Photo Credit: Ashley Abell
I am really thankful to put out new music to share with our followers! For today’s post I wanted to share with you how our latest music video production, You Have Prepared A Place, was produced.
We chose a location that already had a good lighting set up and a cool backdrop. For this video our church worship area was the perfect location. We found a space that was open, well lit and placed some candles around us. It was a very easy set up to stage.
We hired our friend and videographer Ashley Abell of Abell Media to capture the performance because she does great work and we work well together. She used 3 mid to high quality DSLR cameras to capture different vantage points. We sang the song through three times and she moved her cameras on each pass to give us a wider variety of angles to choose from. At the end of the 3rd pass she did some artsy angles and moving shots as we played different parts of the song.
The cameras she filmed with were the Canon 5D Mark 3 a Canon Mark 2 and a Canon T3i. For lenses she used a 70-200 2.8 lens, a 50mm 1.8 lens, and a 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 lens. These are things I really know nothing about, but thought some of you may want to know. This is why we hired a videographer
For audio I set up a single Rode NTK tube mic. We chose a large diaphragm mic like the Rode NTK because we wanted to capture a natural mix based on distance from the mic. Our daughter Myra’s $25 pink ukulele is the farthest from the mic and Joanna was slightly farther away. More than gauging distance Joanna really just sang to blend with my lead vocal. I ran the Rode mic into our old Apogee Mini-me digital analog converter connected to my Macbook Pro running Protools 12. I took a moment and monitored the sound through headphones and then took them off when I heard that the distance was about right and saw that the levels weren’t clipping. We were really in a good spot and I didn’t have to tinker with mic distance at all. The mic was about 2-3 feet away from my mouth. We sang without any monitoring. It would’ve been nice to have another person monitor the sound while were doing it. We ran the risk of having good video with poor audio the way we did it. Fortunately it all turned out ok.
I edited the audio in Protools 12. Since it was one mono track it was pretty easy. I compressed the track with the Waves C1 compressor plugin at a 3:1 ratio, boosted make up gain (the low peaks) about 5 db and set the threshold to where it was lowering our peak input by about 6 db. I raised the attack time until the dull compressed sound disappeared. These compression steps gave the audio an even volume start to finish. Then I EQ’d the track with Avid’s EQ III 7 band equalizer to make it a little brighter, dipped a little nasally mids because of my nosy vocals, and cut out low end rumble under 80k. Cutting the low end filtered out the noise of cars that were driving by during our recording. Next I added an auxiliary channel to mix in some short vocal plate reverb for a little vibrancy. Finally, I added the Waves L1 Utramaximizer Peak Limiter to get the volume of the recording to sound louder but still natural.
Since everything was recorded together into one mic, no autotune was able to be used. Instead I compiled and spliced together the best sounding parts of the 3 passes we made. So everything you hear is what we sang without tuning manipulation, it just wasn’t all from the same take. Beyond tuning compiling takes is so important because some parts of different takes capture different energy and emotion.
Syncing Audio and Video
I made exact time marker notes of the audio edit points, detailed which pass it was pulled from, and then gave those notes to Ashley. This helped Ashley know which video passes she needed to draw from to match with my audio. She moved her cameras on every take, so knowing that the audio from verse 1 came from pass 1 and so on was a time saver. She would listen to raw camera audio to help sync my audio to our lip movements and my uke rhythms.
Time and Cost
I spent about 2-3 hours of time on the audio portion, and Ashley spent about 4 hours editing video. Our video shoot was a little over 2 hours for set-up, tear down, and recording time. So this video took about 10 hours to produce 15 if you include man hours (time we were all working at the same time). This put our cost at under $250. This includes the money we will spend to boost our video on Facebook, and doesn’t factor in the cost of our personal time.
We are selling the audio download at Bandcamp.com for $1. The video is in a sense the marketing vehicle for the audio. I don’t know yet how well this strategy will work. In the long run putting out new material that connects with and inspires people will help open performance opportunities and possibly help us find more financial partners since we are a non-profit ministry through A.C.T. Intl.
This video was relatively low in cost, but we did use some higher end equipment. This equipment has been gathered over years. If you don’t have things like this, you can still make an impressive video with smart phones and a good USB computer mic. It is great to improve quality over time, but start with what you have. If you don’t have skills find friends that do or are willing to learn with you. Ashley had not done many music videos before working with us and has been awesome to learn with and work with. You can use products like Garageband or Reaper as a low cost option to edit and enhance the audio you capture and use iMovie or a low-cost PC alternative editor to do create your video.
If you have any thoughts, comments, or technical questions, please do so in the comment section below.