Recording a live promo video with my covers band

Hi Justin gang,

I’ve been going back and forth on whether to write this post or not, for reasons that will perhaps become apparent in the text and linked media, but in the end I decided it would indeed be worth discussing and it might be interesting to a lot of people around here. It was definitely a good learning experience for myself and my band :wink:

So, to kick things off - a little while back we were contacted by a booking agency who were looking for a live band to use as part of their “mini festival” package they provide for larger company parties. The idea is that they set up a bunch of tents with bars, an escape room, food trucks, mini arcade hall etc - and then have a live stage with DJ and band.

The suggestion was that we play a first (short) gig for free - the only compensation we would get was a professionally recorded promo video that both they and we could then use on our webpages to promote our band. We had to provide the recorded live performance, and they would then do video shooting and editing.
Since I have a bit of experience recording my guitar covers I volunteered to do all audio recording and mixing/mastering. I’ll talk about my learnings on that in the following posts as well!

It sounded interesting enough to us that we decided to give it a go.

I’m not entirely sure about what I think about the final product - it’s not terrible (I think) but we were perhaps hoping for a bit more. The first slightly surprising things for me, personally, was how short a clip they ended up providing us with. Now, they back this up by saying that these days this is about the maximum length that “normal” people will ever want to watch on social media platforms - and for what I know they could be right. But in my head I had expected a video of the full song PLUS perhaps some shorter versions.

So that’s lesson #1 already: even if you think you have an understanding about what an agreement is, go the extra mile to be very specific! :wink:

It’s not all “their fault” though - recording a live performance can be a brutal experience, especially if you’re used to recording in a studio environment with better monitoring and, most importantly, the possibility for redoing parts and laying parts for that more “professional” result. In a live performance like this you hear everything, for better and worse, and everyone in the band has to deliver first time, and the same time. Pretty damn brutal indeed!!

I’ll start by simply linking the video clip here, and then go on to talk some more about the process in some follow-up posts. This is what we got back from them:

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Ok, on to some “nerdy” stuff about the recording.
As mentioned, I had quite a bit of experience with recording guitars, using Reaper and a good understanding of a handful of plugins. BUT - I have never tried recording a full band, never mixed vocals and never mixed live drums. Especially the drum part was a bit scary to me, since I’m not a drummer, and it’s a whole bunch of mics/tracks to consider. What is a good kick sound? What is a good snare sound, how to pan? And so forth.

Secondly - how exactly would be be recoding the tracks?

The last part first; Our band uses a digital mixer called Behringer X32, and it turns out it comes with an extension card by default that is a pc/mac audio interface! In other words, with the right drivers installed I could connect a laptop to the mixer via a USB cable and it would appear as a 32in/32out audio interface. There was a bit of routing setup needed on the mixer, but in the end it worked fine. On the laptop I of course decided to run Reaper, and set up a project template with all the inputs we needed.

A second cool thing; When recording this way you capture the sound at the input - not after processing/fader on the mixer. It means we’re not recording the live mix, but entirely raw signals directly from the instruments and microphones. This is actually pretty great, because then the live mix doesn’t affect what gets recorded, and I get a clean/blank slate to start from when mixing in Reaper.

Of course I wanted to do a test run in the rehearsal room before we went to the gig. So I brought the laptop and we did a rudimentary mic’ing up of the drums (no overheads, no dedicated hi-hat mic) and I recorded a few songs from the practice session.

At home I was curious to see if I could get anywhere near a sound I could accept - especially for the drums. I didn’t want to go very deep in mixing our rehearsal, but did a very quick 1-2 hour mix… just to try it out. I quickly got something, which was enough to convince me it could indeed work.
Here is a quick/rough mix from the rehearsal - a very “live” sounding recording IMO.
BTW - it’s a Danish song, sorry about that, and it starts a bit slow. But from 1min and onwards I think you can perhaps enjoy it somewhat.

At the actual gig I set up pretty much the same way, but with a few more mics.
We recorded the entire show (laptop simply standing behind stage unattended and recording the whole time - me hoping it would not somehow stop or crash :slight_smile: )

We didn’t know what they wanted from us - the show, a song, a couple of songs… but in the end, after looking at our set list, they decided to focus entirely on ONE song; “Blinding Lights” by The Weekend. Probably a good choice for a known pop song. Back home I went quite a bit deeper with that track;

Here’s the second hard learning - It’s sooo tempting to go in and fix things in your recordings! But as I knew this is live audio, and would be matched to live video… that was simply not an option. I had to keep it exactly as we played it on the day, mistakes and all, and simply get the best out of it.
As for the sound, one thing I did here was to spend a lot more time on details such as reverb etc… especially on the snare drum. Our drummer was quite specific he wanted a gated reverb there, which I had to learn how to set up. Here’s the final mix I managed to get from our performance:

And from that, they ended up with what you saw in the original post.

