Category Archives: Video Productions

How To Film Underwater

In this lesson we look at what is required to get fantastic photos and videos while out on the water and under the water.

Let’s start with a How To Video we have made all about filming Underwater using the sensational Sony X1000V Action Cam.

The video is 15 minutes long but covers virtually everything that needs to be discussed in this comprehensive How To Lesson.

We commence with a couple of minutes of underwater footage we have made, and then proceed to do a full and detailed discussion of equipment, tips, and techniques for underwater filming.

Although this video gives specific details for using Sony Action Cams, most of the tips and techniques are equally applicable to GoPro, SJ5000, or any camera that is used for filming underwater.

 
 

Underwater Focusing

Any Action Cam that is used in the water must have a flat face screen on the front of its waterproof housing to be able to focus underwater.

Go Pro and SJ5000+ cameras already have a flat area on the front of the waterproof cases for their cameras.

But Sony has a rounded sphere on the front to the standard Sony waterproof case. This does not seem to make any sense, as although this might be useful for filming while on a boat, or while in the water filming Surfing, water does not run off the rounded front screen as well as a Flat front screen.

Furthermore a Flat Front Screen can be used to film above water and focuses fine, so the round screen is not needed for any use around a water environment.

With the rounded screen, images are not in focus underwater.

Sony sells a “Dive Door” which is a flat front screen for the case, which you must buy to be able to use their cameras underwater.
Eg. For the X1000V Action Cams that we have used, we had to buy the AKADDX1 Dive Door Flat front screen to fit onto the waterproof case that came with the camera.
This cost $69 Australian.

Film Underwater With Sony Dive Door 01

However the latest Sony X3000V is usually sold with the MPK-UWH1 waterproof housing that has a Flat Screen Dive Door on it.
It seems that the X3000V uses a different waterpoof housing case to the X1000V, as the X1000V is not listed on the Sony site as being compatible with the MPK-UWH1 housing.
The X1000V Action Cam uses the SPKX1 waterproof housing.

Using Sony Dive Door 02

With the flat screen on you can film both above water and underwater, and so you will find yourself not using the rounded front screen at all in most cases.
We did however use the rounded screen for filming while on a sailing boat, as we could easily wipe off any water splashes that got on it with our T-shirt.

For the X1000V, basically we removed the rounded lens screen front from the standard housing and replaced it with the Flat Screen Dive Door, whenever we were going to use it for Underwater filming.

The following one minute video shows how to remove the Round Screen and fit the Flat Screen Dive Door onto the Underwater Housing.

 
 

Sony Action Cam Settings

The videos we have made so far have all been 1080p HD at 50 fps. We have not tried out 4K filming yet.

The three main settings important for underwater filming are:

1) Use the “Color Mode” = NUTRL Natural colour setting rather than the usual Vivid Setting.

Menu Path: SETUP > COLOR > Use Prev Nxt Buttons to select NUTRL and then press the top of camera Record/Enter button.

2) Set the viewing angle at 120 degrees rather than 170 degrees.

Menu Path: SETUP > ANGLE > Use Prev Nxt Buttons to select 120 and then press the top of camera Record/Enter button.

3) Most importantly make sure the “Water” Scene setting is selected on rather than the Normal setting.

Menu Path: SETUP > SCENE > Use Prev Nxt Buttons to select WATER and then press the top of camera Record/Enter button.

 

Using the Sony Settings Menu on the Action Cam X1000V is slightly painful, because we go down through the menus to one setting, then when we push the top record enter button, we are taken out of the Menus back to the very top level every time.

Once you get used to this annoyance is it not too bad, and once a camera is set up for a shoot we don’t usually have to go back in and change values on the fly.

An alternative solution is to use the Sony Play Memories App on a Mobile Phone to adjust all settings by scrolling down a single screen.

The 3:52 to 5:10 section of the following YouTube video gives some explanation of how to use the Action Cam X1000V Menu System and Settings, including showing the Play Memories App:

 
 

Sony Action Cam Manual

Sony Action Cam Online Guide 03

There is a great Online Help Guide for the Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam at the following link:

Sony Action Cam Online Help Guide

In particular the following section on settings is extremely useful:

Action Cam Settings Details

This Online help guide covers the Sony HDR-AS200V as well as the FDR-X1000V.

 
 

Minor Issues with Dive Door

We encountered three issues: Safe Mode Locking, Cleaning the Dive Door, and Dive Door Condensation.

All three of these are not show stoppers, but you need to be aware of them and know how to deal with them.

When out of the waterproof housing for normal on land filming, the Sony X1000V has a safety lock mode you can flick into safe mode to avoid recording accidentally. This locks the record button in the up position.

However it is essential that the camera is NOT in safe hold anti recording mode before going in the case, because the buttons on top of the case cannot put the camera back into Go Mode.
It is not much fun having to come back out of the water and take the camera out of the case to get the lock mode off!
This seems to be a Sony design flaw as we cannot see how to overcome it or where we are doing anything wrong. Basically there is no recording lock safe mode when using the dive housing.

