Browsing Tag

Lucy Grubb

Audio Projects Film Projects

Acoustic recording and video – in a summerhouse

June 24, 2021
Relaxed and ready to record: left to right, Richard Poynton, Lucy Grubb and Richard Ward.

As part of the promotion of her new EP, Lucy Grubb was keen to have videos made of acoustic performances of a couple of the tracks, to be made very simply in the summerhouse of her banjo player/guitarist, Richard Ward. This involved just two members of the band, providing backing vocals, guitars and banjo, so quite different from the full band, studio recordings on the EP.

With simplicity being the order of the day, and minimal set-up time, I went for a mid-side pair of SDC mics: the AKG CK94 fig 8 as the side mic and the CK93 hypercardioid as the mid mic, into a Sound Devices MixPre-3 recorder. Just to have an extra option, I also rigged up a third mic – a Rode NT55 with the cardioid capsule – as an alternative mid mic, but this really wasn’t the right polar pattern: the main challenges were the balance of the three performers (with a focus on Lucy’s lead vocal) and the difficult acoustic of the fairly narrow untreated summerhouse, all while trying to have a visually unintrusive set up. With hindsight, and given that birdsong is clear in the recordings anyway (in part due to the open doors behind the camera view in the photo above), I think I’d have preferred to record outside under the gazebo you can see in the background: but the band were warmed up and ready to go and, besides, the free-range chickens might have been more challenging still…

On the video side, I simply ran three Lumix cameras: a G9 close to hand on a fluid-head tripod so that I could move it as necessary, and a pair of GX80s on static tripods. Very basic, but it gives the two videos a bit more interest than a single static shot, without stretching the one-man audio recording and filming too far. We did two takes of the first song and three of the second, selecting the best in each case: there was no audio editing at all (processing was limited to a bit of compression and a little reverb), and the video editing was simple too (with colours left as straight off the cameras).

Mid-side recording, with the CK94 (centre in the photo) and CK93 (bottom): the NT55 cardioid mic (top) was not used. Incidentally, you can see the lower profile of the old-style Rycote back-to-back clips (between the bottom two mics) vs the clunkier newer-style clips (between the top two mics) with the wider spacing this brings.
And here’s the video/recording of one of the songs, ‘Waste My Time’.

Film Projects

A second music video for Lucy Grubb

June 18, 2021
Lucy making friends with Annie the shire horse.

After the fun with You Don’t Do Anything, it was great to be invited by Lucy Grubb to make a second music video – in this case for another of the four songs on her recent EP. This time the song was the more reflective title track – Waste My Time. And for this video, it was to feature Lucy only rather than the full band and to be filmed in rural Norfolk locations. With the May weather being such a washout, my plans for a few evening shoots – catching the wonderful light of the ‘golden hour’ before sunset – bit the dust, and we had to film everything in the harsh sunlight on the last Sunday of the month so as to have the video ready for release a week after the EP. After a brief visit to Stiffkey marshes – where the mud and half-filled creeks threatened Lucy’s outfit – we moved on to the rather implausibly located Iron Age hillfort at Warham (with its ramparts and solitary holm oak tree), then blooming oilseed rape fields, the stable and paddocks of a friend (to meet up with the star of the video – Annie the shire horse), and, finally, Swanton Novers Wood. Things went pretty smoothly, even – in spite of Fields’s warning to never work with children or animals – the shire horse session: Annie is a gentle giant and seemed unruffled by this being Lucy’s first time up close to a horse.

Filming involved a simple equipment list: a Lumix G9 with both the Meike T2 cinema lens and the Leica Lumix 12-60mm (the latter for shots with the gimbal – the Zhiyun Crane v2); and a drone for the intro and outro shots (using the diminutive DJI Mavic Mini). To keep things simple, I avoided lip syncing for the drone shots, but the rest was synced – as before – with the pre-recorded track played back through a Bluetooth speaker. Again, I edited in Vegas, giving it a fairly heavy grade to match the previous video: well insofar as possible given the very different weather and light.

You can play the song on Spotify and here’s the finished video:

Film Projects

Music video with Lucy Grubb

April 27, 2021
Filming by the side of the Bridewell in Norwich

With things easing from lockdown on 12 April, it has been good to hear of musical life picking up a bit and, in that spirit, I was glad to be asked by Lucy Grubb to film a music video for a single (You Don’t Do Anything) from her upcoming next EP release. Lucy is a Norfolk-based country and Americana singer/songwriter, who has been carving out a name for herself and her band, not least at various music festivals.

In this case the music was pre-recorded in the studio, so it was the usual case of miming to the track. When I say usual, I think I’ve only done one like this before, so it was a fun exercise for me, from planning through to editing. The idea (which fitted the theme of the song) was to have Lucy moving forwards continually throughout the video, passing through or past the band members (Kevin Burton, Piers Hunt, Richard Poynton, Richard Ward and Paul Weston), with locations – all around Norwich – changing fairly frequently.

So it was a lot of backward-tracking camerawork. I tested out the old wheelchair as dolly idea (think of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless), but, while doubtless fine for smooth-floored interiors, it was clear it wouldn’t be one for pavements or, even, cobbled streets, so I stopped being lazy and used a gimbal (a Zhiyun Crane v2). Eschewing my Meike T2 cinema lens-based rig with follow-focus, I went for the lighter Leica Lumix 12-60mm on my Lumix G9, using autofocus just to lock on focus for each shot (but not to track focus) and avoided any wafer-thin depth-of-field shots. I’m not sure what the serious pros use for playback of the audio track, but we managed fine with a linked pair of Bluetooth speakers: one by the camera and Lucy, and one by the band. Loud enough, especially for early on a Sunday morning (dodging the post-lockdown shopping throngs). Despite my rust, all went well on the shoot last weekend, not least thanks to two helpers (good to have band members old enough to have teenage offspring), and with the weather settling down to the hoped-for grey sky with enough wind to give (guitarist) Richard Poynton’s long Covid hair sufficient movement… I edited in Vegas, giving it a fairly heavy grade tied into the muted colours of the band and, indeed, the locations (see pics).

You can play the song on Spotify and here’s the finished video:

And filming at Elm Hill