During lockdown many artists have been stuck at home, and there’s been an obvious surge in the number of videos recorded in isolation. There have been montages of multiple performers, brought together at the editing stage, and quite a few examples of performers recording multiple takes of themselves to create videos a bit like the one above.

One of the most common ways to self-record is to use the Acapella app. Apparently this was all the rage five years ago, though it has really come into its own in the last few months. It suffers some lagging problems, apparently, but wraps the whole process up really neatly for beginners.

Essentially, if you’re a good musician, you can work magic with the app with minimum technical skills:

Samara Ginsberg is fantastic and her arrangements are a real treat both musically and in terms of her witty use of her instrument.

There are loads of ways of skinning a cat when it comes to making these videos. The humble offering from me, which I present as an imperfect experiment with some new kit, was made using the following tools:

  • A borrowed karaoke backing track
  • Printed sheet music from the internet with the original arrangement for three voices from the show
  • GarageBand on my MacBook for the recording/playback of backing
  • A Behringer UMC404HD USB input device
  • A condenser mic
  • Movavi video editor
  • My iPhone recording all my takes in selfie mode (which isn’t as good a camera, but at least helped me frame the shots)
  • My selfie stick’s head mounted onto a mini tripod so I could mount the camera on the desk

The process was to film all my vocal takes as I recorded them. This is the opposite of doing perfect, even composite, vocal takes and then lip syncing in a video afterwards.

I then mixed the song in GarageBand, using a few tricks, including a little heavy autotuning where I’d screwed up a couple of notes. Sorry to spoil the magic.

I dragged the mix into my video editor and then had to align the video takes with the mix. Given each video take had me singing, it was a case of moving the video around until the vocal on the mix sounded in sync with the vocal on the clip. It’s quite easy to do that. If doing a lip sync video, you have to do it by eye, but the viewer’s eye is very forgiving of lip syncing in videos anyway – it doesn’t have to be remotely accurate for it to basically work.

Finally, there were various split screen and overlay effects I used to make the clips appear where I wanted. My video was quite basic in that regard. When designing a montage, you need to think carefully about the on screen picture, and I’m yet to come up with a video that looks all that good. This is where the Acapella app probably helps as it’ll magic a lot of it for you.

The end result is something that’s greater than the parts that went into it. There are loads of ways to try it. It’s very satisfying.