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How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

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How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby stefanaalten » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:10 pm

Hi, I have just joined the SOS forums. I'm looking for some help on how to (get started with) record our concert band's performances. I have done some searching on SOS and elsewhere to begin with and it feels like I've jumped into a different world (not being a sound engineer / accoustics expert / etc.!)

I'm member of a 40-member brass & woodwind concert band and we perform in a church hall. We have made some very basic recordings of our performances by just using a digital camera. We now want to move this forward a notch, improving on both the sound and video. It's just a community band so no commercial considerations and we don't have any budget to speak of for this kind of thing, so really looking for a bare bones solution we can cobble together ourselves, not requiring a professional approach/expertise.

I have found this article full of good advice on the SOS site: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... rass-reeds but that seems to involve positioning individual mics and a lot more besides, and doesn't consider the video side of things.

Any help on where to get started would be very much appreciated!

Thanks,
Stefan
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby hobbyist » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:30 pm

stefanaalten wrote:Hi, I have just joined the SOS forums. I'm looking for some help on how to (get started with) record our concert band's performances. I have done some searching on SOS and elsewhere to begin with and it feels like I've jumped into a different world (not being a sound engineer / accoustics expert / etc.!)

I'm member of a 40-member brass & woodwind concert band and we perform in a church hall. We have made some very basic recordings of our performances by just using a digital camera. We now want to move this forward a notch, improving on both the sound and video. It's just a community band so no commercial considerations and we don't have any budget to speak of for this kind of thing, so really looking for a bare bones solution we can cobble together ourselves, not requiring a professional approach/expertise.

I have found this article full of good advice on the SOS site: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... rass-reeds but that seems to involve positioning individual mics and a lot more besides, and doesn't consider the video side of things.

Any help on where to get started would be very much appreciated!

Thanks,
Stefan

What is more important the video images or the sound quality?

If you want better sound then get separate mikes and record sound apart from the video camera. Then you can edit and sync in a number of programs. Do you need stereo or just mono?

If you want fancier video then get a better camera and or use multiple cameras. Again edit the raw images then finally sync the music to the video.

Obviously the running length of the video would have to be the same after editing. So if you replace any video then it has to be the same length as before. And if you delete video then you will need to lose the music at that time if you want to stay in sync. And if you insert more video you will need to silence the music for that time.

If what you want is just the concert then you should find it much easier than if you are trying to make a promo piece or something that is not just a record of the concert.

There are some video sites that might help more with questions in that area. Also there are sound and video magazines that may be useful as well as books at the library on video and sound and editing and other related aspects of doing all this light lighting.

If you ask more specific questions we can give better answers.

I suggest you start with some basic books on audio and video and read them to get a better idea of what you need to do and what to ask about.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:46 pm

Welcome!

I assume that you've done everything via the digital camera up to now.

Do you have any microphones or any audio recorders?

What camera do you use - or intend to use?

What video editing software do you have?

Unless you are using a pro or semi-pro camcorder (not 'ordinary' camera) then the sound input on the camera is likely to be compromised.

So, pending updates from you on what you have, I'd suggest using a digital audio recorder to record the band and then sync that to the video in the edit. You can sync relatively easily by clapping your hands so that the recorder records it and the camera video's it. Then you line them up in the edit.

and finally... where are you based?
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby stefanaalten » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:30 pm

Hi, and thanks both for your prompt and helpful replies! Here's some more info - should have provided that to begin with, sorry.

So far we have just made the recordings using a digital camera (*) and the results have not been too bad. :-) They're on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1WaWvqoVH5cxVv0-janq6w (and the band I'm in is Bristo Community Concert Band, in Edinburgh). Each recording came from just a single MP4 file recorded on the camera, from a fixed position (gallery at the back of the church) so there was no need for editing/syncing, just very basic stuff done using Avidemux to crop, colour, add subtitles and logo. We don't have any microphones or audio recorders (other than apps on our smartphones, but I assume that doesn't count!) but I'd be okay to buy something (costs?)

(*: I don't know the models of the cameras used for the recordings we have, but for the next concert I could use my Nikon Coolpix P900, and I hope some other band members would have similar equipment, so we could have multiple cameras recording in different positions).

