HOMEMADE MUSIC VIDEOS by Paul Brett More and more people these days are making their own videos. Whether it’s basic clips on a mobile phone distributed by cyberspace networks or high quality, high definition productions, the current trend is definitely in the DIY, Home Movie genres. These have grown hugely popular with the likes of Youtube and MySpace being the main receptacles for this vast output of home grown creativity. A band or solo act can instantly promote themselves to the World via these sites and it doesn’t matter a toss, if they are signed to a label or not. They can still get themselves exposure by a simple upload of their clips. With the Record Industry in decline globally, mainly due to the Internet, it is natural that talent will transcend the co-corporate dinosaurs and evolve into a new sphere of sustaining itself. Most musicians and artistes have never made any serious money and those that have, have rarely been paid by the record companies what they are due by way of royalties. It’s only the minority of acts that have been fortunate enough to make a decent living from their talent. Once upon a time, as the fairy tale goes, it costs thousands of pounds to make a professional looking video. These were in the days when all sorts of specialist film and sound equipment and editing facilities were the norm. As technology developed, all these early costs have been sucked into a whirlpool of much cheaper and affordable methods that enable the individual to produce the same high quality productions for a mere fraction of the price. In fact, you can now do it all yourself, from filming, editing, authoring and making your own DVD’s from your spare room or bedroom. It was done before with audio recordings and it was a logical progression that visuals would follow. Sure, the professional movie makers still operate and still turn out great products for their clients, offering various packages from budget to main broadcast material. The old adage “ you get what you pay for” is still the rule of thumb in these areas and you really have to have an idea of exactly how you want your video to be filmed and edited by these professionals, otherwise you can run up a mountain of costs and still be frustrated by the end result. With home movie making, you can afford to be a little more creative, as the time you put in is your own as you are not operating on hourly costs to others. You can be as practical and conservative as you like or as wild and creative as you like. You can film shots as many times as you like until you get the desired take. Look upon yourselves as Artists and your production as a canvas. No painter starts out with the knowledge that he or she is going to paint a stunningly acceptable and financially saleable picture. They just paint. It’s down to others to decide it’s merits once it leaves the studio. Some people are naturals to presenting visuals and can do it very creatively and successfully with inexpensive equipment. Others, as long as they have the proverbial ‘hole’ in their rear end will never achieve But unless you try, you will never know if you are the former or latter in the previous sentence. Firstly, let’s look at some Camcorders that would be suitable for DIY Movie making in the Music Video areas. I think it’s important at this stage to recognize the importance of acquiring a camcorder that has up to date technology on board as such technology changes at the speed of light these days. Here are a few camcorders that I think are good value for money. The Canon HV20 The Canon HV20 is a great all round camcorder that will meet all the requirements of a home movie maker and produce some top class results. It produces high definition video which is the norm these days and has a High Definition Multi Media Interface by which you can connect the camcorder to an HD ready television with no loss of quality or equally to a computer to transfer your footage for editing. It also has an onboard microphone input, which is very important if you wish to use an external microphone for better sound quality. It also has a microphone accessory shoe for external mounting. Read the specification for yourself below. They are very comprehensive and give you an awful lot for the money. Retails between £500 and £600, but I have seen them cheaper on the net, so the advice is to shop around for the best deal. Canon HV20 - Product Stats. With a 1080i HDV recording mode, an HDMI output, a 2.96-megapixel CMOS sensor and the latest advances in digital home recording technology, the HV20 camcorder will amaze you with its capabilities. Its Digic DV II processor improves the quality of your videos, while its auto focus mode and large frequencyrange optical image stabilizer allow for easy handling. Plus, the HV20 is one of the first camcorders from Canon with an HDMI output and a cinema-type progressive recording feature, so budding film directors can make their very own home productions and organize private screenings on a Full HD screen via an HDMI cable! Thanks to its video light and sensitivity of 0.2 lux, the HV20 camcorder also lets you film in the dark. It even comes with a headphones socket and a microphone input so you can record MPEG II sound. It also has an accessories shoe so you can position your microphone or video light, just like a real professional, and saves photos directly to memory cards with its built-in flash, allowing you to print your photos