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How to create a budget-minded, quality music video for YouTube

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Ukiah Bass, Jun 20, 2014.


  1. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Our newly rebooted 3-piece band project, The Stormy Weathermen, just had its first gig at Rivino Winery in Mendocino County, California. To help boot strap our online marketing effort, I recorded the live event and created a video of one of our faster surf/rock tunes called "Surfer Roasta."

    First of all, here is the final video:



    Now I'll explain how I produced the video.

    Recording the Audio
    The audio is often overlooked in amateur music videos. But frankly, the result of using a video camera's built-in microphone produces ... really bad music videos! Too bad, really, because a band's product is the sound, not the image, so it's crucial to deliver good audio. To accomplish this, there needs to be a two-part process that separately addresses recording audio as opposed to the video inputs.

    In light of doing this project on a budget, simplicity was a crucial strategy. To simplify recording, I captured sound with a Zoom H6 recorder. This small, simple device avoids the hassle of using a computer and separate interface for recording multi-track live sound (for optimal processing after the event). The H6 is small and portable; its main drawback is a limit of six XLR inputs. To optimize sound capture for the entire band, I used the following classic micing techniques:
    • Bass - Radial JDV direct box for a clean, pure bass tone captured before the signal entered the bass amp
    • Guitar - Shure SM57 close mic'd against the grill, positioned near the center of the speaker at the edge of the cone
    • Snare - Shure SM57 about 2" above rim pointed at 40 degree angle toward center of drum
    • Kick - Sennheiser MD421 centered 4" in front of kick drum skin; this drum is a small jazz kick drum so I tried a few mics to find the one that captured the best tone, and as the MD421 usually excels on a tom, it worked great for the tiny kick drum.
    • Drum Kit Overhead - Audio-Technica AT825 stereo mic suspended 3-4 feet above snare. This helped capture the overall sound of the kit, especially the percussion instruments, cymbals, etc. Recording drums is quite a challenge so it's best to experiment in advance to get the best recording. The stereo mic sent its signal over two cables.
    I set the H6 to record in WAV files in 24-bit/44.1 kHz format and set the input levels at an average of about -12dB. The 24-bit depth provided plenty of clean headroom for boosting signals (if required) in post production.

    Recording the Video
    We did not have the option of using a videography team to capture the video feeds so I used the next best option of mounting four video cameras around the band on three camera stands and one camera tripod. The stage area was really tight, and directly in front of us was a path where event guests walked past so that prevented placing one camera far enough in front of the band for a single wide view of everyone. To improvise, the front camera field of view was of the Sticks the Drummer and me. I placed two cameras to stage left (by Andrew Robertson on guitar) and right (by me, but aimed at Andrew), and the fourth camera at the side of Sticks the Drummer. Next time I may place that one behind Sticks to also pick up the audience while we play.

    Three cameras were inexpensive Zoom Q2HD handy video cams all purchased used. These captured video in .MOV files formatted in AVC 1440x1080x12 @ 29.970 NTSC (29.97 frames per second). The fourth camera was an old Canon Vixia HF100 HD recording in AVCHD 1920sx1080-60i format. I left the audio turned on in all four cameras to help synchronize the video with audio in post production; be sure to leave the sound turned down because the loud band volume easily overloads the audio signal.

    To optimize recording time, the Canon was set to "SP" (slow play, about 7Mbps) and the Zooms were set to a video quality of HD720/30 and sound quality of PCM 44.1/16. The settings on the Zooms were a tradeoff, as this lower video quality induced some fuzziness in a couple of places where I enlarged the frames. However, as each camera had a 16GB SD card, that enough for about 3 hours and 10 minutes of recording - just enough for our 3-hour gig. It was easiest to turn the cameras on at the beginning and just let them run for the entire gig.

    Processing the Audio
    I imported the recorded WAV files from the Zoom H6's SD card into the Presonus Studio One digital audio workstation (DAW) software. This blog post will not go into details of audio post production. Needless to say, I used the software to make the recordings sound better, spaced the instruments into an appropriate sound field, adjusted track volumes, etc. and produced final recordings in WAV format - including "Surfer Roasta" used in the above video.

    One recording tip: I left the H6 turned on for the entire gig so all songs were recorded onto each respective track. The result was six files corresponding to the inputs described above. Files for the featured song, "Surfer Roasta," look like this in Studio One. (The extra guitar track on the bottom is a duplicate, used as a processing trick to widen that instrument's sound in the final production.)

    Surfer+Roasta+in+Presonus+Studio+One.

