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Euroguestock – making band videos that look and sound good

Discussion in 'Home Recording Studio' started by simoncroft, Jul 7, 2018.

  1. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    Who is this thread intended to help?

    Hopefully, it will help anyone who wants to make the best videos they can of band performances, including future Roguestocks and Euroguestocks, as well as any live gigs a band might want to capture for promotional purposes.

    My intention is to examine the complete process, from start-to-finish. This includes ‘acquisition’ – ie recording the audio and video – mixing the audio, editing the video, synchronizing the two, and optimum settings for YouTube upload.

    Although I’ve started this thread, I don’t own it. And I’m not ‘the big expert’, telling everyone else how to do it. If you’ve got questions, you know a better way to do something, or you think I’m plain wrong, please chip in.

    Initial planning

    It’s tempting to think: “Hey, we can all shoot video on our phones, then pool what we’ve got at the end…” While material acquired this way is certainly a valuable resource come edit time, there are limitations.

    Ideally, this is what we need:

    • Video from at least one tripod-mounted HD camcorder, covering the event continuously.
    • A dedicated audio recording, preferably multitrack and certainly relatively close-miked.

    Let’s look at those requirements in more detail…


    Video:

    Most of us can shoot a few minutes of relatively steady handheld video, especially close-up. Over longer distances, and times, it’s impossible. If you have really steady footage from a tripod-mounted camera, it looks far better, and it gives you more editing options.

    Two camcorders, positioned either side of the stage, gives you even more editing options. As I’ll show you though, there are various ways you can give the impression of a big-budget, multi-camera shoot. That includes using footage from people’s phones.

    Tip: Try to get your video cameras up as high as possible. Why? Because people will forget your camcorders are there and walk in front of them!

    You can buy adapter bushes on ebay (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Pulse-Mi...LS00344-Mic-/221653134835?hash=item339b8e6df3) that allow you to mount a camcorder on a mic stand. A sturdy boom mic stand can give you a better line-of-sight than many camera tripods.​

    So why does the recording need to be continuous? Well, if it isn’t, things can get missed. Even a few seconds missing from the start of a song can make it hard to create a video that sounds and looks good. It’s not essential the recording is continuous, but it helps.

    • Very long record times usually mean plenty of storage space on the camcorder and mains electricity. Otherwise, you may find things come to a sudden halt before the performance has finished.

    Audio:

    Most camcorders make a pretty decent recording, so why would we need a separate audio recorder. Well for one thing, the best place for the camcorder is often about the worst place from which to make an audio recording! Towards the back of a venue, you are likely to get more reflected sound from the walls, and more noise from the audience, than is ideal.

    The other thing is that camcorders are designed to make good quality recording at events like weddings, birthdays, holidays… Although they often make surprisingly good recordings at a loud rock gig, it’s not really what they were designed for. It’s no big surprise that expensive microphones and a dedicated sound recorder can out-perform them.

    That doesn’t mean the camcorder audio has no value! On the contrary, as I’ll show you later in the thread, the sound can seem very dead without it. In particular, unless you mix in some of the applause from the camcorder soundtrack, you’ll give the impression the audience really hated the band, and hardly clapped at all.

    That’s because the close-mics on stage pick up very little of the audience.

    For Euroguestock IV, I was very fortunate to be sent multitrack sound files. These were recorded straight off the mixing desk, and the sound guy clearly knew exactly what he was doing. As a result, they were a real pleasure to work with.

    In my next post, I’ll show you how I organized my work before I started mixing. When you are dealing with large numbers of files, which may be hours long, it’s easy to get hopelessly confused if you don’t start out right.

    Tip: When recording audio on a separate machine, set your sample rate to 48kHz, which is what camcorders use. It’s not impossible to work with sound-to-picture with audio recorded at 44.1kHz (CD standard) but recording at 48kHz automatically eliminates a possible source of sync problems down the line.
     

  2. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    I'm in! Thank you, Si !!
     
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  3. Twelve8

    Twelve8 Strat-O-Master

    848
    Dec 5, 2015
    Sheffield, UK
    Quick tip on this: some cameras / camcorders are limited in video duration. For example, my Canon 200d (which is a DSLR camera) can only record 30 mins of continuous video. I believe this is to do with the memory type / structure. If you're doing this for the first time, check in on the camera from time to time or better still RTFM! You don't want to get 3 hours into a performance to find you've only captured the first 30 minutes.