When you wash the Dive Door out in fresh water after a dive, water gets inside and stuck all around the edges of the Square Dive Door. The water then stays there in tiny clumps and will not evaporate dry. The trick is to flick the dive door vigorously from side to side to move the water to the center where it can dry out. It might take a few repeats to get it all fully dry. Leaving the Dive Door on a table out in the sun certainly helps.

There can also be persistent salt spots that you need to remove after the first drying by repeatedly re-washing the dive door.

It is extremely important to thoroughly soak and wash the Dive Door, the Underwater Case and the Monopod Selfie Stick after using them in Salt Water. We would recommend washing and drying them two or three times before the next dive.

The third and final issue that only happened twice during our entire dive trip was inside the housing case water condensation. This was the trickiest problem where all of a sudden there was lots of condensation inside the dive door. All filmed video comes out very cloudy and blurred if these very small water condensation bubbles are not removed.

What we had to do was very carefully tread water with our flippers at the water surface and hold the Action cam well above the water. Then we carefully unclipped the Dive Door and pointed it at the sun for a minute or two which quickly evaporated away all of the water condensation. We then snapped the dive door back shut on the case and continued our filming.

If we wanted to be a bit more safer, we could return to the boat and do this all safely out of the water.

 
 

Swimming Pool Practice

Sony Monopod Stick 04

We highly recommend that you practice in a swimming pool before trying out your Action Camera out at sea.

Practice both above water and underwater shots, a great shot to practice is the slowly turning around 360 filming shot.

For your amusement here is a one minute Practice Video we made at our Hotel using the Swimming Pool.

 
 

The Selfie Stick

How to Use Sony Monopod 05

It is well worth getting a quality Selfie Stick, that is well made and fully waterproof and will not rust.

The best one to use is the Sony “Action Monopod”, and if you do not believe us then take a look at the following video from 6:15 onwards.

On the Sony Stick, the wrist strap fits well, and it is great having the thick padded rubber handle. The Sony Stick is thick and solid with a standard Tripod screw mount and so other cameras can also be used with it.

One important thing about the stick is that when it extends it is twisted to tighten it into position. Be very careful to just do a small gentle twist, as strong twisting will jam the stick and make it very difficult to undo again.

How to Film Panning with Action Cam 06

Filming Tip: When using the Selfie Stick to film video while moving in a circle, move and pan very slowly to avoid rolling shutter blurring.

 
 

Selfie Stick Angle

How to Film Underwater 07

When we first started filming underwater we held the Monopod stick with the Action Cam on the end of it at a fairly straight angle horizontal to the surface.

However, as shown in the image above, holding the stick straight captures a lot of distorted back reflection from the water surface.

So it is best not to hold the stick horizontal.

How to Film Underwater 08

Instead make sure the Monopod Stick is pointed downwards between 30 and 45 degrees to the water surface.

How to Film Underwater 09

Do not to worry when using a selfie stick about not having your hands available for swimming, as the flippers using stiff leg actions give you plenty of propulsion power, leaving your hands totally free for filming. It is best to look down at 45 degrees because if you tip too far forward water will flow straight down your snorkel.

 
 

How to Snorkel

Snorkeling is very easy if you can already swim and are confident in the water.

If you are not a great swimmer then use a floating pool noodle or a life preserver ring to float around and film with, although the results might not be quite as good as swimming and snorkeling. However your own water safety comes first and should be your greatest consideration.

How to Film Underwater 10

Check out the following seven minute video on How To Snorkel.

Finally don’t touch anything with the camera or your body on a coral reef! Firstly because touching coral can kill the coral, and also do you a serious coral cut injury.

 
 

How to Film Fish

How to Film Fish 11

Fish are easily frightened and often when we encounter them they swim off straight away and out of sight into deeper water.

The best shots have the fish with some coral, and so we need to slowly swim past and then sneak back to where there were lots of fish previously. The fish seem to often come back to where they were within a couple of minutes after we frightened them away. We can float around if the tide is suitable above the reef with our camera going and see what we encounter. The worst thing to do is to swim around quickly all over the place chasing fish.

The following four minute video gives some great tips about how to film fish underwater.

 
 

Water Depth and Tides

How to Film Underwater 12

First of all you need a bright sunny day for filming fish and coral, unless you are scuba diving and have underwater lights.

The tide and currents are very important for both filming and your personal safety.

The ideal is a medium tide where you can safely swim over the top of the reef coral, but also be able to go along the edge of the reef in the deeper water. The most important thing is that you do not want to get stranded on top of coral in shallow water where you might bump and damage the coral or get coral cuts which are very unhealthy for you. We found you can drift gently over coral in very shallow water that is only about 30cm or 1 foot deep but this was by accident and we do not recommend trying it.

