Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Making Of 'Waterfalling'… And What Went Wrong!

Well that's a grand title, isn't it? The only reason I used it is because there is a story to share and I thought that it might be of interest to a few people out there who are, like me, experimenting with the labrynthine world of audio/video production aimed at public consumption…

So, first of all, here's the video. I tried to do everything as simply as possible - I used my iMac's video camera, no special lighting or anything, and recorded the audio using a Zoom H4n: mics aimed at the 14th fret from about a foot away and the Headway FEQ pick-up on my Custom Fylde Falstaff acoustic guitar plugged into one of the input jacks. The intention was to mix both signals together in order to get the best of both worlds, synchronise audio to video and voila! Well, that was the intention, anyway…

This is Take Three, to put things into perspective. I was satisfied that the performance was suitably error free, apart from one note that didn't fire. And it was an important melody note, too. Never mind, I was sure that I could find my inner Speilberg and fix it at the editing stage. Onwards!

Fortunately the errant note was repeated elsewhere in the tune and so all I had to do, on paper at least, was to grab the audio from elsewhere in the soundtrack, copy and paste it in the appropriate place and pretend that the whole thing never happened. I mean, that's standard practice in Hollywood, right? I'm allowed a little editing, aren't I?

Everything went according to plan… well, almost. I edited the audio, replaced the missing note with another from later on in the piece - and then realised that I'd only edited the pick-up feed and not the mics. And do you think I could re-edit and get the two separate feeds to sync up? The answer was a frustratingly resounding "no". So, what to do? My choices were these:

1) Re-shoot the video
2) Use the pick-up/mic mix with the note missing and hope no one notices
3) Use the edited pick-up feed only
4) Buy a farm, raise sheep and stop fantasising about being a musician

After much torturous vacillation I elected to go with Option 3 and ditch the mic signal completely. It's a shame because the audio is really only telling half the story - and the Fylde is such a fabulous instrument that I felt I wasn't doing it justice by using only the pick-up track. Nevertheless, I went ahead with it and this is the result.

After telling this story on a couple of guitar forums, I had a few sympathetic souls saying that it was a shame that they couldn't hear the mic feed, as it would represent the guitar's 'natural' sound. So, I edited a small section of the audio and posted it on Soundcloud, which you can listen to here…

All well and good - plenty of people told me that they liked the mic sound - actually preferring it to the pick-up only signal. But a few still weren't satisfied and asked if I could post the mic only signal without any reverb or compression. So I did - and you can listen to it here…

Now I realise that this particular post has got incredibly nerdy, but there's nothing wrong with that. In the past I've always had someone else edit video/audio for me and this video represents my first outing as DIY video maker. What have I learned? Hmmm, experience is the best teacher, I guess. Next time, try harder…

Thanks for listening!

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