    Recording the entire gig in one set of files enabled me to apply the same processing steps automatically to all songs - a handy technique for producing a "quick mix" to evaluate which songs are best and worthy of being produced into a video. It's trivial to use the "range select" feature to mix down an individual song to its own WAV or MP3 file. Once the "best" songs are selected, those can be individually EQed and processed as appropriate.

    Processing the Video
    I imported the final processed WAV file of "Surfer Roasta" into Sony Movie Studio Platinum 13 for video production. This file was the baseline for calibrating alignment of the four video feeds prior to editing those into the produced video.

    The second step was importing the four video feeds. Due to a technical limitation, the single takes made with all four cameras were split into multiple files of about 2MB each. So the import process required bringing all the separate files into the software, and then joining them one-by-one on their individual tracks. Each video track was aligned with the master audio file by nudging the video track into alignment with a significant spike in the audio signal. This is where having the audio tracks for each video feed comes in handy as a tool for visually aligning the audio while ensuring synchronization with the video (such as plucks on a guitar string or connection of a drum stick with a cymbal or drum). Sounds complicated, but you quickly get the hang of it in no time!

    Once you achieve synchronization of audio with video feeds, it's time for editing. I muted the four audio tracks on each video feed, then selected individual segments for display in the final video. You can study video editing techniques elsewhere. The essence is to keep segments short, vary them between subjects, visually highlight key moments such as a guitar solo or drum roll, add effects to some clip segments such as crops, zooms or panning, and mix in some audience ambiance with shots grabbed during a break.

    Here is what the beginning of "Surfer Roasta" looks like in Sony Movie Studio after editing:

    Surfer+Roasta+in+Sony+Vegas.

    When the video editing was finished, I saved it into a high-definition AVCHD format. Audio quality is critical, so the resulting video you saw above was produced in Dolby Digital AC-3 Studio format with a 48,000 sample rate, 256,000 bit rate and stereo audio coding of 2/0 (L,R).

    Adding a "Branding Leader" to the Video
    The last step is uploading the video to YouTube where I host videos for The Stormy Weathermen on our own channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/TheStormyWeathermen.

    You may have noticed the 3-second "thunder" clip at the beginning of the video. This is a branding video I created for our channel. It automatically appears on all videos in our channel. You can read more about that here.

    There you have it! Copy these steps and you, too, can make a budget-minded quality music video for YouTube. Oh, minor point: you'll also need to have a band and music as cool as The Stormy Weathermen's! Until then, check out our videos and enjoy the music!
     
  2. This is actually very helpful. The only music video I've done was for Media Arts class Sophomore year (last year). I'll keep these things in mind if I make another one.
     
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Nice work! This is one of the more elaborate approaches I've read, and it was nicely planned and executed with moderately-priced equipment.

    I have done something similar with a digital camcorder set to take a wide shot of the band and an assistant using a digital SLR camera in video mode to move around the stage and shoot close-ups. That only yielded two shots (WS and CU) but intercutting them turned out very nicely. In that case we had a capture from the sound board for audio and the camcorder's audio track provided a decent signal to sync to.

    I offer this note to suggest that that there are always options depending on how much equipment you have, and what type; planning ahead and thinking through the entire post-production process as you did makes the project a success.
     
  4. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    I just created a second video from the live gig of an original slow surf tune called "Hailing At The Hotel."

    Notice how the segments in this video are slightly longer than the first video, which was a fast tune. Several are about 10-15 seconds long as opposed to 3-4 seconds. These longer segments have a more languid feeling to fit the mood of the slow music, and I apply very gentle zooming or panning to add visual interest without jarring the peaceful mood.

    Instead of creating random cuts from one angle to the next, try to create natural transitions between segments. For example, there are several transitions in here where one of us smiles at another player and the view immediately cuts to the other person's "reaction shot." Toward the end you can see me turn to the drummer to que the last chorus and then cuts to his reaction nod. Trigger, response. Little things like this help the viewer feel the emotion of the event, not just the mechanical motions of playing or singing.

     
  5. The multiple cameras really adds a lot of polish to your final product. We unfortunately have not managed to execute like that. We do have a new video where we used sound captured on a Zoom H4, and then used a video effect to try to help mitigate the single position camera angle.



    We're now recording on the Zoom H6, and it is actually significantly better than the H4, which surprised me.
     
  6. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    The preamps on the Zoom H6 are significantly better than the H4 - hence the better sonic quality.

