracks (let's say track 1 and track 2), track one will be visible and track two won't. 

If we were to suddenly delete the image/video item in track 1, it would suddenly cut to track 2. Or, if we were to fade track one out, we'd see track 2 fade in. 

This is what we are going to do. So first thing is: add another track for video (including the video processor) and drag down the image you want to fade into.

As seen above, adjust the start/end points of the item so there is an area of overlap between the two. Now on track 1, open up the FX processor from the FX tab and select Track Opacity/Zoom/pan.

Now we can automate the opacity to zero (on track 1) over the region of crossover.

You can also modulate the opacity, or indeed any parameter with an LFO by simply selecting the "mod" button from the automation menu and selection the LFO parameters. 

This effect is good when synced with the music as it can cause two pictures to fade between each other rhythmically. Another cool (yet tacky) trick would be to sync the image zoom up with an LFO so it zooms in and out in time with the beat. 

(Update: Apologies for the horribly compressed video, that seems to be the only 
way the website allows it, it's not a Reaper issue)

Right so this isn't the most advanced process so far, but can you see how just by using LFOs and automation you can have  considerable control with video? Sure a nice crossfade from simply overlapping items would be ideal but considering how most video editing uses hard cuts, its not exactly the end of the world. 

If you want any hard video processing done, by all means use another program but when just compiling everything together, especially if advanced audio is a priority, Reaper is perfect for the job.