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Filming your School Glee Choir - Top Ten Tips?

As the date approaches, 11th April 2022, for video submissions we thought we'd put together a quick group of hints/tips, and a couple of rules, that we hope that you find useful.



Before listing the hints/tips/suggestions first things first GLEE is about FUN and that includes this part of it too. Yes, we want videos that do justice to the work of the children but we don't want to create something so rigid and structured that the joy of Glee is lost. So at a basic level all we need to do is record the choir on an ipad, iphone, video camera or other device and upload the results. It does not have to be anymore sophisticated than that; we are not looking for professional videographers and sound recording. So here we go, some basic tips, some no more than common sense, based on some of our experiences and the experience of others.


Tip #1 - Plan


When writing these type of tip blogs they say the first tip should be a juicy one as it’ll keep your readers with you. I'm not sure if planning falls into this category but it is the cornerstone for the whole process. Yes, it is possible to rock up, point the camera at the kids and roll but I'm not sure it will give the desired results. So what do we need to do

  • discuss it with the children

  • pick a date or dates ( you don't have to do the two songs back to back in one session)

  • choose your device(s), camera, iphone etc including tripod (if you have one?)

  • choose who's going to help e.g. a colleague, one of the children

  • book the room, space, gym hall etc


Tip #2 - Your Glee Choir


The point of this exercise is to showcase the whole choir so it makes sense to involve the children in the planning process. Talk about where the camera will be placed, how are you going to capture everyone, their movements and their voices. If time permits, let some of the children film rehearsals and talk about the results - what did they find from their experience. You may find you have a budding photographer in you group, why not let them film the final submission.


Tip #3 - Use a Tripod


If you have a tripod, use it, it will make a difference. It gives a steady base for your camera, saves from wobbly footage or indeed a sore arm caused by holding the camera/phone over a period of time. If you plan on operating and moving your camera, a tripod with a fluid head is key. It will be possible to film with the camera propped on a table and a pile of books but it won't provide you with any flexibility.


Tip #4 - Choosing Your Space


We know that in many schools space is at premium so remember to book it. While you can record the video anywhere you wish, the key is to find a space where the choir sound can be best captured, (outdoors is unlikely to work in that regard), which allows space for any dance moves and is free from any outside noises, distractions or disturbances - yes, we have had school staff randomly walking across the back of a performance and even one who popped out of a cupboard/office. You could always film the choir performing in front of assembly (if restrictions permit) - it may give a bit of atmosphere but be wary of the extra pressure and potential additional distractions.


Tip #5 - Capturing the Sound


As we said earlier, we are not looking for professional videographers and sound recording. However, if you have access to a mic, that's great, it will help to create a better sound for the choir and the soloists But you don't have to use mics!. If you don't have any mic'ing don't worry just experiment with the positioning of the camera/phone and have the children project a little more


Tip #6 - Positioning Your Camera


Find your the best filming position. Experiment with the children and try to get in a position where you can see all of the performers and capture the sound. Consider your access to power, (remember to charge any batteries), extension cables and where you run them for the safety of the performers and any audience. Don't forget to check your lighting, remember, if you film in front of a window then the choir will all be in shadow and we won't be able to see them. Also too much sun in their faces will be a distraction.


Tip #7 - Using Your Camera the right way


No video camera? No problem. You can use your phone to capture professional video footage – the quality is just fine for our purposes. But there are a few things to bear in mind when using your phone for video creation.

  • Use the camera on the back of your phone. The front camera’s quality is not as good on most phones.

  • Record in landscape mode (that is, horizontally instead of vertically). This will give you footage that looks good on larger devices, not just phone screens.

  • If your phone has a feature that allows you to overlay a grid on your screen, use it. This will help you keep your phone level and avoid tilted footage.

Tip #8 - One Take


OK this one is actually taken from the rules. Please remember that the recording of each item must be of one take. An entry will be disqualified if there is evidence of such enhancements as dynamic processing, use of auto-tuners, tracking and layering of voices, editing and mixing or any other electronic enhancement.


Tip #9 - Backing Track


Another one taken from the rules. Choirs are expected to sing along to a pre-recorded accompaniment or backing track, note; the set song backing track must be used. For the second song the track must not contain any vocals and must be wholly instrumental. As part of the performance children may use instruments e.g. bongos, however, these should be occasional or instrumental to the backing track and should not play a dominant role. No other accompaniment, including, the choir leader singing along, is allowed.


Tip #10 - Practise/Practise/Practise


Discuss with your group when you're going to film their performances, but do have a couple of dummy runs to allow the children to become comfortable with the idea. Rocking up with camera in hand for the first time may not be the best idea. One other thing, remember you don't have to film the two songs back to back.


What do we do next?


Make sure you have saved your video(s) as an MP4. Once saved then please submit your video file(s) by Wetransfer (www.wetransfer.com) or SendGB ( https://www.sendgb.com/en/ ) Wetransfer allows you free sending of a file of maximum 2 GB, which probably means that you will have to send two separate files, one for each song. SendGB allows a file maximum of 5GB so you should be able to send both songs together if you so wish, however, you can still send them separately. You will receive a confirmation once we have downloaded the video whichever platform you choose to use. Please make sure the video files contain the school name e.g. GlenrothesPS and that you include a message with the submission stating school name and video 1 (set song) and 2 (song name) Please do not send the videos by email, it is unlikely that emails will handle the file size and please do not send via dropbox or googledrive etc - this will allow us to manage all entries.

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