This is a multi-part blog series.
0. Overview – objectives, challenges, key steps.
1. Obtaining “blackness” under the player’s arms, above the legs.
2. Creating a nicely-diffused lighting of the keyboard yet permanent and compact.
3. Mounting a good quality overhead camera available when needed.
We try to emulate the visual results of YouTube jazz teacher Oliver Prehn at NewJazz– his teaching method is new and stimulating, as is his playing style. His visual presentation is technically inspiring — clean and dramatic as a foundation – permitting considerable visual creativity around the keyboard image itself.
Initial experiments for the “blackness” used a green screen approach – however:
An early view of the drummer in one of the NewJazz videos shows a large black back-screen giving of course high contrast between player and background – suggesting this might be the method used also for that “blackness” under the keyboard player’s arms.
Another clue in another early video – we can make out black material of some kind under the arms, above the legs.
Our chosen “reference” is evenly-lit, no reflections, perfectly in-focus. That image from NewJazz suggests well-diffused lighting – let’s see how close we can get. We have tried bouncing off the ceiling, various LED strips and spots – and direct LED panels with diffusing material added. Take a look at the reference – quite a challenge to meet.
We have two cameras available which shoot FHD video and which are light enough to be mounted easily above the keyboard on a permanent basis: a GoPro3 and a Sony Cybershot.
The GoPro would have been the choice (light weight, full remote control) but was quickly eliminated as it produces curved images (even when set to “narrow”).
The Cybershot has different issues – the unique fixing thread is right next to the digital connector slot which precludes permanently connecting the data/charging cable. Also it seems the whole keyboard is not in focus.
So another camera was required – final solution using an RXO II in part three.
Here is one attempt before we got the the darkness right (black shelf instead of cloth), and using the Cybershot temporarily installed — Oliver Prehn upper keyboard, marcomathieumedia version is the lower one – sound from upper keyboard only. Do visit, subscribe and support Oliver’s channel, he is amazing. Rare performance here.
Version showing how we might creatively use the black space above the keyboard.