Gifted Organs Music Videos – A Case Study

First Meeting

James Tottle is the lead singer and manager of music band “Gifted Organs”. The bands music is a celebration of life and this comes from the unique fact that select members are organ transplants. As the band’s manager, James’ goal was to show social media fans, whom had not seen them live, how the band perform. 2 Bee Videos had become a contact to James through various networking groups connected through 2 Bee Videos’ main operating office The Guild Hub in Bath. James decided to approach 2 Bee Videos to achieve his goal.

The Goal

James’ brief music videos brief:

  • Produce a music video each for songs “Love Is A Wonderful Thing” & “Little Yellow Bird”.
  • Introduce the band’s personality to viewers for the first time.
  • To be filmed at Real World Studios whilst recording of the songs takes place.

With this brief the challenge in presenting the band’s personality lied within the limitation of the filming location and filming around the recording of the songs. This brief detailed a studio based music video and centred around the band themselves. During the planning stage 2 Bee Videos pitched to James Tottle the use of text to simply state each organ transplant members history. James liked this idea and agreed to put it into effect.

james_slide

Video Design Part 1 – Lights & Camera

2 Bee Videos were given demos of the songs in order to write a video production script. Both songs had different beats and emotional tone and the scripted camera framing and movements of all shots were pre-written in accordance with these beats and tones.

The same process was used when writing the lighting setup for the band and each song. “Love Is A Wonderful Thing” uses a three point lighting setup to create a full romantic feel that best represents the romantic tone of the songs music and lyrics. With “Little Yellow Bird” the music and lyrics are romantic but has a darker edge so a two point lighting setup was used. One light from the side to give the darker edge and a back light to give the visuals a romantic glow.

Filming Begins

The lights went up, makeup applied and the entire two days of filming went by with no problems. The band had enough takes for camera to be on every band member at least once. 2 Bee Videos had plenty of dailies to edit together two music videos. The key to a successful film shoot is always good planning.

Video Design Part 2 – Post Production

Sequence editing for the music videos was simply starting with all takes of band members synced to the final music track. In the same approach to designing the lighting and framing, the beat of the music, the emotional tone and a meticulous ear dictated the length of each shot and where a cut would take place.

2 Bee Videos always uses a technicolor image filter during filming in order to give the colour grader a full dynamic image that can be changed aesthetically during the editing process. Love was the theme of “Love Is A Wonderful Thing” thus a red colour pallet was used in the grade to reflect this theme. Your starter for 10, which colour pallet was used in the colour grade of “Little Yellow Bird”? Yellow is close to green in the RGB colour range and also gave the visuals that darker edge I talked about in “Video Design Part 1”.

The Client Review

Always a tense moment to find out by client reaction if the goal was successful. Video producer Benjamin Harding and James Tottle sat down to preview the first music video “Love Is A Wonderful Thing”. 2 Bee Videos will never forget the moment and a first for the brand, that a client was emotionally moved by what had been created. Understandable as this was a project that was close to James’ gifted and talented heart. A happy tear speaks volumes and the same was clear for “Little Yellow Bird”. The visuals of the video were a success.

The Future

Talks with James Tottle on more Gifted Organ music videos have taken place. Are you the member of a band? Are you a band manager? 2 Bee Videos would definitely enjoy producing more Gifted Organ videos and music videos for others. So if you’re convinced 2 Bee Videos could produce music video content for you, don’t hesitate to inquire: info@2bee.co.uk



A Guide To Sound Design & Mixing

Happy New Year!

How was your Christmas and New Year Celebrations? Hope it was festive. Now on with this weeks topic, sound design and mixing.

As I said in my previous article on capturing sound, sound is as, if not more important than the visuals. Sound has to go through the same amount of cleaning and editing as the video.

Before I carry on with this article, it is worth pointing out, I only know information about the sound tools that I am using, and how they effect my audio files. I do not know the physical science behind sound, I am not a scientist. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin.

