Cutting-Edge Competition Videos

It is our belief that the visual aspects of a competition submission are of equal importance to audio material. Imagine a panel of judges watching hundreds of videos- you want yours to stick out and rise above the rest of the crop by developing a visual display that enhances your musical presentation. Here are our tips to creating a video that pops!

Before you begin recording: Secure a quality audio and video recording devices. Test them out before your recording date to build knowledge of proper use, awareness of common pitfalls and troubleshooting, and confidence that they will actually work when it counts! This is an important process- trust us!! We could have saved ourselves a lot of headache and frustration had we practiced recording beforehand.

What we used:

Video- Zoom Q2HD Video Recorder

Audio- we hired a professional recording engineer from the TTU Recording Studio. She used a professional microphone set-up for our recordings.

Find an attractive background setting. We decided to record our videos each year at The Legacy Event Center in Lubbock, TX because of the beautiful atmosphere it offered. In our video, you will see an organ and lighting which create immediate appeal on stage. This space use to function as a church, so the space is designed to look attractive and beautiful, but any performance hall will offer the same advantage to your overall image. Don’t record in a practice room or even a rehearsal hall because you can be sure someone else will!

Dress the part. While it seems silly to dress up for an empty audience, imagine that those viewing your video are your audience. Remember that those watching the video are immediately judging your potential for success in a competition, and those who succeed always dress to impress. Pretend you are competing in the live rounds, and dress accordingly.

Simulate ideal stage presence. How you appear on stage in your video should match how you intend to look in a live performance. Obviously, ensure each member of your group, if recording a chamber ensemble, is visible. Look at your image in your camera to check for even spacing and symmetrical placement based on the surroundings. We admit that some of our videos aren’t perfectly symmetrical due to neglect of this step! Attention to small details makes a big difference.

Note: We even made sure all of our stands were the same height before taking any video. Why? Some find this distracting, and why offer a distraction to the music being performed? Since you have opportunity and time to perfect the small things, do so wisely.

Another important note: Be careful of microphone placement. Don’t make the same mistake we did our first year of recording videos- you can’t even see Andrew’s face!

Have a plan. Going into a recording session without a plan is like a pilot taking off before knowing where he’s going to land. Careful planning can ease anxiety and stress as you progress farther in the recording process. It is unlikely you will get useable takes of all of your music in the first day, so split your goals into chunks. This will allow you to know what needs to be done on each day and what can wait until the next day.

Just keep playing. A common pitfall of recording is the instinctual need to stop after every mistake in performance. This can be highly frustrating and detrimental to success, and oftentimes is unnecessary. Our biggest rule was to keep playing until one designated person, which was Professor David Dees in the audience, said to stop because the take was without a doubt no longer worthy of submission. Otherwise, just keep playing, because your little mistakes may not be heard in the recording.

Simulate the same image each day. We took pictures of our set-up each day to ensure the ability to recreate it the next day. Differences in setting from video to video can be distracting to the viewer.

Create the final product. Make a strong impression from the minute the DVD is played. Make a menu bar that is slick and easily accessible. Be sure to sit down and watch every video to make sure the DVD works. You just may catch some video or audio malfunctions!

One more thing:

Clap before each take. If using audio files separate from the audio captured in your video, you can easily sync the two files by aligning the clap spike!

Maximize your chances for success by investing your efforts into this process. Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each step of this process, and make it unique. Best of luck, and please contact us if you have any questions!

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© 2020 Mirasol Quartet.  All rights reserved. 
Photos by Brianne Butterworth/Sebastian Serrano Ayala.  Artwork by Pat Maines.
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