Guidelines for filming, room set-up and submission

These guidelines provide instructions on how to film a candidate’s digital exam performance.

Candidates are required to film and submit a video performance of their chosen pieces, which will be marked to the graded/diploma exam criteria by a Music or Drama examiner.

Make sure that you’ve read these instructions before you start filming, to avoid unforeseen circumstances interrupting or negatively affecting the performance or the recording.

Setting up filming

Devices

  • Filming can be done using a good quality smartphone or tablet, or any good quality audio-visual recording device (e.g. digital video cameras, laptops) which will allow the examiner to accurately assess the performance.
  • The use of a tripod is recommended to improve camera stability. If you do not have access to a tripod, the device should be placed on a steady surface and kept still for the duration of the exam performance. Equipment such as selfie sticks, pop sockets etc can be used for ease of filming and stability.
  • Where possible, the camera should be positioned at the performer’s eye level, to ensure that the viewing angle doesn’t restrict the examiner’s view of the performance.
  • If filming on a smartphone or tablet, consider turning the device to airplane mode, to avoid unnecessary notifications or calls interfering with the recording of the performance.

Location

  • You should film in a quiet room undisturbed by outside noise. Any internal noise should be kept to a minimum level. Consider turning nearby appliances off to ensure this, as well as devices such as fans and AC units.
  • Avoid phones ringing during the performance (both mobile and landlines), by switching them to mute/airplane mode, or leaving them in a separate room.
  • The room and performance area should be well-lit and without dark shadows or bright light (for instance direct sunlight from windows) that may make it hard for the examiner to see the candidate’s performance.
  • Similar to being on a stage, you should be facing the light, avoiding having any bright lights behind you such as a window. This will ensure there aren’t any unnecessary shadows covering you during your performance.
  • Candidates should have enough space to be able to perform effectively, and the room must have enough space to set up a camera to film the performance. The room should be safe for the candidate to perform in, free from any hazards such as cables, electrical sockets and wires that could be tripped over.
  • The room should have mains power supply and extension leads as needed for filming equipment.
  • If using a music stand, this should be at a height and distance that is comfortable for the candidate, without obscuring the instrument or candidate from view.

Filming settings

  • Remember that the submitted performance video has to be one continuous take, without editing separate takes together.
  • To ensure that the final video size can be managed by our online platform, lower the recording quality before you begin to record by turning HD off, if possible. Most recording devices have an option to change the quality of the recording in their settings. This won’t affect the examiner’s ability to assess your performance, but will make the delivery of the files much easier.

    

  • Ensure that the smartphone or camera has sufficient storage capacity to hold a recording the length of the exam performance, and that any batteries are fully charged, or the device is plugged in using the appropriate mains cables.
  • Another person can operate the camera, or the camera can be fixed during the performance. The camera must remain still and steady for the duration of the performance.
  • Most recording devices will adjust their brightness settings automatically, but you can always tweak them manually if you’re not happy with them. Inside the camera app, you can tap on the screen of most smartphones and tablets, to point to those elements you want to be in focus and correctly exposed. 

  • If the recording device is being held by another person, make sure that the microphone isn’t being covered by their hand. Refer to the device’s user manual, if you don’t know where the microphone is located on your device.
  • We recommend that you test the camera and sound recording equipment by filming a short section of the candidate’s first performance piece and playing it back to check the sound and video quality is suitable before filming the full exam performance. The sound should be loud and clear but without any distortion. Consider making a practice recording of a loud and quiet part of your performance, to check that any quiet parts are audible and any loud parts are not distorted.

Backing tracks

  • Rock & Pop– Playing with backing tracks is a requirement for songs 1 and 3 of your set list. It is a good idea to ask someone to help operate the backing tracks for you and check your instrument level and the backing track mix together well. Candidates should use the backing tracks provided by Trinity College London Press through Soundwise downloads (details available in the back cover of the Graded exam book).
  • Classical and Jazz– there are various options available for Classical and Jazz candidates at all grades:
    • Play with a professional backing track, either provided by Trinity College London Press, available with one of the instrumental repertoire books, or purchased and downloaded online.
    • Play with a backing track recorded by an accompanist. For example, you could ask your teacher or accompanist to prepare a recording of the accompaniment for you.
    • Given the unusual circumstances of coronavirus, we will accept unaccompanied submissions. In the cases where there are multiple rest bars, these may be truncated as required.
    • If someone in your house is able to accompany you, then play with them if they are willing! Ensure they are of a suitable standard that your performance can showcase you at your best.

