Hi, this is Nick Boxwell, and I’m the videographer at Hoffman Academy. It’s my job to make sure Mr. Hoffman looks and sounds great as he’s teaching you to look and sound great on the piano. In this post, I’m going to give you some tips for video recording your own piano playing. As you hone your piano skills, you will eventually want to share your performances with friends and family around the globe. Fortunately, almost every one has a camcorder these days. You might even have one in your pocket! Camcorder plus internet means that you can share your piano playing with everyone by simply recording a video and posting it online. Some people might find video recording overwhelming at first, but there are a handful of techniques you can use to get the best out of your phone camera. Keep in mind three important things each time you bust out your camera to make a video: stabilize your camera, use good lighting, and minimize unwanted sounds.
Stabilize Your Camera
No one likes to watch video that is too shaky. it might make the viewer queasy or give them a headache. Your camera may have some built in stabilization, but the best way to prevent shaking is to set up your camera on a tripod. If you are using a cell phone there are many small attachments you can use to fix your phone onto your tripod. If a tripod is not available, another person can hold the camera for you. The best way to stabilize a handheld camera is to hold with both hands, draw your elbows in, and press them lightly against your sides. Hold Still!
Use Good Lighting
Unlike our eyes, video cameras need as much light as possible to make the cleanest image. Sunlight is the best, but be careful to have the sun shine onto your subject, and not on their back or into the camera lens. If it is night, consider bringing in an extra lamp or two from another room and turn them up to their brightest setting. If the lighting is too uneven in your shot and it can’t be adjusted, try to at least make the subject’s face look good. On a touch screen phone this might mean touching their face. Your phone will then smartly focus and expose the image in a more pleasing way. If you really want to go the extra mile, you can use some inexpensive video lights that are very easy to set up.
Quiet On The Set!
Watching dark, grainy video is actually forgivable to our eyes, but hearing lots of noise and no music will irritate even untrained ears. The easiest way to get good piano sound is to make sure the only thing making noise is the piano! Ask anyone else around to be quiet while you perform, turn off any electronics that might make noise, and shut the doors to the room. The sound that a phone records is pretty forgiving, but still picks up lots of ambient noise. If you would like even better sound, consider investing in a small microphone for your smart phone. It will ensure that whatever it’s pointing at will be recorded the loudest and cleanest it can be.
Improve with Practice
Just like learning the piano, learning to record yourself takes practice. Use these tips each time you record, and don’t be afraid to do multiple takes with different camera positions, lighting, and sound. Then you can pick the one that turned out the best. Have fun with it! We’re looking forward to seeing your videos.
-Nick Boxwell, Videographer