iOS Tools for LAMPG Videos

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

LAMPG – Look at Me Play Guitar – is certainly not the most absurd video genre we find on YouTube, but then that’s not a very high barrier, is it? For those of us who are not stars already, most of our videos will get only a handful of hits, make no money, and bring us no recognition, fame, or even infamy. But with all this I still find it more fun to make a good video than a bad one, so I’m always trying to learn to make these little movies better.

Video Is Easy, Audio is Hard

Camera gear has made amazing strides since I started shooting a dozen years ago. And I must admit my budget for gear has gone up as well, so these days it’s pretty easy to get good clean, sharp pictures if I don’t make any dumb mistakes. But the laws of physics get in the way when we try to capture good clean audio to go along with that crisp clear video. Basically, we cannot get good sound if we use a microphone attached to the camera. We need a mic or two close to the source, in flattering positions, which means we need either a separate audio recording system or we need to be able to feed audio from a mic or two into the camera.

There are lots of iOS audio products out there but I had commitment issues for a long time. Honestly, I probably won’t use my iPhone for a lot of music video work so I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in this tool. There are several USB mics that have a certain appeal, but I have plenty of mics already, mostly very nice ones, so a USB mic wasn’t very compelling. I finally decided on the iRig Pro from IK Multimedia, and promptly found one on Ebay for a nice price.

Let’s See the Video

The iRig Pro has a nice mix of technical features at a nice price. It has enough clean gain to handle low output mics. A 9 volt battery can be used to supply true balanced 48v phantom power if the microphone requires it, otherwise the iRig Pro is powered by the phone, pad, or computer. The input jack is a combo item that handles both XLR and 1/4″ phone plug, so it’s easy to plug in a guitar or other musical instrument. There’s even a MIDI input with a special cable to make the connection. Speaking of cables, it comes with four. Besides the MIDI adapter there are cables to connect the iRig to an iMac, Lightning iOS device, or 30 pin iOS device.

Here’s a video that goes over the features a bit and demonstrates the iRig compared to the iPhone built-in mic, with a guitar pickup plugged into the 1/4″ input, and also compared to an RME UFX with a ribbon mic as the source.

Now Let’s Hear the Audio

I rendered audio only versions of the ribbon mic comparison so you can download these uncompressed WAV files and listen to them carefully. An ABX comparator is a great way to do this. As usual, since these are uncompressed 44.1/16 WAV files they will not stream well, you should download them to your system before trying to play them.

Ribbon Mic Through iRig Pro

Ribbon Mic Through RME UFX

These clips are both recorded at the same time through the same mic with a test tone recorded for level matching. The iRig file needed almost 10 dB of gain added in post to match the level of the RME UFX. The UFX interface has 65 dB of gain available, so it appears that the iRig Pro provides about 55 dB of maximum gain.

A Team of One

Film making is traditionally a team effort, but for my “Look At Me Play Guitar” videos I’m nearly always working solo. I’m producer, director, talent, sound tech and camera op. And grip and catering too! I learned early that being able to see what the camera sees while I’m in playing position is a big time and stress saver, so I looked for cameras with an articulated viewscreen. More recently I’ve used cameras that work with a smartphone app to provide remote viewing, starting and stopping recording, and in some cases fairly comprehensive adjustment of camera settings. The lack of remote viewing is another reason my iPhone has rarely been used for guitar videos.

An iOS App to the Rescue

Happily, I’ve just discovered an app that lets one iOS device preview and control the camera of another iOS device. It’s called Camera Plus, available in the iTunes App Store of course. As a replacement camera app it adds things like macro and distance focusing, a brightness control, and a depth of field control for video, along with an editing tool. But the feature I couldn’t resist is AirSnap, which uses the Bluetooth link to deliver a remote view of an iOS camera along with control of photo vs video, focus point, brightness, and trigger for stills or start and stop for video. Now I can find a good camera position much more quickly and be confident that I’m shooting what I think I am.

Is the Proof in the Playing?

I was so pleased with these discoveries that I immediately set out to shoot a new LAMPG video with my iPhone. I connected a Shure KSM141 condenser mic through the iRig Pro, connected my iPad to my iPhone using AirSnap, and ran through an old Hawaiian song, Pua Tuberose twice so I could get different camera angles. Then I pulled both clips into Edius and used the best parts of each to create a performance clip. Here’s that video, part of the collection of slack key videos at my other YouTube channel.

If you enjoyed the guitar style in this clip and would like to know more about it please visit my Kaleponi.com slack key blog.



This entry was posted on Saturday, July 4th, 2015 at 1:29 pm and is filed under Recording, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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    12 Responses to ' iOS Tools for LAMPG Videos '

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    1. Steve Berger said in post # 1,

      on July 6th, 2015 at 7:54 am

      Hi Fran, your post and video is perfect timing for me as I just made my first ever video with my iPhone 6+.

      Although I was pleasantly surprised by the audio I was able to get from the 6+ (I amped my Goodall with an AER Compact 60), I believe I would be able to get far superior audio results with the iRig.

      Here are a couple of questions: I only have two mics in my locker. A Rode NT4 stereo mic and a Rode NT2A mic. Since the IRig is mono, I will be using the Rode NT2A. Base on your experience, would the NT2A work well in this iRig application?

      And, I have Baggs Active iBeams in a couple of guitars. Would the ‘active’ nature of these work well with the iRig too?