directly via its PictBridge connection. With DV inputs and outputs, as well as a USB 2.0 port, the HV20 makes video montage as easy as pie, and its different special effects, colours, fader modes and 13 exposure programmes make your audiovisual creations look fantastic! The HV20 camcorder is sure to bring cinema and high-definition quality to every one of your masterpieces! For under £200 there is the Canon MD101 Mini DV Camcorder. For the money, this is a great little starter camera with lots of onboard specs and a microphone input, which is very hard to find in camcorders in this price range. Here are the specifications: Canon MD101 Mini DV Camcorder - Product Stats. High performance optical zoom lens. A simple solution for virtually any moviemaking situation, the MD101 features a powerful 30x optical zoom lens. Offering one of the highest zoom factors found on any camcorder at this level, the genuine Canon lens records video in stunning clarity - even when events happen at a distance. For higher magnification, activate the long-range 800x digital zoom. True widescreen recording.captures a bigger picture by recording true 16:9 widescreen movies. Use the 2.7” widescreen LCD to preview what you’ve recorded as it will appear on a wide TV. If you want to conserve battery power, monitor recording via the 0.35” 16:9 colour EVF (Electronic Viewfinder).Easy to use. There’s no need to be intimidated. The MD101 has been designed by Canon to make moviemaking simple. A one-push Easy mode lets even novices begin shooting straight away. More advanced features are selected using an intuitive Joystick controller, positioned on the frame of the LCD.Convenient and compact .Feel completely at ease during recording thanks to the camcorder’s lightweight and balanced body. The MD101 hides real power behind its deceptively simple design. Microphone input .The MD101 incorporates an external mic input connection for those occasions when you need to capture superior quality sound. Simply plug in an external microphone and you’ll have extra flexibility to control your audio recordings. DIGIC DV. With DIGIC DV - Canon’s innovative image processing technology - movies appear vivid and vibrant on the screen. Delivering uncompromised quality, DIGIC DV makes it possible to record lifelike images with beautifully resolved colours. Jumping to the very top of the camcorder tree you will find the doyen of Sony’s pro user range in this field. Sony’s HVR-ZIE. This is a monster of a unit that produces professional quality shots of broadcast quality. It retails at around £3500 including Vat and is worth every penny and more. It’s basically designed for professional users and emphasises the format’s suitability for low - cost HD migration. The resolution is a full 1080i and it’s got onboard down conversion to output SD or HD. It’s aimed at professional documentary makers and film makers working to tight budgets and it also offers an option to mainstream broadcasters. You can make a TV show or pro quality film on one of these. The onboard spec is blinding as is the picture quaility. So let’s assume you have a camera that you are familiar and satisfied with, whatever the cost. We can now turn to using it to make a simple home movie. I will use myself as an example and as my filming is done inside rather than in daylight, I had to consider the added expensive of lighting. This can be a set-back financially after you have brought your camcorder. You can do without it and just film under houselights or buy an additional video light and set yourself up in a secluded corner somewhere in the house. But with lighting, it can be so much more dramatic. I went over to a Car Boot sale one Sunday in Mona on Anglesey, about 40minutes from where I live. I happened to notice that one of the stalls had 3 lights with telescopic stands and a case up for sale. I paid £80 for the lot and took a risk that only the bulbs needed replacing. You always take a risk with electricals at car boot sales! When I got home, I looked the make Sachtler, up on the Internet to get some bulbs. I had a double take, because these lights were priced new at over £1200 and they were top flight reporter lights. They had hardly been used and when the bulbs arrived, I fitted them and Wow! every light worked perfectly, what a stroke of luck. Having spent many years involved in every aspect of the music industry from Tin Pan Alley in the 1960’s throughout to the present day, from wannabe to pop star, to solo LP chart artiste to has been, to A&R, Management,Producer, Label head, International Show Producer, to old fart to legendary and now Antique ( after appearing on The Antiques Roadshow with some of my Vintage Guitars) I had entered a new phase in my life. I had appeared in and commissioned for others, many films and videos through the years, but never made my own. As a 12 string guitarist of some reputation, I wanted to make a 12 string guitar video demonstrating various styles, techniques, genres and the different 12 strings I owned from vintage to modern. Anyone will tell you that to achieve the best results before you even switch on the camera, is to sit down quietly and work out exactly what you want to do and how you are going to do it. It’s important that you work from an outline as it will save you lots of time and focus your brain on the task at hand. I did this and split the production into sections, much the same as recording single