As we rely more on technology these days, recording video and audio has become a staple in our everyday virtual lives. For most people, their daily work or studies rely on Zoom calls and Skype, or WebEx online conferences. For artists, livestreaming and distanced recording has become a mode of sharing their talents with the world during the pandemic. Younger musicians taking lessons even rely on digital lessons every week to keep up their skills. Most likely the increased reliance on the internet won’t be going away any time soon. So, here are some helpful tips on technical tricks to help you become a recording pro so sharing music becomes an easy and enjoyable experience:

  1. Lighting: How do I know if I have a right light and if it is on point? Am I  capturing the golden hour?  Most at home videos don’t require expensive rigs and setups, just a little careful thought and planning. It is important to  check the area you are filming in is well lit. Natural light is best, but artificial will work too. Take note of the direction of the light. Having light behind you, known as backlit in the film/photography industry, will create shadows across your face you may not want in a video. Too much light may wash also your face out. Think carefully about how you would like your video be lit to create the best shot.
  2. Framing: Filming in your home’s mirror? Make sure we can’t see personal belongings or a messy room. This tip may seem obvious, but make sure your subject is in the frame! We recommend to not shoot too high, or too low. Ideally, the video will be at eye level. Raising, lowering, or twisting the camera will create odd angles. Imagine those unflattering, double chin selfies when the camera is lower than your face or a view inside your nose holes when the camera is too high.
  3. Stabilize: It might not seem like it when filming a video, but looking back we can usually see just how shaky our hold on the camera actually was. A good way to prevent this is to stand still when filming. While a tripod may be ideal, tucking your elbows close to your body and holding the camera with both hands will greatly increase stability with your filming.
  4. Shoot Horizontal: The best way to shoot videos with your smartphone is horizontally. Vertical smart phone videos may be ideal for tiktok or Instagram reels, but they may not be ideal for every purpose. When putting vertical video into a video editor, black bars will appear on the sides of the video to fill in the empty space. So, get the most out of your smart phone with this easiest tip on this list.
  5. Film Closer: Not only can we not see anything from 50 feet away, we can’t hear anything either. Tried zooming in? That makes the video blurry. Turned the playback volume up? It will sound bad and loud. Another easy fix on our list, is to make sure your subject is close to the camera. It’s easier to fix this mistake while filming instead of in post-production (after it has been filmed). Smart phone microphones are not powerful enough to clearly pick up sound from across the room. The closer you are to your subject, the easier it will be to clearly hear every sound. However, getting too close and loud risks overpowering the microphone, which also creates poor sound playback.
  6. Additional microphone: This last tip is largely optional, and not required equipment for recording. There are smartphone microphones that plug in via the audio port (where the headphones plugin). They are a relatively cheap way to boost your sound quality while still maintaining the ease of smartphone recording.

Have Fun! Technology may not be everybody’s best friend and although trying to incorporate all of the above may get the best technical results, being too focused on all of the mechanics, it may also hinder the creative element of fun and spontaneity of the actual performance. So, remember to capture your real live spark of your performance if you can!

We hope that these tips will help you improve  your at home recording skills  for submitting videos to our ISM Virtual Winter Recital Series, sending E-Cards and videos to family members over the holidays, sending in videos for college auditions or ensemble auditions, or giving livestreaming virtual concerts from your home.

To learn more practical tips on playing music, you can visit our blog, or give us a call at  301-365-5888 or to get more information to start your musical journey at the International School of Music!