When a muso meddles with video...

During lockdown I made a wee music video from home and thought it might be quite nice to share my process and some (hopefully) handy hints incase there are other interested creative folks out there.

 

For my fellow audiophiles, here's a quick rundown of my recording process...

Acoustic guitar and tambo were tracked with my MXL 440; a cheap, large diaphragm condenser mic. You can see it in the video hanging upside down rather precariously! The capture isn't bad but the mic itself is a little harsh so some EQ and jiggery pokery in post definitely helped smooth things out.

I used my 441 for vocals, which I know goes against some folks' cardinal rule as it's dynamic but rules are there to be broken my fellow nerds...I enjoy this mic with my vocal tone and it just needed a quick brightening up around the top end.

Bass and electric guitar parts are DI with Neural's Nolly sim smacked on top, which I downloaded for a free trial here. There are really nice clean tones available in this plugin too which helped me come up with some cool, understated ambient licks for the track.

The keys and smorgasbord of fx are midi using various different virtual synths including fabfilter's twin 2.

 

The tricky part for me was syncing each audio take to my video capture of that same performance...

I used my Zoom Q2n to shoot a single angle for each instrument being performed in the video.

I'd been warned before by someone with video chops to do a nice, big, loud clap at the start of each take. This helped me sync up my audio/video takes later as I could see the nice, big, loud transient of my clap and line this up in Premiere Pro with the footage of me clapping my hands. Pretty easy once you know how and have had a bit of practice!

I edited all the video in Adobe Premiere Pro, which has been free for students during lockdown (although mine still seems to be working...sssh don't tell anyone).

Using this software for the first time entailed a bit of a learning curve. I had a few moments like this...

 

 

 

With a bit of practice, it's fairly simple and intuitive - especially if you're used to a daw or something similar - once you learn a few shortcut commands you're off and running! 

This article helped me figure out some sneaky shortcuts I needed to bosh things out pronto. The main keyboard shortcuts I used during the editing process were 'C' (razor tool) and 'V' (selection tool) but for sure there are other handy ones if you're doing something more sophisticated. 

The most fun I had during the editing process was watching all the footage back and deciding which clips I wanted to play and in what order/sequence. My main aim was to try and mirror the lyrics of the track in the video and help build the narrative of the song this way.

Something I'd maybe recommend (if folk aren't familiar already) is putting together a brief script or storyboard idea of what you'd like to happen in the video in advance. I sketched out some ideas on paper and then tried acting them out...much to my own amusement as I'm definitely most in my comfort zone when working behind the scenes! I didn't realise that acting would be quite as much fun as it was and I enjoyed improvising; in fact, I ended up using a fair bit of footage which had been shot 'off the cuff'. This helped keep some authenticity about the video as I never wanted anything too staged.

I ran into some obstacles while shooting and in hindsight, I wish I had had an adjustable stand for my camera so that I could have had a bit more flexibility. I managed to improvise by balancing the poor wee Zoom 🎥 on various different objects, very nearly resulting in its untimely demise more than once 😂

Something else to bear in mind whilst shooting is your light! By Zeus, remember your light! I didn't think much about this at the time but this gave me quite the little migraine when I reviewed all the footage back and discovered the light and colour in each shot was pretty inconsistent. Probably not a huge deal for most folk but for me it very much distracted my eye in a negative way so I decided to get to grips with some colour correction basics using this video tutorial.

If I could give one key piece of advice for those trying videos out themselves, it would be to make yourself aware of and brush up on filming in different light. I was shooting mostly in varying degrees of daylight; sometimes it was super sunny then as the take progressed there'd suddenly be massive amounts of shade. For me, this resulted in a fair bit of fiddling about with the colour of each shot in post, trying to get each one to match...prevention is better than cure here 🙃

 

Once I'd assembled all my different video clips and colour graded them, I exported my video and thought "YES, I'M FINALLY FINISHED, SWEET MOTHER OF-" But then...

After uploading my test video to YouTube for the first time, I discovered the colour was very off. It seemed fine playing back in Premiere Pro and QuickTime but on YouTube the colour was super faded and dull. Then I had a quick gander at this video which explained about LUTs and how different platforms and even browsers can affect the look of your export 😑 This video provided a free LUT to download - which I applied as an overlay across my entire video and boom, the colours instantly came back to life! Adobe have a free LUT template available for download as well but I found theirs too muted for my video so I opted for the Fairgrieve one instead.

When exporting your video in Premiere Pro, you can customise your settings so I was able to bounce separate videos for each platform like YouTube and Facebook - handy! 

I realise I am a complete noob when it comes to video but I hope I've managed to shed some light on the process, show it can be pretty good fun doing something like this for yourself if you're a muso type and that you can do some really simple but effective things with limited gear.

Without further ado, here's the finished video! 

Give me a shout in the comments if you enjoyed this video, have any questions or even if you'd simply like to tell me how inexplicably wrong I am about something video-related, feel free 😂

Erin x

 

Some other useful video tutorials I stumbled across along my wee journey...

text and title effects

quick Premiere Pro export settings

super simple tips for exporting a portion of your video

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