In terms of importance I would say emphasise the sound quality above the video (let's say 70/30 by way of a ratio), and whilst a single camera angle is okay, multiple angles would be good to have (appreciate that that would mean more effort in terms of editing).
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:39 pm

Yes, more information would be very useful.

Just one camera angle or multiple?

Another question to ask is how much post production, that is, time mixing and syncing audio and video do you want to be involved in? (Beware the rabbit hole of video editing ;) )

In regards to audio, a reasonable stereo pair of microphones well-placed should be sufficient. This may include the built in microphones on a portable recording device. This approach relies on the conductor to ‘balance’ the ensemble and (in simplistic terms) the stereo pair is hearing what the conductor is hearing.

Do you want to video snippets or whole rehearsals/concerts? Some cameras, like DSLRs restrict the length of takes.

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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby MOF » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:53 am

What video software/computer are you using? That will help us to advise you on techniques.
Three or four cameras with zoom lenses will give you more visual interest e.g. one on the stage on a tripod looking at the conductor, the one you have showing the wide shot, then if possible a camera on the left or right of stage (out of the wide shot view) to get various wide to close up shots of the musicians and reverse shots of the audience (if that’s allowed) this one to have a volunteer to operate it.
Take some cutaway shots to help with editing after the audience has gone e.g. close ups of drum beater, cymbal crashes, faces blowing instruments, valves being operated ideally while playing the same piece of music to maintain the illusion it was all recorded at the same time.
Do a white balance on all the cameras to save having to grade it all later.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby stefanaalten » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:00 am

Thanks Bob & MOF, for the tips. I'd be interested in developing the skills & techniques to do this "properly" - multiple angles and put it all together in post production - but I'm very wary of disappearing down a big rabbit hole with this, so for now I will limit myself to a single angle for the video, and will look into adding a reasonable stereo pair of mics. So if I've understood things correctly, then it will be just a matter of merging the single video and audio tracks together. Any tips on good mics would be very welcome! Thanks again.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby The Elf » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:28 am

There are a few amateur choirs and such I help to support, and this topic comes up regularly. I typically lend my Zoom H5 (previously H4N, which is arguably more suited to a beginner), with a two-minute tutorial, and the results are fine. Such devices are suited to recording both rehearsals and the performances, since they require little space, no intimate technical knowledge and are quick to set up and take down. The -12dB 'safety' recording feature is a huge plus in these instances, IME.

I can't comment on the video side, or the syncing of audio to video after the event - I find the whole video editing experience an exercise in life-sapping frustration!
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby CS70 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:18 am

On the audio part, I have no experience of recording large ensembles so others can reply way better than I. The only thing I can say is that even with pro cameras, where on-board preamps are at best competent, the physical logistics of using a mic connected to the camera is just too cumbersome. Much easier to treat audio and video recording as two separate activities (which they are) with different recording chains, which are then synchronized in post using the camera audio tracks as a reference.

About the video: much depends on why you want to record video. Unless it's strictly for personal or family/friends use, it gets really boring to have the same angle of view and perspective for the length of a track - not to mention a concert. Already with two fixed cameras (on tripod) you can get better result, but the best is to have a couple fixed cameras and a "cameraman" handling a third camera manually. You can even use your smartphone - the recent ones are incredible in terms of what you can do!!

To avoid the video to be too shakey, a simple shoulder rig does the trick (and they are quite inexpensive), but in case just putting the camera on an open short tripod and handling the tripod instead of the camera does just fine. If you splurge for a higher end camera, the internal stabilization systems (lens, body or both) are nothing short of incredible.

As for the "cameraman", nowadays that can be almost anybody! While pro people get better result with manual handling of the camera, the point and shoot, fully automated tech nowadays is amazing - again, just look at what a simple smartphone can do.

The cameraman can be any friend, the only thing you want to do is to give him a little directives on how to move (for example, always shoot some seconds, then move, then shoot some seconds etc) and what parts of the performance you want to highlight (like moving around the singer in a particularly good moment of the track).

Do not worry about the rabbit hole - so long you don't attempt Hollywood style effects, it's very simple to work with two or three parallel takes. The trick is to use the camera audio tracks for alignment - so that all tracks are aligned to the actual hi quality audio that you have recorded separately.

