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Need advice: Video on a budget


Aidan

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Both my swing and Bacharach bands have been lined up to play a concert at my church as part of the town's jazz and blues festival in May.

 

Our particular gig will be a charity one for Christian Aid, but one of several benefits for us will be a rare opportunity to capture our performance on video, to use for subsequent promos.

 

Unfortunately, I've spoken to a couple of professional videographers and to be honest, the cost of having a proper job done on this is going to be more than I can justify in terms of available cash at the moment.

 

Now. I do have a Mini DV camera of my own (not HD, and about five years old). If I take a feed from the board, is there any chance we'll end up with anything remotely worthwhile?

 

The proposition is somewhat complicated by the fact that normally we don't have anything but keys and vocals running through the PA. Drums are acoustic, bass player uses a small Acoustic Image amp.

 

Therefore any tips suggestions etc most gratefully received. Thanks, guys.

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Worked in broadcast a number of years ago. Obviously, you will need to mike the bass and drums into the overall mix; but that probably can be done with at least the kind of quality you would get. I have one of the Sony DV cameras, but mine was the cheaper one that uses one sensor with filters for video, and the video itself is not good at all. OTOH, the ones that had three separate sensors do produce a better quality video.

 

First off, since you have some time between now and May - what is the possibility in the UK that you might be able to RENT video equipment (at the very least, one professional grade camera - moving on up, 2 or 3 cameras and video mixing equipoment) for the event? Be worth checking out - back in the day, it took at least $50,000 for pro grade video, now cameras with near broadcast quality (even HD) can be bought for a small fraction of that - so rental for 2 or 3 days (enough to run through at least a partial reearsal to check and fix any problems before the event) might just come in under your budget.

 

Other things to consider: most low-end and pro-sumer video cameras may have either automatic or manual video settings; but audio is usually run on a wide open compress the crap out of it basis. Evben with a good quality audio feed, the ability to turn off such compression and run audio properly will make a huge difference. This is yet another reason to attempt to rent some higher quality gear.

 

HTH

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

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Don't forget a tripod.

 

I've used my Sony MiniDV camera to capture my old band using an external mic that I got as a free or cheap bonus when I bought it. The mic sits in the flash/light mount on the top of the camera. The sound was not bad, and probably much better than the internal mic would have done.

 

If you're interested, the videos are here. Skip the ones for Twestival, those were done by a friend with a better 3 CCD camera. Go to the older ones.

 

However, notice how the lighting isn't enough for the camera in most cases. These are not good enough for promo videos. If you'll be better lit, then maybe.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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A couple of things.

 

First, in a promo you would not show more than short shots of a few seconds each, not a static shot of the whole band playing a whole song. So sync becomes less of an issue.

 

Second, you need a camera man. He doesn't have to be good, just imaginative. He can take some long shots, and crowd shots, etc.

 

Then you set yourself up in some room that has decent lighting and you redo the songs that you plan to use in the demo, doing each song a couple of times. (please wear the same clothes????)The camera person can run around the band shooting up your left nostril, down the singers throat, behind the drummers ear.... you get the idea.

 

Now, you take a separate audio recording of the band, done in a better place.

 

You get a simple video editing software (I've used Premier and Elements, but my favorite is Magix Movie Edit Pro, for under $100.) You lay in the audio portion, and put the various video clips on their tracks, and cut to fit. Making long shots, nostril shots, etc etc edit together as if they were one performance shot with multiple cameras.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I just wanted to bring up the Zoom Q3. I don't have one but am considering it for recording gigs and throwing them up on Facebook and MySpace and if the quality is as good as it says, maybe using them on a future band web site. Only negative I have heard is that the video is only 640x480? That may not be much of a hindrance for web use though. Here's a link: $250 at SW

 

http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=2020

 

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IK Multimedia: SampleTank 4 Max, Sonik Synth, MODO Drums & Bass | Cherry Audio: Most of their VSTs |

 

 

 

 

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We have been struggling with this exact same issue. We are at a point where our bar pay has almost caught up to our private party pay. To land the big corporate/private party gigs, we need a good video. Our agent has said he can't do much more for us without a good video. I started with some ideas and a budget in mind, and as I started talking with a very good videographer (who comes from the music industry and has even done some work for Discovery, but is local), the scope and budget quickly exploded. To the point where even if he did it ultra dirt cheap just because it was something he really wanted to do, we were talking a bare minimum of $5,000.00.

 

He wanted to take every thing out of his control out of the equation. That meant setting up a controlled environment, prerecording a few songs, and lipsyncing to them 6 times in a row with 2 HD camera shots (one fixed, one with a camera man) each take. He didn't even want moving lights or a crowd. I insisted there has to be crowd in the shots and I want a full light show like we do at our normal shows so people get the feel of our shows from the video. So we were going to bring in fans and place them how we wanted (attractive people in front - no fat drunk guys), and Sequence the light show so it was the same for each take (not one scene in one camera angle and a different scene in another angle of the same shot). It got to the point where it just got too complicated and expensive.

