The Behind the Scenes of Video Making
As guitarists and musicians in general, we soon find ourselves having to do things that are the farthest away from practicing our instruments. One of the things on top of that list is recording and editing videos. Whether it is a video for an audition, personal assessment, or a video to share with the internet audience, chances are you will find yourself needing to make one at some point in your career.
For a couple of years now I have been recording various videos for Strings by Mail. Most recently, I also added performance videos of my concert repertoire to post on my own YouTube channel. I have finally settled into a way to make these videos that work well for me as a performer and I thought this would be the perfect time to share some of the details about the how, the process, equipment, software… the “behind the scene” so to say.
- Canon VIXIA HF R10 Camcorder
- Sony PCM M10 Portable Audio Recorder
- AVS4YOU Video Editor
- Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0
My idea behind the performance videos is to make them as realistic as possible, without any heavy editing and piecing together of different sections. I opt to record with a single camera and in full takes. Usually the camcorders don’t have the best quality microphones, so for better sound quality I use the Sony audio recorder to simultaneously record the sound. When recording a piece, I play the entire piece, or movement, three times, with a clap in between each take. The clap will help when syncing the audio and video. Then I choose the best out of the three takes. Of course, a lot of times even the best take isn’t really perfect. For a live performance, I would be OK with it, but for a video that’s going to be played and replayed numerous times I prefer to clean it up a little. However, for my purposes I don’t edit to a point where it’s no longer a true representation of my playing. Where you draw that line, is your own personal decision. I drew the line at the most obviously buzzed notes that are most distracting when listening back on repeat.
After choosing the best take, let’s say that’s the second take out of the three, I use that take as the main audio and video, and the other two takes as extra material to edit from. I take the audio of the chosen take and open it up in audio editing software; Sound Forge Audio Studio has worked very well for me. Here I can do minor editing, like fix those annoying buzzed notes, and add some reverb for a livelier sound than the naturally dead acoustics of the room. Since I record the audio and the video simultaneously, that audio is an exact match to its corresponding video take; which can be a double edged sword. It makes things really easy to sync up, but it also makes it a lot harder to edit. Because I use a single camera and only one angle, I cannot edit the video without it appearing obvious. So I have to be very careful not to disturb the timing of each note or passage when editing the audio, otherwise I will find myself in a syncing nightmare when trying to sync back to the unedited video. I find that this is the easiest way to make performance videos, but only if you are comfortable with the repertoire, and are willing to record the audio/video simultaneously in full takes. It is tougher to record, but easier to edit and at the end I end up with perfectly synced fingers to each note.
Once I have the audio cleaned up a bit, all I need to do is sync it back up to its corresponding video. For that I use AVS4YOU Video Editor, which is subscription based software. You can use whatever software with which you are most comfortable. I think in the future I will switch to Adobe Premiere which syncs the audio and video layers automatically. If you don’t have software that does it automatically, use the clap technique to have a clear short sound to easily line up the two layers. A little tip, when adding the reverb to the audio, exclude the clap from the reverb. Adding reverb to the clap prolongs it, which makes it harder to have a clear syncing point. I use the same video editing software to add transitions, opening/closing screens and piece titles.
And the finished product, is something like this: