I was delighted to have the recent opportunity to work with the wonderfully talented Kathleen (Kay Clarity) on several live music videos. She is a tremendous singer-songwriter in Saskatoon and it was wonderful to work with her and our mutual friend Liz. I was the tech guy, handling the audio/video setup (something I really enjoy doing! #geek) while Liz has a keen eye for photography and did a great job operating the camera.

Here is the first song we released last week: Forever. More videos are coming!

Some tech details:

  • Camera: Canon Rebel T2i with a 50mm Pentax prime lens from the 1970s. That lens is a pretty amazing piece of glass!
  • Lighting: Two Yongnuo YN-300 daylight (5500K) balanced lights as key and back lights, and a less bright Viltrox L116T, also at 5500K. All were battery powered and attached to microphone stands with 1/4″ – 5/8″ adapters. These were set up in a traditional, three-point arrangement.
  • Microphones: Shure SM7B for vocals and the always-trustworthy Shure SM57 for the guitar.
  • Recording: Fivefish Audio SC1mk2 preamp fed into an older Presonus Firepod, going into a 2012 MacBook Pro.
  • Software: Logic Pro X for audio and Final Cut Pro X for video. Video compression was done with Apple Compressor. (And yeah, my 5+ year old computer sounded like it wanted to cry when it was editing and rendering the video. Heh. It may be on its last legs…)

One issue that I have yet to fully crack is YouTube’s video compression. Depending on your viewing device you may notice some colour banding in the grey background near the beginning of the video. That is due to YouTube’s own lossy compression of what was initially a pretty high quality upload (ProRes). Apparently YouTube will sometimes recompress video into the newer/better VP9 codec rather than the default h.264 but I haven’t figured out how to make that happen. I do take heart in that I’m not nearly the only person dealing with this problem: I was watching the finale of the AMAZING fan series Star Trek Continues (seriously, if you’re at all into the original Star Trek, check it out!!) and even with their high-end production the YouTube feed suffers the same problem with background colour gradients. So I’m not alone in this, at least. :) I did insert some extra noise into the signal to limit the problem and it helped, but if you have any further suggestions for how to make YouTube (and Facebook) compress video more nicely I’m very open to hearing them!

Regardless, I am very pleased with how it turned out (11000+ views and counting on YouTube and Facebook). Most of all, it was a true gift to be able to work with Kathleen and Liz. Thank you both!

ALSO: You *must* check out Kathleen’s new album: Kay Clarity: The Jewel Collections. Is fantastic!!