poppy field

Having spent the best part of 40 years looking through a viewfinder of some sort, sitting in front of a computer editing photos or videos, producing websites and managing social media accounts, it’s a very strange feeling to now say when asked, “I’m retired".

Despite no longer taking on commercial paid work, it’s virtually impossible to suddenly stop what you’ve been doing for the best part of your working life so, for the past 24 months I’ve been taking on work on a ‘pro-bono’ basis for church, charity or voluntary organisations. I hope that my experience, skills and equipment can now be put to good use to those who perhaps, don’t have the budget or funding to produce what they want or need for their media requirements.

The following 'blog' items are a mixture, some from when I was working commercially and now, some new items that might be of interest.

A Band shoot...

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Over the past 20 years or so we’ve been asked to shoot a few artist / band songs, these usually involved shooting several takes in different locations and using a CD boom box to play the song out for lip syncing, then in the edit, use the CD as the main audio track to sync to the video using the recorded audio, then drop the camera recorded audio for the final video output.

During the Covid-19 pandemic I’ve been editing a weekly Church service, the church band members would record their individual pieces using a supplied audio track, usually on a phone in their living room these would be edited by someone from the church into a single video and sent to me as a finished piece to be edited into the YouTube service, however the band members had asked that as lockdown had somewhat eased locally, if it would be possible to do a ’socially distanced’ shoot at the Chapel / Community Centre.

A few emails later and the shoot was set for a Saturday afternoon, I’d planned on two main cameras, one on a locked off wide and adding an iPhone as a second safety and a tiny Action Cam as a rear camera. I’d spoken to the sound guy and he could give me a master out feed into one channel of my main camera, I’d also record some ambient for atmos.

The shoot went reasonably well and we shot 5 songs / hymns, back in the edit suite I checked the footage then loaded the first song into FCPX and used Multicam, Although I’d used it a couple of times previously, it did take a few attempts to get it right. The main problem I found was the limiting factors of the audio in FCPX, I’d used FCP 7 for over 15 years and the audio was a breeze to master, FCPX wants to use stereo or dual mono and is not as easy to get to grips with once laid down, I also found the limitations of using a single ‘sent mixer track’ and not being able to balance it out to individual singers.

Many times over the past few years I’d considered buying a Tascam DR-70D to be able to record 4 sources to SD card for editing in Multicam later and it would probably have helped with this shoot. Later that night I was browsing Facebook Marketplace (as you do!) and spotted a Zoom R24 for £210, this offered 8 inputs recording to individual files on SD card, I thought this would be ideal for any further band shoots at the Chapel so I contacted the seller and bought it.

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I explained what I’d bought to the sound desk guy, he told me it would be necessary to make up some special leads to be able to use the Inserts from his mixer and offered to make them up. A few days later he came round to check the leads with one of my mixers, they worked perfectly with the Zoom R24. Now, on the next shoot I can take up to 8 individual sources from his mixer and record to SD card to add to the Multicam in FCPX and then balance them individually.

Roll on the shoot for the Christmas Carols…..

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