Sophisticated video production equipment helps a professional musician to adapt “as-live” voice classes for streaming on a major YouTube channel. The 15-minute episodes are recorded in a home studio using a baby grand piano.
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Protecting reputational excellence
Our client is a past Director of the National Youth Choirs. She manages programs and concert series for Early and Renaissance Period music around the country. Also, she tutors at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). She has presented for BBC Radio 3, and taught at Chetham’s School of Music, so her credentials are enviable and her good standing demands excellent professional sound quality.
This series of voice coaching classes streams on a globally recognized YouTube channel. The 15-minute classes deliver professional voice coaching and viewers enjoy both high fidelity instrumention and vocal reproduction. Interestingly, the channel features content from household names in contemporary, classical, and pop/rock. We rely on professional audio recording equipment which emulates studio quality for projects of this kind.
The channel’s contributors feature household names in rock, contemporary, and classical music. So, audio quality was reputationally paramount for our client.
Scripting and rehearsal
Even for a BBC professional, preparation is crucial to success. When a director calls “action”, video production lighting, microphones, take actors and presenters out of their comfort zone. Good video production needs as much preparation as broadcast television or radio.
In video production, something as seemingly simple as a class you have taught a thousand times before falls apart in front of a camera. This is because what we do live does not work in front of camera. For instance, we might film a 15 minute “casual” monologue in 5 individual 3 minute scenes to create something comparable to a continuous 15 minute monologue in class. File saving and clock synchronisation are typical reasons for short sequence scenes. So, this means scripting and rehearsing before filming ever starts.
Cameras do not miss details that our eyesight overlooks. Fortunately, we took sample shots of the set a few days before filming. As clean as the centrpiece piano looked in usual room light, our 4K cameras and studio lights meant filming was suspended until each key was individually cleaned. So, site, wardrobe, and colour co-ordination are crucial aspects of pre-production.
Video production is comparatively easy in spaces where lighting can be controlled. This video did not need effects. Indeed, educational videos often worked best without exotic effects. However, an introduction to each video was filmed using 4K resolution to acheive zooms without loss of resolution in post production. In the video below, the keyboard looks as we expect to see it. However, what looked clean in normal light took about 45 minutes to correct for the camera. Filming takes time.
To achieve discerning audio quality for a shoot of this kind it makes sense to “mic” accompanying instruments. For ta piano like this baby grand, rich tones can be acheived by placing microphones close to the soundboard. Meanwhile overhead microphones capture audio more broadly. This way, in post production we can feather instrument audio with vocal tracks to enhance sound with rich bass and detailed high notes.
As an example of this multi-track recording approach, listen to the piano track used for opening and closing credit soundbytes:
The success of projects like this rely on excellent audio quality recording which camera and USB microphones struggle to achieve. We used 32-bit floating point audio technology to reduce risk of distortion and extra recording time. Also, we utilised secondary systems like lavalier microphones and a secondary camera to minimize the risk of necessary re-shoots. Redundancy and alternate equipment availability in the event of hardware failure is a standard feature of our production planning.
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