    Very true. Not only is it useful to provide audience noise but it is also really useful when syncing up all the video sources in post. As an example, not all videos will see the crack of snare drum but you can be sure most microphones in the room will hear it. Using transients to sync up multiple audio / video sources is super useful. I'm happy to pull something together on this if anyone is interested.

    Never thought about this; I'm off to check my settings!

    Good thread idea Simon, watching!
     
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  4. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    Two very good points. Both of which I will cover in depth, but in later posts. Thank you for the input.

    @Siegfried91 provided the main video coverage. It was very good, but it created a new file every time it went somewhere past 2GB. In terms of video, the continuity seemed perfect, but there was a small outtage on the audio. Given that I was mostly working from the multitrack, it didn't matter to me, but it could be a red flag to anyone working with no separate audio recording. The camcorder completely timing out after 30 minutes would be a major disappointment, of course.

    Syncing sound-to-picture is an essential skill. I used it at a number of points in the process, and it's helpful to know how to do it by ear and also visually.

    If you're working to very fine tolerances (ie a few milliseconds) you can exploit the relationship between the close mics and the ambient camcorder recording to change the apparent size of the venue. (The longer it takes the sound to return from the back wall, the bigger the hall is!) However, I'll leave that idea for now, because it can create phase cancellations.
     
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  5. Tone Deaf

    Tone Deaf Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    67
    Feb 12, 2009
    New Jersey, USA
    Very Interesting so far... Thanks for putting this instructional piece together Simon
     
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  6. felis

    felis Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 27, 2013
    Antwerp/Belgium
    Syncing absorbs most of my time, once I have the audio file roughly in place, I visually focus on the cymbals to get it fine tuned.
    Mostly, I end up thinking "this takes to long, there must be a better way of doing it"? Maybe I'm trying too hard to get it as close to perfect as possible!
     
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  7. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    Fear not @felis, I'll put together a video on syncing audio later tonight. In fact, it will be a recurring theme. :thumb::thumb::thumb:

    Organizing the audio mix


    The image below shows the folder with the audio files I was sent for the mix. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that while most of them are meticulously named, there is a group of seven files starting ‘Belgium–2018…’ that are less self-explanatory. This is because these were extracted from the video Siegfried sent me. The easy way to do this is open them with QuickTime Player, then select File/Export/Audio Only.

    All source material.png

    QT file export audio only.png
     
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  8. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    This is the Arrange window in Logic Pro, which looks similar to the timeline on most DAWs. You’ll see that I’ve not only named my tracks, but I’ve made sure they are in an order that makes sense to me. (Don’t worry about the one called ‘Long’ for now. It’s just a Bus I created for a long delay send, and it’s muscled in on the action because I’d been working with it.)

    Arrange View.png
     
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  9. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    These image is the Input side of the Mix window in Logic Pro. Again, there is something similar in most DAWs. Wherever possible, I will make my notes applicable to whatever software you may choose to use, and not just the gear I happen to prefer.)

    On the input side, you’ll see I used quite a lot of plug-ins and Bus mixes.

    Recreating the excitement of a live concert for the benefit of people who weren’t there often means you have to exaggerate the audio slightly. This isn’t ‘cheating’, it’s just a way of making it ‘more real’ and also sometimes removing things that might become irritating with repeated listening.

    For instance, there were a few crackles from one of the bass guitars – and the cord fell out completely a couple of times. The players dealt with it really well on the night, but I edited out those crackles because they spoil the performance, especially if you listen to it over-and-over.

    If you’re really paying attention, you may notice that many of the input channels aren’t routed to the Stereo Output but to a Bus. That’s because…

    mixer left.png
     
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  10. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    … the guitars, vocals and drums are all on separate Buses. That way, when the drum balance is fine, the level of the whole kit (‘set’ if you’re in North America) and be controlled from one fader.

    Nearly all the effects are on their own Buses, for a similar reason. I tried to name them in a way that meant something to me. For instance ‘Rev bang’ is mainly intended for the snare drum, whereas ‘Big Room’ is a substitute for the actual room acoustic when maybe the audience was a little too loud to use the camcorder audio.

