Performance video, "Even When I Lie"

edited September 2011 in Filmmaking
This is a performance video I recently threw together with a good friend of mine. The song is an original by Jody Ellen, who is regularly a vocalist for the steampunk band Abney Park. She recently recorded piano and vocals for an original song for her solo project, and posted a link to it on Facebook. My friend David and I recorded drums and bass (I'm drums, he's bass) to it, with her approval, and this is the result. I'm pleased to say she liked it, and even shared the link on her page, which i was pretty excited about. The fact that she was even OK with us fiddling about with her song is pretty cool, I think.
Anyway, I'm planning to do more of these type of videos in the future, as I get back to recording more original stuff, and thought I'd share this video to see what sort of suggestions you guys had to make future videos better, or more interesting. I'm pretty happy with the result personally, but there's always room for improvement. I'd personally prefer to see Jody, rather than us, but since we were writing/recording our bits independently of her, I ain't got no footage of her to use. There is a video of her performing the song here, but its a bit more free tempo, and wouldn't edit together that well.
http://youtu.be/2XBO5SE65cQ
Bonus points for finding the mistakes in our performance. :) I know I miss my ride cymbal twice, which I could have easily fixed in the mix and edited the video around, but I left it in for authenticity. Also, this sound best turned up good and loud, with a system that can handle the low end well.

Comments

  • Nice. I like all the swords on the walls. :D
    The video works fine for the performance, but as a video in itself isn't hugely captivating. I know you didn't want to go full-on MTV with it, but there might be a few tricks you can try. Given the slow pace of the song, I'd really recommend investing in a glidetrack to introduce some nice, slow, stable mini-dollies. They can add polish and visual interest to very simple videos without really adding to the schedule.
  • Nice drumming there Axel! :)) And good quality on the filming. Glidetrack would be good as Simon said. But first and foremost it would be nice to see the person singing the vocals in the video as well! :)
  • Thanks guys. Tarn - I agree wholeheartedly that some new equipment would be useful. I did try using the tripod dolly that I've got, but due to the very limited space and the position of the master camera, it wasn't working well. Not sure how obvious it is, but I was filming while David played, and he was filming while I played, and each time we had one locked off master shot, and the other guy was working around that with a roving cam.
    Preferably we would also have a shot with both of us playing at the same time, so when my drums occasionally appear behind David, they are actually being played.
    VikingFilm65 - Thanks! Did you spot my couple of errors? At one point, I miss my ride cymbal entirely, and at another, while aiming for the bell on my ride cymbal I hit the felt washer in the center of it. I left them both in frame, just for fun, and also didn't remove them in the mix, though it would be easy enough to fix. The locked-off camera was my Canon 7D, and the roving was a compact Panasonic HD thingy.
    I entirely agree that seeing Jody would be preferable to seeing me; in addition to the singer being the person that should generally be onscreen the most, as a rule, she's much more pleasant to look at than I am.
  • Nice work - nicely understated which gives it a good professional polished look. B-)
    Hopefully I *will* get to see Jody with Abney Park as they're doing White Mischief's Hallowe'en party in London at the end of the month!
    DT
  • Do whatever you can to get to that show, man. Their live shows are so amazing, its ridiculous! They have one other show in England, and a show in Wales, on the mini-tour of the UK they are doing in October.
  • How did you get the snare drum to sound like that! I usually cant play slow songs on the drums, I want to go a hundred miles an hour! :P
  • I always enjoy discovering great new music and thats was excellent, where I work people have radios which constantly seem to rotate the unholy trinity of Katy perry, Rhianna and Lady gaga.
    It would be nice to see the singer though maybe you two could put something togethor and get her approval, or maybe have a sword fight in the middle of it.
  • @Guitar74 - First, tune the snare properly. Second, close-mic it on top with an SM57, and mic it underneath with a medium diaphragm condenser. Third, hit it with conviction. And fourth, Add some EQ, compression and a whole wad of reverb to one of the mics when mixing. I left the top mic un-reverbed, to keep some good attack and definition, then lots o' reverb on the lower mic to fill in the sound and keep it soft, to fit the song. Also, you might notice a big speaker cabinet thing in front of my kick drum - I wired a mic cable to a 15" speaker, to turn it into a microphone, and it does a beauty of a job of picking up the sub-bass frequencies and adding a lot of low end.
    A handy trick that a lot of people don't know is that if you attach a mic cable to a speaker, instead of speaker cables, and plug it into an amp, the speaker will become a microphone. That simple. The dynamic range is pretty poor, but in this case, by using a large speaker, you can pick up only really low frequencies, which is what I wanted, as it allows you to control their blend into the mix independently of the other channels.
    Slow songs are indeed tricky to play sometimes, and there are a couple of spots in the chorus where I tend to press the tempo a bit, and have since fixed in the version of the song I actually listen to. But for the video, I kept the performance unedited in that respect.
    @Thelurkerish - Yeah, the song is great, which is what inspired me to write some drums to it to begin with. We considered asking her for some video or images to slideshow or something, but thought it may just come across as internet creepy, so we didn't. Maybe someday when she goes to actually record the song, she'll ask us to play with her. Doubtful, but she is relatively local to us, less than 2 hours away. But that swordfight idea is worth considering.
  • edited October 2011

