What makes a video interesting...

Posted: 5/1/2012 1:18:30 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Here's my 2 cents. This does not apply to the out-of-the-box, "Show & Tell" kind of video where quality, performance and musicianship are unimportant.

A MUSIC VIDEO cannot be any better than its audio. Capturing your sound with nothing but the built-in video camera microphone is a bad idea - particularly if your camera is placed in a club or cafe where people are talking and/or guzzling beer and noisily stuffing their faces with fries. 

With the theremin, given a choice, I'd rather see poor video with great audio, than poor audio with great video. 

KEEP IT SHORT. Remember the immortal words of the late Clara Rockmore: LESS IS MORE. Leave your viewers wishing your three minute video was longer, rather than putting them to sleep with fifteen or twenty minutes of your glorious playing.

EDIT! EDIT! EDIT! There are so many theremin videos on YouTube where the first two or three minutes are all set-up, or images of an empty stage. This is often the case with concerts and festivals where a camera has been placed at the back of the hall and allowed to run for the entire event.

Why are you making a video? 

If you're not sure exactly what it is you want to say with your performance, your audience won't know either. Bad theremin playing does not promote either the instrument or the career of the thereminist. I often wonder why people post videos where the remarks in their info box begin with, "I know my playing really stinks and the camera wasn't too steady but........".

If the person plays badly and doesn't know it, then it's not their fault. But if they play badly and know it, then what is their point?

It is a puzzlement!

Posted: 5/1/2012 1:21:03 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Hi all! Thanks for the comments. Yeh, at the entry diy level, to get things started with what you're already using in the way of camera/s, start by paying a visit to home depot, and look for 5500K (daylight balanced) CFL bulbs. 30watt to 40watt will do. Get about 3 or 4 of these, and 3 or 4 clamp lamps with large reflector bells on them. The bell will reflect the light from the cfl bulb out the same way the more expensive pro lighting kits do. Just don't use the yard lights. If you have several mic stands, you can clamp your lights to these for pretty good positioning. You'd be amazed at how good even a cheap web cam's video will look once you feed it the right lighting.

There are also some good vids on youtube that teach how to make diy microphone boompoles, and how to use them. As Coalport, and others mentioned, audio is critical. I agree with Coalport, you don't want to use the camera's onboard mic. The quality will be much better once you get a mic parked where it needs to be. Near your theremin speaker. As Coalport mentioned, club shoots are really bad for onboard camera mics. Of course, at the time, I could not afford all the cool toys I'm adding to the studio, and still don't have a good shotgun mic, but that's coming. Oh, the most annoying sounds in video: dangling lens caps, and the camera's motorized focusing motors, and disc drives, or tape drives in the camera which get recorded by the onboard microphone. That's a really good reason for using the above mentioned recording methods.

Posted: 5/1/2012 2:59:03 PM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

oh... How i know how much my videos s*ck lol...

Posted: 5/1/2012 3:27:02 PM

From: A Coruña, Spain

Joined: 9/26/2010

coalport said: 

If the person plays badly and doesn't know it, then it's not their fault. But if they play badly and know it, then what is their point?

I think there are some valid reasons to post videos even if one doesn't play well, for example:

- To get feedback. Some people (including yourself) have given me helpful criticism about some of my youtube videos.

- To show to friends/family, who often are interested in seeing how their friend plays the theremin even if he isn't so good. YT has a "private videos" feature for this, but once the video is there, it's easy to publish it for any of the other reasons (and I'm not even sure if YT lets you open an account to post only private videos, probably not, as it would be bad for their advertising business).

- To set goals for oneself. "OK, in at most one month I'm going to upload a video of this song that sucks as little as possible". In an ideal world we would all be self-disciplined, but in the real world many of us aren't, and setting some kind of visible milestone helps us commit ourselves to something.

YT is a website for the average person to share their videos, and while of course it's always good to strive to do everything as well as we can, I don't think it's a bad thing to post mediocre or even bad videos as long as we don't want to deceive anyone. The bad thing would be to post crappy videos pretending that they are great and/or getting offended at anyone criticising them. 

Posted: 5/1/2012 4:59:02 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

"What makes a video interesting?"

Good question. Let's start with a simpler one - what makes a video interesting to me?

Content, not production quality. If I am interested in the content I will endure the most dreadful cameramanship to see something I want to see (but not audio - I watch theremin videos primarily to hear them, so please, good volume, no ground loops or accidental distortion!) whereas the slickest, most professional video will not hold my attention if I am not interested in the subject. 

All other things being equal, a well made video will hold my attention better than a poorly made one, but all other things are seldom equal. Of course, different people have different requirements - for instance, if you are using your youtube channel as an online portfolio to garner professional engagements, then it should look as professional as possible.

So what about theremin videos? Questions; who is your audience, what are they interested in?

If your target audience is other thereminists, then they are probably interested in seeing your playing technique, and this is what the visual portion of the video should dwell on. 

My target audience is not particularly other thereminists, and I am keen to play down the gee-whizz aspect of playing an instrument without touching it, so I use the visual side of the video not to illustrate my technique (or lack of it!) but to reinterpret the emotional content of the audio track. I am aware that the sort of music I make is unfamiliar to a good proportion of youtube viewers, so I use the visuals to try to put the audio track into a context where they might encounter "unusual" music - for instance on the soundtracks of science documentaries, horror movies and general surreality. Hence my preference for using stock footage over filming it myself; there aren't that many moonscapes, nuclear tests, dogs with severed heads or creepy spider-women in Hertfordshire.