In most video editors, you can place the three tracks one under the other and proceed to cut clips at will, mounting a much more interesting recording of the performance. 90% of the interesting bit will be the handeld camera.

Best of luck!
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:49 am

stefanaalten wrote:Thanks Bob & MOF, for the tips. I'd be interested in developing the skills & techniques to do this "properly" - multiple angles and put it all together in post production - but I'm very wary of disappearing down a big rabbit hole with this, so for now I will limit myself to a single angle for the video, and will look into adding a reasonable stereo pair of mics. So if I've understood things correctly, then it will be just a matter of merging the single video and audio tracks together. Any tips on good mics would be very welcome! Thanks again.

Just to note again, we can give you better answers if you answer the questions previously asked!

Anyway assuming you want to keep things simple, then I’d suggest something like a pair of Line Audio CM4s http://www.lineaudio.se/CM4.html on a stereo bar in an ORTF configuration on a tall stand behind the conductor - height and distance from the ensemble dependent on ensemble size, room acoustics etc. You could feed those into a portable recorder, either something basic like a Zoom H4 or something more professional like a Zoom F4 or Sounddevices MixPre3.

If you happen to have a camera with XLR inputs (I use a Canon XA30) then you could potentially feed the microphones direct to camera and save syncing issues in post.

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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby stefanaalten » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:28 pm

TheElf, CS70, thanks.

I'm now looking at the Zoom Q2n-4K - "The 4K Camera for Musicians" :-) to capture the performance. I'm (slowly...) beginning to form a mental image of the kind of setup I would need. Can I just bounce this off the forum?

a) One or more devices to capture the performance. Understand that there is a wide range of combinations possible here, but I'm thinking of a couple of Zoom Q2N-4K's in fixed positions (one at the back of the hall for the wide angle view and then perhaps one on either side targeted at different sections of the orchestra), plus a "mobile cameraman" simply with their smartphone.

b) Bring it all together in a multi-track video editing software package. I'm doing some searching on this now and have two tabs open for Shotcut and OpenShot. Any others I should look at? (I'm on Windows 10)
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby stefanaalten » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:38 pm

Bob - thanks - hope I had provided some answers in my replies :-) but just to quickly recap:
1) Multiple camera angles (not a strict requirement, but I take on board the point re. making the videos more compelling by using different angles and not just a single wide angle view).
2) Sound quality is of more importance than the video side, but I am asking in the context of creating recordings to be posted on YouTube, so video will still be of some importance.
3) We don't have any equipment at the moment, and have used band member's hand-held digital cameras.
4) Would need stereo recording (I think!)
5) I have used Avidemux to edit the video clips, very basic stuff only.
6) Just looking to capture a record of our concerts, not promo pieces.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:00 pm

stefanaalten wrote:a) One or more devices to capture the performance. Understand that there is a wide range of combinations possible here, but I'm thinking of a couple of Zoom Q2N-4K's in fixed positions (one at the back of the hall for the wide angle view and then perhaps one on either side targeted at different sections of the orchestra), plus a "mobile cameraman" simply with their smartphone.

One potentially major limitation with the Q2N-4K is that the mics are on the camera and if you put the cameras stage left/right and back of auditorium as you suggest none of the mics will be in the optimum position.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby stefanaalten » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:42 pm

Understood - thanks. So the optimum spot would be as Bob has suggested, centrally somewhere behind and above the conductor. Not sure how we'll manage that in an unobtrusive manner though. :?:
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby blinddrew » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:59 pm

