Whilst we all yearn for face-to-face jams to be back, the twice-monthly BUMS Online jams provided a new experience, and helped maintain the BUMS community.

Let’s take a look behind the scenes.

There are four parts to getting online jams together:

  1. planning the schedule of sets and open mics,
  2. video recording songs,
  3. editing videos and song sheets for uploading, and
  4. publishing recordings and displaying song sheets through Facebook in BUMS Online.

Planning

BUMS Media Manager, Jo Kunde is our Field Marshall, planning, recruiting and organising people and resources.  She starts work on future jams before the last one has even been streamed.

Jo recruits BUMS members to lead sets, act as MC and to perform open mics and run mini workshops.  She is always looking for fresh faces so contact her if you would like to volunteer. She plans the order of the sets and open mics, and develops draft scripts for the MCs.

To improve the quality of the video recordings, Jo published tips for set leaders – like check what’s behind you when you record. Last night’s washing up is not a good look, and keep the family pets out of the way! Check out Jo’s video tips on the BUMS Inc website.

Performers and creating a set

Set leaders choose suitable songs in the same way as a normal jam, except they have to consider how they will work in an online performance. Simplicity is probably better than making a song too complicated.  For performers doing an open mic, no-one will be playing along, so you can go all out to impress. But for a jam song, you need to take a whole group of people of varying abilities on a journey through the song with you.

Each set leader videos their song(s) on a laptop, tablet or phone. For many, it has been a new experience and as Steve Sandilands has commented it can take quite a few ‘takes’ to be satisfied with the recording. A three-minute video can be over 200MB, so condensing the file (using, for example, free software called HandBrake) makes the video easier to transfer and upload.

Viewers have enjoyed performances of  over  60 talented BUMS. A few of the stand out events have been the Anzac Day service and the Pirate Set in September (look for more themed sets coming soon). As restrictions have eased groups began video sets, and we’ve also enjoyed many collaborations through the last seven months.

Many thanks to these set leaders for the dedication, energy, and enthusiasm they’ve given to producing content for the BUMS members online (on order of first appearance); Linda Gough, Ian Phillips, David Pedler & Lyn Lucas, Amanda Allwood, Steve Sandilands, Becky Lochel, Graham Hall, Blair and Pidje Marks, Cath McCourt, Adrian Board, Rowena & Hans Braaksma, Zoe Watson, Michelle Paddy, Marg Monaghan, Peter Grace, Coady Brule, Angie & Dave McGrath, Max Borchardt, Donna & Derek Farrell, Ukulele Saints, Sue & Peter Sercombe, Caroline Haig, Spare Parts, David Hethorn, Mama Juju & Jam Tarts, Paul Morris, Ukey Beats, Salli Chmura & Geoff Dancer, Mick Angeles, Trippy Hippies & the BUMS Buccaneers, Jo Kunde, Narelle Burke, and Mama Juju & Vicki Velour, and unforgettable videos from the CAGE Couch band, and Caroline Haig with Ukulele Saints and a Rascally Crew. A big shout out also to our regular MC’s for the online jams Max Borchardt, and Sylvia Hunt.

Song sheets

Of course, like a normal jam, song sheets with the words, chords and any other instructions are provided to go with the video. These are critical to the enjoyment of playing along to the song. For many years Keryn Henderson has developed and undertaken to standardise the formatting of all the songs presented at BUMS jams and she has continued this invaluable task adding to the impressive BUMS music library, a valuable resource for all of our set leaders, past and future.

Set leaders provide the song sheets and arrangements they used to record the videos; Keryn then formats them if needed to have correct chords placement, chord charts, matching fonts, and checks to make sure they are suitable for all levels of ukulele players. The song sheets are then assembled into the correct order for the set list, and a final document created for the jam by Jo with MC notes and each set list.

Video editing

Jo Kunde coordinates the individual video files and edits the videos to make them much more professional and coherent for playing at the jam. This generally involves assembling them in the set order, tweaking the colour, and audio, and adding ambient effects (like applause), then the whole jam is edited together with the recorded MC parts from Max.  For the jams where Sylvia and Andrew are hosting live the sets are streamed individually.