    Even if you have just one camera, you have flexibility in post. The special effect is one way but try mixing it up rather than saving it for almost the entire second half of the video. Consumers are EXPERTS at watching high quality video- hours and hours and hours of it every day! They will unconsciously draw on this baseline and cast their judgment accordingly. (Usually by flipping to something else 10 seconds into your hard-wrought product!! :)

    Back to the single-camera concept: in post production, video editing software will allow you to manipulate the single feed as if there are multiple feeds. Look for a feature called "cropping," which allows you to select a variable-sized window within the fame for exclusive display in the produced video. For example, one subset frame will focus on the singer (and usually more of these as the singer is usually the focus of a typical band); one frame will be for the bass, one for the drummer, etc. Break these into short segments, of 3-5 seconds each to keep visual stimulation moving. You can also apply special affects to a subset frame, such as a zoom-in or zoom out motion, or panning motion where you move across a frame such as along a fretboard during a solo.

    With a single camera, carefully plan its placement if it's not going to move during the song. It's worth spending $40-50 for an inexpensive light stand with 3 legs on the bottom. This will let you mount the videocamera above the band for visual clearance. In your video, the drummer was obscured. A wide-angle lens can help boost the field of view in your single video stream. Here's an example of an inexpensive light stand: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/253067-REG/Impact_LS10AB_Air_Cushioned_Light_Stand.html

    You might need to add an adjustable camera mount added to the top of the stand to enable tilting the camera down or sideways for a better angle on the band.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554098-REG/Manfrotto_234RC_234RC_Swivel_Tilt_Head_for.html

    Also try to get better balance of sound. Couldn't hear the singer very well (or his guitar) and the singer's audio is the MOST important part of the performance. The bass sounded clear, and the drums/keys were in between. That's where having an audio capture device like the H6 is critical because you can closely position separate mics for optimal recording of audio. If you're sound sucks, your video will suck. No way to escape that one! As a general rule, I'd never post a video where the audio quality is not equal to what you'd post in a standalone audio file. People are brutal in their judgment. Whatever you post to the Internet can live forever. Don't put anything out there that makes your band sound bad. People will often remember the bad performance longer than they remember good. Make the best impression you can - always!
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
    FatBoutedGirls likes this.
  7. Thanks for the tips- the idea of cropping out sections of the video is a great idea. Frankly, this was put together somewhat quickly. The video effect last only for the "jam" portion of the song, when the vocals return it reverts to normal video. Re: vocals, yes, this is a known issue with where the H4 was positioned. It's a problem with this venue, which also prevents putting the camera up higher out front, because there just is no space to put a tripod out in front of the band. Now with the H6 we take a direct line for the vocals and it's much better, although we fight differential bleed, mostly of guitar, on the vocal line. Still better to hear the vocals clearly.
     
  8. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    So we just played another gig, this one at A Taste of Downtown Ukiah (our town's annual drinking festival). I made a new video of an original tune appropriately called "Schmaltz Liquor."

    This video was tougher to produce than the other two. The sun was shining from the stage left across to the right - right into two key video camera lenses. But worse, the main camera set to capture the entire band was about 35-40 feet in front. This turned out to be too far because during post production, I discovered the extreme closeups of the guitarist culled from that stream were somewhat blurry. Live and learn. Key lesson: use cameras positioned within 10-15 feet or so from the subject if you want quality HD extreme closeups.

    Also, at this gig we played two hours straight without a break. Setup and teardown were required to be fast, so there was no opportunity to go out in the crowd and shoot "environmental" streams. In this case, my brother in law shot several dozen still photos and I incorporated some of the best into this video. Notice how I applied motion, zooming and cropping to the stills. Don't overlook adding audience shots (stills or video) to make the production more real. Also, the people in these videos will probably forward the link to their friends so that will help broaden reach to potential new fans.

     
  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Dave, How was the experience of learning the sony software ? Is it as easy as Studio One ?

    I picked up a Q2Hd on the strength of your post. Ran it out front on an outdoor gig Thursday with my old Zoom H4 capturing audio. I'm about to view the results.

    Keys to the H4 when used like that are
    1. Use the U87 mic emulation
    2. Auto-Gain ON
    3. Limiter ON
    4. Find the right spot.

    I had to wing number 4 but as this was going to be the video trial, I was ok with it. Doing the gig was more important as this was a real cherry gig for a real cherry client... Up on a 2500 foot ridge line overlooking the flood plain of the Columbia river North-West of Portlnd. Picturesque doesn't begin to describe it. Sadly I was too busy for stills. Hopefully one of my partner / bandmates got some. Funny as i was looking down on a drag strip out in the plain. I played there in a 10 band 'surf a thon and psycho'billy extravaganza... Like 10 years ago. Hadn't thought of the place since...

