Effective workflow for recording guitar videos: suggestions wanted!


#1

My current setup & method for recording music+video is surely mega-inefficient.

Initially I hoped to get everything correctly in a single take which resulted in millions of attempts and a lot of red light syndrome. I also kept restarting the video recording every time, which was time consuming. I now think I had unrealistic expectations of myself, especially because I’m not a pro and have limited guitar time these days (1-2h per day).

Now I am thinking to divide songs in smaller chunks (say a minute each), perhaps filming with different angles for each chunk, and then glue the best takes together. Another thing I plan to do is probably buy a cheap camcorder and film the whole session without interruptions (except for moving the camcorder to different places for the different chunks). Of course this will generate a lot of GBs of rubbish but hey, it will probably save me some stress.

I already started trying the chunks thing, but the red light syndrome is still very real - yet I know my probability of getting good takes for the various chunks has increased.

Is there anything else I can do to streamline the process? Is 1min still to long? what would the pros do?

I could chop things down to even shorter sections, but I feel at some point the thing might lose meaning as a musical performance :thinking:

Soz, it was a long and chaotic post, I might tidy it up a bit later - but I’d be happy to hear everyone’s thoughts on this :slight_smile:


#2

It really depends on how you want to present yourself to YouTube or wherever you are uploading. There are millions of ways you can do this - filming in 30 second or 1 minute chunks, long takes with zero angle switching, multi-cam for single takes, multi-cam and split screen for dual guitars in metal, etc.

At the end of the day I think it comes down to your preferences. How do you want to present yourself? The worst thing you can do is pander to what you think people will like, because the whole thing will end up being a chore if you don’t like what your audience does.

Personally, in the covers I am doing, I’m doing one long take because that is what I enjoy watching. I’m not into players who present their recording and video takes by stitching together various performances. It seems disingenuous.

Also, single takes are very efficient. Just hit record on your DAW and the button on your phone or camera and you can match the audio to fix sync. It’s incredibly easy, and TBH doesn’t get that much more difficult doing multi-cam, especially given that many editing programs have built in multi-cam features. Multi-cam can give a more professional feel but then you’re adding editing time and skills on top of that, and if you’re no good at editing it negates the professional multi-cam aspect.


#3

Thanks for the quick reply! My objective is to have a reasonable compromise between the quality of the recording and the “realism” of the performance.

I known realistically that a in 4-5min single take I will make too many mistakes for my liking. At the same time, by recording chunks that are too small I’d feel like I’m not actually playing the song :sweat_smile:

Oh and I’m not interested in “fooling” the audience, pretending it’s a single casual take. I’d be happy to share exactly what I did in the description etc.

It’s more like: I want to record something that I’d be satisfied to look at, and given the time/energy that I have for guitar [EDIT: and the difficulty level of the stuff I like to play], I know this is not gonna happen with single long takes.


#4

Yeah I totally get what you’re saying. I see no problem with that if you’re pressed for time and want to put out videos at a reasonable rate. The only time it irritates me is when it’s not disclosed and viewers might have unrealistic expectations as a result. It’s essentially the “Instagram model” problem of the guitar world.


#5

I agree but also think the “gluing bits together” is probably the standard in “official” performance videos by high-profile people, and not only in guitar. It should be made more explicit that the single-take reality is very different (compare e.g. a Petrucci live solo with his studio versions - the live stuff is still great, but the rough edges are more visible - better, audible -, to me at least).


#6

Yeah, I agree it is definitely normal. Like I said, it’s more or less what you feel comfortable presenting. At the end of the day we are all human beings, but the tendency nowadays with live performances, studio recordings, YouTube, etc. is that we all need to be robots.

Look at the comments section of this video. Petrucci makes literally two, maybe three mistakes (the last two of which occurred as a result of the first one) and the entire comments section is tearing into him. You can also see this on a Cracking the Code video of John Taylor doing 16th notes at 260 or so.

It blows my mind how vicious and unforgiving people can be w/r/t performances.