A few more thoughts/observations from my side; As I said, playing live is tricky enough… but this time, when we started Blinding Lights, a camera man came on stage and walked around between us. It was a bit hard not to have some focus on that camera, that would otherwise have gone into playing. Secondly - I’m sad the gig was filmed quite early on a late summer night… the stage and the light looked much cooler towards the end of the set when darkness had fallen.

In the end - was it worth it? If our only goal was a super promo video… probably not! But it was a fun gig, I learned to record our band (at least a first attempt) and we can use that knowledge later on. So yeah, no regrets from here… let’s see where this leads us :wink:

Take care all!

Kasper

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Hey Kasper,

It is certainly not terrible. The band sounded fantastic and video look professional. I can see where the booking agency is coming from regarding length of the video, it would make sense to keep the length down for marketing perspective. I can also see where you are coming from with regards to having a full length video especially with the band having to nail the song first time. It might be worthwhile asking agency if they could share with you the video recordings that they took that day and you could produce your own video for the entire song.

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Hej Kaspar,

If ever in doubt… POST! :rofl:
Apart from the pure curiosity factor (What are others up to?), there’s a lot of info and process here that could be of interest and good use to others who might one day find themselves in a similar situation.
I had a very enjoyable couple of minutes of nostalgia for a Danish past that I never experienced, listening to that Gasolin’ song :grinning:

Haha, that sounds like my Open mic experiences, when I coerce family and friends :laughing: :rofl:

Seriously, that was an enjoyable romp and I thought the final product works well. Good shout by @Socio to ask if you could have all the footage and make your own video. That would be a fun project too.
Super fedt! :sunglasses:

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The promo video is selling the message : if you book our band for your event, everyone will have a blast. Everyone will have fun, smile and dance. Everyone will enjoy their evening.

I think that it’s a good promo video / marketing for social medias. And it looks professional :slight_smile:

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@Socio Hi, I don’t think it’s going to be possible for us to get all the raw footage… for GDPR reasons. The first version of the video we got sent actually had some shots in it that they were eventually forced to remove again. Sadly…

@brianlarsen I always forget just how much Danish language and culture you actually know. Nicely spotted with the Gasolin track!

@math07 Very well put! If that is how the video is perceived, then it’s certainly serving its purpose!

Thanks guys for reading and checking out the video/audio!

Cheers,
Kasper

Hey Kasper you have everything to be proud of !

I hate this 30 second click bait world that exist these days. Yep I know folk like CT embrace it but it aint for me. So your full length Drive version was most welcome. Thought there was a lot of energy, the production was supremely balanced and to some degree better that the short promo video. Ok it may get you out there but think it sells you short, Get the longer version up on your youtube with a full band video and you’ll sell yourselves.

Keep on rockin bro !

:sunglasses:

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That’s a shame. Not sure how they shot the footage and how many cameras they had shooting the action but if they had a camera or two shooting the action of just the band that would be good to get of them to make a good video of the band performing albeit without the audience.

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Hi Kasper,
If I were hesitating about booking a band for a company party for my wife’s company (we did in the past), I would definitely book you with seeing and hearing this professional clip… although it is too short for my taste, but it radiates class :sunglasses:
Greetings

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Yeah “agreements” are tricky; I rather call it “expecation management” as you have to make sure both sides get exactly what the expected out of this.

I would have though you would AT LEAST get access to all the footage so you could do your own promo while they created what they needed; a short promo clip.

Recording a live gig is always going to feel icky.
The chances of everybody nailing every second of it are rather slim and it’s hard to evaluate the quality of the recordings when on location.

So; I think you did great on that part!

My main comment has nothing to do with mix etc but somehow I feel like the song is a tad too slow or misses that last bit of punch. My first instinct was bpm. Perhaps it’s because we played this song with our company band as well and we had to speed it up a bit as well at some point.

Is it still going to be used to promote you and score some gigs? If you get n amount of bookings, it was worth it (with you deciding how much n should be)

The learnings and experience seem obvious. I often think that what we do for Point Fifty asks a lot more effort and energy in comparison to the results but I alwasy look back and see how we have grown in quality, workflow and professionalism. I think the “Was it worth it” is ALWAYS a part of what you do to grow “off the podium”. It nibbles on my motivation sometimes

Ah you’ve got to own -that- :wink:
The clue is to focus on your playing, know what time in your part you can look in the lens just for half a sec and do a wink or something…and then get back to focus. I guess I crave attention because I love having that little camera moment now and then :smiley:

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Thanks for sharing, Kasper.

You did a fine job on the mix, it sounded good to me.

As for the video, I really don’t like the switch shot every few seconds style, which I know is the popular approach.

Like others I would love to have seen a video of the entire song to watch you and the Band in action.

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