Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creating a Budget Music Video

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Being all inspired to make videos with my new Canon EOS 60D has got me hyped up to make a video before my semester break ends. At times, I will day dream stories in my head about the videos I can produce. It’s easy to imagine stories, but it’s hard to write scripts and to record the video itself.

I won’t say that I have professional equipment but I know it’s sufficient. In this post, I’m just going to talk about how I made my MV just to share my thoughts and knowledge with you. My equipment line up was simple.

  1. Canon EOS 60D
  2. Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (kit lens)
  3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (cheapest Canon lens in the market, but awesome)
  4. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 (discount on Amazon.com)
  5. Zoom H1 (cheapest range but great quality by brand)
  6. 160 LED Video Light (cheap light)
  7. A few tripods and gorillapods.

Zoom H1

Samsung Galaxy S2 Metronome Beats

I’ll be honest. This is actually more than enough to make a good video. I’ve seen people out there like Dreambitious, The Salad Show and other college film productions making great videos with just a dSLR and their kit lenses only. But if I have these lenses so, why not use them?

Before making the video, we needed the soundtrack to be the backbone of our video. Aaron a.k.a. A.RON wanted to do a cover by Teddy Geiger, For You I Will. Do note that this video was only made by me and Aaron. I went to Aaron’s house to do the audio recording. We set up the Zoom H1 onto a tripod at the corner of his room and padded its surroundings with pillows and blankets. This was done to prevent echoes from bouncing back on the walls. To prevent any other external sounds, we turned the fan off and also the air conditioner.

All of the sounds were recorded separately. For instance this acoustic cover involved 1 guitar and 1 vocal recorded separately. A pair of headphones was plugged into the Zoom H1 for monitoring purposes. In one ear, Aaron also plugged in another earphone as that was used as a metronome. The metronome was an Android App on my Samsung Galaxy S2 called Metronome Beats. It was used to make sure that his timing was accurate which makes editing and post processing easier.

The earphone was added under the headphone. 

Basically, one instrument must be recorded on perfect timing before another instrument or vocals come in. If you record for a band, the drummer will do his recording first before the other instruments and the vocals will be last. In this case, we recorded Aaron playing the guitar first while guided by the metronome.
For the vocal recording, we used the recording of the guitar instead of the metronome in the earphones. The headphones as usual was for him to monitor himself during the recording. Both recordings were then combined and added with certain sound effects.

On another day after the song was ready, we started shooting our MV. We decided to go to Sunway Pyramid car park roof top to shoot. It was a cloudy day, but dramatic too. We had no script as we just wanted to shoot random scenes. I think this isn’t a good idea as it’s always better to have a script ready. Doing that will save a lot of time. Another tip for creating an MV is to always have a backbone track. A backbone track, in my terms, means to have a full video of that song taken in one take. It doesn’t matter if it’s a still or on a dolly, but just have one video rolling throughout the song. This is a backup plan during post production as sometimes when editing, you will find out that you don’t have enough scenes, you can just take any from the backbone scenes. Backbone scenes also can be used as main scenes, intro and outro too.

Above: Shooting a scene on the roof top
Below: I use Magic Lantern in my 60D

Do check online or magazines to learn good camera angles, rule of thirds or many other tips in filming. A normal advice is to always keep your camera as stable as possible, which I still need to work on a lot. It is advised to use lenses with Image Stabilizers as much as possible. Do take note that post processing is important in making an interesting video. My thought at first was to not apply colour correction at all to my video to keep it natural, but instead I decided to add leave colour and set a cool temperature to my video. It’s all up to you.

This was what I had in my mind while doing and learning from making an MV. I hardly read articles on videos and photography, which is a bad thing, as I prefer to try things on my own and learn from them. If you have any more tips or suggestions to improve my video, do comment below.


If you notice, there was a lot of jitters in my video during motion. This was a known irreversible error in the video editor. Fixing it will result in redoing the whole video again. This is one downside of this MV. 

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Chasing the First Sun of 2013

It has been so long since I blogged, and I truly believe that I have said this so many times. Perhaps I'm not committed to this blog, or I'm just not the writer type and love to just take photos instead. But to be honest, I love to share my stories to anyone. As I always believed, I live life by experience compared to books or by just sitting at home or being in a classroom. Of course all mentioned just now are as important as they exist, but not as effective as living a dream or breaking boundaries in your life. Nevertheless, I will keep trying to blog and submit articles to magazines, hoping that it brings good to myself and others, and improve in my own writing skills.

