Holiday Quartet

Last year Ashley and I made a video where I split the screen down that middle and we sang Christmas carols with our clones. It was really fun so this year we decided to make the holiday video an annual tradition. For “The Holiday Quartet” I designed a title card to look retro-appropriate for a do-wop vocal group. Then I went to the barber and had her cut my hair short on the sides so it could be combed back 1950s style. Ash did her hair like the singer Amy from Karmin, in a suicide roll. When Ash got home Thursday night, we set up lights and one of our collapsible green screens in the living room. Ashley was very eager to get setup AND take everything down all in one night. We shot for about an hour and filmed each vocal part separately. To keep the editing simple, we shot with the 7D HDSLR and did continuous takes. We used a metronome to keep the tempo and used an arrangement of White Christmas arranged by Audrey Snyder found on the sheet music site JW Pepper.

A friend suggested using a vintage mic as a prop. This prompted me to buy a dynamic condenser and a retro shell. In the future I hope to use the mic often as we have started doing voices for 30 second radio spots on 103.7 in Charlotte. We lit the green screen with regular super bright halogen lightbulb work lights from Lowes. When you light a green screen you need to have the subject at least 6 feet from the screen so as not to cast a shadow and successfully blur out the background (shallow depth of field). Green screens are “keyed” out in post production in a process that makes the green transparent, therefore allowing a replacement background to be inserted. We used gorillapods attached to portable videolights as the hair lights on the singers. Hairlights help separate the subject from the background in interviews or on stage. We used our wedding interview duel whitebox light setup to amply light the faces. With all the lights, including the Christmas tree, I was able to shoot with a 50mm lens at an f-stop of 2.8 and an ISO of 160. We filmed at 30 frames per second (fps) and kept the video size at max HD quality 1920X1080p.

After recording the vocals, Ash turned pages for me as I attempted to plunk out a semblance of a piano accompaniment. I had not practiced much and was pretty much ready for dinner. So after two stomach growling tries, I decided my piano track would have to do. Post production took place on Thursday night after we watched a marathon of “The Office” Christmas episodes. I stayed up late to get our little video done so it would not interfere with my wedding output schedule.

The titles were created in Adobe Photoshop and the video was edited in Final Cut Pro. It’s such a blast to make videos with Ash. It was fun do something that is out of the box for us. I just wish our vowels matched better on the do-do-doo parts!