Introduction To Sound Effects
In your sound editing software you should have a library of effects you can use to correct and create your sound. There are so many it would take me a lifetime to go through all of them and what they achieve. In this article I will start with the basics. Leveling, Noise Reduction, Parametric Equalization, Multi-band Compressor, Hard Limiter, Dynamics Processing and Reverb.

Leveling
The first stage in creating your master sound mix is to level everything contained within the sound file. For example if you have two voices in one clip and one voice is louder than the other, it’s important that both voices peak at the same level. If you read my previous article on sound recording, I mentioned the sound meter starting at -48dbs increasing to 0dbs. Your sound editing software should have the same meter and a waveform reader. Your sound should be kept between -24dbs and -6dbs. Pick a level between these numbers and keep your voices peaking at this level.

sound_levelling

sound_noisereduceNoise Reduction
No matter what microphone you use, it’s inevitable to pick up other noises. The first to look at removing is background hiss. In every sound recording there is a certain amount of background hiss. This process is simple, first highlight the only segment of your clip containing the hiss and tell your software to analyse it. Then highlight the whole clip and tell your software to reduce the background hiss. However there are some limitations. If the background hiss is quite loud, your audio will sound like it’s coming out of baked bean tin when reduced. There are settings you can adjust to get the perfect hiss reduction, but this is why it’s so important to get the capturing of sound spot on.

Now that the hiss has been reduced from your sound clip, you will notice certain clicks, pops and unwanted sound. For this it’s best to use a histogram reader whilst listening to your sound clip to become aware of them. Using the tools in your sound editing software you can reduce the unwanted noises in your histogram.

sound_EQParametric Equaliser
Simply put, the parametric equaliser tool in your sound editor is there so you can balance the frequencies in your sound file. When highlighted the graph presented to you should read on the Y axis the frequencies from 0hz to 48,000hz, and on the X axis how loud the frequency is in decibels. The line on the graph allows you to adjust the volume on each set of frequencies. As a baseline standard for vocals I like to use the preset “Vocal Enhancer”, and then click the LP on the right side of the toolbar to lower any high frequencies. This setup should be a good step in getting a nice crisp sounding vocal.

sound_multibandMulti-band Compressor
This is a different form of making sure your sound frequencies are perfectly levelled and do not peak above a certain decibel. In the Multi-band Compressor tool is the preset “Broadcast”. Once you select this you will notice a considerable jump in volume. Use the master decibel notch to take it down by three decibels. This setup will raise the desired frequencies to give you a nice crisp
sound without peaking too loud.

 

 

 

 

sound_dynamiccompressHard Limiter & Dynamics Processing
These two tools are a variation on the same job. These two tools again make sure that your sound file doesn’t peak too loud. The hard limiter is more of a harsh tool for making sure your sound doesn’t peak above a selected decibel. I prefer to set mine to 6db. With the Dynamics Processing tool, it uses a graph to create a more dynamic cut off point for loud peaking sounds. Your original sound decibels appear on the X axis of the graph, ranging from 100 to 0. On the Y axis is the final decibel output of your sound. By adjusting the line on the graph you have control over the output of your decibels. On my graph, I create my first point at X-20 and Y-20, and a second point at X-0 and Y-0. I take my second point and drop it to Y-10 on the graph.

 

Reverb
Reverb is the adjustment of yours sound’s reverberation. Noises sound different depending on the location and how the sound waves react to it’s surroundings. Reverb is an effect that allows you to adjust the way your sound reacts to it’s location, or create a location for your sound. For example you can use this tool to make something sound as though it’s coming from a grand hall, a small bathroom or a cave. Check out it’s presets and see what happens.

In summary you should now be able to create a sound mix for your vocal soundtrack and other sound recordings in your editor by:

  • Leveling your sound file using the decibel and waveform reader.
  • Reduce hiss, clicks, pops and other unwanted sound using Noise Reduction.
  • Equalize your sound frequencies using the Parametric Equalizer.
  • Level your sound frequencies using the Multi-band Compressor.
  • Create a harsh cut off point for your loud peaking sounds using Hard Limiter.
  • Create a dynamic cut off point for your loud peaking sounds using Dynamics Processing.
  • Create an environment for your sound using Reverb.


