DRIST: report on their 3rd music album

Did you ever play Guitar Hero on the PS2? If yes, chances are that you played Drist’s songs then. Drist is an amazingly talented alternative rock indie band here in the Bay Area and both myself and JBQ are becoming big fans – fast. Listen at their songs at their page on MySpace. I love their cover of Depeche Mode’s “Stripped” too, I believe that it’s much better than the original. But their new stuff sound even better.

I met the band on Saturday and we shot an interview about their new upcoming album. They were very kind to also let me include parts of 3 of their brand new songs in the video.

This is my first “as professional as it can be” video I have ever shot. However, there were hurdles on the way. You will see some washed out footage during the picture slide-show, a bug either belonging to my video editor or to the Huffyuv codec or the x264 encoder (I will have to investigate this further — edit: fixed). Also, I need to find a way to transform the recorded audio from mono to stereo (I have very little experience with audio as I always remove it from my videos). I used an external clip-on-shirt mic in order to make the interview parts more professionally-audible, but most such mics are mono… (edit: fixed)

I would really, REALLY, appreciate it if you check it out and leave a comment. This is my first serious video work I’ve done, so I’d love some feedback. Thanks.

Here is a better quality version of the video, iPhone/PSP-sized (75 MBs).


Thomas Bonk wrote on August 27th, 2007 at 11:14 PM PST:

Yeah, they rock! And Stripped is really great. Thanks for this hint 🙂

michael reed wrote on August 27th, 2007 at 11:15 PM PST:

Looks good to me. Very slick and neat with a good clear sound recording. It’s a great job.

Slight grammar correction: “first look *at* Dirst’s 3rd album”.

You’ve established a laid back feel but some of the dialog from your subjects could be trimmed down either through editing in post or by coaching them. I suspect that, in pro TV world, they consider each sentence to be a single unit and edit along those lines. The edits don’t have to be obvious as you can switch between subjects at each cut. So, the end user audience sees a coherent, concise summary that makes sense to them even though it has been compressed and possibly reordered. The truth is, a modern audience finds lots of movement created through editing attractive.

I suppose another way of tightening things up would be to have some of the interview dialog over some of the other footage (playing, working at the computer) but I don’t know how easy or difficult that is in video editing terms. Logically, it would allow you to cram more information into the same space.

Self editing is a heart wrenching stage in any creative project. You just have to be tough, look at each element and ask yourself, “Is it /essential/?” Think about the dynamics: a moment of reflection can be left in, for good effect, when appropriate.

I wonder if you could coach them a bit by asking them the same questions twice or something?

I don’t know much about audio in video. Obviously, center panned mono sounds the same as 100% L+R panned copies of the same audio track. If you do create two copies of the panned mono make sure that they they are exactly in synch or you will start to experience weird phasing effects. Don’t manually cut and paste, for example. This would make the audio file twice as big, unless the audio codec can compress it?

I haven’t done any audio for interview footage but I would assume that the mics would all be mono. If you are interviewing more than one subject, you might use more than one mono mic. Technically, this isn’t quite the same thing as a stereo recording. Having slight stereo spread on the resulting vocal tracks is in keeping with modern TV production technique, and having separate audio tracks for each person gives you a bit of extra freedom when it comes to mixing. Again, make sure that the two tracks stay perfectly in sync to avoid phase problems.

If you have a stereo audio track, it’s often worthwhile to give things a quick mono check if it is later going to be summed down to mono.

Very professional looking. Keep up the good work.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 27th, 2007 at 11:16 PM PST:

Thanks for the feedback Michael!

I suppose you’re right, I could have put some of the deleted scenes overlaying over the dialog when appropriate…

I fixed the audio problem btw. I just needed to select the “left channel” on Vegas. I also fixed the picture cross fade wash out problem by re-exporting. My version on youtube will be left buggy (too late now), but I am sending the band a fixed version.

Finally, I did trim the video down btw. Overall, it was about 15 minutes, but we needed something that would fit on YouTube’s 10 minute limitation.

jeroen wrote on August 27th, 2007 at 11:16 PM PST:

my tip:
Cut down on the borderline shadows of your text graphics. I suggest a small drop shadow, if it’s unreadable choose a different font. And don’t use colors !!!
Keep it at 80% white and it looks fine when broadcasted too.

Brent wrote on August 29th, 2007 at 7:04 PM PST:

Wow. Very good first video documentary, Eugenia Burns. I can’t tell you what you did write, becuase I’m an artistic moron, but I can say what bothered me: during the interviews, especially with the two guys on the drum stool, there way a high wine that really got in the way of me being able to listen to them. Maybe it was the camera? Get rid of the whine.

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Eugenia wrote on August 29th, 2007 at 7:37 PM PST:

“Whine”? What do you mean? I hear nothing out of the ordinary…

Kevin wrote on August 31st, 2007 at 11:01 PM PST:

Looked pretty good overall all. Just a few things, when you use a clip on mic, run the cord up under the back side of the person’s shirt, then bring it around front (still under the shirt) and clip the mic itself to the collar of the shirt. This way you won’t see the mic cable in the shot.

Secondly, if you are going to do a full page title cg that has a solid color background (like you did for the section titles) I would just leave it black instead of the tealish greenish color you used. Black looks more professional.

Also, try to vary the background of your interview shots. The shot with the drums in the middle and the person to the side looked good, but I would have changed the setting for each person you interviewed.

One thing you might want try (depending on the ammount of time you have to shoot and other factors) is shoot the interview twice from two different angles. This may seem like a waste of time, but it accomplishes two things. First, the second time your talent answers a question they are more likely to have a shorter concise answer, and say whay they meant. This gives you more flexiblity in editing. And also, you will now have to angles to choose from, which will make your piece seem more dynamic.

Now instead of havin one shot, you can switch between shots (overlay b-roll so it looks more natural). For example

medium shot
b-roll overlayed
close up
b-roll overlayed
medium shot

Also, using that technique you can edit out a lot of “umms” and “errs” and blank spaces and it will seem more natural.

Just some thoughts,

(please ignore any misspellings and grammer errors, i’m tired)

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 31st, 2007 at 11:21 PM PST:

I agree with all of what you said Kevin, except changing the angle of shooting. There was not much space to do that, plus, if I would do that, I would have the light on the wrong side. Shooting without controlling lights doesn’t leave you with much of a choice.

Van wrote on September 1st, 2007 at 9:49 AM PST:

Really good interview video! The band seems like they are really laid back and down to earth.

I definitely echo the b-roll comment, just to kind of help keep things moving during the interviews. Instead of changing the angle of the shooting, perhaps you could’ve shot some close-ups of the band members during the interviews? I felt like I wanted to see the band a little closer. You could go between the wide shot and the close up by using a 5 frame white crossfade if you didn’t have any b-roll.

Regardless, good job and hope to see more from you!

vince wrote on September 1st, 2007 at 1:03 PM PST:

I agree with Michael and Kevin’s comments. The things that I’d like to mention again (just so you can weigh them) is that two angles is a good idea and so is showing other footage during the interview.. both would keep the audience engaged more.

Also, editing down the interview can also be helpful.. when we do the buyindie podcast we start off with 45 min to 1.5 hours of material and work hard to get it down to something more reasonable (15-20 mins). It’s not easy but it is worthwhile..

Apple did a bunch of videos for their products (e.g. powerbook) years ago where they’d interview Phil and Johnny Ive.. if you can find those vids, I’d say they’d be interesting to watch again from a film-makers perspective.

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