El Camino Real – Symphonic Band

Type of Media: Video
Completed: March 2010
Created by: Stephen Richards
Video recording: Florence Ha, Natalie Liu, Joanne Tse & Stephen Richards
Editing & audio recording: Stephen Richards

This is a video recording of our school’s Symphonic Band performing El Camino Real (by Albert Reed). The conductor is Mr Chiu Kai-keung. Our music department head, Ms Lee Siu-mei, is also instrumental in helping the band prepare for competitions and performances. The performance took place during Lam Woo’s 40th Anniversary Open Day on 19 November. The band performed twice, with the second performance being the one featured in the video (though we also included footage from the first performance). I hope you enjoy the video.


Technical Information

The recording was quite  informal as all the studio team members, including myself, were busy with other duties. I just asked students who were around to help record the video using the two camcorders we had on hand. This is why some of the camera movement is a little wild and shaky at times, though I think the camera operators did a very good job of focusing on different sections and performers. The students who helped out included Florence (who was waiting to perform with the choir), Joanne (who was on duty in the English Corner nearby) and Natalie (who is a studio team member, but who was doing photo taking that morning).

The camcorders we were using (Canon HG10 and HF10) were not really able to capture the dynamic audio range of the performance (from the soft oboe solo to the blaring horns and cymbal crashes), so I used a small digital audio recorder—the Roland R-O5—to capture the audio. This device was very effective, allowing me to easily control audio input levels. After recording, there was still a lot of work to do cleaning up the sound. I used Magix Audio Cleaning Lab and Goldwave to get rid of the noise coming from the air-conditioning and ventilation system and to make sure all the different intruments were coming through clearly. The Audio Cleaning Lab software doesn’t have a lot of functions, but it is great at what it does (I still can’t believe how easily it gets rid of air-conditioner noise while leaving everything else intact). I’m still not completely satisfied with the audio, however. As the orchestra was performing in a gymnasium, the low sounds tended to be boomy and muddy; therefore, I had to sacrifice some or the band’s power to try to get a clearer sound. 

The footage was edited using Premiere Pro CS4.  Because the video footage is from two different camcorders taken during two different times of the day (i.e., the lighting conditions were very different), the tints and tones of the footage from the different cameras (especially the pale blue of the girls’ uniforms) don’t match. I tried different ways to adjust the colour balance and levels of the video, but I generally ended up creating even more of a mismatch, so I just did some basic colour correction and surrendered to the different shades of blue.


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