The help videos will provide more detail, but following these simple guidelines should help you create videos with reasonable audio
1) Don’t set your volume too loudly when using amplifiers or PA speakers.
Mobile phones and video cameras record sound fairly well most of the time, but struggle with high volume sound sources. This can prove especially challenging when trying to record the sound of drums – so please read the Recording drums for RSL exams section below for further guidance
2) Spend some time getting a good balance between your performance and the backing track.
RSL needs to clearly hear your performance when examining, but equally we want your performance to feel connected to the accompanying backing track. It is worth experimenting and producing some test recordings to ensure the balance is good.
3) Avoid very noisy or reverberant spaces.
Your examiner wants to give your performance their full attention, so avoid recording your exam in a space where there is likely to be significant background noise. Also, whilst it may sound creatively pleasing, please avoid capturing your videos in very reverberant places. We want to hear as much of your signal as possible. If you do opt to use a microphone for vocal recordings avoid using excessive amounts of reverb and avoid long reverb times.
4) The use of a microphone is optional for vocals candidates at all grades.
We understand that some candidates won’t have access to their own microphone, so we will accept performances without use of a microphone at all grades, so long as the candidate is able to evidence relevant and appropriate dynamic expression, projection, tonal contrast and balance.
Microphone technique is most relevant to the acoustics of the performance space and the amplification of the sound via PA, so less relevant when recording a video performance. However, if no microphone is used, the candidate will need to consider where and how they position themselves in the space, so the examiner can still assess expressive techniques as if a microphone was used.
5) Don’t mix or ‘produce’ your audio.
Overall audio should replicate as closely as possible the effect of live studio performance as an examiner would normally hear it in a face-to-face exam; ie. the sound of the instrument, either acoustic or amplified through a speaker, balanced against the backing track played over a PA. Candidates should not mix or produce the audio post-recording, or add any further effects or processing, as this could obscure the examiner’s ability to make a valid assessment of the performance, which may in turn impact negatively on the marking.
TOP TIP: Whilst you can record reasonable audio using a mobile phone in most instances, there are a number of devices you may wish to consider if you want to ensure your audio is of a good quality. Please see below for a list of devices and apps that RSL recommends that can help you improve audio quality when creating your video exam.
Recording drums for RSL exams
The acoustic drum kit provides some challenges when trying to capture clear audio, especially when filming with a mobile phone. Whilst it is possible to record usable audio with a mobile phone with care, RSL highly recommends that drummers use a video device where they can have full control over the microphone’s sensitivity and volume. Mobile phones do not allow you this control by default, so it is worth installing an app that gives that that control, or using a microphone designed for use with a mobile phone that allows you to control the volume of the incoming signal. Please see below for a list of devices and apps that RSL recommends to help you improve audio quality.
We are also advising that, should you need to record your exam directly into a mobile phone, you avoid capturing your acoustic drum performance whilst playing to an audible backing track – the volume required will almost certainly make the recorded audio difficult to hear or result in audio distortion. In this instance, it is permissible for you to record a video of your drum exam with the backing track fed to you via either headphones or in-ear monitoring. RSL will synchronise the backing tracks to your performances for marking – but you will need to audibly mark the final bar of the count-in before the performance begins by clicking your sticks together, so we can easily synchronise the audio to the video. Please see the drum exam video for a demonstration.
Alternatively, you may wish to consider performing your exam to video using an electronic kit, where you will have greater control over your volume balance. Many electronic drum modules provide the facility to plug in an audio device directly and allow the user to blend a backing track with the drum kit. However, we recognise that many drummers will prefer to play acoustic drum kits during assessment, so this approach is entirely optional.
Please note that where there is evidence from the video that the candidate is not listening to a backing track while performing, this may affect the marks awarded, as performing to a backing track (where one is provided) is a requirement of the exam.
RSL recommended audio / video devices and apps
Microphone for use with mobile phones (check for handset compatibility):
- Zoom iQ7
- Shure MV88
- RØDE iXY
- RØDE VideoMic
Mobile phone video apps that allow manual control of audio
- FV-5 (supported Android devices)
- Filmic Pro (IOS devices and some supported Android devices)
Dedicated video cameras for recording high quality audio
We hope this set of guidelines has helped you understand the RSL graded syllabus video exam process and provided a clear set of guidelines for capturing and submitting exam material. Should you require any further advice, please contact us here…