If using a backing track, due care should be given to the balance of the solo instrument and the backing track during the performance.

  • You will need to run the backing track from a separate device that is loud enough for you to hear, and for the recording device to capture it. Where possible, the source of the sound should come from near the performer, to ensure optimal balance, as placing it too close to the recording device might result in the backing track being too prominent in the final recording.
  • We strongly recommend doing a sound check and recording test before filming your entire exam performance, to ensure you’re happy with the final sound balance. Make sure you try out the quietest and loudest moments in the piece. Both you and the recording device should be able to hear comfortably the backing track at all times.
  • Drum candidates may use headphones for accompanied pieces if they wish. A separate headphone mix or a splitter should be used as the backing track must be audible on the recording as well.

Filming guidance for specific musical instruments

  • The instruments used should meet the demands of your chosen exam pieces/songs. In cases where you are unable to get to the instrument(s) you need to complete a video performance, we advise deferring your assessment until you can access these.
  • Music stands must not obscure the instrument or candidate. Guitar and violin performances are particularly prone to being obscured by music stands. The candidate and instrument should not be obscured by any other items such as instrument cases, water bottles, etc.
  • If using an accompanist, candidates should have eye contact with the accompanist during the performance. The camera angle should focus on the candidate; the accompanist does not need to be in view.
  • Woodwind and brass instruments:A side-on or diagonal camera angle is recommended. The candidate and full instrument must be in the camera view at all times. In cases where parts of the instrument have the potential to obscure the candidate’s face and fingers (trombone, tuba, trumpet, etc), be extra cautious when finding the best position and filming angle.
  • String instruments (including harp):Candidates should be able to perform comfortably. For instruments where a chair is appropriate (eg cello, harp), the candidate should be comfortable, and the chair should not negatively affect the performance. In the cases where the instruments might obscure the candidate (violins, violas, harp, etc) the camera should have a clear view of the candidate’s face, bow and hands, as well as the pedals in the case of the harp.
  • Singers– classical and pop. An on-camera view is recommended, with the candidate's whole body in view. Whether singing with or without a mic, it’s very important to do a sound check, to make sure you’re audible and well balanced with the backing track or accompanist, during the loudest and quietest moments. If your performance includes movement, make sure you stay in vision during the entire performance.
  • Piano– Both hands should be in frame. The whole instrument need not be seen, but the full range of keys used in the piece should be in view. Where only a digital piano is available, this will be accepted for all grades, providing it is capable of the pieces being performed (for example, you have a sustain pedal if you need one, it has enough keys without having to change the octave etc).
  • Drummers
    • The camera should be placed at a right angle to the candidate so that hands, feet and the whole of the drum kit can be seen.
    • Where possible, the drum kit specifications should be as follows:
      • snare drum with adjustable drum kit size stand (not orchestral)
      • 2 mounted toms (high/medium)
      • floor tom (low)
      • bass drum (18–22”)
      • hi hat (12–14”)
      • ride cymbal (18–22”)
      • 2 crash cymbals (14–18”)
      • splash cymbal for Grades 5–8
      • adjustable drum stool
    • Candidates can use an electronic drum kit at all grades, provided that the kit is capable of producing all drum voices, effects and dynamic variety required for the chosen pieces.
    • The stool, snare drum and high tom should be aligned in a straight line, facing the same direction as the bass drum, with the feet equidistant around the snare. You can check this before starting by sitting at the drum kit.
    • Cymbals can be placed in a variety of positions and heights; it is up to the candidate to choose. The important point is that each cymbal is placed within easy reach. As a change from stick to brushes or beaters is called for at some grades, a chair/small table should be made available.
    • The drum kit and percussive equipment used should be at least the minimum that is required by the candidate’s chosen pieces.
    • If playing with a backing track, please refer to the instructions above on how to best achieve this.
  • Guitar, including bass guitar: Candidates should be able to perform comfortably. For instruments where a chair is appropriate (eg guitar), the candidate should be comfortable, and the chair should not negatively affect the performance. For example, classical guitar candidates will need a chair without arms, as well as a footstool/rest, so that they can adopt a good performance position.