The danger in this approach is that the visual aspect can be more enthralling that the audio - but if you get to the end of one of my videos and realise that you were watching more than listening then at least I have done my job of reinterpreting the piece visually well enough - there was clearly no cognitive dissonance between the audio and the visuals. 

Posted: 5/1/2012 7:52:38 PM
Chainsaw Willie!

From: Just a short walk away from Nike Missile Site S-13/14

Joined: 1/28/2011

Amethyste wrote:

"Thanks Thomas for the tips... But as diggyDog said, I am on a very limited budget and getting all the supplies that would make my YT videos a little better would break my bank! so I guess i'll start slowly get things a little here and there..."




I don' think a lot of money is required for the average joe to make a decent youtube video.  The videos that are truly poor are due to the the creator:


1.  not being creative.


2.  not planning things out


3.  not editing at all


4.  not reviewing the video first, and then just uploading whatever it is


Poor video creators seem to often do it all in one pass, instead of making a rough draft video first, reviewing it, and then correcting the lighting,  editing the dialog, and removing the catbox from view.


Planning, thinking, and editing are free and can be done with the crappiest equipment.  A lot of other stuff is free, like sunlight or overcast daylight coming thrugh a living room window if you can't afford fancy lights.  Audacity is free and pretty good for editing audio.


Some stuff is can be purchased cheaply.  Single channel Digital Audio interfaces can be had around $100 and cheaper used.  Look up GLS Audio ES57 for a $30 Shure SM57 copy that is a pretty decent microphone for so stinkin' cheap.  Or forget the DAI and Microphone and instead go with a simple stand alone digital recorder like a Tascam DR-07,  Such things can be had under $100 used and is very convienient with built-in stereo microphones.


I think creative problem solving will get you a lot further than money will.  Certainly it is less likely to get a super professional quality video with out a big investment (and/or hiring professionals), but you CAN get a pretty darn decent non-professional video with some lower end gear, creativity, and planning.  It's just awfully hard to do it with the microphone on a point-and-shoot camera, a reading lamp in the basement next to the waterheater, and a catbox on the floor.


Really, the truly poor videos on youtube (in any catagory, not just music) are the ones where the video creator isn't even really trying, just switching a camera on and off.


Creativity, planning, and EFFORT will get you in the 90th percentile.  Money will get you in the 98th percentile.

Posted: 5/1/2012 11:07:58 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

A good cheap light source is above your head during the day - the sun.

Try setting up your equipment outside on a nice day.

The time around sunset is called "the golden hour" because the light is so spectacular. It is so good that huge Hollywood studios who have access to all the lighting gear they could ever want will often setup and wait all day for that golden Snset light to get a great shot.

Posted: 5/2/2012 12:01:25 AM

From: Weert, Limburg, the Netherlands

Joined: 4/10/2012

... I think I'm just a follower of my intuition with video editing ;-) My videocamera isn't the best one, so isn't it's sound, and another problem is that I mostly make kinda studio edits because my lovely doggy Jimmy often likes to "sing" along with my theremin playing, AS my birdies love to sing along too, and because I live in such a small house, it's hard to play somewhere else, but only in my living room, hehe!

What I mostly do, is playing live while recording it, AS via my video camera, AS via Cool Edit Pro, and afterwards I'll try it to mix this seamless together ... It's all a matter of well timing things together!

Nevertheless, I think I should play more live, though this isn't always possible overhere because of some baby in the block ... Anyway ...

I know that you Thomas, you have great gear and you once mentioned the program where you can put other background pictures behind your theremin video ... I wish I would have such a great software, but I don't have any Apple, I'm using Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 14 which already is a great program and I still haven't found everything of it! But I don't think you can do this background trick overthere LOL!

So well ... I think that the best thing is timing, angle of your camera, playing around with lights, eventually playing around with effects ... And yes ... I agree with all t hat the sound usually sounds better than the video quality is ... I won't say I'm a well video editor, but nevertheless I know that some on YT ARE a lot worser, but I can imagine that WELL videotaping and video editing can be quite difficult things, and yes ... I still am trying out new things in each video I edit ;-)


Marielle :D

Posted: 5/2/2012 12:06:22 AM

From: Weert, Limburg, the Netherlands

Joined: 4/10/2012

If your target audience is other thereminists, then they are probably interested in seeing your playing technique, and this is what the visual portion of the video should dwell on. 

My target audience is not particularly other thereminists, and I am keen to play down the gee-whizz aspect of playing an instrument without touching it, so I use the visual side of the video not to illustrate my technique (or lack of it!) but to reinterpret the emotional content of the audio track.


I completely agree with you Gordon, as I work a bit in the same way, but for me it's 50-50 ... AND a bit "thereminizing" around, for thereminists, but also for non-theremin-playing people, but especially with my own "bred" music, I'd rather love to create a specific emotion, and not just making some "dry" video ;-)



Marielle :D

Posted: 5/2/2012 10:51:59 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

What has become blatantly obvious in these discussions of what constitutes an "interesting video" is that we are all making theremin videos that please ourselves. With all artistic creations, personal tastes vary tremendously and what may be a touching and magical theremin moment for one person, may well be torture for somebody else. 

I am no longer surprised when I see a theremin video where the playing is waaay off key and the thereminist does not know the notes of the piece being played, and then read the comments of viewers who express how deeply moved they have been by the magnificence of the performance. 

When it comes to video making, as with all aspects of theremin playing, we are not going to agree on anything (with the possible exception of the removal of the kitty litter box). 

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