How to make a Virtual Choir

Question and Answer with Resources

This page and video are a response to people asking how they can make their own Virtual Choir video. We hosted a Zoom meeting and had over 100 people on the call and many who couldn't make it. So we made this video to help people who are wondering what software to use and what the process looks like.

See Q&A below.

Examples of Our Virtual Chiors

Examples of Other Virtual Chiors

Examples of Solo Virtual Chiors (They are made the same way)

UPDATE: I've had a lot of people asking about microphones for digital recording. You do not NEED a microphone, BUT if you would like to take your quality to the next level, the Shure MV88 (click for Amazon link) is a phenomenal microphone. it is about $150 on Amazon and worth every penny.

This mic was used to record Tiffany on Down to the river, as well as these three videos. (Yes, even the video where you see the condenser mic. I ended up using the audio from the Shure mic that was plugged into the iPhone.

The video outside is pretty interesting, it was recorded at 10 feet away with an iPhone 7 and the Shure mic, listen to the fingers on the strings, the birds in the air...

What Software Did You Use?

I think it is important to note that you can get as detailed or not as detailed as you want. A simple video editing program that allows for layered video and audio will allow you to do a project like this. You can adjust the overall level of the audio of each track and then you can have a fairly blended project. This option normally will not allow you to edit more than just the volume of each track, but this is a solid option if you have never done anything like this. Adobe Premiere Pro, which I link below, can do this.

You can use any software that lets you layer videos. My experience, and what I use to make my videos, is the Adobe Creative Suite, which has many apps for a multitude of graphic design functions. Specifically, I used:

Adobe Audition – Audio Editing

Adobe Premiere Pro – Video Editing

Adobe After Effects – Video Color Editing

I appreciate the Adobe Creative Suite because it is a large collection of apps that come with one subscription price. If you have a .edu email address, it is available for $19.99 a month. Each account also allows two installations, so you could technically split the cost with someone, and each person can have one of the licenses on their computer.  Here is the link to Educational Pricing (14-day free trial if you want to test it out).

Can I do this Live?

The technology is not available yet that will allow for live-linked concerts. The internet speed comes with a delay, and when that delay is compounded by the back and forth needs of a group it becomes very noticeable. You also cannot easily adjust volume levels and so some people would be really loud and some really quiet depending on the phone and the distance from it.

Can I use Zoom to do this?

No, see the previous question.

How long did this take?

We spent over 100 hours. Looking at our mistakes, I could probably do the project over again in 80, but the first time on a project, mistakes happen and there is a lot of re-doing things or doing them the wrong way. You can count on it taking 40+ hours, and it becomes increasingly longer for each layer of editing you add. For example:

40 hours – Recording, gathering video, putting together, arranging, adjusting volumes, exporting, and posting

+20 – Editing audio separately and then remixing it

+20 - Color correcting and editing / Video Motion

+20 – Lack of experience. If you have never done something like this before, then there will obviously be a learning curve. I would say that it is highly repetitive, as you are doing the same thing over and over to each clip. So once you figure out how to do one part, then you learn it well.

Are there resources available to help me?

The Adobe software and the popular Apple apps (Garage Band, Final Cut) have many “how-to” videos on YouTube. If you are struggling in an area, simply search on YouTube for your question and someone will show you how with a step-by-step video.

 How would you recommend starting?

I would recommend doing a video of yourself. There are a lot of artists who will post a video of them singing or playing multiple parts of a song to create a one-person choir or band. This is essentially all a group project is, you are just receiving the footage from others.

So start by recording yourself singing, then record yourself singing a separate part while listening to your original recording in a set of headphones. Then use the software to put them together. If you can accomplish that, then you can accomplish the larger project.

How did you communicate with the people singing?

Here is our introduction video we sent out and the one that Eric Whitacre send out.

How do I collect everyone’s files?

This is an interesting and much-needed question; I would suggest using Dropbox or Google Drive.

Dropbox – Free for two gigs, or you could sign up for $128 for the year and create a central repository where people can upload their files.

Google Drive – Allows15 gigs free for each Gmail account and you can link and share files.

YouTube – If you want to work with students and phones who may not have the ability to be on a computer…. You could create a generic Gmail account (virtualchoior12@gmail.com or something…) then give it a password that is easy to share and remember, and give the password to all of the participants. When they record, they can upload to this YouTube account and then you, as the account administrator, can download files… if someone is going to help, they can also download the files. YouTube does compress files a little, but not so much that it would affect a project like this.  

What Lessons did you Learn?

-Follow Eric Whitacre’s advice and include a sound at the beginning so that it’s easy to align the audio tracks.

-Render each edit before putting it into the larger project. Video editing and rendering are intense, and we could have shaved 20 hours from our total time if I had followed this advice. If you color edit, then export it as a new file and add the new file to the project. Premiere will give you the option of editing in After Effects and then using the file in Premiere, but that will slow everything down when you scale it.

-Get help. Once you figure out how to do certain things, you can collaborate with people to help you edit portions. Since Adobe has a 14-day trial, you could have members of your group do small-batch editing: have someone edit the audio files for just the Tenors and then send you a single file with just that part, then have people edit the coloring on the videos and re-upload them.

I Would Like to Contract Help Completing a Project