In warm salt water you will find that you are naturally very buoyant and floating over the top of the coral will not be a problem. Just relax and gently flip your swim fins with smooth strong strokes using mostly straight legs.

 
 

Coral Cuts and Jelly Fish

As already mentioned don’t touch anything with the camera or your body on a coral reef! Firstly because touching coral can kill the coral, and also do you a serious coral cut injury.

The problem with Coral Cuts is that there are live organisms in the cut and a serious infection can result.

Advice from the Internet is to do the following:

– Clean vigorously (scrub as hard as the pain permits with a toothbrush, and then flush with fresh water as soon as possible after the coral cut.
– If it is stinging then you can rinse it with a form of acetic acid such as vinegar.
– Flush with 1/2 fresh water and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide, and/or treat with Betadine.
– See a Doctor and get Antibiotics.

For more information, check out this article:

How To Treat a Coral Cut

The other hazard that you might encounter snorkeling on the Barrier Reef in Australia is a Jellyfish Sting, especially during Jelly Fish Season.

The best prevention is to wear a light weight “Stinger Suit” that are provided free of charge on most day snorkeling trips.

How to Use a Stinger Suit 13

The suits are made of lightweight loose stretching material, and although they look like a wetsuit they are very comfortable and easy to swim in.

Here is a short two minute video on how to treat Jelly Fish Stings:

As Vinegar is used for treating both Coral Cuts and Jelly Fish Stings it could be very handy to have some with you when going on a snorkelling trip.

 
 

Capturing Still Photos

How to Get Stills from Video 14

We have found that it is far better to capture stills off HD Video, rather than put the Action Cam into camera mode and shoot underwater still shots. The same also applies for any other above water shots from the Action Cam.

The basic method is to simply play the Action Cam HD video on a Laptop Computer and push the Print Screen button to capture a still.

We then take this still into Photoshop, make some basic adjustments, and then save it as a JPG image.

There are often a lot of small dust type particles in the water that all reflect sunlight. This makes images overly bright, as well as making the water slightly cloudy.

Making a few basic Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation adjustments in Photoshop can fix all of these problems.

Check out the following set of Still Images which were all made from Video Print Screen Captures.

Underwater Stills Captured from Video

 
 

Sony Action Cam Videos

Here are some of our videos made with the Sony Action Cam that include underwater footage.

Make sure you click on the HD icon at the bottom right hand corner of the Video Player and watch these in 1080P resolution.

 

This next video contains underwater footage at a remote offshore lagoon, 200km offshore from the Australian Coast.

 

This third and final video was shot both above and below the water entirely on the Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam.

 
 

Exploring the undersea world is a fantastic experience, and even better when it can be captured so easily and superbly using the Sony Action Cam!

Enjoy,
Passy

How to use Filmora

Filmora is an easy to use but very powerful video editor made by Wondershare.

Recently we purchased and tried out the “Wondershare Filmora” Video editor for a combination Music Video / Photo Slideshow project.

It was so much easier than editing in Adobe Premiere and has some great built in effects. These effects would be extremely time consuming to make in Adobe After Effects, but in Filmora they are incorporated into your video with just a couple of simple clicks.

The output H.264 MP4 HD 1920×1080 Quality was sufficiently crisp and clear. The only issue we had was that our sountrack got slightly out of sync with some singing in the video, even though it was perfectly matched when played in the editor. Perhaps some of the effects we added cause some frames to be altered or removed during the rendering process. Our frame rate of the video footage was 25fps, and we set our project also at 25fps but still had the slight syncing issue in the output.

Here is our final Filmora Video Slideshow (click on Settings and watch at 1080p HD for best results).

In this lesson we fully cover Filmora and how it can be used to make videos and slide shows.

 
 

Filmora Overview

Filmora is an editor similar to Windows Movie Maker, but has much better overlay filters, titles, and transitions than other software.

The screen layout of the editor looks like this:

How to Use Filmora 01
(Click Image to view full size)

Here is a two and a half minute video that gives a quick overview of Filmora.

 
 

Filmora User Guide

How to Use Filmora 02

Filmora comes with a comprehensive Online User Guide that includes witten text, screen shots, and how to videos.

The online User Guide can be accessed at this link:

Filmora Online User Guide

We found the following video to be useful for learning how to get started with Filmora:

The above video shows how to do picture in picture as well as screen recording and titles, filters, and transitions.

Typical of Filmora everything is very simple and easy to do and looks great.

 
 

Filmora for Slide Shows

One of the big reasons that Filmora is great for making Photo Slideshows is because it is so easy to add the “Ken Burns Effect” for custom panning and zooming.

When we right click on our photo or video in the timeline, and choose crop and zoom, we are presented with an easy to use panel.

How to Use Filmora 03
(Click Image to view full size)

Basically just click on the interior “End” crop and then move and shrink it to the position you wish to zoom into. It could not be any easier and makes slide shows look very professional.