 

But by the same token, you shoot amateur video at a show, and you get the drunk guy in the front row, sub-par lighting, the gal raising her hands and screaming in front of the camera, etc. The same guy edited a video from another local band who had friends shoot the footage, and he said he just didn't have much to work with. And I don't think that video really got them what they hoped it would.

 

I think there has to be a happy medium. I came up with some ideas that I discussed with him, that he is open to... trying to get the entire budget down to $3k. Still a lot of money, but I think we could pay it off with the price difference in a couple private shows vs our typical bar rate.

 

In either case, please let me know what you end up doing and how it turns out, because I am very interested in this and need to move on it fairly quickly.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I wonder if a happy medium for Aidan's situation could be to have one camera setup on a tripod, and then one or two friends getting other shots throughout the night?

 

If possible I would suggest everyone using the same type of cameras. Then to really cover your bases record the mix off the board to the tripod camera but also setup a zoom H4 or similar near the stage for a backup recording. If you can get all that done (for free) with the help of friends then maybe you can spend some money on editing software or hire an editor to put it all together?

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Okay, the mix off of the board is only going to work if everything is miced properly. Everything. Then you need a handful of crowd mics (more than one so that you don't have that one drunk guy screaming "Freebird!" between every song at full throat in the only crod mic there is.) And if this is the way to go, then it makes more sense to just split the mics, with each mic going to its own track on a recorder, as well as to the PA. Then you at least have some control.

 

If you stop to think about it, nobody is going to want to sit through more than a couple of songs other than your mother. If the goal is to really do a promo, then you need quick cuts, multiple camera angles, lots of percieved movement (as opposed to actual camera movement, which will make the watcher seasick...) a crowd is nice, and a sense of excitement. There is nothing exciting about a locked off tripod shot of the whole band playing for four hours. Or even four minutes.

 

So what is the real goal, and who is the resulting video aimed at? If you just want a video record of the event, lock off and have at it. If you want to create something that can be used as promo to generate interest, it becomes more complicated, but not very hard. It takes more sweat equitey than cash.

 

 

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Then you need a handful of crowd mics (more than one so that you don't have that one drunk guy screaming "Freebird!" between every song at full throat in the only crod mic there is.)

 

It's rather unlikely that there will be any drunks screaming "Freebird" at Aidan's church gig, so that shouldn't be a problem, unless they're some kind of "ultra progressive" wing of the church.

 

:cool:

 

Seriously though, Bill and others have made some excellent points to avoid that "homemade wedding video" look promo.

 

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He wanted to take every thing out of his control out of the equation. That meant setting up a controlled environment, prerecording a few songs, and lipsyncing to them 6 times ... I insisted there has to be crowd in the shots and I want a full light show ....

 

I don't want to cut anyone out of work, but you don't need a producer, you need a good camera man who grabs the exciting shots.

 

The basic idea is good, but I need your touches to make it work for me... you gotta have a crowd.

 

Lighting video is critical to making a professional presentation. Lights swirling around in the background is fine, but the players have to have full video lighting on them, or it looks like garbage. The professional expectation today is a well-lit performer, not a guy standing in half-darkness of mood wash colors with the occasional intellibeam sweeping somewhere across his body. If you choose to set up some sweeps to liven up the background, that is okay. But it is a lot of work for minimal payback.

 

As I said before, the music needs to be cut seperately, and dubbed in later. You will get some milage from cutting the vocals live, and maybe some leads, to give you some definitely in sync closeup shots, but again this becomes time consuming. If you have the music already recorded and one of your video recordings is done as a lipsync to that recording just for the purpose of getting close ups, that makes sense.

 

In terms of how and where to do this: When I was trying to make a live album, I booked a club at which we usually played, making a deal with the owner that we had the room for the afternoon, too. Make whatever deal works for you, but if you bring in a crowd for a video shoot, he'll make a little money at the bar. Less than he expects, but that would not be your problem.

 

Do your recording in the afternoon, taking as many hours as you need to capture just a few songs. (Three maybe four tunes ....) Because to get the video you need, you'll need to do the songs over and over again, so that you have enough interesting shots to intercut. (The pro ratio of amount of material shot to amount used is like, 10:1. You should not expect to do better. All you'll do is hamstring the editing.)

 

Don't skip the audience, shoot some front on-shots with grinning, singng, dancing for the camera. If you get some good shots like this, you can cut them into the edits wherever youu want them.

 

Anyway, you make the afternoon a party, invite the people down to 'be in a video', shoot what you need to shoot, then that evening since you are all wired anyway, you shoot the same songs in performance.