    We'll take a board feed into Studio One when we do it for real.

    I already offer mobile recording as a by product of doing sound. Beginning to think that 3 or 4 camera feeds are another service we can offer. Might sell some post gig video production work as well...
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014
  10. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    The answer to this question is complicated. First, Sony Vegas Movie Studio is not a ballbreaker to learn, but there's a big difference between "learning the software" and knowing how to shoot quality video and deal with it professionally in post production. The quality of the feeds (videocamera positioning, lighting, framing, capture technology, etc.) are a vital part of creating a quality video. But so is knowing what to do with these feeds in post production. This is the same issue with Studio One. I believe the workflow of Studio One makes it one of the easiest to use (especially given its powerful features), but if you don't know anything about audio production, the software is useless.

    In terms of learning Sony Vegas, the best quick start I found was Bill Myers' DVD, "101 Tips, Tricks and Techniques: Vegas Movie Studio." This was for an older version of the software and I don't know if he updated the DVD.

    A good starter book on videography is "How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck" by Steve Stockman. I also found "Master Shots" by Christopher Kenworthy to be useful for showing 100 advanced camera techniques to get an expensive look on a low-budget movie. Many of these ideas won't apply to music videos, but the background is invaluable.

    For example, this morning The Stormy Weathermen played a gig at the Ukiah farmer's market. Camera placement is always an "exciting" moment when you arrive because you never know what you'll have to deal with - and you'll have about five minutes to size it up and make your choices. Today I used some standard camera placements around the band, but there was a low, 2-foot high wall in front of an embankment where we were positioned that allowed me to place a camera way above the band. Love situations like this for the "full band" view but relatively close in. You leverage what you've got, and frequently you will get very little to optimize camera placement.

    If you are thinking about charging for this service, think long and hard about whether to bother. Video is very time consuming. It takes me at least a full day to produce one video. Maybe that will speed up as I get more experience. But it's definitely a labor of love! The problem is with video, EVERYONE is an expert. People spend HOURS a day watching high quality, professionally produced video. An adult has probably spent as much time watching quality video as he or she has in getting an education. So their unconscious judgment of your work is brutal. If they're paying you for this, you'd better be prepared to deliver top drawer results or there's bound to be unhappy clients. This is especially true if you're thinking of charging for finished videos. But even creating the raw feeds is a challenge, so think hard before leaping into that pond!

    There's also an out of print book that worth a look if you can snag a copy: "Making Music Video: The Ultimate How-to Guide and Behind-the-Scenes look at the Art of Music Video" by David Kleiler & Robert Moses (1977, Three Rivers Press, NY). It's quite dated but does have good ideas.
     
  11. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Thanks Dave. That is sage advice I'm certain. If I can get some decent examples of what I'm thinking of, I'll hang 'em off our soon to be released website and then clients can see what we mean... It might be a decent add on pr a trip dpwn the rat hole. Either way, demo's of Willie & Nelson come first. I already made a mistake. Yesterday I shot in 720/30... That isn't going to get it done. Time the RTFM...
     
  12. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Here is a new video I just produced of The Stormy Weathermen at the Ukiah Farmers' Market. Usually to capture bass I use a DI. This time I placed an ElectroVoice RE-20 about five inches in front of the F210 in the area between the top woofer and the mid-range driver and tweeter. It was the first gig using my "FrankenFender" P-bass. The amp is a Puma 900 with flat EQ. This music is different from our other songs you may have heard - it's a loud blues in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughn. As with other videos, I've embedded several clips of crowd action. Sometimes people don't want to appear as "props" in a video. Be sure to respect their wishes even though clips might be taken in a public venue. One woman threatened me: "You'd better not put me in a video. I know who you are and will find you!" Believe me, this was not a person I'd want to cross so that clip was deleted immediately! :D

    One other comment: normally I would make the "splash" photo one of the band to draw in fans. But this video is being pitched to the manager of the Farmers' Market to be embedded on their website. It's an opportunity to have our band featured 360 days of the year when they typically hire dozens of bands over the course of a year. So I made the splash something that would blend in with the web page's content - and something that an ordinary visitor might click on ("oh, a video of the Farmers' Market, I'll watch that!"). So be ready to leverage opportunities and microtarget your marketing.

     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
    John Conte likes this.
  13. hennessybass

    hennessybass

    Oct 11, 2008
    Houston, TX
    Nice stuff @Ukiah Bass. Getting good sound on a live video is really tough, but makes all the difference.

