FAQ

What should I wear for my recording or Audition Video? 

 

For Audition Videos, we recommend concert attire. Ideally, that would be an outfit that you’re already comfortable wearing while performing. You’ll stand out well if you wear color, preferably a solid color. 

For audio recordings, please wear something comfortable and quiet. If you're standing and wearing loud shoes, clothes, or jewelry, these sounds can make their way into your recording. 

 

Do you have any advice for people to get the most out of their recording session? 

 

Yes! Here are a few tips that we’ve collected over the years from students, teachers, and performers:

 

  • IMPORTANT! Don't overplay! Recording studios are designed to be acoustically dry, so you may not feel your instrument is as resonant as in your practice room. Do not worry. Please plan to take time to get used to the dynamic range of the room. Please do your best not to force your sound, because the microphones will pick up every nuance of your playing, including all your dynamics and colors. Unfortunately, this also means that if you play too loud or forcefully, it may sound harsh. Do your best to relax, get used to the room, and play naturally! Your engineer will make sure your recording has a reverberent sound. 

  • Recording sessions are exhausting

    1. Consider playing easy pieces first. It is optimal to get through as much material as possible before you start to get tired.

    2. Pianists, play quiet pieces first so that you have time to get used to the acoustic. Pianos go out of tune if you bang on them, so it's better to play loud pieces later in your session, once you've gotten used to the room. 

    3. If you tend to get cold hands, consider bringing tea in a thermos. Please do not plan to eat in the studio. 

  • Prepare yourself for your session

    1. Practice recording yourself using your own equipment or your phone. At home do mock recording sessions: give yourself a limited timeframe in which to record one full take that makes you proud. Listen to your best take. This process will give you a better understanding of how much recording time you’ll need to spend on each piece. Be sure to include another person in your mock recording session to help simulate the pressure of the recording session. Remember that you may be nervous, so give yourself every opportunity to prepare. 

    2. There may be another person scheduled for a recording session after yours, so you’ll need to plan to take a minute or two to speak with the engineer about your takes. Please do not plan to spend time talking to the engineer after your session. We really need the half hour between sessions to clean up your session and set up for the next session. 

    3. Remember that you and your engineer will spend at least a few minutes at the beginning of your session doing the finishing touch ups on your mic placement and gain settings. Your engineer will arrive early to set up for you, but you will need to play for a few minutes for the engineer to do your sound check and set your levels. 

    4. Plan accordingly and create a realistic plan for budgeting your studio time. It’s better to have a few extra minutes at the end of your session than to discover that you haven’t gotten a full take of a required piece.

    5. Be willing to take breaks if you need them. You will play better if you are feeling good!

  • What to discuss with your engineer

    1. If there’s a format or file size limit that you require, please tell your engineer ahead of time.

    2. Tell the engineer the purpose of your recording, whether for college applications or competitions. We may have experience with the organization or the process and may be able to help. 

    3. Tell your engineer what to expect. What instrument and what pieces will you play (bring a written list of movements)? How long are they? If you are not a pianist, will you need to use the piano? If so, will the pianist be there for the whole session? 

    4. If you are uncomfortable with anything (don’t like the lighting, etc) please tell your engineer at the beginning of the session. It’s best if the setup is consistent throughout your session, so we want to get it right at the beginning.

  • Anything can happen. Please plan ahead and schedule sessions early! Students and professionals commonly need to come back to complete their repertoire. It is best if your session is well ahead of your deadline so that you do not feel extra pressure if you are not having your best day. 

For audition videos, why do clients need to choose one final take of each piece? Why don't you export a high quality video file for every single take of each piece?

For audition video sessions, we only offer a final video for one chosen take of each piece. There are a couple of important reasons for this. 

 

First, we sometimes are asked to sign competition forms that the application video files are not edited. If we give people all the takes, they can easily edit the takes together on their own. 

 

Second, the audition video package is simply priced with the guideline that the client will choose one take per piece.  Our engineers individually work on each track to offer the highest quality audio and video, and when we are asked to output multiple takes of the same piece, it often takes several hours of post production work (mixing, exporting audio, syncing video, and rendering final files). When this happens, the studio ends up paying more for the session than the client pays. These situations make it difficult to maintain the studio, piano, equipment, and cover administrative costs. We want to offer reasonable prices and be able to keep the studio open as a service to the musical community. 

 

For people who want to listen to all their takes in order to choose their final takes, we can send a full, pre-mix audio export of the session. If you need extra video for a particular reason, please discuss it with us at the session. We will do our best to you to get everything you need!

Are fade-in, fade-out, and reverb effects considered editing by colleges and competitions? 

 

Fade-in and fade-out effects are referred to by engineers as editing, but these effects are not considered edits by colleges and competitions. 

 

Mixing is how engineers combine the mics in the software to make a natural, pleasing sound. This includes various techniques, which can include reverb. Mixing is not considered editing by colleges and competitions. 

 

We have included fades and reverb effects for clients who used our videos to be accepted to Juillard and Harvard, as well as all the other conservatories and Ivy League schools. The videos always comply with the requirements. 

 

When colleges or competitions require “no editing”, they intend that you do not splice takes together. For instance, if you played a perfect first take but played a wrong note in the last phrase, we won’t fix it for you by splicing in a correct note from your second take. Competitions sometimes requre us to sign a statement that we did not do any splicing ("editing"). This is why we prefer to give only one final video of each piece. With only one final video, clients can't take the various takes to another engineer to have the audio files spliced together, and we are able to sign off on the videos as being “unedited”.​

Do I need to bring a video camera to a video audition session?

 

You won't need to bring any equipment. We make both a primary video and primary audio recording and a backup video and backup audio recording to be doubly sure that your playing is preserved!

What is a reasonable expectation for my Audition Video schedule? 

Here's an example schedule for a 10am-12pm Audition Video session, in which a student plays 1 longer, difficult piece and two shorter, easier pieces:

  • 9:55 arrival for 10am start
  • 10:00 meet and speak with engineer, warm up quietly, sound check

  • 10:15 piece 1, take 1

  • 10:30 piece 1, take 2

  • 10:45 piece 1, take 3

  • 11:00 listen, break, drink water

  • 11:15 piece 2, take 1

  • 11:20 piece 2, take 2

  • 11:25 listen, break

  • 11:30 piece 3, take 1

  • 11:40 piece 3, take 2

  • 11:50 discuss takes with engineer, pack up

  • 12:00 finish​