A Guide To Recording Sound For Video

This is where a lot of filmmakers fall short. It’s imperative that your video has good sound. Video and sound are as important as each other. If your visuals aren’t looking great, make sure your sound mix is perfect, and your audience will forgive you. If your visuals are much better than your sound mix, it will get ripped to shreds. A lot of this boils down to a great sound design in post-production, and in the film & video industry, more money is put into creating a top notch master sound mix. First you need good sound recordings to use for your master sound mix.

Listen To My Voice
All sound mixes in video productions are completely artificial. There are two things you want when recording sound during production. The first is good quality voice recording. All other sounds have the ability to be re-recorded and manipulated after production. The second is ambience. Because the sound gets mixed in post-production, the only thing the sound designer wants from the production recordings is crisp clear dialogue. The ambient sound is mixed under this.

microphoneH4n_screen_meterDirectional Microphones & Metering
There are different types of microphones used for a specific purpose. I use a directional microphone capturing 90° of the sound from where I point it, thus getting the specific sound I intend to capture. On my sound capturing device is a sound meter in decibels from -48 going up to 0. It’s best to avoid recording anything over -6bd as your sound will be distorted when played back. I recommend capturing sound between -24db and -6db.

Setting Up Your Sound Recording Device
Like a camera, you can set how many frames per second of sound you want to capture. I recommend keeping it as the same frame rate on your video. The last setting you can change is the frequency. Simply put this is the information of your captured sound. Most sound frequencies in the final video is outputted at 48000 kilobytes of information per second. I record 92000kps so I have as much dynamic range to manipulate in post-production, and then export at 48000kps.

boomopAs Far In As You Can
In video production you want to get the microphone as close as you can to the subject without the camera seeing it. You simply have to communicate with the camera operator to mark this position, and then camera can roll. A good tip I picked up from sound recordist Eduardo João Gama is to point the microphone at the person’s chest to get good quality voice recordings. (Don’t know why, possibly something to do with acoustics, all I know is it works.) I have a 3 metre boom pole, which is great for getting the microphone into medium sized shots. However, in a single take you might want to film a close-up of someone talking and zoom out to a wide shot. This is where a radio lavalier microphone comes in handy. Connecting a receiver to your sound recording device, and a transmitter with an attached microphone hidden under the shirt of the person you are filming, you will be able to hear everything they’re saying without getting a boom pole in the frame.

@EduardoJoaoGama

Recording Sound Effects
With recording sound effects and other sounds that is not dialogue on screen, the process is the same as when you record dialogue on set. Make sure that the sound is recorded clearly for the sound editor and mixer. Using a playback monitor to show the video you want to overlay with sound can help you judge the length, volume and intensity of the noise you are producing for your sound effect.

Know Your Sound Recording Device’s Limitations
With limitations to the amount of time sound devices can record, they’re pretty good. I use a Zoom H4N and the most amount of time I left it recording was three hours to record a stage show. However it was pretty hot when I picked it up. The next time I recorded for that amount of time, it packed in, so know the limits of your sound recording device. For recording a whole day of sound I recommend using a 16GB SDHC memory card with your sound recording device. Now you know how to capture good sound. Later I will be covering how to clean, manipulate and mix sound in post-production.

So when recording dialogue and sounds, remember:

  • The voice is key. Everything else can be rerecorded after.
  • Use a directional microphone.
  • Pay attention to your sound meter whilst listening.
  • Use the appropriate settings on your sound recording device.
  • Get the microphone as close you can without it being seen, using a boom pole or radio
    microphone.
  • Sound effects are recorded during post-production.
  • Know the limitations of your sound recording device.