tracks in an audio presentation for compilation later into a CD format. I wanted to start with opening titles followed by a short piece of instrumental playing going into a brief history of the 12 string guitar. I am a great lover of using stills in Video making, probably borne by the opening titles of the Sharpe series where a rostrum camera pans slowly across an oil painting of an old rifle and uniform of a soldier from that era, magically enhanced by John Tams brilliant theme tune. I think if ever there was a man suited to the traditional English Folk genre, it’s John Tams, who plays Chosen Man, Daniel Hagman throughout the series. That simple and uncluttered by effects opening title was as much a part of the series phenomenal success as dramatic character portrayals by some of its stars. I had a sculpture of an old blues player, playing guitar, lying around the house and I shot some stills of it alongside a 12 string guitar. I used this as my opening shot with titles overlaid, Simple but effective as it set the mood for my video. I ran a short 12 string piece of pre-recorded music underneath and then faded the still into me playing live. I then used a series of stills of 12 string players Leadbelly & Leo Kottke (below), taken mostly from LP Covers and old photographs and edited these together running a pre-recorded commentary over the top of a quiet 12 string backing to give the viewer a brief history of 12 string guitars and some of the players who had helped to bring the instrument to the publics attention over the years. I finished this section off with a video clip I had of John Joyce, the man who pioneered 12 string Blues guitar in the UK. I shot this DVD from a single camera on a tripod using several camera angles and editing different takes together to form the final section edits. I also used a remote as I didn’t have a camera operator and the Sachtler Lights I brought from the Car Boot sale with diffuser gels to step down the power of the lights. All the sound was recorded live via two mics plugged directly into the XLR inputs on the Camera. After editing the sections together, I made a master track of the complete DVD sound and sent it of to DMS in Plymouth, who have a great mastering service amongst lots of other services including disc manufacturing and covers at very reasonable prices. www.discmanufacturingservices.com/dvd-pricematch.htm. I then transferred the mastered soundtrack back into my DVD timeline and transferred the whole lot into Sony’s DVD Architect for authoring. Finally, I made copies Sony DVD architect with my M Tech DVD copier. The DVD is 40 minutes long and I am now selling it successfully on the net. Basically, it’s self written, self performed, filmed and edited and has already paid for it’s costs. It gave me a great feeling of satisfaction and I learned an awful lot about the process. I am now into my second self production called “100 picks and Licks” where I will be demonstrating via a DVD, all manner and styles of picks and licks in many different tunings on acoustic, electric and 12 string. If all goes well, it should be available later in the year and will be sold with tab downloads of all the playing featured. If you want to see the final result of my “12 String Guitar & Beyond” DVD. you can buy one from camcorder and no special lighting, it’s important to find a place in your house or garage or basement where the indoor and outdoor lighting doesn’t mix as there is a danger with this mix of lighting that the subjects that are being shot will appear in silhouette. Unless you want that effect of course! Another important thing to remember when shooting live music with a single camcorder is that if you move the camcorder around during the shoot, the sound quality will change and will leave you with problems when you come to edit. In such cases, other than live shows, it’s best to set the camera up on a tripod and frame/focus the soloist or band in a full shot and let them play the whole song through, without you changing the camcorder position. Then set it up from another angle and repeat the same. You can do this as many times as the subject will allow and then you have lots of options when you come to edit afterwards. Think about how you will cut away from a shot and how you will bring in the next shot. Try and make the blend on in the editing process as smooth as possible. Mostly these days, especially with bands when filming, they mime to a pre-recorded soundtrack which does in fact give you the best sound quality on the finished product. But there is something sterile in this from a performance point of view and if the subjects aren’t good at miming to their pre-recorded performance, bits of the finished DVD could be out of lip sync or playing sync. You can run a pre-recorded track from any number of audio sources that have a stereo output, direct to the input on your Camcorder. That’s why I feel it’s a basic requirement to buy a Camcorder with an input. Still with the plethora of video effects available, you can cover these sync hiccups with a splurge of morphing or whatever you choose. Pop Videos are covered in effects, some valid to enhance the song, most are just used to cover the boredom of the performance or the lack of lyric content to make the video more interesting visually for the viewer. Here’s an example of applying a simple effect to drums. Luke Bolger is a great and exciting young drummer who I