How to record video at gigs (or at home)

I am writing this page because recently several people on Storytell have asked about the technicalities of making amateur video recordings at storytelling gigs. I stress that these are amateur, and in no way claim to professionalism.
Of course, the technology and equipment are continuously being improved, but as of now (2015/2016) this is what I am doing, and then uploading to my video gallery.
I hope it helps - and would be delighted to hear of suggestions for improvements.

How to record

To most of my evening performances and occasionally to school gigs I take my Sony Nex-6 camera, a tele-photo lens, a tripod and a lavalier mic wired to a digital recorder in my pocket - and record a few of the tales.
I can set it up beforehand and all I need is someone to switch the camera on at the right time and possibly adjust the telephoto lens. This is often the person doing the lights - because of the lens and the mic, the camera can be far away. If not, I get an audience member - a good opportunity to announce to all about signing up for the newsletter so they are notified about such videos!

Back home I do a bit of basic editing on my Mac with Final Cut Pro. That enables me to sync the audio track with the film, add a cross dissolve at front and back of the film, and the titles. Pretty simple, but I am after realism rather than slick professional quality.

Audio recording and editing

This is a further field which can be explored indefinitely. My good storytelling friend Simon Brooks has an excellent and very detailed four-part series on home recording (voice work) on his blog.
You will notice that Simon's level of expertise and experience is a good bit higher than my own (my admiration, Simon).
Here there is all the information and advice you need to get you started.


The next issue is vimeo or youtube. On previous discussions about the respective merits, I've said I prefer the more professional look of an embedded video on my own website, above all without a list of other videos on the screen. That is why I go for vimeo. Of course, the drawback is that this will not push my video to folk who don't know me.
As others have pointed out, youtube is where most people will go to search for a video. So probably a sensible strategy is to embed on your own website using vimeo and also have them on youtube (something which is still on my "to-do list").

I use vimeo primarily in conjunction with my newsletter. People (as of Sept. 2016 there are 302) have signed up either through my website or at gigs and workshops. I use MailChimp to manage this.
I try to send out a newsletter about once a month, just so folk remember that I am still out in the world.
Tim Sheppard once stressed how important it is with such mailings to offer people something rather than it being simple self-promotion. And that is the role of the updates to the video gallery.
Moreover, I simply enjoy performing, and see this as an extension of that. It is staying in touch with people who have enjoyed the storytelling before, perhaps in quite another part of the world.

And, yes, it does bring me work. Many people comment very positively on what I offer on my website, so it "makes me look generous", while still being a (hopefully) subtle marketing ploy!

As for driving viewers to the videos, the other option is Facebook. I'd long held out against starting FB but recently at a festival was obliged to join just to keep abreast of the changing schedule. Now I have dived in on FB, and also posted a couple of videos. I note that they have been viewed 318 and 263 times respectively. So that is probably another place to post them.


The video clips here are all amateur quality, shot in various theatres.
Their intention is just to show the range of my storytelling and give a flavour of a live performance.
Permission is granted for use in non-commercial educational contexts.
The videos are © Richard Martin.
Professionally recorded CDs and DVDs are available here.

Do you want to tell "my" tales?
Go here to read my position on permission to tell

Go here to receive an e-mail notification when new tales are added

Go here for tales to watch

Go here for a list of all tales included on this site

You are a teacher? Read this: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling

Want to record your own performances? Here are some suggestions