Saturday 6 January 2018

2018 New songs new recording style

During my two weeks off over Christmas I tackled two new songs from my "to-do" list, Cyndi Lauper "Time after time" and Daft Punk "Get lucky". Cyndi, because my wife likes that song. Daft, because years ago a mate challenged me to do it, which I did not take up, but moreso while adding Gareth Evans to the fingerstyle database as suggested by a reader I came across his arrangement and it inspired me.

But, I talk all about it in the video, no need for a transcription here.

I have only played both these songs for a few hours each, so they are rough-as, and not really ready to put out there but I had an alternate reason for recording them...

A month ago I recorded the end of year concert for my youngest daughter's orchestra, which was actually a tad stressful, that it needed to "be good". I recorded two hours (several orchestras performing), using a fixed camera and roving with a second camera to get different vantage points.  I own two of Canon mirrorless DSLRs, the EOS M, which I bought to do some 3D video work with years ago, they are old now but still okay. It's handy to have two for different angles when you aren't using them for stereoscopic vision.  Unfortunately they blew out the brightness levels - it was a big auditorium, mostly dark with well-lit performers, the cameras didn't know how to capture the levels very well and I didn't know how to tell it to do better.  So lots of washed out faces - but not totally terrible. . I used my stereo condenser microphone to capture audio which worked out pretty well.

It forced me dust off my video editing skills; normally I use virtualdub and simply trim/put on a logo/replace audio/re-encode. But for multi camera angles you need a multi-track video editor. When I first started out in video editing in 2001 I used Ulead Video Studio and got quite used to it.  But somewhere along the way they were bought out and the resulting software went in the wrong direction for my liking.  So the next time I had to do video editing I trialled the big three and settled on Cyberlink PowerDirector. It irks me constantly learning new software, that's part of my day job. So for the concert video I shelled out for the latest version and although it easily took me 10 hours to produce the resulting 80 minute video, I was quite happy with the software again.

So I decided that I could put the similar effort into my guitar videos, seeing as I was all up to speed again.

And so brings me to this video, where I set up my two DSLRs and an older handy cam that takes a tolerable video, for a three camera shoot!  It was easy to set up, although I don't like the low camera angle, I'll do that different next time. From start to finish ready for youtube slightly less than 2 hours. So, doable as a regular event. I experimented with some pans and zooms - swapping between fixed cameras is better than only a single camera, but some subtle movement during the shots brings the different camera angles to life. Most of the movements were random tests, I watched it back afterwards and worked out what I liked, but left it as is.

So here you go. I'm waffly and word stuck in places, I should plan these things. Oh and the playing was awful. But...'s practise for some proper videos I have in mind to record soon :-)


  1. hi Jaw,

    thanks for sharing details on video making.

    I realized that when I watch someone playing guitar, I find it disturbing when the video captures player's face.. not really sure why, but one weird paralell comes
    into mind. erotic videos are ofter arranged in such a manner, that man's face is not exhibited, presumably so that masculine viewers can imagine themselves being in man's role. and some people like to point out that guitar curves do resemble shape of a woman's body.

    I apologize for rather inappropriate association :)

  2. I have thought about this a few times, and it comes back to who the video consumer is. And the best way to think about it is to put yourself in the shoes of that consumer.

    If you like to watch videos of musicians doing their thing and you aren't a guitartist, then you would want to see the whole person, even the environment where the performance is happening. Faces show emotion/feeling which translates into part of the experience. If you didn't care about who/what is playing you would just listen to the audio. But a robot computer could be playing just the audio! You get a connection with a real live person doing their thing, seeing the whole thing makes a difference.

    On the other hand, if you are a guitarist and want to understand what is going on, you want close-ups of the action. The actual person is irrelevant, and a waste of valuable video space.

    Somewhere in the middle is the balance I'm going for - to bring further emotion/feeling into a musical piece while still showing the "artistry" of the physical playing. I think some cut scenes with the whole person in between gentle panning/zooming closeups is the right balance. If I can be bothered! Worth it I reckon.

    As for all this provocative talk - maybe time to see a counselor? ;-)

  3. > maybe time to see a counselor? ;-)

    yes, one should definitely be careful with guitars. but so far I have not yet even gave a name to any of my guitars, so I think I am far from danger..

    1. You know, I have never named a guitar either, we are both safe.

  4. Hi Jaw, long time no talk! Years and years!
    How are you?
    I've disappeared from the fingerstyle circuit (not that I ever recorded before), not so much because I completely lost interest, but I slowly got into the habit of writing less and less comments, not just here but in general, until writing comment on blogs became entirely a thing of the past.
    I did read through your blogs posts once in a while, sometimes catching up after more than a year of forgetting.
    Glad to see that your interest in fingerstyle has not vanished, And that you have even improved your guitar playing. It looks like reaching a standard level for your arrangement (when there's nothing out of the ordinary) is coming pretty easily to you after all these years!
    I have also rediscovered Naudo quite a few times throughout the years, and I can be as amazed as I was at the time, over and over again. One thing for sure is that Naudo has forever changed the way I see the guitar, and even if I don't necessarily listen to him on a regular basis, the main effect that it had is that I cannot really be impressed by any other fingerstyle guitarist, not in the same way anyway. I believe that will never change.
    I also think Naudo will not get the recognition that he deserves, but I have accepted it, I'm sure he has too.

    I saw that you had been playing in cafes/restaurants, that's great. I remember thinking that it's something that I would set my mind to when the right time would come (in my mind it's in my 'old days', I mean later anyway). Not to have any great ambition or expectations, it just seems like a very cool hobby, where you to get to play for an audience (who may not care, it doesn't matter). Ah yes but I forgot to mention that it would have to be with piano, I have completely stopped playing the guitar the moment I acquired an upright acoustic piano (which I don't have anymore after moving house, but I have a keyboard that is actually even better for practice since you can play quietly). I tried to resume my jazz study, which I had started in my twenties and interrupted when I moved to the UK. I realise how many years it has to take to get to a decent level though. So not quite the same as fingerstyle, but not that different too. You always look for what you like in other people's playing, and try to understand it, and copy it, ideally with your own twist (and mistakes/bad habits!).

    Nice to write again!