VIDEO:Music Maker 89.qxd.qxd
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
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
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
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
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. 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.
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 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 You can also download free trial versions of Sony Editing products
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
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 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. 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 It
deals with the fundamental issues you will need
to know. This is a youtube link that deals with
sound recording tips. 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! “
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.
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