The Making of the movie …..

Back in October, Neil suggested we should make a “Christmas Video”. Well everyone seems to do it these days so why not? Stick a camera up, press record and let it run…….

We then discovered it wasn’t as easy as that. There’s a lot involved in making a video and there’s still things we would like to go back and do again.

Firstly, we had to learn a new song in haste. Jonathan dragged out one of his old arrangements (“Santa Baby”) and re-worked it for Academix but we had to learn it in double-quick time and still needed some cue cards for the words as a backup!

We also thought finding a venue would be easy. Well everyone’s got a Christmas Tree up at this time of year haven’t they? The problem here is that the local shopping centre or town square tree would have terrible acoustics around it so we decided to stick to a more contained acoustic and build our own set!

IFInterestingly, the Voice Festival UK published a video outlining tips for creating video content for a cappella groups. We found this particularly helpful as it confirmed some of our thoughts and also gave us some good pointers in the areas where we were less experienced. In summary, it explains how you can create content with limited resources in terms of software and hardware and come out with pretty good results.

We used an HD video camera with separate digital audio recorder. We actually did a test run the week before the live recording in order to test the technology and work out some sort of layout. We went away and put together a test video using iMovie. iMovie is fantastic for this purpose but it is a free piece of software and therefore does have some limitations. That said, plenty good enough for our first attempt.


We all reviewed and discussed the first video in preparation for the live recording and agreed on how we would approach the evening. On the day we all turned up with our Christmas decorations (including a tree!) and spent some time putting together our “set”. Despite “best laid plans” and all that … the video recorder had a problem on the night with a corrupt SD card. Once this was formatted we had to reset the camera. This was fine except that the quality was reset back to 720p rather than 1080p. So, apologies, if you were hoping to see the fine quality of our complexions on your TV. For Neil and Jonathan that was probably a good thing. The audio was fine though (and we recorded at 48 kHz). I expect you’re all familiar with the movie “clapperboard”. Well, the idea behind this is that it allows you to hook together your picture and audio from separate sources and it really does work! Our “clapperboard” is replaced by the clapping of hands as you can see from the Out Takes.

The recording itself was perfect first time and we did it all in one take without any problems or issues at all (as you can see from the video embedded below)!!!

We then spent a fair amount of time back at home doing the post production. This involved tweaking the audio, attaching the audio to the video and then adding titles and, most importantly…. snow. A few final iterations of feedback and then we cut the final version. The fun part was putting together the “out takes” video which actually did stretch our knowledge of iMovie beyond 101. However, it’s all good experience and we have learnt a lot for next time (assuming we do another soon enough to avoid having to go through the learning curve again!).