It is all clearly explained step by step in the Online User Guide here:

How to Ken Burns Pan and Zoom

To get the best quality slide show result we need to constrain crop our images in Photoshop to be exactly 1920×1080 pixels in size, and then save them as a high quality full JPG.

This means that when we put them into our Filmora timeline they are an exact fit. So on rendering they should not require any potential resizing that could affect their quality.

The 1920×1080 pixels sizing works fine for horizontal 16:9 ratio Landscape images, but what do we do about vertical Portrait images that we want to put into our Slide Show?

For Portrait images we used Photoshop and layers to make our own background with two white rectangles on it that become picture frames when we place portrait images onto them.

Eg. For Portrait images we need to make our own two image slide that is 1920×1080 pixels in size like this one:

How to Use Filmora for Slide Shows
(Click Image to view full size)

 
 

How to Color Grade in Filmora

Colour Grading is more applicable to videos than slide shows and is easily done in Filmora.

Colour Grading includes adjusting Colour, Brightness, Contrast, Colour specific Hue Saturation, and so on.

Filmora makes it very easy by having a series of Preset “LUTS” to choose from which can then be modified to taste. We access the artist paint palette icon above the timeline to get to these. We can also just start making our own colour grading from scratch, and we can save any settings we do as our own permanent presets.

A “LUT” is a “Look Up Table” for color correction, but we can think of it as just a preset effect that gives a certain look to the video clip, such as black and white, vintage old school, summer haze, etc. So if we choose a “LUT” called “Cool Blue” is will make our whole scene look cool and blue tinged like when someone is standing in shaded light.

The following video shows exactly how to do Colour Grading in Filmora.

 
 

Exporting Filmora Video

Filmora offers a vast variety of output formats for our final video product.

As for most video destined for the web, the best output format is H.264 MP4 video in HD at 1080p that is 1920×1080 pixels in size.

Here are the settings that we used to Export our Music Slideshow Video:

How to Use Filmora 04
(Click Image to view full size)

 
 

Putting Images On Top

The following video shows how you can overlay your own clear background PNGs over the top of a slide or video in Filmora.

This next video shows how you can make an on top image move around the screen, like a PowerPoint fly in type title:

 
 

Filmora Effects Packs

How to Use Filmora for Photos

Filmora comes at a cheap purchase price but is a lot more versatile if additional Effects Packs are purchased.

Most of these are reasonably priced at $9.99 each. So far we have purchased the “Retro 80’s” and “Fashion” effects packs.

The following video gives an overview of Filmora Effects Packs:

The Filmora Effects Store is located at the link below:

Filmora Video Effects Store

Something we have not quite figured out is that not all of the available packs seem to be shown on the official Filmora Effects page, and there are two tabs on the page that can be clicked to list effects.

For example, we only found the “Retro 80’s” pack by going to the “Fashion” pack, where the “Retro 80’s” pack then came up as a suggested addition.

Possibly some packs are seasonal, and so something like a Valentines Day pack is perhaps only available around Valentines Day time of the year.

 
 

Filmora You Tube Channel

Filmora has a great YouTube channel that has over 120 videos to help us with everything we need to know about the product.

How to Use Filmora for Making Slide Shows
(Click Image to view full size)

Click the link below to go to the official Filmora YouTube channel:

Filmora YouTube Channel

 
 

Media Resources Channel

Gabrielle Marie has a YouTube Channel called “Editing Hacks” with all sorts of useful things that can be made and done in Pic Monkey and Filmora like this video inside a picture “End Slate” for a project:

Check out her complete YouTube channel here:

Editing Hacks YouTube Channel

 
 

Getting Filmora

Filmora is available for Windows PC, Apple Mac, and Mobile devices.

Software is available as a free trial, but the free trial output videos will have a large watermark across the middle of them.

Filmora can also be purchased with a number of packages on offer including yearly subscription, lifetime copy, lifetime multi user, personal, business, and education.

Find out more at the Filmora Website:

Purchase or Trial Filmora

 
 

Filmora Community

How to make slide shows with Filmora

Joining the community is free and gives access to additional tutorials and information.

These tutorials cover specialised video making and developing You Tube channels.

Coming to the community soon will be the opportunity for people to submit videos to competitions and write blog posts to the community blog.

 
 

Conclusion

We have been loooking for a Slideshow Maker for our still images, particularly for our music photos.

We have found Adobe Premiere and After Effects to be far too complicated for this task, and have been fortunate to get onto Wondershare Filmora.

Filmora is simple to use, has great special effects, and produces quality HD output. Going forward it also has 4K video capacity. It is at a great price point, and people can elect to buy it outright, rather than have to pay an ongoing subscription.

Filmora has great video editing processing as well, and so we can use it for simple movie projects that do not require several layers for multiple camera footage.

Our current plan is to develop a new Product Line for Photos By Passy that involves offering clients Video Slideshows made with Filmora, as well as the usual set of still shots.

Our vision is that this will produce additional online materials for our clients, diversify our product offerings, and set us apart from the competition. Filmora will be with us at every step along this journey.

