Thursday, December 30, 2010

Patting One's Self on Thy Back

Well folks, 2010 is drawing to a close. You've already seen what I felt were the top albums for the year so I'm going to dedicate this post to a new addition, in 2010, here at Austin Bloggy Limits. That's the trusty, Bloggy Cam. I received a simple Flip Cam for Christmas last year and have employed it to capture footage at various shows I've attended ever since. I don't have a tripod, I don't edit the videos and I'm not going for artsy-ness. I just think of it as a visual-document of my experience. I don't tweek the sound or get any sort of official permission for these videos, I simply bring the camera in my pocket and try to post-up in a decent spot. If someone gets in the way, that's how it was in person. If some jack-ass (read most people at most shows) was talking through an entire performance that is also captured. Sometimes security interrupts, as was the case when I shot Bad Veins at Stubb's, and sometimes they just try to interrupt and I point at a meaningless wristband, as was the case with Jamie Lidell at Antone's. Basically what I'm saying is you get what you get, no apologies, no excuses. Sometimes the picture and sound pleased me and sometimes it didn't. I'll be peppering some of my personal favorite videos throughout this post with a bunch of words in between.

Fang Island - Always Be My Baby video via YouTube

Some of the most-viewed clips on the Bloggy YouTube are the worst looking and/or sounding. I shot Spoon performing in the Waterloo Records parking lot with the sun directly in my camera's lens but that has been one of the most-viewed videos since it was posted. The sound is quite clear though. On the opposite side of the spectrum I was literally on-stage at Malverde shooting Sleigh Bells so the image is nice but the sound is terrible. There are a lot of negative comments on that video critiquing the audience and the sound. A lot of people from out of town don't understand the crowd at a SXSW event. These are not "normal" shows people. SXSW audiences are filled with jaded, industry-types. Some of them are there out of obligation. In the instance of the Sleigh Bells performance, most of the people you can see in the video are photographers who had been shooting for 16-18 hours before the band took the stage. As for the sound, since I was ON-STAGE the sound captured with the camera was monitor sound and the vocals were buried.

Local Native - World News video via YouTube

Occasionally I'm surprised by the response to a video. Some, I expect to be much more popular but aren't while others get many, many views when I don't expect them to at all. I feel like I must have posted one of the first live performance videos of Twin Shadow because they got around 1,000 views the first week while my video of Pavement sits with around 100 views. I guess the lesson there is if you want lots of views be one of the first to post something. All in all I don't really care if people watch the videos or not (no offense) I just like to have them for myself. I fully expect that at some point I will be forced to remove some, all or most of them. Although, I don't have too many videos from "big-name" artists, nor do I plan to.

The Smith Westerns - My Heart video via YouTube

If you're reading this thinking, "Hey I should bring a Flip Cam to shows too." Don't! That's my thing. No, but seriously you should know that it's frowned upon by the artist, their label, management, the venues etc. With that being said here's some sage advice I've learned from experience. Firstly, there is such a thing as being too close to the artist. Don't believe me? Check out 2 out of 3 of my videos of the Very Best. Also, if you want decent sound position yourself between speakers, not in front of or behind them. One of my favorite LOOKING videos is one of the first ones I shot. It was Harlem at Emo's and I positioned myself side stage with my camera behind the speaker tower, it looks really cool but the sound is sub-par. Also, I HATE zoom, it makes your shots look even less steady and often times grainy. Never zoom, if you want to get a closer shot move your feet closer to the stage. A final note, I don't shoot an entire set and neither should you pick a song at random get in position and shoot it. One to three songs MAX but it's super-irritating to the people around you to have that bright LCD display distracting them. I usually let the people around me know what I'm doing and how long I'll be doing it and they are GENERALLY ok with it.

Best Coast - Sun Was High (So Was I) video via YouTube

So this post had a few of my favorite videos but there are 118 to explore and the list will continue to grow until I get some serious cease and desist notices. To the bloggy cam...not to be confused with Sony's Bloggie Cam. Really wish I had patented that.

Jamie Lidell - Another Day video via YouTube