#7

I don’t do videos, but if I did, I’d use two cameras and leave them both rolling non-stop while I did consecutive long takes. Intercutting (without going overboard) between two (or more) cameras in editing not only creates some visual interest for the viewer, but makes it less obvious when you switch from one take to another. Maybe even give yourself verbal editing notes on-camera between takes, e.g. “I screwed up the fill that has the pentatonic pulloff thing”. I would only do short takes if there are problem areas that persist after two or three long takes.

Nowadays, space is only an issue if you intend to keep all the raw footage after you’re done editing, and even then, using something like a game capture card or box to crush everything into a compressed format like h.264 would allow you to economically keep an archive of your raw footage with only a slight quality compromise.

Edit: And if you’re worried about appearing unnaturally polished in the final product, maybe throw in an “outtakes” reel at the end to show your human side. :wink:


#8

Here’s an outline of what I’d suggest as a relatively simple yet also fairly pro setup that probably strikes a good balance if time is limited:

  • Film with at least two, ideally three cameras at once. This does not mean you have to go buy 3 new cameras! One good camera + two phones could work well.

  • Use something like a DSLR with 50mm-equivalent lens set up for a medium / medium-wide main shot. Use your phone to get a closeup shot, using e.g. the Magnet or a tripod to get a similar angle. For the third camera, borrow your partner’s phone, use an old GoPro, whatever…this is for a fun extra angle — side view, overhead shot, whatever. You may not use this angle a ton but it will give you more options.

  • Record audio separately, maybe with a standalone recorder (e.g. Zoom), direct mic input to your computer, whatever will get you nice quality. Just be sure you’re getting audio from all your cameras too — necessary for syncing up the footage!

  • Record the whole performance straight through, a few takes. Maybe 3-5 times. Don’t overdo it and don’t worry if you mess up a bit here and there.

  • Import all the footage to a video editing program like FCPX. Ideally it will have a feature to automatically synchronize footage. Once you sync the footage you should have a few ‘timelines’ of the performance, each with the audio + multiple video angles.

  • Pick the best of your few complete takes, and use that as your main timeline. Watch through and mark any points where you flub something or just don’t like a section. Then look at the equivalent portions of the other takes. Hopefully there will be a different version of that specific portion that you like better! If so, chop it out and copy it into your main timeline.

  • As @guitarenthusiast mentioned if your software supports multicam editing that can be useful. This basically lets you do synced multitrack video editing + easily switch between angles. Definitely possible to do manually but this can make it a bit easier if the feature is available.

  • Essentially you want to keep it as simple as you can — you’re not trying to remix all the different takes together equally, just patch in corrections in a few places here and there as needed. Since you have multiple camera angles, you can cut at pretty much any point — just switch to a different angle each time you do. But you don’t have to make tons of cuts like a music video. Just switch angles when it makse sense musically or to switch takes. What @Frylock suggested, basically!

  • At the end of the day you may still have a couple spots you don’t love but :man_shrugging: you have a finished video and it didn’t take you 25 hours to make :smiley:


#9

Good thread. I used to record directly in, shoot my camera footage and then sync it up but it’s such a huge pain in the ass to sync it up I kind of just stopped doing that. I use my phone to record live in the room and do one take, I’m considering getting a q2n so I’ll have much better in room audio quality for my videos. But I would like to be able to do the method of direct in with syncing, I was using a cheap program called Audacity that was free online, and Windows movie Maker which was just not user-friendly as far as doing the syncing.

Can anyone suggest an editing program that would make the syncing up much easier or even automatic? I saw FCPX mentioned? That’s Apple only, right? Any recommendations for Windows PC? The worst part of doing videos where I go direct in and separate my audio and video is the syncing process. Thanks!


#10

Yea, if they tear Petrucci apart, what hope does anyone else have?! Seriously though, you can’t even get into it, you have to just ignore it because shit-talk is cheap and a dime a dozen online.


#11

Yes FCPX is Mac only. Not sure what the best equivalent would be for Windows. One suggestion for syncing would be to just film one long take with each camera + audio device. You can clap at the beginning so you have an easy point to sync from. Just leave the cameras / audio recorder running; yes it will eat up memory but you can always delete the raw footage once you’re done editing, or get a cheap external hard drive to store everything. Then for a whole filming session, you only have to sync everything up once using your ‘clap marker’ at the beginning of each clip, which should take just a couple minutes even doing it manually.