With its amazing price, and ease of use, we recommend it to all photographers as the go to tool for basic video work and Slide Show presentations.

Click the link below to trial and/or purchase Filmora today:

Purchase or Trial Filmora

Enjoy,
Passy

How To Make a Live Promo

In this lesson we look at what needs to be done to make a good Live Music Promo for a band.

If you think that making a Promo Video for a Band is a quick and easy way to generate better income than still shots, then think again!

Drawing on our experiences working with a number of bands, we have found that making a Live Promo is a lot harder than you would think. There are a surprising number of challenges that arise when making a Music Promo Video.

One significant challenge is that you as the Video Maker, and the Band as the Performing Artists, need to make sure everyone is on the same page for the duration of the project.

We have already examined this challenge in a previous lesson which can be found at the link below:

How to Get on the Same Page as Your Client

In this current lesson we are going to look at some other challenges we have found when making Live Music Promo Videos.

The purpose of this lesson is not to criticise any of the bands we have done video work for, but rather to share some of our experiences from the learning curve we have travelled along while making Live Music Promo Videos.

Our primary objective is to share what has happened along our journey, and help people who are thinking about making a Live Music Promo Video.

 
 

The Promoter

It becomes very easy to forget about who the final end product is being made for.

The video is being made for a Promoter or Venue Owner to View.

This person is someone who is going to have a quick look at the Promo to answer these basic questions about the Band they are considering offering paid employment to:

1) Do they present professionally?
2) Do they sound okay?
3) Are they playing popular songs?
4) Is there a crowd there paying an admission price and having a good time?
5) Is alcohol being consumed by patrons and venue profit being generated?
6) What events does the band look suitable for: Pub Gigs, Corporate Functions, Charity Events, Outdoor Festivals, etc.

Promoters want to hear a few popular hit songs played well.

Promoters are not going to be fussed if there is audience background noise in the sound track. In fact it adds to the authenticity of the video.

Promoters are not going to check the video second by second to see that a cymbal got hit, but they did not hear a cymbal in the audio track.

They are not going to be critically judging video quality and technical perfection to see if they would employ the videographer for a job.

By having a quick look at a live audio promo video, the Promoter can quickly see what the band are really like in a live situation.

They can see that the band is the “real deal” and not just a set of nice Promo Photographs and studio recorded Sound Cloud samples.

The Promo Video is an authentic live performance, and not just a bunch of glossy marketing.

For the Band it seems it’s often very hard to envisage these video product requirements….

but they need to step away and put themselves in the shoes of a Promoter:

someone who just needs a quick confirmation that this band is suitable to give some work to.

 

We believe the following “Beach Boys Show” video (not made by PBP) is a great example of what a Band Promo Video should be:

(Near the very end of this lesson there are some more example videos).

 
 

The Band / Client

Often the Band does not understand that a Promo Video needs to be made OF them, and not FOR them.

The band looks at the process and thinks this is a great opportunity for them to Produce, Direct, and Star in their own great glorified rock star video of what they think are plenty of their best songs.

The band will want to have their whole set filmed, and want to include obscure songs that are their personal favorites, and often have no idea in their mind at all about the needs of the Promoter.

The Promoter is usually a busy person who only has time to watch a short 1 to 3 minute Promo, containing 3 or 4 recognisable songs.

They do not have time to sit back and watch an epic fanfare of obscure melodies that are the band’s personal faves.

We have found this to be one of the biggest challenges: Many Bands do not understand or want to follow the Design Brief of a Short Promo Video.

 
 

Band Stage Craft

Another issue we have found while making Live Music Videos is that Band Members can exhibit very poor stage craft which totally ruins whole sections of video footage.

By this we mean people moving mic stands around during the video, drinking from cans of beer, having casual conversations during songs, turning their backs to the crowd during songs to twiddle knobs on amplifiers, fiddling around with ipads, and so on and so on.

There also needs to be some sections that are filmed where there is audience connection and involvement, eg. typically the hands clapping sing along type event during one or two of the target filmed songs.

A really significant problem has been that Band Members often seem to be reluctant to engage with the camera and put on a show for the video footage.

It is usually something totally new for them, and is probably quite fair enough that they do not know what to do when the camera is on them.

To counteract these problems we have developed an online Document all about Stage Craft that we insist Bands read through thoroughly prior to the show.

You can check out this document at the following link:

Tips for Getting a Great Live Performance Video

Great Stage Craft and camera interaction makes all the difference as you can see in this still shot from one of our Promo Videos:

How to make a LIve Music Promo Video 01

 
 

The Videographer

The Band’s needs and the Videographer’s needs must be clearly understood at the outset.

To achieve this it is essential to use a CHECKLIST throughout the entire Production from Conception through to Online Product Delivery.

