View Full Version : Spoken Word poetry on YouTube

2007 October 12th, 15:57
Hey guys,
I came here a couple months ago asking questions, as I was starting a spoken word poetry series, and I wanted to tape it. I bought an HV20, and now we have three shows under our belt.

I've started putting the footage up on YouTube. You can see it here:


You'll notice that most of the time, we don't have anyone running the camera, I just have it set up on top of a Velbon DV-7000. The sound is coming from a Rode shotgun mic.

I am using Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 to downsample the video. At first I was using Sorenson Squeeze, but I find that Premiere exports straight to flv just fine.

I am working on documenting my workflow, because I am a big dork. It takes me a while to get everything processed, but so far I am pleased with the results.

Just wanted to share the kind of thing I'm filming thus far (the main reason I got the camera), and invite any constructive criticism or advice. At some point I need to learn more about lighting, and there's a hollow roar in the back of all the sound. But mostly it's pretty good for the inside of a dark club, I think.

Now that I am a couple months past the initial budget squeeze, i am very glad I got this camera. :hv20-smilie09:

- Chris

2007 October 12th, 16:21
i checked out your videos on youtube.
the colors are very nice and the light is good.
The sound was good too.
with youtube you can't tell if there are focus issues or not. nothing seems to look as sharp as you would like it.
check out some of those def poetry jam videos and see how yours compare. i think they were very close.
i also put up spoken word on youtube. but i did'nt use the hv20 i used the canon l2. The thing that i have learned is to try to get a little closer with the shot because of those focus issues. You can check out my videos with brother KAMAL SUPREME. In my next video i will use the HV20 and i hope they come out as nice as yours.

Erik Bien
2007 October 12th, 17:59
Hi Chris,

Nice to see you back here sharing your results! It looks great, but I agree with the Vulcan; getting a bit closer, while not always possible, would probably be an improvement.

It's clear you were at the mercy of their PA system; if that's often the case, you might think about a wireless microphone: I use a Samson Airline (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/219801-REG/Samson_SWAMSLLU6_Airline_Series_Micro.html) and it would work great for you: the transmitter is the size of a box of matches with a built-in microphone, you can clip it to clothing or hang it around your neck by a lanyard, and it runs for hours on a single AAA battery: just have the performers hand it off to each other.

2007 October 12th, 18:03
I felt the filming was good. My only comment, would it be possible to tape the microphone to the mic stand? There was a lot of echo and background noise.

2007 October 14th, 11:52
Thanks for the replies!

A couple quick answers:

Re: getting closer:
I'd like to, and I guess my hurdle right now is the lack of a dedicated camera person. Some people move around a good bit, and I have been worried that (without someone on the camera to follow them), they'll leave the frame of the video. However, I can still release the audio as .mp3 in that case, and if it makes most of my footage better, than maybe losing some of one or two performances a show is ok.

I'd like to get the camera physically closer to them, but the venue makes it a challenge to do that without blocking people's views or putting the cam in danger of getting knocked over.

Re: the background noise:
I like having the crowd noise in the video where possible. For that reason, I have so far avoided just running the PA sound into the camera, but I imagine that's the best solution, as it would get clean sound without having to have poets wear a mic. My stage mic is really nice - it's a new Shure Beta 58A. I think I'm capturing the sound at the mic just fine, but the Rode vidmic is not doing the job of cutting through the ambient noise.

Presumably there is a way to combine more than one source of sound (say, the poet from PA, crowd from other mic), but I wouldn't begin to know how to do that.

Thoughts on just taking it from the PA? Do I need to attenuate the signal before plugging it into the cam?

Are there better shotgun mics that I can still have 10-15 feet away, but they will be more focused in one direction?

Thanks again, keep the ideas coming,


2007 October 14th, 12:18
As far as focus goes, first zoom into someone standing at the mic, lock the focus and then zoom out to get the framing you want. This way there shouldn't be any focus problems, you're always focused to the speaker.

If you're publishing these on youtube, or even regular DVD, you can zoom in your HV20 images in premiere without losing too much quality - the original image has a lot more resolution than the final output. You could then show this enlarged image some of the time, making it look like you shot the video with two cameras, which helps in keeping the audience's interest.

Audiowise, it sounds like you have left the audio levels to automatic - The camera constantly adjusts the volume depending on the audio source, making it softer when theres loud sounds, and louder when theres silence.

This tends to amplify the background noise compared to the speech, as well as enhance the room echo. I think you will get decent sound just by using manual levels with the rode mic.

The best choice would be using a separate mic for the speaker (from the mixer) and another for the crowd as you said. Of course, it's a bit more work to do and there are some potential technical problems there, especially as you don't have anyone working at the camera... personally, i wouldn't bother.