I wanted to convey the majesty of the Welsh landscape and castle this march was inspired by. The best way to do that? Show it on screen. So the hunt began for a way of getting licensed footage of Castel Coch. I went on the search for drone enthusiasts that had captured the Welsh castle in it’s idyllic hillside forest setting (excluding the M4 motorway).
AirXploration was just forming as a company and the band are proud to be among their first customers. I bought a licence to use their footage and gifted it to the band.
With the backbone of the first video in place, time to record our musical director using a backing track and metronome for the band to play to. This is often overlooked, but is a critical step in the production of online remote recording videos. Choose your piece wisely and work out the tempo so the beat starts well before the music. That way the MD and band members know exactly when to come in on the first note. I then added a timecode to the resulting videos so the band knew which rehearsal mark they were at, to aid any re-recording.
Softly, As I Leave You
The band were asked to play in the dark by candle-light and then blow candles out at the end, resulting in pitch-black videos and quite a large number of candle-blowing-out shots.
After some reshoots, the film came together. The percussion was recorded in a local band room where a lottery grant from back in the early 1990’s meant I could finally use the bell tree we had! I’ve never really used it in the last thirty years, so - off with the dust. Timpani and tam-tam were also recorded there.
I’m really pleased with the way the last section came together, making use of the candle recordings. For some reason, Jack the trombone player had submitted a shot of him closing a fridge door - I decided it had to be used!
An American Trilogy
Editing this involved lots of combining of audio and visual elements: some band members had submitted audio but no video, and the basses hold such a long note before the end that it looks like they're not moving at all! I had to double check it wasn’t a still image - it’s not I promise! I recorded the xylophone, timpani and tam-tam in the same bandroom, although for some reason didn’t shoot any video of myself. Instead, I had ideas about dressing up as Elvis and recording video at home rather than dry shots of me at the drum kit in a dingy band room on my own.
One of my early ideas was to use the dramatic ending of American Trilogy to showcase how we had done the remote recording. We asked the band to provide outtakes and shots of their setup, but it’s difficult to incorporate playing mistakes into a contest recording! So I used the visual mistakes and fun little clips. I thought it would be a few seconds, but found it took up the entire end of the video as I couldn't resist sharing some of the more amusing moments.
Putting it all together
For our two previous remote recordings, we had each band member video their performance and send it in. This made it easy to synchronise the video and audio, but made mixing the resultant sound more challenging.
For the Cory Contest recordings, and the theme each video would need, the band were asked to dress up on camera, and then send in an audio track of their playing. This meant the audio was much better, but trying to sync players miming to their own playing difficult. We did all play the instruments remotely, but it may sometimes look like we’re miming to a pre-recorded backing track - we're not, it's all us!
I created the title cards for each piece when I knew what we were going to play, giving the theme for each video. The titles were done within hours, I wanted if nothing else to look slick and professional before we got into home recorded videos. American Trilogy was the hardest, going through several different versions before ending up where we did.
Above all, we had fun, Cory gave us an opportunity to perform, while event after event in our own calendar was postponed. We’re fortunate that our 2021 calendar is just a carbon-copy of what was to be this year.
A note from the band:
We are all SO grateful to Daniel and impressed with the final product - what an excellent video to put our name to. It was great fun to see all the other bands and to be part of this virtual contest. Although we're certainly not about to become a 'contesting band', it was fun to have something to work towards over lockdown - and we hope our social media audiences enjoyed the result of Daniel's (and the whole band's) hard work.