The Main parts of the checklist need to be as follows:

1) Establishing all Client Needs Before Starting the Project

2) Making Clients Aware of Product Limitations

3) Supplying a List of Videographer Needs to the Client

4) Agreement on Delivery and Distribution of Final Products

The “Photos By Passy Video Check List” ended up being 13 pages long, and it can be viewed at the link below:

Photos By Passy Video Project Checklist

We also recommend that you take the time to thoroughly go through our previous lesson on “Getting on the Same Page as Your Client”:

How to Get on the Same Page as Your Client

 

Limiting the number of filmed songs is the Videographer’s first task prior to the gig/performance.

As discussed previously the Band will probably want the whole 2 to 3 hour show filmed, which is totally not feasible.

The Band needs to be asked to supply a set list with 6 to 8 songs targeted for filming.

There also needs to be a one song gap between each targeted song to ensure all cameras have enough time to write to SD cards, and be reset.

This one song gap requirement is often a challenge for the Band, especially if they have pre-programmed sequencing or effects in their set.

 

After filming, and going through the Gigabytes of Video from all the cameras, selecting the “Best” 3 or 4 songs is the Videographer’s next big job.

Factors to consider when making this selection are which songs sound best, which ones have the best footage, which ones have great audience involvement, which ones have great stage craft and camera interaction, and so on.

Usually when you now present the Band with the short list of 3 or 4 songs, the Band will immediately want to know in detail why all of the other targetted songs did not make the cut.

This is fair enough, when you play in a band and only hear yourself and a bit of on stage foldback, you have no idea what the Band actually sounds like.

Some of those other songs could have been absolute rocking masterpieces, and so why were they dropped?

What we have found has to be done is to make a quick rough “lowlights” video of the rejected songs that showcases all of the issues in them. This video needs to be set to “Private” and the hidden link given to the Band so they can view these rejected songs.

An accompanying email detailing all of the issues also needs to be sent to the Band contact person.

(Pain in the neck extra work, but it needs to be done).

The alternative would be to get together with the band in person and go through all of the footage with them.

This is usually not do-able due to day job commitments and geographic dispersion of band members.

It is also probably more time consuming to you as the Videographer, and remember every hour spent on the job lowers your hourly pay rate and is time away from your normal life.

 

From the confirmed short list, the Videographer now makes Version 1 of the Promo.

The first challenge that usually arises now involve the Band being overly critical and concerned about the slightest musical mistakes and/or the most tiny non-synchronisation of moving sound and image.

On balance a small section actually looks and sounds great, but from the Band’s viewpoint it is an absolute catastrophe of epic proportions and must be immediately removed.

These are the type of microscopic items that a Promoter would not be overly concerned with, if indeed they even noticed at all that they were there.

Because the Band is the paying customer you will probably have to remove the sections, even if it tragically subtracts some great footage from the Project.

The next thing a Band will usually do is want to change the footage proportions in the Promo, eg. they will typically want 90% or more of them, and 10% or even 0% of the Audience.

This is a disaster for the Promo Video’s effectiveness. The Promoter must see clearly that there is a crowd there having a great time, and so this footage cannot be removed.

The next thing that the Band might complain about is the Live Audio, and the fact that crowd noise can be heard in the soundtrack.

They will despair and wish that the audio can be replaced with studio recordings or clean and sterile studio remixed desk feeds.

Well if you take out the Live Authentic Sound, then we are basically back to the package of Promo Photos and Studio Sound Cloud Samples!

Basically we might as well forget about having a Live Music Video done at all!

Technically of course it is possible with a skilled band to take a Studio Track and use it for 80% of the Soundtrack and then mix in about 10% to 20% live sound. This does create a “Live” sounding video. We have only ever done this on one project, and it worked out well because the sound in the small venue where we filmed was boomy and full of echo and noise.

However in the majority of cases a Studio + Live Mix is not an authentic representation of the Band as a live performing act.

 

The next typical obstacle is for the Videographer to fight very hard to have the Promo total duration be only 1 to 3 minutes long.

Often a Band will NOT want to align with having a Promo that is a maximum of 3 minutes in duration.

They will typically want longer segments of the songs that are included, and then want to add extra songs to the current end of the Promo.

Very soon the Promo will become 4 to 5 minutes in duration or even longer.

As the Videographer you must be determined at all times to make a SHORT Promo that satisfies the needs of the Promoter.

However often you will be stifled by the Band wanting to make their own rock star extended highlights video that has way too much content. This extended content is also often the wrong type of content.

 

So what do you do at the end of the day as the Videographer?

As the Band is paying you for the work, you often have to go against what is really needed and make an off-topic long duration video.

 
 

Filming a Live Promo

You need to set up one camera for a wide angle shot, a few rows back in the middle of the crowd, to have the crowd in the foreground.

This is the position that you also do the sound recording from, using stereo microphones set at a wide angle of 120 degrees.

This wide angle camera needs to be on a very tall Monopod. Tall Monopods are not easy to find, but Benro makes a good one that is about 190cm high.

You then need to have at least one other camera roaming around and filming close ups from the area in front of the stage.

