Monday, June 16, 2014

How to produce Berg's Nightingale for YouTube by yourself

How to Produce The Nightingale by Alban Berg for YouTube

This shouldn't be difficult. The song, Die Nactigall by a young Alban Berg is just 1 minute 45 seconds long and is one of those songs one just has to sing. I know Art Songs are out of fashion and almost off the menu but they are magnificent and in life there is only time for the best as my late husband and accompanist would say. Benjamin Britten also loved Berg and encouraged me to get to know the composer's work so regardless of the fact that I knew at the start that I should not have a vast public, to obtain maximum view Bookbinding, Butchering and Darwin are required but I live in hope of a few.

The general public and my friends have no idea of just how long a little task like this takes or the skills that are required so after a disappointing early response I thought the world should know just how time consuming and clever one has to be to achieve the above just in case anyone should wish to try the same. I love YouTube as it is a place where one can be creative and try things one could never usually afford to do. It is a place where one can make mistakes but just occasionally one gets it right and it is so gratifying. Of course you have to learn how to do this and I was lucky because I got in at the beginning in about 2007 when iMovie was at its easiest and best. I leaned how to video edit on iMovie 2 and eventually reluctantly upgraded as it was gradually withdrawn. It was too good to be free.

I even started a Channel to teach others how to do this but what with YouTube losing my legacy channel and the fact that I seem to be in a minority when it comes to video editing and the fact that today it is just not possible to start from scratch on an easy application. Today one has to begin with the hard stuff and Premier Pro and Final Cut X are daunting and take forever to do what iMovie 2 did in minutes.

So how did I do it? Today because of the copyright situation one has to own every frame of your video that means no songs after 1923. Alban Berg's was written in 1906. It was a song I did not know so first I had to find and download the sheet music which I did from Petrucci Music Library.

I do not play the piano and I no longer have a tame pianist. To learn a song to  professional performance means practising it every day for at least a couple of weeks and this is where brilliance of Garageband comes in. This is a free Midi app. After Miles died I had no accompanist. I lost husband and accompanist and as we had sung every morning for 30 years this was a blow. Then came Computers and Garageband . For years I just used it using the loops and the one night I need to change a few notes and I thought if I could do this perhaps I could write out the piano accompaniments to my Schubert Songs. I did and this is the first song I did. Note the wonderful uncompressed sound and warmth of the recording on tape which is no longer available today.

Writing out the piano version took about 3 hours, then I had to translate it from the German, I have to own the translations. Orchestrating it and this took considerable longer because one has to get it to sound good on digital. It was two weeks before I was satisfied with the key and orchestration and tempo and it took about a week to record as I have had whooping cough and this did not help. Some days I could sing it and some I couldn't.  This song was very difficult to make sound good on small speakers. Mixing can take hours too and sound mixing is an art in itself. It sounds terrific on high quality speakers and through earphones but even on my best computer with excellent small speakers it does not sound great. The range of the song is not favoured microphones. This is annoying because I know the vast majority of the audience will only hear my song on small speakers. Ah me!

Next the visuals. Here again one has to own or have permission for every frame. I do not have or have access to footage of nightingales so at first I tried the image effects answer. For this I use Motion. This is a very complicated application that allows one to manipulate video. I played about for about a week but the results did not  do justice to the song so I looked for some nightingale footage on YouTube as none was available for free use. There was only one channel. Bram Siertsema had taken some glorious HD footage of nightingales that one could die for. I had no way of getting in touch other than a video comment but I just asked him if I could use it to sing too. To my delight he said yes.

Usually I have to go out and take live footage my self which has meant learning how to use a HD SLR video camera.

The only way to get the footage was to download it  legally from YouTube as a full Quicktime Movie. This I did using YouTube Video Converter. Then I had to load it into Premier Pro for editing. The footage was in daylight so I had to send it to Speedgrade to change day into night. Video editing can be intensive and take hours and hours but the problem comes when one has to render. Rendering takes hours and hours and sometime hours more. A short  heavily edited 1 minute 45 sec can take up to 45 minutes or longer if not tackled in the right way and I have a super fast set up. If you get it wrong and I was unsatisfied with the sound mix and still am the rendering time is horrendous.

Then off to Photoshop for the graphics.

 Back to Motion to have the titles and Motion effects put on and more rendering. Then one has a final check, render and off to the Flash encoder to get it ready for YouTube. Another 2 hours can be spent doing this. Off to DropBox which plays .flv's to see what it looks like and then fingers crossed the YouTube upload. If I don't like it I have to do all this again till I do.

Then it is a lottery to see if I get a matched content notice. Being in public domain and well out of copyright doesn't mean you don't get one of these. A dispute can mean three weeks of wait or a demand to take the video down. This happens first and you argue later.

And then at last it is time to publish to your friends who are blissfully unaware  of the work involved. Proust once sent copies of his famous novel to all his friends who it seemed had great difficulty opening the envelope. I know just how he feels. If lucky I shall get about 50 views for this but Berg is worth it. One day I tell myself my work will be appreciated. I know of no one else who could do all of this, except one who could if he had the time. Maestro Wenarto is the only other person who I know who could do this if he chose as he too has the creative vision  however if it required 32 fouettes he might be stumped.

Why do I bother to go to all this trouble? Th skills needed to produce this short video are considerable and out of the question if one had to pay the going rate. I reckon about $50,000.  Because these songs need to be sung. Unless they are sung they will be lost in time and that is a pity because they are wonderful when the songs of the Beatles have vanished as they will  this song will still hold it's place in the musical hierarchy. Thanks to the computer and the magic applications I can sing and interpret these songs in my way.

Why don't other singers do this? I have found it is no good waiting for someone to do this for you and yet singers do.  They sit and wait when the tools for them to reach a huge audience are there to be used. Sometimes I do it for others and that gives me pleasure too because in a way I give them their posterity like John Prichett below. He wrote many West End revues and musicals and yet the song he wrote for me is the only one on YouTube. A moving picture is worth a thousand Wiki references. I am so lucky being able to do this.

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