Friday, July 22, 2016

Decked Out

About two weeks ago, as an unexpected anniversary gift, my wife let me buy a camp guitar. I have been taking my old guitar from my teen-hood camping, but I've often worried about the temperature extremes, stray embers, and drunk friends in the company of a guitar that I've had for nearly 45 years.

The camp guitar was purchased used for $50. It's a Gibson Maestro Concert, not an expensive guitar to begin with, but it sounds pretty good. Good enough, in fact, that I thought I might try to play a little on-camera music using it.

The inside of my house is a shambles right now. Summer is the time when all the construction gets done on our perpetually-unfinished house, and so everything is torn apart and, to say the least, not photogenic. So, I decided to take to the great outdoors and shoot and record on our (also under-construction) back deck.

I set up two cameras, and my Zoom H2 Handy Recorder. I've taken to shooting double-system because I don't have any camera that has a good mic, or that will take an external mic. Someday, maybe.

I used my son, a bit taller than me, as a stand-in, set the cameras rolling, kicked him off the deck (he tends to talk too much), and sat down with the guitar. I turned on the sound, and started playing the three songs I planned to record today.

After I had played a bit, I started thinking that the whole thing would be an unusable disaster. There were cars and big trucks passing on the road, and leaves rustling, and even kids playing on the nearby beach. But, as the camera were rolling and the guitar was in my hands anyway, I went ahead and played the three songs, even re-doing the third one a couple of times until I was satisfied with my performance.

Then I took everything down, packed it up, and headed for my computer to first listen to the audio, with the idea that if it was unusable I wouldn't even bother keeping the video files.

And, much to my surprise, the audio wasn't that bad. Yes, the noises are there in the background, and they are the kind of noises that noise cancellation doesn't do well with, but they don't actually hurt the recording so much. Score one for the H2!

The video isn't great; when I lined up the shot, I forgot to allow for the difference in aspect ratio between the camera in still mode and the camera in video mode, so the aim is a bit low, cutting off my head. But it works well enough to do what I intended, which was to show off the Gibson.

And, frankly, to get me out of neutral and start me getting out in front of the camera, and maybe some live audiences other than my camp buddies.

The first purpose was well-fulfilled. The Gibson was very good in the recording. As to the second purpose, only time will tell.

The first video should be up by tomorrow, late morning or early afternoon. Enjoy.

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