      Thanks for your thoughts Fran and and for the music and for sharing your informative videos.
      __________________

    2. Steve Berger said in post # 2,

      on July 7th, 2015 at 5:45 am

      Fran, is it still necessary to ‘sync’ the audio with the video in a program like iMovie when recording with this 6+ / iRig Pro / mic setup or is the syncing accomplished in the 6+ as the recording is made?

    3. Fran Guidry said in post # 3,

      on July 7th, 2015 at 9:11 am

      No, you’re recording the audio into the video container in sync. No syncing required in post.

      Fran

    4. Steve Berger said in post # 4,

      on July 7th, 2015 at 10:40 am

      One more question Fran. Do I need to purchase Camera Plus on both my 6+ and iPad or just on one? And if just on one device – which one?

    5. Fran Guidry said in post # 5,

      on July 8th, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Steve, the app must be on both devices. But, although I can’t find it right now I read somewhere that Camera Plus is a “Family App” which I think means you can buy it once and install it on all the iOS devices in your “family.”

      I didn’t do that, however. I was so excited that I bought two copies before I realized that I didn’t need to do that. I’ll continue to try to figure this out for sure.

      Fran

    6. Fran Guidry said in post # 6,

      on July 8th, 2015 at 7:56 am

      Ahhh, found it. Family sharing was added in Camera Plus 4 for iOS 8: http://www.iphonehacks.com/2014/09/camera-plus-adds-airsnap-family-sharing-extensions-ios-8-update.html

      So if you have your devices identified as being part of the same family you should only need to buy Camera Plus once for all your devices.

      Fran

    7. Steve Berger said in post # 7,

      on July 8th, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Thank You Fran. Yes I only had to pay for one Camera Plus app download, as my iPHONE 6+ and iPAD share the same iCloud account.

    8. Steve Berger said in post # 8,

      on July 12th, 2015 at 6:17 am

      Hi Fran,

      Before I go ahead and purchase the iRig Pro I have a question as I know you use the iRig Pro with your iPhone 6+.

      I read somewhere that the lightning cable that comes with the iRig Pro has a rather large ‘end piece’ on the cable end that would go into the iPhone 6+, and that as a result you can’t insert it into the iPhone 6+ ‘lightning port’ when it is in most cases.

      I have my 6+ in an Incipio DualPro case and if I had to remove it to insert the iRig Pro lightning cable that would be a deal breaker for me as the case is very hard to remove and replace onto the 6+.

      I was just wondering what your experience was if in fact you keep your 6+ in a case.

      Thanks

      Steve

    9. Fran Guidry said in post # 9,

      on July 12th, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Comparing the Apple and iRig cables, the iRig Lightning connector does have a larger “end piece” than the Apple cable. It’s about 20 to 30 percent wider and thicker. I have no idea if this will cause interference with your case. My case doesn’t interfere with access to the Lightning jack, but yours might very well cause an issue.

      Fran

    10. Steve Berger said in post # 10,

      on July 12th, 2015 at 8:05 am

      Thanks for comparing the two cables and letting me know Fran.

    11. Steve Berger said in post # 11,

      on July 18th, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Hey Fran,

      I just recorded one of my very first LAMPG videos of one of my original songs “Dark Passage” and I thought I’d share it with you. I used my iPhone 6+, Apogee MIC and Goodall GC.

      Here is the You Tube link: https://youtu.be/d_JrlZvwT7g.

      You can also find it on the Acoustic Guitar Forum (AGF) in the Show & Tell sub forum.

      Mahalo,

      Steve

    12. Fran Guidry said in post # 12,

      on September 10th, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Hey, Steve, sounded good to me. How did you like it? Great sounding guitar!

      Fran

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    About the Blog

      Howdy, my name is Fran Guidry and this is my Homebrewed Music blog.

      I play Hawaiian slack key guitar and recorded my solo acoustic CD at home. Most of the recording information I find on the internet seems focused on bands, drums, multitracking, and so on but my main focus is recording solo acoustic guitar. Lately I’ve been enjoying video recording along with audio, so that shows up in the blog as well.

      I’m also a guitar nut. I love big ones and little ones, handmades and factory guitars, cheap ones and expensive ones. So I’ll be sharing the fun of exploring guitars as well, along with the challenges of amplifying acoustic guitars for live performance.

      Welcome!

    Philosophy

      My recording philosophy is pragmatic, skeptical, not super critical. After all, the performance is by far the most important component of a track, and every aspect of any recording is a matter of taste.

      But I do like to know “about stuff.” Back in hifi days I learned about double blind testing. I learned that we humans can easily hear differences that don’t really exist. The more I’ve learned about our human auditory system, the more I’m skeptical of what people say they hear, especially if they claim that a particular microphone or preamp or cable has some magical property.

      I’ve only been recording since 2001, and when I started I found the usual places on the internet. I sought advice and accepted it, thought I would improve my recordings by using more expensive equipment. It didn’t work.

      Two things that did seem to lead to better recordings were experience and room treatment. Getting an appealing sound is the combination of many small details, and learning those details only comes from experience. Amd the sound of the recording space is obviously a big factor.

      I’ve only recorded seriously using digital technology, but I remember trying to record rehearsals and gigs back in analog days. I don’t have any nostalgia for analog recording and playback systems at all. I think even low end digital systems can capture marvelous recordings. So when I look at gear, I look for good specs: low noise, broad flat frequency response, wide dynamic range, low distortion. I’m not interested in colorful components, mics and preamps with a sound, I want the sound to be the sound of my guitar.

      But the last word is that I’m just learning and I hope you find something useful in my posts.