Filming To Tight Schedules

A lot has to be calculated when producing a video. To be honest, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have to think deeply about these calculations because they’ve become second nature when I’m filming. It’s an advantage when filming to tight schedules. Even with the subconscious nature of my skills, clients ask for near impossible deadlines, mainly because they don’t know the level of detail that goes into crafting a video. They only see what’s in front of them, and have no contemplation of what’s gone into producing the images and sound. Every single aspect is meticulously scrutinised by the filmmaker.

Lighting For Video
When I’m filming, I’m not only looking at the subject, but also how the subject is lit. Lighting can have a big effect on how an audience reacts emotionally to the image. When the lighting is soft and even, it gives a sense of positiveness. When the light is intense and hard, it gives a sense of negativity. Lighting happens after blocking the movements of the subject and the camera. There are two types of lighting sources, natural and unnatural. Our Sun is a natural lighting source. Manufactured light bulbs are an unnatural lighting source. We cannot manipulate the Sunlight’s direction and intensity, something that changes with time. But we can change it’s effect on the subject by blocking parts of the sunlight and reflecting it. Every aspect of manufactured lights can be manipulated in order to get the intended aesthetic lighting effect.

LED-Video-Light-and-DSLR-CameraThe Camera
I’m also manipulating the camera’s reaction to the light. The main points of control are the aperture, shutter speed and the ISO. The aperture when changed effects the amount of light going into the camera and also the amount of space the focal depth covers. The shutter speed when changed effects the amount of light going into the camera and also effects the clarity of a moving object. The ISO changes the sensitivity of the light going into the camera without changing effect on focal depth and clarity of movement.

These camera settings are the main change on every video production I setup depending on how the subject is lit. I try to keep my shutter speed to 1/50 of a second because sometimes when it’s increased, something happens called a rolling shutter. Looks like a series of dark bars rolling up the screen, doesn’t look good and a pain to fix afterwards, best to resolve this when filming. This is a tip I picked up from well respected filmmaker Philip Bloom. His DSLR camera reviews online give great tips on how to best set your DSLR for video capture.
http://philipbloom.net/blog

microphoneCapturing Sound
The visuals and the sound is never synced automatically on a professional video production, syncing the sound to the video is done manually in post-production. A good camera can capture great video, but not great sound. The built in microphone in a camera has two problems for professional video production. First it’s not great quality, it’s automated to pick up every single piece of sound that’s happening 360°. Secondly the microphone is fixed in the camera, thus limiting where you want to place the microphone without moving the camera.

For profession sound I use a separate sound recording device with a microphone plugged in with a XLR cable and the microphone attached to a three meter boom pole, ideal for getting the microphone close to the sound in wide angle shots. This microphone is high quality and directional to capture sound 90°. Because sound and video is recorded separately, a marker has to be established for them to be synced afterwards. On profession video productions a slate is used. You’ve seen them, it’s that board with numbers and sticks on top that bang together to make a loud sound, this is the mark used to sync sound in post-production. Because I’m shooting to tight deadlines I keep the in built camera microphone on to use as my marker, giving me more valuable time in production and post-production.

editingThe Cutting Room
When creating my edit in post-production, I need as much flexibility as possible when manipulating my captured image. There’s a free to use software for DSLR cameras that helps this process called a Technicolor Cine-Style Profile. It gives enough colour information and provides definition to dark areas without overexposing lighter areas, and can be manipulated in post-production to create the desired image. This manipulation is colour grading. I use two steps to colour grading. The primary is correcting the contrast, brightness and colour of the image. The secondary is the aesthetic, the style of the image. This process I always do last, when everyone’s happy with the edited sequence of the video.

The sound goes through it’s own similar process. The primary, cleaning of any unwanted hiss, clicks, pops and leveled out. The secondary, the style of the sound, any manipulated effects. All sounds have to be mixed together with the final music. Currently I have a workflow setup from start to finish to deal with a video production project. This setup is built to deal with tight schedules. For every three minutes of video, it takes me four hours to edit a sequence, four hours to create any motion graphics, four hours to clean and design the image and four hours to clean, design and mix the sound.

In the coming weeks I will be releasing more articles diving deeper into everything mentioned in this article. Bye for now.