As every year goes by, a new year is always felt as an event where we change or plan to be better throughout that new year. People will list down their new year resolutions and plans to whatever they dream of. As for me, my goal is to keep up with my results, improve my literacy, social and be more fit and stronger. If you know me, I'm called a stick or Pai Kuat, which means pork ribs. There's nothing to worry if you call me that, I'm an open person and not offended easily.

Now back to my story. The celebration of the new year, 2013 just passed as if it wasn't a new year. It just felt like a new day as it is everyday. It could be because of 2 things. One is that my university semester ends at the end of January, and the continuity of classes and studies made it felt as if it was a routine. Before this, school holidays made Christmas and New Year bold, but looking forward to exams that are coming made it feel as if it was just another day. Another reason could be that I didn't sleep that whole night during the new year. Me and a few friends rented 2 cars and decided to chase the sun.

On the last night of 2012, we left our campus at about 7pm headed towards BDC in Kuching for BBQ Steamboat Buffet. The restaurant name was Swan Teem BBQ Steamboat. If you click the link, it will bring you directly to its Foursquare page for you to easily locate :) They have a wide variety of meat like pork and chicken, some are plain meat or you can also choose the marinated ones which taste better. They serve assorted fishballs or I would call them, flour products, because these kind of food are mostly made of flour. You can barbecue them or boil them in the steamboat. Their cooking pot is unique that the center is used for steamboat and its sides are the grill for the barbecue. Usually the soup is just water so if you plan to go there, do bring your own seasoning or if you will like it to do it our way, you can try this method.

Boil the broth with a piece of lamb in it. Add some pepper and break egg into the soup. It will taste delicious.

We were eating there till about 10pm when we decided to go to Boulevard for some fireworks. We lined up at Ding Tea for a good beverage. I had Hazelnut Milk Tea as I love hazelnut drinks. If you're interested in their menu, here's one from Google.

We were chilling outside in the drizzle, waiting for the fireworks to go out. It was packed and you could see the fire department standing by in case anything went wrong. At the end of the countdown, we saw fireworks light up the sky. It's not as magnificent as those you see in USA, but this is all we have and as long as it makes the locals, or just anyone happy, its good enough. :) I myself was happy to spend time watching it with my loved one :) Happy New Year! :D

Moving on, we went to another mall called The Spring to catch a movie at MBO. We watched Les Miserables, a musical, which caught me by surprise. Though feeling tired late at night and the movie may be a bit slow, it was a great movie after all. It would be much better to see it live, but it had a great plot and the songs were sang very well.

At around 4am, we were at McDonalds, Kuching for breakfast. There and then, we decided to go to Bako, where the national park is located, to watch the sunrise. The journey was in pitch black. We were driving on trunk roads with no street lights and we were the only cars there. The most interesting part was that we didnt really know where to go. We were looking at Google Maps, trying to guess which way may lead to a beach by the South China Sea, facing East. We got stuck in a village, attempted to drive up a hill and sink into a mud road, which we didn't. We kept searching through the tarmac until we found a spot by the beach. It wasn't perfect, but it was the best we could find. I tagged that place on Foursquare and if you're lucky enough, you may catch the perfect sunrise here.

We were unlucky that day. The night before that was rainy so the day was filled with clouds. We did not see any orange sunrise but just a blue cloudy sky. It was quite upsetting, but on the bright side, we discovered a place we can go and see the sunrise next time. The place is filled with lots and lots of mosquitoes. You will be surprised yourself. It was a swarm of mosquitoes that you can see them hitting your car windscreen when the day got brighter. In the dark when we got down of our cars, we just kept getting bitten constantly. So a piece of advice, park your car nicely and do not get down of your car. :)

When the sky was bright enough, we headed back to the city for our second round of breakfast. I brought my group of friends to a good Wan Tan Mee shop suggested by my friend Calvyn and Hobbes, I mean Rachel, his girlfriend.. Haha. The place was called Master Bong Cafe. This was actually my second time here.. The noodles here have a very good texture, heard it was made out of duck egg and not chicken egg. Their pork is tasty and they have dumplings too, which are just ok. Their Chee Cheong Fun with prawns is good too. A highlight of Kuching if you're looking for food :)

At about 8am, we headed back to campus for a good shower and a long afternoon sleep :) 13 hours of driving did pay off :) Theres nothing wrong if you don't sleep a whole night, but spending it well with a bunch of good people. Don't just sit at home, go out and do something :)

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