    @Guitar74 - First, tune the snare properly. Second, close-mic it on top with an SM57, and mic it underneath with a medium diaphragm condenser. Third, hit it with conviction. And fourth, Add some EQ, compression and a whole wad of reverb to one of the mics when mixing. I left the top mic un-reverbed, to keep some good attack and definition, then lots o' reverb on the lower mic to fill in the sound and keep it soft, to fit the song. Also, you might notice a big speaker cabinet thing in front of my kick drum - I wired a mic cable to a 15" speaker, to turn it into a microphone, and it does a beauty of a job of picking up the sub-bass frequencies and adding a lot of low end.
    A handy trick that a lot of people don't know is that if you attach a mic cable to a speaker, instead of speaker cables, and plug it into an amp, the speaker will become a microphone. That simple. The dynamic range is pretty poor, but in this case, by using a large speaker, you can pick up only really low frequencies, which is what I wanted, as it allows you to control their blend into the mix independently of the other channels.
    Slow songs are indeed tricky to play sometimes, and there are a couple of spots in the chorus where I tend to press the tempo a bit, and have since fixed in the version of the song I actually listen to. But for the video, I kept the performance unedited in that respect.
    @Thelurkerish - Yeah, the song is great, which is what inspired me to write some drums to it to begin with. We considered asking her for some video or images to slideshow or something, but thought it may just come across as internet creepy, so we didn't. Maybe someday when she goes to actually record the song, she'll ask us to play with her. Doubtful, but she is relatively local to us, less than 2 hours away. But that swordfight idea is worth considering.

    She has a good voice. She live in the states?? I have to ask, a mic cable has the 3 prongs and a amp usually dont have that hook up, so how can you hook a mic cable to a amp and get the mic effect. Nice set. I got a yamnaha custom standard set, that I put Aquarian Heads on to get a better alternative sound to it!! I dont think asking for pics is Internet creepy, I wonder who she is and etc now!!
  • Yeah, she lives in Seattle, WA, which isn't that long of a drive from where I live. If you follow the links at the end of the video you can visit her website as well as the site of Abney Park, the band she sings with. And yes, her voice is fantastic.
    www.jodyellen.com
    www.abneypark.com
    I order to attach a mic cable to a speaker, you do have to hack one end off the mic cable, so use a cheap-ish one. then, strip the ends of the wires out a bit, and wrap the two wires inside around the tabs on the back of the speaker, where the speaker wires usually attach. I actually wired little electrical connectors to the mic cable I use, so I can easily connect and disconnect the cable.
  • I enjoyed this for what it is. I know you weren't going for an MTV look.
    I liked the song - but it could have used more cowbell. :P
  • Holy Sword collection, Axel!
    What a small world- I love Abney park. I've never had an opportunity to see them live, but my father in law has many times and always raved about it. It's really cool that you know Jody Ellen, and both of your instrumentation really add something to the piece. Side project for you three in the future? I'm telling you, it could be a thing!
    I second the sword fight, lol. But seriously, for the kind of piece it was you did just about everything you could. You kept the camera moving enough, changed the angles up- the background would have been fairly plain with the white walls but you had swords on it, so that's forgiven. :)
    Also, you did a good job switching off. I did notice that it was just one at a time, but not until the second viewing. If you wanted to have both of you in it at once, you could have filmed at a wide enough angle to catch you both on a locked off shot, then compt both performances in HF. Add a little artificial camera shake to make it look handheld and we would have all been fooled! ;)
    As a straight up performance video, the only thing I can think about enhancing is lighting- you could have had a little more dramatic lighting to fit the melancholy of the song. But really, I quite enjoyed it. Always cool to see what other talents the people on these forums have. If you make any more, please share them! I'd love to see 'em!
  • Thanks Zed. All of the guys in my family make swords as a hobby, and I also collect them a bit, so part of my collection is displayed on the wall there. Some of them are cheap replicas, like the LOTR ones in the big fan, and would break if you tried to use them for anything, but some of the others aren't. :)
    I'd love to actually create some music with Jody Ellen, but I find it unlikely that it would actually happen. Being a pro musician in Seattle, she probable has access to all the musicians she needs. It would be awesome though.
    I managed to cut around the bits where it was really obvious that we weren't playing together, but there are still some shots where you can see the drums behind David, and the cymbals should really be moving a bit. My eyes always go right to them, but I reckon that's largely due to the fact that I'm the drummer, and I know that I wasn't playing. I'm glad it wasn't painfully obvious straight off that we cheated the performances together.
    I'm considering importing the whole shebang into HitFilm, processing it all rather severely, just to see what sort of cool effects i can come up with, then posting that version on YouTube as well, sort of a before/after comparison using Hitfilm to add some 'cool'.

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