shall be recording with later this year and it is him that is pictured here. Drums normal. www.fret-dancer.com Reverting to just basic shooting inside with a Drums with effect. You will notice with the vast majority of TV productions, that the only effects used, apart from titles, are just simple cuts and dissolves, whereas the adverts are littered with special effects. Outdoor shooting of music based material is a little more difficult and while the natural light may be better, the opportunity to set up a band or soloist is much more difficult, especially if you want to shoot live music. You would need a much more technical set up and of course the right location and weather! I have been on a number of band shoots where the musicians are shot in different locations just doing little cameos, messing around or looking cool or bored and miming the odd word or line. All these mini scenes can be added to the main event during editing. In fact, with pop videos, you can shoot just about anything for inclusion at the editing stage. I always go out and about filming lots of different subjects, scenes, people and places, to build up a library o stuff I can call upon if I’m stuck for an insert idea. Adding special effects to things will also change the perception of what the original was anyway. Most Camcorders, including some Hi - End ones, are lacking in sound quality from the internal microphone that comes with the camcorder. A lot of the cheaper ones tend to sound thin and ‘tinny’, especially when recording music. They are OK for gurgling babies, messages to mum and weddings, but you may find that for music, you will need a better quality. A good addition at a reasonable price is the Rode video/mic Shotgun Microphone. This mic is based on the latest film industry technology. It delivers a very high quality all for a mere £67.00 or so. It has low noise and an unusually wide bandwidth for it’s size. It has a switchable high pass filter to reduce unwanted low frequency rumble and an integral foam windshield, an optional ”Dead Cat”, High Wind Cover that may be used for higher wind conditions. The VideoMic incorporates a unique combined shock-mount suspension and hot-shoe attachment that includes a compartment for the 9V battery (not supplied) that powers the microphone with Low Battery LED status indicator. The VideoMic will attach to any Camcorder that has the standard hot-shoe fitting and the output connection is via an integral coiled cable to 3.5 mm mini jack plug. Battery Life approximately 100 hours. More elaborate sound mixing can be obtained via an external sound mixer. You can use more microphones and musicians inputs, connected to the sound mixer and then do a mix down to the stereo outputs of the mixer, which you then connect via an appropriate lead to the camera. If you get a good, straight through sound take, you can use this as your main track and play it back to the musicians for them to mime to. This ensures that the main track will be constant in sound and level as opposed to chopping different sound sections together from different takes on editing. This works with pictures, but is a very risky and time consuming way to do it with sound. editing create a professional opening sequence for you, and in three easy steps, you’ll have a complete movie ready to share with the world. You’ll have a finished DVD complete with menus, titles. You can get these for around the £50 mark. It would not be possible to list every editing program in this article, but I have tried lots of different ones and as a musician, it’s always the sound editing that I find lacking on many programs. For me, I am a fan of Sony Vegas products. When you have shot all the necessary sections you need, you now need to connect your camcorder to your PC and begin the editing process. If you’ve never edited video previously, it’s best to invest in a simple and inexpensive software package. Meaning, ‘walk, don’t run’. It’s better to proceed slowly and safely, both technically and financially, than it is to take out massive bank loans for top of the range editing programs. Surprisingly enough, most of these starter programs can still do quite a bit of the work that it’s more expensive brothers can for fundamental video editing. Storyboard interfaces are common in these programs and once uploaded from the camcorder into the Storyboard, your clips will appear ready to slot into the timeline. You can trim shots to the exact length you want and add transition effects such as cuts and dissolves to ensure that the transition between clips, run smoothly and professionally. You will also need to check that your computer has enough memory to capture your film and that it is compatible with your software. Remember, that video takes up a lot of memory and the faster the speed of your computer, the faster the film downloads. If you are running Wndows XP / Vista, then Windows Movie Maker is provided free with every copy. It’s very practical and you can learn the basics from it. Another basic program is the Ulead VideoStudio 11 Plus from the Corel Corporation. Here’s the link for full information www.ulead.com/vs/features.htm. It delivers a powerful video editing and DVD authoring solution. This software is for anyone who wants to easily produce videos, slide shows and DVDs. With the Movie Wizard, you can select from several attractive themes and let auto- Sony Movie Studio 8 at under £100 is a nice way to