Tips for self-recording

Before

  • Make sure you have a very clear structure of the session you will be recording. The clearer this structure is in your mind, the easier it will be for your audiences to follow along.
  • Find the best location possible. We know this will be difficult to control because you are filming from home and not a studio. But it is best if it is quiet, with a background that is not too distracting and as brightly lit as possible.
  • Take control of the lighting. In photography and video, it is ideal for the main source of lighting to be right behind the camera, shining on to the subject. If you have no choice but to place yourself next to a window with lots of light coming in behind you (like in the photo on the top of this page) make sure you have other light sources from inside the room directed towards your face, to compensate for the back light. If you can, move some lamps around.
  • What will you use for filming? Mobile phone, tablet, webcam, video camera or DSLR? Make sure you are familiar will all settings and feel free to contact Rey at rt@streetwiseopera.org if you need any technical support. If you are using a phone or tablet, make sure you use landscape orientation. 
  • Will you record audio separately? Sometimes the best location to place the camera is not necessarily the best for the microphone, and if you are using only one device for recording that might create a problem. If you have the ability to record your audio track with another device at the same time, do so. Place it closer to you and don’t worry about trying to hit “record” on both devices at the same time. Just email the video and audio files to us and we will synch them. If you are thinking of using your phone or tablet as a recorder, there are various apps you can use, some free, that are great for this.
  • Stabilise your image. If you are using a mobile, tablet, video camera or DLSR, consider using a tripod or placing the device on a stable surface.
  • Avoid interruptions. If you are using your a phone or tablet, you don’t want to get interrupted by a phone call or a notification during recording, so make sure to activate Airplane Mode or turn off your data connection while you record.
  • Have you got enough memory? Video files tend to be big. A 10-15 minute recording can easily produce a 1 to 3 GB file. Do you have enough space on your device? If it’s a video or camera can you empty your memory card before you start? If it’s a mobile or tablet, can you delete some apps or move old photos and videos to another device?
  • Do you have enough battery? Make sure any device you use is either fully charged or plugged into a power socket. If you are using a video camera or a DLSR and you run out of battery, whatever video you’ve already recorded will usually be saved on the memory card; but if the same happens while using a mobile or tablet, it is very likely that none of the video will be saved.

During

  • Get the right frame. How close or far do you want to be from the camera?  The closer you are – without getting carried away, of course – the stronger the emotional connection with your audience will be.  
  • Look into the camera. This is important too, to help to keep your viewers engaged.
  • Be mindful of audio levels. Recording people speaking, singing or playing a musical instrument can be tricky when it comes to audio levels. Most non-professional devices will automatically control how quiet or loud your recording is, to give a uniform level. But this process is not perfect, so try to keep all sounds around the same level: speak a bit louder than normal, and sing or play your instrument a bit quieter than normal. This will give you nice uniform levels.
  • Share your structure with your audience. When audiences watch a video, it is easier for them to pay attention and absorb new information if they are already clear about what the video is about and where it is going. It is always best to explain what you will be trying to accomplish with the video and what steps this will involve. And at the end, a short summary of what you did in the session helps viewers better process what they learnt.
  • Relax and be yourself. If you’ve followed the tips above, don’t worry too much about technical aspects now. There usually won’t be any need for cuts or additional takes. Just do your usual magic while the camera is rolling.

After

  • Have a look. Watch the whole video to make sure you are happy with the content, the quality of the video and the audio. 
  • Share, don’t compress! Don’t send the video file as an email attachment or via WhatsApp, as this will compress it and reduce the quality significantly.  Ideally set up an account on Google Drive, upload it there (including any separate audio tracks) and then share the link/s with us. You can also use other cloud storage services or file sharing websites.