Just a few suggestions here to add into the mix:
Something like a Zoom H4n is worth a look (or the H5 as mentioned by The Elf - I think that might have the better pre-amps? But don't get hung up on that). As a starting tool you can use the built in mics on the recorder and then you're just looking at a single mic stand (or, depending on the layout of the group, potentially clip it to the conductor's lectern using a gorillapod - but pay close attention to your included angles here).
If you subsequently want to step up to something like the Line Audio set up suggested by Bob, those mics will then plug directly into the Zoom.
Video-wise I'd suggest having a look at Adobe Premiere Elements as a software package. You can pick it up for £70-£80 and it's a very powerful editing tool. It'll certainly do everything you need to give you a very polished product for what we're talking about here. If you're an Apple user then you probably have iMovie and that's a very good starting tool.
Camera-wise, modern DSLRs will give you very good video quality and, if you buy Canon or Nikon, you can tap into a huge range of accessories from them and others. The main downside to a DSLR though is that they will only record 29 minutes of video in one shoot*, they then need to be physically restarted. Fine for your roving cameraman, but potentially no good for a fixed camera. Of course you can plan around this by making sure you stagger the start times by a couple of minutes - but that's one more thing to forget in the excitement of the moment...
On the subject of the roving cameraman, we'd all like a nice stabilising gimble, but in the absence of having a few grand in the kitty :) pop the strap around your neck and then hold the camera out until the strap is taught. This will give you a remarkably stable platform for moving shots. :)

* For tax reasons.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby Aural Reject » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:48 pm

stefanaalten wrote:Understood - thanks. So the optimum spot would be as Bob has suggested, centrally somewhere behind and above the conductor. Not sure how we'll manage that in an unobtrusive manner though. :?:

Not always easy.

The single stand option I tend to use for stuff like this is a K&M round base, with a longer than usual upright (https://www.studiospares.com/Accessorie ... 2147483647). I'd probably use a single stereo mic cable with black Neutrik XLRs. If you were to go with Bob's suggestion of ORTF CM4s, then I'm fairly sure there'll be a Shapeways 3D printed mount you could use in conjunction with a Rycote In-Vision shockmount and you're good to go.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:52 pm

Thoughts -

1. At £200 the Zoom Q2n-4K is a bargain and the mics on it are better than the price-tag would suggest. You'll get a good stereo image if the thing is placed centrally and the image it captures is your reference image.

2. You can add cell-phone footage, as long as the people holding them either hold them steadily or put them on stands.

3. Make sure they hold them sideways!!!

4. Get a few to record zoomed in on DSLRs. Again, they should use stands, preferably with fluid-heads for smooth moves.

5. Don't worry about synchronising the cameras - that isn't necessary any more nowadays. Programmes like DaVinci-Resolve (a FREE download from Black Magic Design) do that for you automatically by comparing the soundtracks.

6. You will need a fairly powerful PC or Mac if you go to 4K, so I would stick to HD for the time being, as hardly anyone has a TV or projector that can do 4K properly. Even those 4K TV sets are nearly all under 60" and therefore one hardly notices the difference from an uncompressed source.

7. When editing, remember to bring the audio right down from the other cameras and just use the Zoom Q2n-4K audio.

8. You will get a bit of a colour mismatch between cameras. This is easily rectified in DaVinci-Resolve.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby wireman » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:37 pm

The Zoom Q2n-4K could be quite limiting and you already have video cameras. The other Zoom products would allow you the option to plug in good external microphones at a distance from the recorder and at the best position. It looks like your gallery location is a good one for the video camera at the Bristo church but is quite a distance to record audio from.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:17 am

About a year ago I bought a 'proper' video editor: CyberLink PowerDirector.

I bought it on the basis of price/review assessment and it's serving me well.

It comes with decent audio facilities at both the general and advanced levels. It also incorporates built-in multi-camera sync facilities.

I know it's not 'industry standard' or one of the 'usually recommended' editors, but may be worth a look...

Just a thought.
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Re: How to record (video+audio) our brass & woodwind concert band performances

Postby CS70 » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:18 am

Mike Stranks wrote:About a year ago I bought a 'proper' video editor: CyberLink PowerDirector.
...
I know it's not 'industry standard' or one of the 'usually recommended' editors, but may be worth a look...

That's the one I started with, many moons ago - it was bundled with my first (and only ever) camcorder! It was very well done and intuitive and a great start.

I changed only because in the end I found it crashing all the time when I was attempting a little longer and more complex work. The memory management just wasn't up to scratch.

Cheap and cheerful, nowadays nothing beats HitFilm express or Resolve (the base versions are free and you can do a lot with them) or Vegas Movie Studio which is amazing value for money for what you get (and in my experience, far more stable).

When editing video, for me, stability is by far the most important thing.
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