kick start your editing life. It features HD video editing: HDV and Sony AVCHD: 5.1 surround sound mixing and encoding :Direct export to Sony PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) :Over 100 video effects and transitions from NewBlue®, maker of professional video effects plug-ins :Advanced 3-wheel primary color correction tools :20 AniMattes professional video compositing mattes from FreedomFX® :Over 20 DirectX® audio effects. Above is a screenshot of the program as it appears on the computer . Note how compact it is. Sony’s top of the range PC editing suite is Vegas 8 , It has the basic characteristics of cheaper Sony products, but compare the screen layouts between the Movie Studio Platinum and Vegas 8 and you can see this is one hell of a tool for the price. Here’s the link to Sony Vegas 8 for a more in-depth report.www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/product.asp?pid=457 You can also download free trial versions of Sony Editing products from http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=sony +vegas&btnG=Google+Search&meta= Another great feature for me is that the audio wave on Sony products can be visually enlarged for editing and if you have Sony Sound Forge, it can be transmigrated from Vegas into Sound Forge, cleaned up, then exported back into Vegas. I also have Canopus 4, which I find very difficult to make any accurate music edits on plus you have to render everything before you can view it in the timeline, something you don’t have to do with Sony. I am also a great believer in compatibility across the entire equipment chain. I use only Sony products because they all work perfectly well together. On many occasions, other software can be incompatible with different set ups. The world of video editing, like camcorders and lights can set you back a small fortune, but in the beginning, it best to keep it simple until you have mastered the basic techniques to produce your own DVD. Use the Internet to find any information about products and how they operate. Use the chat rooms to ask others for their advice if you have a question or want a problem solved you can’t do yourself. They are free and you can learn much from the net. Finally, you have to author your video ready for making a DVD. Programs like the Ulead Video Studio have this facility included and there is an automatic function that at a click of a button, will do it for you. Ulead also sell a high end program for professional users. Sony also sell DVD authoring programs starting at the princely sum of £29.78p. for the DVD Architect Studio. This also comes with customizable themes. Link info http://www.pugh.co.uk/Products/Sony/dvd-architectstudio.htm Sony’s DVD Architect 4.5 also comes packaged with Vegas 8. Which gives you a complete editing suite for making the best music movies and just about everything else short of having your own film studio. All you need then is to either buy a DVD recorder and make the DVD’s yourself or ship your master off to a company that will make you copies of which there are many. Here’s a good link for information on a basic video light set up. http://www.videoccasionsnw.com/volitbas.html Again. It’s important you start from scratch and learn from others as lighting can be the key factor to the visual presentation of your movie. Here’s another link to Basic Video Shooting http://www.worldstart.com/tips/tips.php/3860 It deals with the fundamental issues you will need to know. This is a youtube link that deals with sound recording tips. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL2aQHIJ_s it’s very well done and contains some good tips, especially if you’re on a low budget. In fact, Youtube has a multitude of tips and advice about everything to do with making DIY movies and they are free! What a wonderful cyber world we live in today. So the Million Dollar question for people who want to expose their talents to the Moguls in the Entertainment Industry is......... What are these Companies looking for? I have known Bob Voice (Joint Managing Director of International Artistes, one of the biggest Artiste Management and Agencies in the UK - www.internationalartistes -for many years, Bob played drums in Paul Brett Sage throughout the bands life. He later turned his hand to Management and has been responsible for the successful careers of many household name Artistes. I asked Bob exactly in brief terms to impart his advice on what he would expect to be sent by prospective clients. This is what he says “Hi Paul, Show Reels must be on DVD, no one uses video anymore. They must be short, varied, and with as much on screen info as possible, links to websites are good, email address’s and contact details, the show reel must no more the 5 minutes long.... people get bored.... if the viewer likes it they will always ask to see more. Finally, don’t expect the sender to get it back, no one returns them so get a lot made! “ Bx Bob’s advice may seem direct and to the point, but you have to listen to what he says as people like him get in-undated with volumes of stuff on a daily basis and they just don’t have the time to plough through lengthy epics and it’s rare that they have time to post stuff back and represent their own Artistes. I do think however, if you aware of this, you can pre-empt the situation by enclosing a stamped addressed envelope with it. That way, you may indeed stand more of a chance of getting your DVD back.