    Thought I would share as well. Here is a video my band did a few years back. A bit of a different approach than Ukiah Bass for sure. The audio is just the audio off of one of our album tracks (recorded in the home studio), and all the video is taken off of an Iphone. The singer would always just record little bits here and there. Everything was done in I-movie (the free stuff you get when you buy an apple). The little live sound at the end is just a recording from a live show taken either on an Iphone, or maybe on an MP3 recorder (like a zoom).

    Very easy to do. Cost us nothing to produce.

     
    Ukiah Bass likes this.
  14. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Very effective. Good job! Excellent sound quality, which is critical as most self-produced videos have sucky sound. One low-cost suggestion to improve the presentation is lighting. Most of the video comes across as "dark" and can tire the eyes (even though your cuts, varying effects, etc. keep action moving). You might experiment with a portable light taped to the end of a long boom pole. Someone could hold it above the subjects as you do a shoot like this. Home Depot has lots of lights. Be sure to coordinate the type of light with your video cam's settings to ensure optimal exposure. Lighting is a huge topic but it supports 50% of your video's production (what you see and what you hear). Sometimes a little effort in lighting can make a huge improvement in production quality.
     
  15. hennessybass

    hennessybass

    Oct 11, 2008
    Houston, TX
    Right on about lighting... And our video being dark. Tried to keep the action moving and use "filters" to give it a look... So if wouldn't just look like bad video.

    I've gotten some cool effects for photos and video using cheap flood lights from Home Depot.

    If you don't have the budget to do something "right", then try to do if in a creative way. Fake it till ya make it!
     
  16. I love the videos and the music as well. I play in a Sci-Fi Surf Rock band myself called Dust Cloud of Mars in Boston.
    Has anyone ever said you look like Gary Cole (Bill Lumberg on Office Space)?
     
  17. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Thanks for the complement!

    As for Gary Cole, maybe I'd better mention that to my wife! :D
     
  18. Watch Office Space with her. It's funny as hell and you definitely resemble him.
     
  19. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Here is an "in the studio" video done with natural light only. Uses the same techniques as above.

     
    hondo4life likes this.
  20. Threadsurrection! Figured I may as well post here as the TB crowd seems to prefer this as opposed to creating new threads. It's been a few years since this thread was created and technology can certainly change in a hurry.

    I've been slowly gearing up to achieve something similar to the OP. I'm in a 4 piece funk style band with guitar/vox, keys/vox, drums and bass (me). My end goal is to create a consumable product with decent capture of live shows, particularly when running our own sound, which I will be doing in addition to playing bass. I'm about 90% of the way there in regards to the audio side of things, but not quite there yet in regards to video. I plan to prioritize audio over video, but I would still like the video to be better than mediocre if possible with a very limited budget.

    I just purchased a Behringer X Air X18, dedicated external router and enough cables to tie everything together. I also bought a Behringer Eurolive 115D which will give us enough monitors where everyone can have their own personal monitor mix. I purchased a refurbished laptop off of New Egg which should arrive tomorrow in order to have everything multitracked into Reaper. I have a decent desktop PC at home which will do all of the heavy lifting and editing. The laptop is to run X Air Edit and capture in Reaper, nothing else. We have the mics, stands, clips, DI's, cables, etc to individually capture every instrument. I'm confident I will achieve pretty good audio quality.

    The video side of the equation is where I'm most ignorant. I have already just about maxed my budget with the audio side of things. Camera wise, one of the guys has a GoPro Hero (unsure which one). I have a Google Pixel 2 which I can control remotely from the laptop if needed, and an Apeman Action camera (Cheap GoPro knockoff) which I can remotely control via WiFi from my old Android phone. After doing some research, it seems the best budget approach for me would to purchase an aftermarket wide angle lens for my Pixel 2. A company called Moment seems to get the best reviews and the case and lens will cost me a combined $130. The online demo footage actually looks pretty decent, and this is what I will use for the main shot if the venue allows for it. From what I've seen, most cameras in the $200 range aren't quite as good as my phone, and I already have a stand and mount for it.

    I would ideally like to have six total cameras. One fixed on each band member, one for the whole group, and one facing the crowd. I'm three cameras shy of this solution. Any tips from my TB family in regards to budget conscious cameras/stands/mounts that don't suck to help me fill the void? Also, what reasonably priced video editing programs that are easy to use, beginner friendly and relatively friendly on PC resources? I realize this will take time for me to learn and create. I have a regular 9-5 day job on top of weekly rehearsals and gigs.

    I have five gigs coming up in August, three of which I have the opportunity to test out some of this gear. I appreciate any insight, advice and tips.
     

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