Following on from the last post; Why Video Recording Your Scratching Can Help You Improve, this post covers how you can step up your video recording quality.
Why Produce Higher Quality Scratch Videos?
If you want to start sharing your scratch videos, it really helps to make them of a good quality, to make it easy for your audience or potential reviewers / scratch mentors to watch and see whats happening.
As someone that gets asked to watch and feedback on scratch videos frequently, it can be a really difficult and frustrating task to review when you can’t see or hear whats going on!
I want to help you make better videos for both your and your audiences benefit.
School of Scratch Student, Sunny “SuckerTash“, has produced this lighthearted, entertaining and highly informative set of videos on how to produce high quality scratch videos.
Sunny has a background in professional TV broadcast production that we can benefit from, and I’m very grateful that he is sharing his knowledge with us.
I’ve included a written summary underneath each video, together with links to equipment and software mentioned to reinforce the video content.
Part 1 – Equipment & Setup
Key take away:
Record your audio and video separately then edit them together later, for the highest quality results possible.
- Industry Insider Info: you can get away with lower quality visuals if the sound is high quality.
- Scratching sounds bad when you use any built in camera mic to record your speakers.
- A built in camera mic recording is used is for reference only.
- Built in mics are normally low quality and pick up the room ambience especially fader clicks.
- Sometimes the fader clicks are louder than the scratch routine audio – Not good!
- Avoid relying on the camera mic!
- Industry Pro Tip: Treat the audio and video as 2 separately recorded elements that you can edit together later.
- Sound recording options:
- Outboard audio device / sound recorder e.g. Roland R26.
- Line in directly into your computer.
- DVS. Instructions for recording with DVS: Serato & Traktor.
- Some cameras like the GoPro – have a direct audio input 1/8 inch mini jack.
- Use the line in audio to your camera if available and use that as a reference track to sync and match up the higher quality audio to.
- Industry term: HOT = the audio signal level is high / clipping – the levels are hitting the red.
- Set the right audio levels to avoid unusable audio, frustration and disappointment.
- Performance Anxiety / Red Button Syndrome: To overcome recording nerves, record often to get used to it and improve.
- Make it easy to record – the easier it is to record, the more you will do it, so keep your setup simple.
- Simplify your workflow!
- Hit record on your camera and sound recorder and away you go.
- Leave everything setup if you can.
Standalone / Outboard Sound Recorders
- Roland R26
- Tascam DR-100mk II – What I use (lower price but not multitrack).
- Tascam DR-05
- Tascam DR-40
Equipment Setup Overview Diagram
- Camera records visuals and reference audio.
- Outboard device or computer records clean (direct input) audio.
- Audio to speakers for you and the camera.
Part 2 – Recording
Key take away:
Create a reference audio track together with the high quality version so you want match them up and sync them together in the edit.
- It’s time to record.
- Create a reference audio track: Use the camera mic or line in to your camera to create a sync between the audio recorded on the video and the audio you record separately with your recorder or computer. Make sure you use a monitor speaker if using the camera mic.
- Note: DSLRs have a recording cut off point of around 12 mins. (Due to export taxes on cameras being lower than if they are classed as a video camera).
- Once you have recorded, transfer the media from: SD cards / USB from your camera and recorder, or audio wav from your computer or DVS.
- Industry Term: Ingest = getting all the media onto your computer via capture, transfer or importing.
- Start working on it in the post process using your NLE.
- NLE = Non Linear Editor. The software used to edit your audio and footage together.
- An NLE allows you to jump around the timeline and edit in a non linear fashion, unlike scrubbing through a tape in order.
- NLEs let you work with multiple video and audio tracks.
- Nikon D90
- Canon 600D – What I use. It has a handy flip screen so you can see yourself.
NLE / Video Editing Software
- iMovie – Free with a mac (Consumer grade)
- Final Cut Pro (Pro grade)
- Adobe Premier (Pro grade)
- Avid Media Composer (Pro grade)
- Movie Maker – Free Download (Consumer grade)
- Pinnacle (Consumer grade)
- Sony Vegas (Pro grade)
- Avid Media Composer (Pro grade)
Part 3 – Post Production / Editing
- Ingest Media: Keep your audio and video footage organised in a folder.
- Open NLE
- Video editing is similar to audio editing for those of you who have experience of that.
- 3 Main Visual Areas of an NLE:
- Media Pool – all the files you imported – audio and video track
- Preview screen – shows you what the final video will look like.
- Tracks – 1 video track and 1 audio in our case.
- Place your video in timeline.
- Place your high quality (HQ) clean audio into an audio track.
- Match up the HQ audio to the low quality video audio:
- Zoom in to make it easier.
- The waveforms look similar.
- Zoom in and find a sharp sound with a strong representation, e.g a snare sound.
- Use the waveform visuals to find the sync.
- Play back and listen to make sure that the HQ audio is in sync.
- Ensure your record / fader hand movements are in sync with the HQ audio.
- Turn off or mute the low quality camera mic / line in reference audio track.
- Render / export the final video for upload to YouTube or similar sites.
- Many NLEs now have presets to send to YouTube / Vimeo and Facebook.
- Once you have mastered the basics, you can start using transitions, visual effects and titling.
That concludes if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.
The process Sunny described is the exact process I use and it works a treat. It’s more work than aiming your camera at you setup and hitting record using the inbuilt camera mic to capture your speaker sound, but the results are so much better.
A few of the guys in the School of Scratch have started to use this separate audio recording method and it makes for a great viewing and listening experience.
Remember its not all about gear – use what camera you have and record a clean line out from your mixer in whatever way you can. A line into your computer is one of the most common ways, or if you are using a DVS thats even easier. The best thing you can do is make a start and practice recording and editing together in this way.
Massive thanks to Sunny for creating and sharing this guide.
If you would like to watch all of parts in one video, go here: How I Really Roll – Complete Video.
What to Do Next
- Make a new scratch video using the separate audio method detailed above.
- Share the videos you create with us and any questions you have.
- If you would like to join myself, Suckertash and a bunch of cool cats who exchange videos and tips and even scratch in a live video chat room, I highly recommend joining the School of Scratch. It is awesome to have talented and hardworking people like SuckerTash involved helping each other out.
Happy Scratching! 😀
– Emma Short-E