Video: Choral Speaking

Every year, some classes compete take part in the choral speaking competition in the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival. In choral speaking, a massed group recites a poem. These are videos of some of the performances:

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Extract) (2013)

Class 3D of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School in Hong Kong give a choral speaking performance of Robert Browning’s adaptation of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The group were champions in the Hong Kong School’s Speech Festival.

Teacher-in-charge: Ms Laurie Fung

He and She (2013)

Class 2D of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School in Hong Kong give a choral speaking performance of Clare Bevan’s poem He and She. They were second runners-up in the Hong Kong School’s Speech Festival.

Teacher-in-charge: Mr Stephen Richards
Student Leaders: Yammi Yip and Kiko Law

The Fire Monster (2013)

Class 4E of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School in Hong Kong give a choral speaking performance of Clare Bevan’s poem He and She. They were second runners-up in the Hong Kong School’s Speech Festival.

Teacher-in-charge: Ms. Joanna Yim

The Song of the Jellicles (2012)

Class 2T of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School perform The Song of the Jellicles by T.S Eliot. The were second runners-up in the Hong Kong School’s Speech Festival.

Teacher-in-charge: Mr Stephen Richards

The Alice Jean

Class 6F of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School rehearse their choral speaking performance of the poem ‘The Alice Jean’ by Robert Graves.They performed the poem a few days later at the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival and won first place.

Teacher-in-charge: Ms Champagne Hung
Student Leaders: Veron Hung and Christine Ng
Soloist: Evangeline Hung

The Camel’s Complaint (2011)

Two classes of students rehearse their interpretations of The Camel’s Compaint by Charles E Carryl. The video was recorded in November 2011. The classes later competed in the Hong Kong School’s Speech Festival, with 3E (coached by Grace Sze) placing third and 4e (coached by Joanna Yim) placing third. The image of the camel at the beginning and end is taken from a photograph Animation by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar: www.flickriver.com/photos/42311564@N00/163310933/).It was animated using CrazyTalk. Unfortunately, the school hall and lecture theatre were being used so we had to record the video outdoors, with less than ideal sound and lighting conditions.

 

The Boneyard Rap (2010)

Three classes of students rehearse their interpretations of The Boneyard Rap by Wes Magee. The video was recorded in November 2010. The classes competed two days later, with 3D (coached by Grace Sze) placing second and 3E and 4D (coached by Champagne Hung and Curtis Ho, respectively) placing third.

To get a clearer sound recording, I used a portable digital audio recorder (Roland R-05) that I could place close to the group (just off camera). The video was edited in Premiere Pro. The introduction at the beginning was made by combining pictures of a pumpkin, an eye and a pair of lips using Photoshop and then animating the composite picture in a face-puppetry program called CrazyTalk. In this video, however, the mouth movements are not well synchronized to the actual words; usually, CrazyTalk does a better job at this. The transitional video (the moving bones) was adapted from footage in a bought collection video material. The opening title text was animated using After Effects. The music during the end credits was played on a Korg M50 and recorded using Goldwave (it is recycled from the Seasonal Limericks video).

 

Weasels (2009)

This is a video of students from SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School (Class 6F) performing John Latham’s poem Weasels at the school’s Christmas service (21 December 2009). The class had performed this poem when competing at the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival, winning first prize in the senior section. They were coached by Ms. Susie Liu. The poem describes a boy’s misunderstanding of a doctors diagnosis of ‘measles’ as ‘weasels’.

Teresa Ng and Maggie Lai of class 3E did the video recording. I recorded the sound so that I could try out a new piece of equipment for the school’s multimedia studio—a Tascam digital audio recorder. Unfortunately, the background noise, especially the sound of fans (and air-conditioning) was quite loud, so the audio was difficult to clean up.

  • Premiere Pro CS4 (editing, colour correction, noise filtering)
  • Procoder 3 (file conversion)
  • Goldwave (noise filtering and EQ)
  • Photoshop (masking photos)
  • AfterEffects CS4 (animating the title sequence  and credits, adding the ‘hidden weasel’)

 

Seasonal Limericks (2009)


This video combines the choral speaking performances of two groups of students (Classes 1E and 2E) from SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School. The poem, Eric Finney’s Seasonal Limericks, was performed at the school’s Christmas service on 21 December 2009. The classes had performed this poem when competing at the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival, with 1E winning first prize in the junor section section. The students were coached by Ronnie Tam (1E), Champagne Hung and Stephen Richards (2E).  

Teresa Ng and Maggie Lai of class 3E did the video recording. I recorded the sound and edited the video. The following software programmes were used: 

  • Premiere Pro CS4 (editing and video processing)
  • AfterEffect CS4 (video compositing,  text animation and video processing)
  • iTunes (creating the animation in the opening credits – that is just the music visualizer in iTunes responding to the recording of the students’ voices)
  • CamStudio (for capturing the music visualizer) 
  • Procoder 3, Adobe Media Encoder (file conversion)
  • Goldwave, Sonar Home Studio, Magix Audio Cleaning Lab  (noise filtering and EQ - the original audio recordings were full of noise, so a lot of time had to be spend cleaning them up – and music recording)

The music during the end-credits was played on a Korg M50 using one of the standard presets. The snow-covered trees are from a photograph—Fresh Snow in the Garden of Ambras Castle—by Noclador. Other clips were obtained from various stock-footage collections.  

Editing this video gave me more practice in compositing (using different videos to make a single image), creating masks (cutting out parts of images from videos) and using mattes (automatically eliminating a certain colour, like a black background, from the video image).

I learned some lessons from the mistakes I made. For example,  I should have done all the colour correction before starting on the editing. As I did the colour correction after the editing stage, you will notive that the shades of blue and grey of the students’ uniforms differ from shot to shot. Also, the editing would have been a lot easier if I had recorded the students performing during rehearsals. Then there would have been a lot less problems with noise (fans and air-conditioning, especially), camera angles, people walking into the frame and heads sticking up.


 

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