Many contests, performance jobs, scholarship competitions, summer music festivals, and schools of music allow for video submissions of audition materials. In fact, many require a video submission of your playing for the first round to be considered for a live audition. Knowing this, it would serve you well to make the best possible and highest quality video recording you can. Of course, few students and job-seekers have the means to hire a professional videographer to assist with these submissions, but I propose there is a lot we can do (with a relatively small financial investment) to assure we submit the highest quality video recording possible.
Let me start by clearly outlining what this particular post will and will not address. This post is limited to recommended equipment to make a video recording and will not suggest tips for repertoire, material and repertoire preparation, or your professional, on-screen presentation. I will do some follow-up posts on those items in short order.
Most of us have HD video recorders in our pockets as smartphones. Be they iOS or Android, today's smartphones are capable of outstanding video production at 1080p HD 30fps, 1080p HD 60fps, and 4K. Personally, I use an iPhone so speaking from that perspective, Every iPhone since the 6S and 6S plus is capable of recording in 4K video/audio. While 4K is outstanding and cinematic quality, I think you can do perfectly well with 1080p HD at 60fps. If these numbers mean nothing to you, that's fine! Just go with 1080p HD at 60fps for an excellent balance of smooth video/audio and files that aren't too big.
I use a combination of my iPhone video and a stereo microphone to get the best possible combination of video and audio. While my iPhone records stunning video, the tiny microphones built in to it leave a lot to be desired for your trumpet playing. All you basically need besides your phone is a great stereo microphone, a tripod, a mount for your phone, and an adapter to get your microphone attached to the phone.
Here's what I use and recommend:
1. A high quality, stereo microphone (you only need one): You really shouldn't go cheap here and this is the single largest expense to put together a good setup.
Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro Rycote ($250) - this is what I use
Rode Stereo VideoMic ($225)
Senal Stereo Microphone ($185)
2. A 3.5mm TRS adapter to make your headphone jack become an input jack (additional adapter required if you have an iPhone)
3. Lighting to 3.5mm adapter (required if you have an iPhone without headphone jack)
- iPhone 7 Plus Adapter, 2 in 1 ($5)
- Even if your phone has a headphone jack, running it in through the lightning port sounds better. Same on Android devices. The micro USB port will yield better audio than the headphone jack. Simply buy a micro USB to 3.5mm adapter on Amazon.
5. Tripod Phone Mount
Bonus items (not necessary, but helpful):
Neewer 160 LED light ($30)
Extra long power cables to keep phone charged while shooting video (lightning cables for iPhone - $15)
If you already have a USB Stereo Microphone:
- Bambud Lightning to USB Camera Adapter ($25)
- Just attach your USB microphone to the adapter and plug the adapter into the phone. Your iPhone will automatically recognize the microphone.
- This one has dual USB and lightning on the adapter so you can keep your phone plugged in while filming. Shooting video and powering the USB microphone will take a lot of power from your phone.
You can get a decent video recording set-up with these recommendations running for as little as $150. Even cheaper if you already have a USB stereo microphone. That is an extremely affordable price to make high quality and great sounding video recordings. Personally, I have built this set up over the past 6 months by purchasing little bits here and there.
If you are a student at James Madison University you can visit Media Resources at Carrier Library to rent most of these items for free. Most universities offer a similar service so if you are a college student, take advantage of your resources.
Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or anything you would like to add.
Associate Professor of Trumpet
James Madison University