Interesting Video Technique

December 23, 2024

One of the members of the accordion club posted a video with an interesting technique that I kind of liked and wanted to see if I could emulate, but play with using my own techniques. In essence, he divided up his screen in to 3 sections with a focus on the right hand on the far left side, focus on his left hand on the far right side and a center section showing an approximate 3/4 body shot of him playing his piece.

Granted, it was an interesting effect, yet nothing that I have not seen dozens of times elsewhere and was an effect that piqued my curiosity as I’ve never tried doing something similar. This user did it with three 1080P cameras in a complicated tripod arrangement. There are many ways one could do that effect, and the way that I was thinking that I would want to try was using ONE camera… wait, not even a real camera, but my Galaxy Samsung S21 cellphone (how is THAT for a challenge??).

Being who I am, I don’t want to copy the effect, but make a similar video effect that reflects a little of my technical knowledge, maybe using some advanced features of Davinci Resolve Studio and see how it works.

If I liked the results, this would be another bit of info to place in to my toolbox to use anytime I would need it.

A couple hours later:

I did some fast experimenting and learned a few things. Using my green screen, this could be very easily done at a higher level of quality, but the concept in my head was to try to accomplish this without it.

Slight disappointment… haha. This didn’t turn out to not be the technical challenge I thought it would be.

A couple hours later I learned that I could easily do it using one 4K video from my camera by simply duplicating the main video 3 more times and then cropping and resizing the windows. To make it interesting, some playing with the opacity blended things very nicely. A finishing touch of using a Planar Tracker to “freeze” the movement made sure neither hand was moving within the side frames, even if I pulled the bellows using large movements.

What really surprised me was the quality of the audio. I didn’t use the Mackie mixer this time because I was a bit further away on the other side of the room (well I could have used longer cables, but wanted to test a more portable setup). Instead, I used the Zoom F4 with the cellphone/camera on top of it while all on a small tripod.

I first tried going straight from the F4 to the camera. It was good, but I did not have the control over the audio channels that I wanted (that’s just me being anal, of course!)

Recording and using the files created on the Zoom F4 at 24bit-96k or even 24bit-192k to separate mono tracks really increased headroom to the point that I had a TON of dynamic range for leeway and more control. Here is a neat trick… I used the headphone outputs from the F4 and routed them directly in to the camera. This gives me a cleaner direct sounds from the E4400a mics instead of using the on camera nics for the “scratch audio”

Speaking of the super clear and clean sE4400a mics, in Cardioid or Hypercardioid mode they gave me TONS of play room in the post processing of the audio in Reaper and the separation was just perfect with the Scandalli. This may change with other accordions but this was a winning combo in this test

I only recorded about 60 seconds of audio/video a couple times for testing purposes and the few things I learned are:

  • The image from the S21 Ultra is nice but if anything, suffers from a shortage of dynamic range in the video (it is easy to blow out parts of the keyboard under these conditions if not careful). Exposures need to be set lower than what the camera wants to normally shoot at. For this exercise, it is more than good enough, but I feel the Sony handicam will do a bit better and the Panasonic camera would be of even much higher quality levels. The cellphone camera is the best camera to use if there are no other options since most people would be hard pressed to ever tell the difference. Here is an additional thought… using the iPad and Blackmagic camera with 4k ProRes 422HQ may be fun to play with one day too and gave surprisingly good results using the free Blackmagic camera app. Another test for another day!
  • If I want the BEST audio quality results, especially for heavy post processing, my old tried and true method of recording to the Zoom F4 at 24-bit / 96k or 192k are the way to go, with audio processing happening in Reaper. Audio processing in Resolve works well, but for some reason, the nuances are just not as nice. Again, not something that anyone but me would notice.
  • Setting the sE4400a mics to Hypercardioid is a nice way to get additional separation, they just sound AMAZING but Cardioid quality is extremely close. Additional note, using these microphones in the same physical placement I had while testing would also make it possible to mask them out when using the green screen… bonus points for the green screen!
  • In the setting/location that I used (my back to the accordion shelves), it gives an interesting background, pretty good separation and no perceptible background noise, but with the furnace on the intrusion was minimal but still audible (me being so picky, yes we will turn off the furnace before recording!). Still this was a small but pleasant surprise!

In the two hours of testing time in between Christmas chores, this netted me some awesome info and experience. Look for me to use it in some future video.