Filming guidance for Speech and Drama Candidates

  • For Speech and Drama candidates, an on-camera view is recommended, with the candidate's whole body in view.
  • Ensure that your performance space is large enough for any movement involved in your pieces.
  • If your performance does include movement, make sure you stay in frame during the entire performance, and if you’re using props or costumes, that they don’t obstruct your presentation unnecessarily.
  • Eye contact: The camera should ideally be placed at eye level, where possible. Regarding your eye line, think of the recording device as if it was the examiner, look down the lens when you would normally choose to make eye contact during your performance.

Checklist before you start filming

  • A quiet room without disruptions, phones are on silent
  • The recording device has enough battery and storage capacity
  • A light check to ensure the candidate is clearly visible in the recording
  • A recorded sound check to ensure the recording device captures the range of the instrument/speaking voice clearly, without any distortion.
  • A backing track test to check the balance on the recording and that the candidate can hear it comfortably
  • Candidate is in a comfortable position, in full view without the camera being obstructed
  • Remember, it has to be filmed all in one take. You can’t paste several takes together.

Processing files and uploading to the portal

You can upload your final performance video to the portal learning.trinitycollege.com  through a computer, or in the case of phones and tablets, directly from your recording device. In all cases, you might need to compress the video file, for it to meet the size criteria on the online portal .Files should be h.264 (i.e. MP4 or MOV) Via a personal computer

Transfer the video to your computer from your recording device. To make the uploading of long videos to the platform easier, there is free software that can help you compress large videos. Videos are limited for each candidate submission according to grade level (See FAQs box).

See our film compression guide

Your file should be labelled with your name, subject (and instrument for music), and grade. E.g.:

  • Yourname_Classical(instrument)_Grade(number)
  • Yourname_R&P(instrument)_Grade(number)
  • Yourname_Speech&Drama_Grade(number)

Compressing your video file

If uploading directly from a phone or tablet, you’ll probably need to compress the video first, so that it meets the criteria for the online portal. There are many apps that can help you do this, for example:

All these apps are free, which might incur in some ads being shown - just ignore these!

Frequently Asked Questions

What information do I need to give at the beginning of my performance?

    • You do not need to provide any information. You can simply start to perform.
    • Please remember to upload a word document (or similar format) of the pieces, composer (for classical and jazz), artist and which are your own choice and technical focus songs (for Rock & Pop), author (for drama) and order you are performing them in. You should film all pieces in one continuous recording.
  • You must not upload separate performances or edit takes together. Separate performances or edited videos will not be eligible for assessment.

Who can be in the room?

  • We recommend you have someone to help you operate the camera and any backing tracks. This person should not be in the video. If you have an accompanist, they do not need to be in frame.The examiner does not need to see the accompanist in the video.

Can I edit my performance?

  • No, you should film all pieces in one continuous recording. You must not upload separate performances or edit takes together. Separate performances or edited videos will not be eligible for assessment.

What format should I upload in?

  • You should upload your video and supporting documents in any of the following formats:
    • MP4
    • MOV
    • JPEG
    • DOC / DOCX
    • PNG
    • PDF
  • Videos and supporting documents in formats other than those listed above will not be eligible for upload.
  • Videos are limited to the following for each candidate submission:
    • Initial and Grade 1: 50MB
    • Grades 2 and 3: 100MB
    • Grades 4 and 5: 150MB
    • Grade 6: 200MB
    • Grade 7: 250MB
    • Grade 8: 300MB
    • Diplomas: 350MB

How should I label the video file?

Your file should be labelled with your name, subject (and instrument for music), and grade/diploma level:

  • Yourname_Classical(instrument)_Grade(number)
  • Yourname_R&P(instrument)_Grade(number)
  • Yourname_Drama(subject)_Grade(number)
  • Yourname_Classical(instrument)_Diploma(ATCL/LTCL)
  • Yurname_Drama(subject)_Diploma(ATCL/LTCL)

Further advice

If you have any concerns about equipment, filming or room set-up, please contact us at:

If you have any technical issues with uploading your files, you can also contact technical support at digital@trinitycollege.com.

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