#12

I definitely one-take it with a single camera angle. Given the prevalence of djent “playthrough” videos with multi-camera angles miming to a step-edited guitar performance, I’d rather play what’s clearly a live take with the occasional flubbed note than do anything that looks like it could have been edited to perfection.

I track video on my DSLR and record audio through Reaper, and then sync them together in Final Cut Pro.


#13

Stop-Start recording is time consuming and totally interrupts your flow, hightening that red-light syndrome where you have more pressure to make that perfect take.

Shoot 1 long take, and clap your hands (once, loudly) to mark where new takes begin. When you export the video file, you can easily find the claps as spikes on the audio waveform. Then create markers or cuts as needed to find the best takes.

For multi-track video, I use 3 iPod touches on tripods (close on LH, RH, and long), they connect with this iOS app ‘CollabraCam’, that syncronizes the video really well. Then I just export and load the tracks in Final Cut and get to work.


#14

Thanks for the feedback everyone! After the positive reception of my Thinking Machine attempts in the other thread, I became pumped and a bit obsessed about getting a perfect recording.

However, as i tried to do proper takes it seems I instead became worse and worse at playing it! Maybe I should take a break of a few days from it :sweat_smile: after that I can try to implement some of these suggestions!

@guitarenthusiast haha that Petrucci solo is brutal! I don’t think any human could play this live without the occasional mistake!


#15

@Brendan thank you the workflow you suggest is much more enjoyable than what I was doing before! The fact that I don’t have to stop and restart everything after every mistake saves me a lot of frustration. It’s also more similar to what happens in real life :smile:

PS: is there any way to remove clipping artifacts from a DI track? I have recorded some stuff yesterday with too much input gain on the interface :man_facepalming:


#16

None good, I’m afraid. The tracking rule of thumb in digital is it’s always easier to turn something UP if it’s too quiet, then turn it DOWN if it clips. It’s worth a listen to see if it really impacts the reamping/VST model and if it’s still usable, but when in doubt err on the side of tracking nowhere near 0db.


#17

Cool thread. @tommo what’s the purpose of the recording? What do you want its presence in the webosphere to accomplish?

My uh, hah, workflow for recording videos is:

Put smartphone against a water bottle or something stable on a desk. Hit record. Post it. Hah.
Sometimes:

  • make sure I’m not backlit.
  • do draft recordings to make sure tone is somewhere in the ballpark of what I want.
  • use a cropping tool to get the video size I want

I’m not trying to be cheeky but rather pointing out also that you can ‘do you’ and there are a lot of variables that go into the decision. For me, time is always a huge factor and I lose creative momentum very easily, so I’ve found it best to just shoot n’ post and essentially favor other elements over the vid/audio quality.

One of the biggest variables I’ve found is that sometimes when people are really concerned with the AV tech they might wind up just not sharing anything at all! I’m certainly that way.

Just my two cents! Though now that I have some consistency/following etc, I have thought of taking some steps to improve the AV.


#18

I don’t know :joy: At the moment guitar is a hobby for me, not making money or anything, I just want to make some good recordings of stuff I like (good playing-wise, not production value-wise :smiley: )


#19

Then I guess I’ll remain the little voice on one shoulder that says “just record it however is simplest as it’s better than not recording at all” and focus on the playing - but that’s heavily my bias, so obviously take it for what it’s worth.

If you were starting super simple and getting into a groove of it, you could gradually add more elements of production. But I get there are a lot of ways to view this issue!


#20

Totally agree on that :slight_smile: this is why I think I will go for an approach like the one suggested by @Brendan above. In addition, I may divide longer tunes into musically meaningful sub-sections to help me keep focus.

I’ve been thinking a bit and I think I want to make videos to remind myself (and share) what I can do when I’m in good form (so, not my “average” performance). But I also don’t want to do any editing beyond the splicing of reasonably long musical chunks - or sometimes double tracking.

I totally understand the appeal of “real playthroughs” - I’ve tried and in some cases semi-succeeded, but I find it too stressful & time consuming, and the result is never musically as good as I’d like.

EDIT: this is how I decided to wrap up the Thinking Machine project: