Student Recording Advice
My son occasionally has to record videos of repertoire for local competitions and auditions. I was wondering if people had suggestions for video recording equipment. We just did a session this week and purchased a new Sony Handycam (mid-level model) and the quality was appalling. Video was blurry, audio had a constant whirring sound throughout the video, audio seemed to suppress dynamics. I did a backup recording of the session with my (older) iPhone and both video and audio were significantly better, which seems kind of shocking to me. I'm not sure if the camera was defective or that is just how cameras are these days unless you spend $2000 on one.
What do others do for these types of recordings? While we have a recording engineer his program works with, it ends up being about $500 a pop once you add up his fees, hall rental, accompanist, piano tuning, etc. Obviously, we can't usually do that unless it is for something major that requires professional level recording, and my son isn't really doing that level of competitions yet.
Thanks in advance.
I'd suggest returning the Handycam if you can.
I have a Sony Handycam, a couple of years old. It does a decent job, focuses fine, no extraneous whirrs. I mean, there are no moving parts, so there is no reason for there to be whirring of any kind. I think you have a defective unit or are doing something odd with it. Yes, separate microphones are a fine thing, many options there.
Or along similar lines you can buy a Zoom audio recorder and sync the audio to the video from your iPhone in a video editor, but it's more work.
It seems you might be on a similar path to my son who is now a Senior in high school. He has made many recordings and we invested in equipment a few years ago. We use a digital SLR with external mics. I record the audio with Audacity into my computer and then stitch the video and audio together with FinalCut pro. We have also added LED lights to the mix.
We are returning the Sony for a full refund -- Sony thinks it is defective. I will look into the options described. Thank you for the feedback!
Steve - can you override 'volume compensation'(dynamic range compression) with that system? Most recording soft/hardware have it built in and the result is flat-dynamics, most infuriating when you've been expressing your heart out!
Elise - there is some dynamic variety. Our equipment is not "pro" enough to make a huge difference. Here is a recent recording that he made back in May. I just listened again and there is definitely some dynamic contrast - not as much as it seemed when we were in the room.
I have an older Handycam that I've used for music videos of my kids (including videos for college) and it was fine for that. Whatever you use it's helpful to mount it on a tripod. What I've found is that the room you record in is more important than the gear.
If Steve is putting audio and video together in Final Cut Pro (fancy :-), any sort of compression depends on his audio interface and not the camera, which like you say Elise often has this. And I agree with Paul, a good room makes a big difference, like in the very nice video that Steve linked.
That's nice playing in that Shostakovich!
@Steve Hancock your setup sounds really good! We have many years (my son is only 14) so hopefully by the time we get to prescreens we will have it down, though I will likely have the recording engineer do his prescreens. He has a million dollars worth of fancy equipment!
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