    (Remember, some audience members were close to the camcorder, so even a casual remark like: “Hey, that Bernie guy plays great guitar!” could sound really loud and unnatural. That’s another way of explaining why we sometimes have to manipulate the sound before things sound more like the real concert experience.

    My next post (made long after the sun has gone down and the Earth has hopefully cooled…) will be the first of several videos, where I show – and let you hear for yourself – many of the techniques I used on the Euroguestock material.

    mixer right.png
     
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  11. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    I've been trying to put the first video together using a program called Capto. It's OK for capturing the desktop video, but I'm not happy with the audio. Plus it's swelteringly hot up here tonight. I'll try again tomorrow.
     
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  12. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    It's been a long time since I did instructional videos, and I'd forgotten how hard it is to talk while you work without making a stupid mistake and/or talking complete tosh! I'm sure I'll do better as we go along. Meanwhile, here's what this video demonstrates.

    1. A 'certain amount' of soundtrack from the camcorder gives a nice live feel, and also makes the applause at the end more realistic. Too little makes the sound overly dry. Too much sounds like a bootleg of a Stones concert!

    2. The best way to get the camcorder audio in sync with the rest is:

    a) Find a distinctive and sharp sound at the start of the camcorder audio and use the trim tool found on any DAW so the file in the Arrange window starts with that sound. I used a shout from @felis. (Remember to set your DAW's Snap value to the highest possible resolution, not beats or bars.)
    b) Find the same sound on the relevant multitrack (in this case Vox 1) using the DAWs Solo and Zoom functions to help you.
    c) Set the cursor (aka the 'now line') to the exact start of that sound on the multitrack.
    d) Slide the camcorder track to the cursor point.

    Sync should now be good, but use your ears to pick out details, such as whether hi-hat patterns remain sharp, if the bass still sounds solid with all the tracks playing together, and if the vocals are coherent. (It is possible to get the camcorder audio offset in time, but perfectly on the beat. I can sound pretty good until you realize you've effectively put the entire mix through a slapback echo.:eek:

    One thing I forgot to point out: As the multitrack files last the duration of the concert, and the files from the camcorder are around 30 mins each, once you've achieved sync, you've got song-after-song in sync, as long as you don't move any of the files. My boss when I was learning to make musical instruments used to say to me: "Keep your work as long as you can, for as long as you can." In other words, don't rush to cut anything. :thumb:

     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  13. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    I left something really important out!

    Once you used the trim tool to achieve sync:

    Trim 1.png
     
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  14. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    ... You can use the trim tool to pull the file start back to how it was. Just because it's a trick to achieve fast and accurate sync doesn't mean you want the ambient camcorder audio to start at that point in the mix.

    Trim 2.png
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  15. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    Sorry, the audio quality of my commentary isn't very good. I'm working in a small room with a cooling fan going constantly. As a result, I'm using a condenser mic designed for stage vocals, just to minimize the background noise. It's hard to talk into the mic on-axis and look at the screen at the same time.

    Although I have a large capsule condenser mic I'd prefer to use, I think it's going to make for a noisy recording, so I'll stick with the stage mic for now.
     
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  16. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    Here's a quick video that explains how grouping your tracks together using Bus mixes – or 'subgroups' as they were sometimes called back in the analogue days – can help to simplify your final mix. The movie industry has been working this way for years. When you have literally hundreds of sound sources you can't spend days agonising over the individual volume levels of 'birdsong 6' and 'birdsong 7' etc relative to the actors' voices! Ultimately, an entire motion picture sound dub is reduced to Dialogue, Music and Effects.

    The sub-mixes that create the final mix are often referred to as 'stems'.

     
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  17. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    Houskeeper needed
    Mixing a gig – whether on the night or afterwards – is a fun thing to do, and it’s satisfying if you can bring some professional polish to the production. But before you rush off to set up your reverbs and delays, it’s a good idea to be aware of a few things that can muddy your mix. Yep, time to do some housekeeping.

    Open mic night
    There were five vocal mics on stage at Euroguestock IV, but often only one or two were used by singers on any given song. This isn’t obvious if you just look at the meters, because the other three were picking up so much level from the guitars, bass and drums, they appear to be in use. That isn’t an ideal situation. Here’s why.

