Friday, December 21, 2012

One Hour Music Video

Yesterday I recorded a video for my kids' school. They are entering a contest by Rack Room Shoes in which the school can win $15,000 if their video gets the most votes. Instead of just setting up a camera and filming from one location, I decided to spice it up a bit. Once they were all in place and ready to go, I only had one hour, so I had to move fast, but here is the process I used to pull it off.

Step One - Sound. I recorded sound using essentially 10 microphone sources spread amongst three devices. A Tascam DR680 recorded the four "close" mics. These included three Shure SM-58's in front of the choir and one AKG C451 in front of the flute section (since they tend to get overpowered by the rest of the band). You can see the recorder sitting on a chair in front of the conductor. A Tascam DR40 was set up about 30 feet behind the conductor to record the room (on the onboard stereo mics)--and the band on a couple of AKG C535's set about 10 feet in front of each side of the band. I also mixed in a little audio from the camera mics that was recorded during the master shot.

Step Two - Master Shot. At the same time I was recording sound, I shot the master on the Sony EX1. This was a simple dolly back and forth on a wide shot of the band entire group (almost). I used my pipe dolly on the hardwood floor instead of on pipes with the tripod at its maximum height, so it is a little shaky in a couple of spots. I did not take the time to stabilize the footage in post.

Step Three - Closeups. After about 20 minutes, we felt like we had a start-to-finish performance of the song that was as good as they could do. I had the conductor put on a set of headphones to listen to playback from the DR680 recording. For the next 30 minutes, the group performed the number about 10 more times as he directed them in-time with our master audio recording. Each time, I shot handheld footage from different angles all around the room. On these, I had to keep the conductor out of the shot since he was wearing headphones instead of the Santa hat. For a final take, he put the hat on again and directed without listening to the recording (This take's footage was, of course, not synced to the recording, so a little adjusting had to be done on the timeline during the edit--but not a big deal at all).

Step Four - Making Up. When we were finished I had to then apologize to the students for yelling at them so much while shooting (mostly for looking at the camera and for trying to sit down between takes) and to tell them they did a great job.

Step Five - Editing. To sync my video takes and audio sources, I set each clip to start at the frame where you hear the attack on the first note of the song. Once they were all lined up top to bottom on the timeline, I threw away the audio portion of every video clip except the master shot. Then, I spent a couple of hours essentially doing a multi-camera "shoot". I chose the best shots I had at each point in the song, with the wide shot being my go-to whenever there was nothing better. I did move a few shots from one chorus to the other as needed, but mostly they stayed in place on the timeline. After editing, I added a little reverb to the close mics to make them match the sound in the room and corrected a few shots for brightness. The final look is a desaturation with a touch of sepia tone added. A vignette was added as well. Watch the final product here.