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Old February 27th, 2006, 02:41 PM   #1
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Music Video Production Workflow

I was wondering what the procedures/techniques/equipment are for playback sync on a music video shoot? I'm a DP so I don't often have time to see how playback is really organized.

I know that a timecode slate is often hardwired to the song's timecode and there is a "pop" a few seconds before playback.

Is the song broken down into separate clips according to the shot list? Is there a method for syncing that doesn't involve a timecode slate? What sort of gear is required?

The reason I ask all of this is becasue I have a friend who is a musician and as a favor, I'm shooting a music video for him to use for promotional purposes. I'm working with a mostly inexperienced skeleton crew using my personal gear and practically no budget. So, as the resident "expert", I have to have all the answers.

I know I could use a cd player boom box for playback and sync it the hard way in post, but I'd like to try to "do it right" if it's affordable.

Thanks,
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Old February 27th, 2006, 03:20 PM   #2
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Well..."the hard way" isn't really that hard unless you're shooting film.

When shooting DV I've always blasted the song on a PA system for the band to lipsync too, and I let the mic on the camera pick it up. It's very easy to sync up in post that way, and if the band was on, then you are on :-)

Even shooting on film I did it like that...we didn't have a timecode slate so I didn't really have a choice.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 08:16 PM   #3
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Yeah I asked around on an audio forum as well and got the same advice.
Boom box it is!

Thanks,
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Old February 27th, 2006, 08:20 PM   #4
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do something that makes a noise .. like someone claps their hands in front of the camera or uses a non timecoded clap board. easier to synch the sound to the action than the sound to someones mouth.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 09:18 AM   #5
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Depending on the type of song, the style of play and the instruments involved, you may need something more powerful than a boom-box. I often use a powered JBL EON10G2, which can accept the output of a portable CD player using a stereo mini to stereo 1/4" cable and the correct switch settings on the speaker input.
For instance if you have drums, then the drummer has to play for real in order to make it look real. The drummer and everyone else will have to hear the music clearly over the drumming in order to stay in sync with the playback. Indoors it can get very loud for a rock video and I usually wear earplugs when doing playback.
If you have the ability to take a straight feed from the playback into the camera as well as an ambient mic into the other track of the camera, it can make it easier to sync later while not missing any other audible cues and instructions given on-set.
It is easier to break the song up ahead of time and put your own intro beats into it. So a CD for playback might have the whole song (also with intro beats), tracks with the beginning, middle and ending thirds of the song, any specific solos or transitions that you know you're going to shoot in detail.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 09:38 AM   #6
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We usually use a big PA system. And yeah...it's loud :-)
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Old February 28th, 2006, 09:48 AM   #7
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As Jay suggests, I'd isolate the song onto its own CD with lead-in bleeps to set the tempo before the first note is played. If possible I'd use a pro DJ-style CD player that has better cueing and looping than consumer CD players do. I'd also borrow from the live sound community and use a mixer like one of the Mackie compact series of boards that allows me to take the feed from the CD and send it both to the camera's audio to aid later sync and also to a set of stage monitor wedges such as are used to provide a monitor feed to the performers during a concert. The mixer has multiple outputs so you can give one mix and set of levels to the performers while sending different levels to the camera. This sort of arrangement would also let you pre-record the instruments and backing vocals while shooting live sync sound of your main vocal if you wanted to.
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Last edited by Steve House; February 28th, 2006 at 11:17 AM.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 12:30 PM   #8
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the closest way to approximate a tc slate for free is to start a project in fcp, avid, whatever. leave several seconds of slug, and then put the cd track into the timeline. set the timeline's tc to offset for the slug. (so if you have 10 secs of slug, have the tc for the timeline start at 59:50:00. then the song will start at i hr. use the timecode filter to display a window burn of the tc as the video. burn a dvd and bring a cheap dvd player and tv to the set. dvd's audio goes to pa, video goes to tv. shoot the tv screen for a second before each take. (if you want to get semi-fancy, you can put chapter markers on the dvd for important cues.)
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Old February 28th, 2006, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Ford
the closest way to approximate a tc slate for free is to start a project in fcp, avid, whatever. leave several seconds of slug, and then put the cd track into the timeline. set the timeline's tc to offset for the slug. (so if you have 10 secs of slug, have the tc for the timeline start at 59:50:00. then the song will start at i hr. use the timecode filter to display a window burn of the tc as the video. burn a dvd and bring a cheap dvd player and tv to the set. dvd's audio goes to pa, video goes to tv. shoot the tv screen for a second before each take. (if you want to get semi-fancy, you can put chapter markers on the dvd for important cues.)
good idea!

I don't think it'll have to be all that complicated-- The music consists of vocals, soft drums and a Gretsch Country Gentleman (oh yeah!).

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll keep the more complicated ideas in the back of my head for the next paid mv.

Thanks guys,
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 03:37 AM   #10
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A random, almost OT tip from an audio recording guy here:

If you can, remind the band to have their instruments plugged in and either a cable or their wireless transmitter hooked up like its a real gig.

Don't they know it looks *silly* jamming out for the video camera when its obvious that they aren't even plugged in? Kinda shatters the illusion for those who notice it. :)

One of those little touches of realism that is overlooked surprisingly often.

Take care,
Chris
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