    Below is a diagram I originally used in a thread I started called ‘Overcoming Venue Acoustics’ https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/overcoming-venue-acoustics.294797/.

    The left-hand plot is an idealized version of how a cardioid mic performs. In simple terms, at 90° off-axis, the mic is picking up at about half volume, and even less as we get towards the back of the mic. The small lobe you see is the inevitable payoff when playing with the laws of physics to create a directional mic.

    The right-hand plot is closer to the truth, because it shows us the polar pattern at three different frequencies. What we learn is that the off-axis response is quite irregular. To put it another way: it might sound like an expensive mic when you sing in the front, but it’ll sound pretty cheap if we use it to pick up the rest of the band!

    To reduce the amount of poor-quality spill, I simply checked for every song which vocal mics were actually in use and muted the others. Yes, I could have done something similar with noise gates, but then you’ve got spill that changes every time someone starts singing. Doing it my way, at least the spill is consistent all the way through.

    Meet Tommy Q
    I also EQ’d all three Tom mics. This wasn’t because I wanted to alter the sound of the drums, but to ensure that frequencies lower and higher than the toms produce were removed. Again, the object was to reduce spill from other instruments.

    To be honest, it didn’t make a vast amount of difference, which suggests to me the Front of House mixer on the night had already done the job for me.

    I’ll back all of this up with a video later tonight, but I thought I’d explain it in writing first. That way, the video will hopefully make more sense.
    Room-acoustics-DiagM.jpg
    Tom EQ.png
     
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  18. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    My plan to post the video yesterday got derailed, but here it is. I haven't bothered with a spoken commentary, because it speaks for itself really. Only three of the vocal mics are being used; the other three look as if they're in use but they're just spill. Later on in the video, I show the EQ on the tom mics has some effect on spill, but not a lot because I'm pretty certain the live engineer got in before me! I could have reduced the cymbal spill a little by taking the high frequency roll-off on the EQ down to something more like 8kHz, but it really wasn't doing any harm.

    Note:
    because drums are so loud, the gain on the drum mics is down low, so the spill from other instruments is minimal. This is why we can afford to EQ those mics without affecting the whole mix.

     
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  19. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2016
    US
    This is great info!! When I have a chance I plan on watching the instructional vids.

    I've recorded the vast majority of my gigs over the past few years...just because I could. I won't rehash your excellent points, but here are some things I've picked up along the way. Hopefully they prove to be useful.

    • Some gigs are going to be easier to record than others. Some venues have lots of space to put a video camera...others it's impossible unless you put it on top of somebody's table! Plan ahead when you know it'll be at a good recording gig. Maybe rehearse the band a bit extra so everybody has their A Game with them at the gig.

    • Indoor gigs can be very tricky with lighting. In general, outdoor gigs will give you much better video than indoor gigs.

    • Use the manual focus on your camcorder. Since it's fixed in one location, auto focus doesn't help anyway. If you auto focus, your video may get blurry at points where the camera is fooled into thinking it needs to refocus. Been bitten by this and it ruined an otherwise great video.

    • Do a trial run of recording...either a rehearsal or a "warm up" gig. That will let you shake out any "bugs" in your setup and process.

    • Have spare batteries for your camcorder. The stock battery will unlikely last for an entire 3 hour gig.

    • TRIPLE check that the camcorder is indeed recording before you walk away. Just because you pushed the record button doesn't mean it started recording. I know :whistling:.

    • Record in a format that will lend itself to where you intend to post it. My Canon camcorder can do H.264 (mp4) and AVCHD. Since I post on youtube, I use H.264 (mp4). Otherwise my first step would be a lengthy and CPU intensive format conversion.

    • Put the camera in a place where it is isolated from vibration. Venues with large bass bins may vibrate the floor. This will cause you video to vibrate to the beat of the bass drum...not what you want.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  20. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    Nice one @BallisticSquid! I've fallen foul of a few of those myself. Unfortunately, the little Sony camcorder I have now only has auto-focus. It's a lot smaller than the previous generation of Hi-8 based camcorders, and it's HD, but the feature set is a little basic.

    In low lighting, the auto-focus can certainly be fooled.
     
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