In this weeks ‘The Recording Diarys’ I’ll be talking about a recording I did at the start of August with good friends of mine ‘The Barker Boys’. The BBs are a father and son duo with the latter being one of my old band mates from Indie Rock band Maine Street back in the early naughties. He was the drummer and an excellent one at that but he also has a fine set of pipes on him as does his dad Geoff who is also a great guitarist, all round good guy and BBC DJ.
The Gig took place at The Wight Bear, a brilliant micro pub in Southbourne Dorset run by Geoff’s daughter and Sean’s sister Nicola along with her husband Dave. When I walked in at first glance I knew it was visually going to look good on film, nice warm lighting, some great decor and just a nice environment for an intimate acoustic gig. As well as recording this one I helped out with the sound, if it’s an acoustic act I have no problem in doing this as a good sound usually means a good performance which means better footage
Sean and Geoff are seasoned pros anyway so the sound check was fairly straight forward, we were keeping it nice and chilled anyway so it was just two guitars & 2 vox, quick run through of a couple of tracks and job done really. Whilst we were doing the sound check I got my cameras out and shot a bit of footage just to get used to the lighting. It was still daylight when we did this so I knew it would change later on but the blinds were down so I could get a rough idea. It also meant I could get close up to the BBs which I may not be able to do later. It also gave me the chance to get some more natural shots of them chatting and setting up which I could use as cut aways in the edits possibly
Once the sound check was done I got the rest of my gear ready. I was multitrack recording this gig as well as video so I made sure this was all recording properly and then we were all set. My main issue was that I may not be able to put a tripod anywhere at the back of the room for a wide-angle shot as there would be people milling around and I didn’t want to get in the way. Part of this job is making sure you don’t affect the environments you are working in so everyone is happy for you to be there. I decided the best course of action would be to stand towards the back holding a collapsed tripod up above peoples head to get the wide angled shot so it would just be a case of standing really still!
I set up another camera right of stage pointing across from Geoff to Sean so I had two nice angles of both of them. We decided to concentrate on 5 of their tracks 4 of which were at the start and one at the end so I only had to stand for the wide-angle for the first 4 tracks. Sean’s cousin Robbie was also taking som close up footage so that was my three cameras sorted
The gig started to a busy pub and a really nice vibe. The BArker Boys are local favourites and it always helps to have an enthusiastic crowd for a live shoot, it means a better performance for the artist and better crowd footage for the video. The BBs play a mixture of modern-day tracks through to 60s classics so they are a real sing along act which is perfect for what we were trying to capture. The Wight Bear had a lovely set of warm lighting with a nice old-school floor lamp positioned in between Sean and Geoff. The overall glow of the room was nice and warm but not to dark so I didn’t really struggle too much with low lighting issues
Once I had recorded the first four tracks I was then free to get roaming cut-away shots of the crowd and the band from more interesting angles. This is where you can get more artistic with the shots and mix them in with the wide angles to make the video more interesting. This is where you also capture spontaneity, the bearded man singing into the camera worked great, the impromptu dancing gave me some great cut-away shots. I made sure I was ready for the last track so I could get the wide angles ready again for the final track for the video
So i then had all my footage, a great night was had by all and the Barker Boys had come and conquered but I still needed to edit the footage together. I began by editing the music first of all. I imported the tracks into Pro Tools and cleaned up the audio, added some EQ and Compression, brought out the guitars, added some subtle reverb and made it sound all nice (technical term). I then chose which parts of the tracks to comp for the edit and edited together a 4 – 5 minute comp for the video
I then went to the video, imported all the files and looked at which shots I could use. A lot of the roaming shots I dismissed straight away due to bad positioning, shakiness, bad light or just general naffness (another technical term) & that’s why you take as much footage as you can so you have options. I synced all the video I was happy with to the audio and chose which angles to use with the audio in the timeline. Once I had comped my video and was happy with the shots I added some transitions where needed, some text and a bit of colour correction and exported the final edit (below)
I showed it to the Barker Boys and here’s what Sean had to say about the recording experience:
“Neil was really great to work with. You can tell straight away that he has the experience of having been up on the stage as a performer so just seems to “get” what we needed. Our sound check was the quickest we’ve ever had to, as with Neil’s direction, we were able to get the sound we needed for the night’s performance. When it came gig-time, it was like Neil wasn’t there – But not in a “Hey, where’s the sound guy?!” kinda way. But instead as in “everything sounds great and we don’t need to worry as we know Neil’s got our back”. Not only was Neil sound engineering our gig and recording the audio, but also he was filming for a promotional video. I know nothing about video camera equipment but his gear looked good and the quality of the end product was even better than we could have hoped for. Normally, when someone says “I’ll film ya gig” you end up with some awful thing that you never want to see again, let alone show to anyone else… Not with Neil’s work. We were absolutely knocked out with what he did. The angles of filming, the subtle touches to the editing to bring in elements of the performance all together, and of course – the cracking sound mix meant we have a video that we are super proud of and are distributing as many places as we can. Thanks Neil. You are bloody good at what you do and we wish you all the best in the future”
Praise indeed, I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, if you would like a similar recording done please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my via the website, thanks for reading
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