This is so that you can have a wide angle long shot and then “cut in” to a close up, and then back out again.

Make sure that the wide angle camera records whole songs, so that you always have some wide angle footage to fall back on if none of your other close up camera shots are any good during a section of a song.

Currently at Photos By Passy we are using a five camera setup as shown in the following diagram:

How to make a Music Promo Video 02
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Cameras 1 and 2 are hand held and rove around the front of the stage filming close ups, and crowd interaction (while making sure not to film each other at all).

The footage needs to have space above people’s heads to that it can be image stabilised later in Adobe Premiere without decapitating anyone!

The Camera 1 and 2 footage also needs to contain as little zooming in and out as possible.

The operators of Cameras 1 and 2 also wear a Sony wrist band remote control to turn on and off the two stage mounted Sony Action cams.

Here is our current full Equipment List for a live video job:

How to make a Music Promo Video 03
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 
 

Editing the Promo

How to make a Live Music Video 04
(Click Image to View Full Size)

You would think that editing the Promo would be fairly straight forward, pick the best footage from the best of the target songs that the band nominated for filming, and then put this together into snippets (probably choruses) for 3 or 4 songs with a total video duation of around two and a half minutes.

Well it would be that simple until the band gets involved at the review of the first version of the video, with often 20 or more questions about the video and the content that has been included.

The only way to keep track of all of these items is to get them in writing via email from the Band and start an “Action Items Log”.

A portion of a typical Action Items Log is shown below.

How to make a Music Video 05
(Click Image to View Full Size)

These example issues are fairly typical, and pretty soon a nice tight 1 or 2 minute Promo is blown out into a 3 to 5 minute Highlights Video.

The Band takes over Producing, Directing, and Starring in their own epic mini movie.

And this is where being the Videographer and Editor of a Promo Video becomes very frustrating.

It is difficult and time consuming to make all these changes, and as you do this the end product moves further and further away from being a short and sharp Promo Video suitable for its primary audience of Promoters and Venue Operators.

But the Band as the paying customer is of course always right.

 
 

Further Reading

The following articles on the Internet contain some useful material.

How To Shoot a Music Video

How to Shoot a Live Music Performance

 
 

Sample Promo Videos

First up are a couple of Promo Videos that we have made at PBP.

They are reasonably good but not quite as good in selected content as we would have liked them to be.

 

 

 

Here are some YouTube Promo videos done by other people.

Ramble Tamble Credence Promo (Short)

A very professionally produced video that showcases the band superbly.

Australian Queen Show Promo

This is a great tight one minute Promo that gets the message across nicely and the audio track is authentic of their live sound.

Full Swing Band

The Interview at the start is a great idea, but a litle bit too long. The rest of the video is well edited and presents the band well.

Diamonds Cover Band

This is a very professionally made Promo, but with its pristine studio recorded audio, and super clean shots, it does not really show the band in an authentic live situation.

Shine Covers Band

This promo is good but too long in duration and very busy at times with a lot of fast cuts. It has a great collection of very well edited shots that market the band as a major showcase act. However it is apparent that the sound is not live and at times it sounds very sanitised.

 
 

Final Thoughts / Solutions

The purpose of this article has not been to “Trash Talk” any of the bands we have done video work for, but rather to share some of our experiences with any people who are thinking about being involved with the making of a Live Music Promo Video.

On these types of projects we have often found it extremely difficult to get everyone on the same page and work to a sensible brief for the Short Promo.

This has now happened on a number of occasions where we have worked with various performers.

For these reasons we will not be actively marketing Promo Videos as part of our regular product line at PBP Photos By Passy.

We are happy to make a live video OF a Band, but we intend to move away from making Live Videos FOR Bands.

 

But rather than just present all of these challenges, it would be nice to have some solutions.

The main solution we see it is to have a small set of great standard Promo Videos that we can show to prospective clients.

They then need to choose which of these sample videos they like best, and the aim is to make a video very similar to that one.

Then we need to make sure that the client fully understands and agrees to the design brief for the project:

1) Promo Video is short and sharp – 1 to 3 minutes total duration
2) Band presents professionally with great Stage Craft and band members interact with the camera
3) Band sounds okay and it is clearly noticeable that the audio tracks are recorded totally live
4) Band is playing immediately recognisable sections of 3 or 4 popular songs
5) A crowd is clearly visible and they appear to be having a great time
6) Alcohol is being consumed by patrons and venue profit is being generated
7) The band looks suitable for: Pub Gigs, Corporate Functions, Charity Events, Outdoor Festivals, etc.

Finally it is fundamental that the Band understands that a Promo Video is being made OF the Band, and not FOR the Band.

The Band will not get to Produce or Direct their own self indulgent rock star video of epic proportions, instead they will need to stay true to the up-front agreed Design Brief.

So in future if we get a Music Client who seems have the right attitude and is willing to work to the above seven point design brief, then we will definitely be able to help them out with a great Live Promo Video!