 

Then, like I suggested earlier, get a reasonable video editing program and cut the project to the audio track. Drop in titles, write the DVD. If the whole songs come out good enough, you can make a mini-DVD for sale at the gigs, but you ned to focus on the purpose of the shoot and get what you need before you try to get more and end up with nothing worth using.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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This ironically just popped up on my Facebook page:

 

http://www.keyboardmag.com/BlogComments.aspx?id=108329

 

Interesting review and some pretty good samples.

Hardware:
Yamaha
: MODX7 | Korg: Kronos 88, Wavestate | ASM: Hydrasynth Deluxe | Roland: Jupiter-Xm, Cloud Pro, TD-9K V-Drums | Alesis: StrikePad Pro|
Behringer: Crave, Poly D, XR-18, RX1602 | CPS: SpaceStation SSv2 | 
Controllers: ROLI RISE 49 | Arturia KeyLab Essentials 88, KeyLab 61, MiniLab | M-Audio KeyStation 88 & 49 | Akai EWI USB |
Novation LaunchPad Mini, |
Guitars & Such: Line 6 Variax, Helix LT, POD X3 Live, Martin Acoustic, DG Strat Copy, LP Sunburst Copy, Natural Tele Copy|
Squier Precision 5-String Bass | Mandolin | Banjo | Ukulele

Software:
Recording
: MacBook Pro | Mac Mini | Logic Pro X | Mainstage | Cubase Pro 12 | Ableton Live 11 | Monitors: M-Audio BX8 | Presonus Eris 3.5BT Monitors | Slate Digital VSX Headphones & ML-1 Mic | Behringer XR-18 & RX1602 Mixers | Beyerdynamics DT-770 & DT-240
Arturia: V-Collection 9 | Native Instruments: Komplete 1 Standard | Spectrasonics: Omnisphere 2, Keyscape, Trilian | Korg: Legacy Collection 4 | Roland: Cloud Pro | GForce: Most all of their plugins | u-he: Diva, Hive 2, Repro, Zebra Legacy | AAS: Most of their VSTs |
IK Multimedia: SampleTank 4 Max, Sonik Synth, MODO Drums & Bass | Cherry Audio: Most of their VSTs |

 

 

 

 

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Just a quick comment; Video is tough to do well. Kind of like playing the keyboard. Anybody can purchase an expensive keyboard and sit down and make noise. Nobody really wants to hear them, even their wives. Same principle goes for video.

 

If you want results that will get you higher paying gigs, at bare minimum, hire someone who is familiar with shooting and more importantly, editing video.

 

Bill@Welcome Home Studios has a great plan for the live shoot above. However, the investment in a shooter who can capture the action, as well as edit, will save you much pain and heartache.

 

I'm a photojournalist who also shoots some video. I'm a great still shooter, half-way passable at video, and so-so as a keyboard player.

 

Good luck with the project!

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Video is indeed hard to do well. And that is why a good camera man gets paid good money. And maybe why you might want to experiment on your own, getting a handle on doing a shoot, before paying for a good camera man.

 

I have directed a handful of corporate video shoots (not a claim to fame: wrong place, wrong time, knew the equipment, got drafted....) A great cameraman can save your shoot. At least, they've saved me... I've had camera people who were almost worthless, and camera people who loved their jobs and knew how to get shots that were great and that I never would have thought of. Live, when fitting into a multicamera shoot, they get the interesting shots. I imagine that, left to their own devices, they'd do very well.

 

By the way, we did not touch on story-boarding the shoot. For Dan in particular, a storyboard can make for a better end product.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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FYI - the guy I was talking to (and would love to use) is an ex-lighting guy for touring professional acts who later got into photography and video. He would be handling both the shooting and editing, and the editing is a big part of the cost. Part of my suggestion for a reduction in cost involved fewer takes, a shorter overall product, and some friends with HD cameras and limited experience (wedding videographer types) shooting along side him.

 

I understand where he was coming from. He wants to make sure he has usable footage when he gets to edititing, and he's had bad experiences with bands giving him unusable footage, and he's responsible for the final product. But there has to be a happy medium.

 

And by the way, I've seen some of the band videos he's shot in Nashville and otherwise, and they are awesome - they may as well be on MTV. He is definitely a professional. Bill, you may even know him - Dave Probst.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Great advice by Bill. Don't underestimate the lighting issue - I've been interviewed in TV studios and the way their sets look during the shoot (bright doesn't even begin to describe it) is very different from what you would expect on stage. Good sound and good lighting can compensate for somewhat mediocre camera equipment, in particular if you're going to put the video on the web. +1 on the equipment rental suggestion. Software-wise - on the Mac iMovie is a suprisingly capable editing tool.
"You'll never be as good as you could have been, but you can always be better than you are." - MoKen
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Aidan, talk to a videographer at a local cable TV station. They might have access to equipment and/or facilities.

 

Even if that person doesn't have connections to borrow or rent equipment, they might have enough experience to get great video using the Mini DV camera on a tripod at the church.

 

Many folks are working on limited budgets. Successful products have been delivered on them. Keep asking around. Good luck mayne. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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