Enjoy,
Passy

Getting on the Same Page

An essential part of producing photos and videos for clients is to understand their needs and expectations, so they end up with a Media Product they really love.

Communication and artistic vision is often a tough path to navigate, so making sure everyone is on the same page at the start of a Photo or Video Project is vitally important.

 
 

Clients and Photo Projects

Photo Projects do not seem to be nearly as troublesome as Live Video Projects. Often we can Photoshop individual images to improve them, or instantly remove them if the client is not happy with some of the images.

The only problems we have encountered thus far with Photos was one issue with a singer where he did not like his mouth open near the microphone in pictures because he thought it looked like he was about to perform a sex act on the microphone!

The only other issue we have had were on some Band Promo Shots, where we produced photos of Band Members smiling and having a good time, but they really wanted a far more serious look with nobody smiling.

To solve these “not on the same page” problems with Photos, we ask prospective clients to view similar themed Photo Galleries we have made for other clients.

We also often put together a Pinterest Board of Images so that they can look at it and tell us what they like.

For example this Pinterest Board:

Band Promo Shots on Pinterest

 
 

Clients and Live Video Projects

Making a Production Video is far more complicated and time consuming than taking some still photos of a show, or holding up an iphone and pressing record. There is no quick-fixing of Videos with Photoshop, and it is difficult to remove or crop many video sections.

It is vitally important to fully understand the Clients Needs and their Desired End Products before the Project commences.

For Example, here is a video we made for a Client which we thought was a really good product, and captured a typical live performance.

However, there were a number of aspects of this Production that the Band were not happy with.

These were as follows:

1) Video Soundtrack – They believe we “promised to get them a multi-track desk feed from the venue and remix it into the video soundtrack”. They felt cheated when this did not happen, and the sound track contained only live sound with crowd noise evident.

2) Fonts Used – They loved the font we used for the band member identification, but they hated the font we used for the “catch phrases” that displayed as the songs played. They said the font did not fit in with their branding, and was inconsistent with the rest of the video.

3) Breaks in the Set List between Video Recorded Songs – They were not happy that we could not record songs back to back, due to SD Card writing limitations.

4) Footage Quality Changes between Wide Angle, Drum Cam, and Close Ups – They did not like how the wide angle footage looks grainy and less sharp than the close up shots. They believed it interfered with flow and continuity. They also did not like that the Drum Cam footage was not as clear as full lighting shots of the singer.

5) Not Being Up Front about OUR NEEDS – They were annoyed that we were not up front from the beginning about our needs during the project: eg. one song break between targeted songs, one point of contact with the band, fast decision making and turn-around times.

6) Too Much Footage of Audience Singing – They were not happy with the “Rain” song that featured a lot of audience singing. In their opinion this made out like the band was too lazy or incompetent to sing the song themselves.

7) Release of Videos to the Internet – They were really annoyed that we uploaded what they believe were not finally approved videos to YouTube. A music venue also linked to one of these videos on the venue’s Facebook page. The band believed that the whole marketing image of the band was compromised by such activities.

 

All of the above issues resulted because there was not enough clear communication between the Team at PBP and the Band throughout all stages of the Project.

 

Video Production Check List

To overcome these types of issues in the future, Photos By Passy has developed a comprehensive Video Project “Check List” to make sure “everyone starts on the same page” and the project runs smoothly to a happy completion.

The Main parts of this checklist are as follows:

1) Establishing all Client Needs Before Starting the Project

2) Making Clients Aware of Product Limitations

3) Supplying a List of Our Needs to the Client

4) Agreement on Delivery and Distribution of Final Products

 

The full Check List ended up being 13 pages long, and it can be viewed at the link below:

Photos By Passy Video Project Checklist

By using this Video “Check List” for all of our upcoming Live Music Video Projects we are confident that Clients will only engage us if our type of Product is what they really want. Furthermore, when engaged for a Live Music Video Project, we will be able to meet all of their needs and expectations.

There will be no controversy, confusion, or misunderstandings, and the Project will be one where all stakeholders are happy with the final outcomes.

Enjoy,
Passy

AFD Highlights Video

At Photos By Passy we create Video Productions as well as Event Photos.

For the production below we did a two camera shoot of the fabulous Guns N Roses Tribute Band “Appetite for Destruction”, and then edited it up into a highlights video for the band to use for Promotional Purposes.

 

How will promoters, club owners, and fans know what to expect from a live performance without actually seeing your band “live”?

A handheld iPhone or camcorder video will give them an idea.
But will it make you stand out from all the other bands trying to get their foot in the door and secure work at well paid events?

Photos By Passy offers a variety of Video Packages that help bands market themselves and establish their online video presence.

We aim to create the best coverage possible for the band and venue. This includes adding additional camera operators and detailed post processing to make sure your live performance looks its best.

Find out details of our Video Production Packages at the following link:

Photos By Passy Video Productions

Enjoy,
Passy