Production

Now, it’s onto the BUMS Online production studio, master-minded by Andrew and Sylvia Hunt from their lounge room (BUMS Bunker).

BUMS Online members can view their guided tour in Facebook.

Studio

The studio is a place of many parts.  Importantly it holds the family animals – some live and some stuffed (you’ll have to watch the video to see that). It has the stage equipped with a microphone where the live action comes from – for Sylvia as MC or Andrew playing requests.  Andrew uses a green screen behind the stage so different backgrounds can be displayed Hawaii, Coorparoo or Ferny Grove perhaps?

‘On stage’ a mic, amplifiers and a fold back speaker run through a mixing desk to the laptop. A web camera records the stage scene live. The live part of the jam is what you see when Sylvia is MC, and when Andrew does the request spot at the end of the jam.  We’ve streamed two live performance jams 15 July with our Ferny Grove leaders Linda Gough and Paul Morris, and 16 September with Paul Morris, Peter Grace and Andrew Hunt.

Managing the show

The laptop runs software called OBS which manages the sound, pre-recorded videos and live camera. It links to a projector (like in normal jams) which projects the song sheets up on the lounge room wall. The song sheets are scrolled by a nifty foot pedal — built by Andrew’s son Sam — which uses software called SmoothScroll that takes out all the jerks.

When we live stream the recorded videos, the OBS software has two screens showing the recorded performance and the song sheet.  This is what you see as a Facebook viewer.

When a song is being played, the performance video is in the top right of the screen, and the song is on the large screen.  When the song is over, the image of the performer can be dragged to the big screen for any chit-chat between songs.

Lighting

Andrew, the master of Heath-Robinson innovation, created two state-of-the-art light boxes to give the stage that professional look. The system uses a couple of down-lights from ALDI in two beer cartons (Corona and Oettinger Pils) with paper tissues fixed across the front of the box so the light is diffused and there are no shadows on the stage.

Thanks

If you could compare the first online jam back in April to those in June, you will notice massive improvements in the quality of the live stream. BUMS Online has continued to livestream a jam twice a month since April 2020. You can check what’s coming up on the News  & Events page or keep an eye out in BUMS Online for the scheduled livestream a few days out.

Thank you to all the BUMS members who have played a part in this wonderful experiment.  The success of the online jams provides a new way to connect our community, and bring others into the world of ukulele.  It’s another example of the way the ukulele can take you on a journey of new learning, frustration and fun.

Please note: You must be a member of BUMS Inc to be approved as a member of the private Facebook Group BUMS Online – Brisbane Ukulele Musicians Society (BUMS) Members. Find out how to become a BUMS Inc member on the Membership page of the BUMS Inc website.

 

Post updated 20/10/2020 Jo Kunde

Adrian Board reviews our inaugural BUMS online jam. 

There’s positives to everything, even a pandemic.

Ok, nobody asked for the world we live in at the moment. But it’s not all bad.  For example, we couldn’t get together in person, so we ran an online jam.

First Time Round

At first it was weird. All we saw was Max speaking. I use the term ‘saw’ because we didn’t ‘hear’ him. That sent the tech monkeys into a scramble which resulted in success. Initially, I was a little sad because I miss everybody. That turned into relief when I started strumming and singing with my friends. I didn’t realise how much I needed a strum. For some reason, I have been a little on edge lately. I can’t imagine why. Anyway, it was awesome.

Actually, in some ways it was better than a physical jam. Let me explain. I didn’t have to line up at a bar, and could order any beverage I so desired. I could sledge both other audience members and the presenter via the chat window without fear of being in trouble for talking during a performance. Nobody needed to hang around to pack up the equipment and chairs. The performers could change costumes between songs. Ian Philips wasn’t wearing pants. The list goes on.

Future opportunities

In all seriousness, the online jam presents opportunities that physical jams don’t, in terms of both experiencing it as an audience person and a performer. In a live jam, you are distanced from the performer and cannot see what their hands are doing. It won’t be long before some of the performers realise that they can use the camera to their advantage and demo some strumming and plucking techniques, which will take the jam to the next level.

I thoroughly enjoyed the online jam and recommend it to all and sundry. I look forward to the next one. In the meantime, I wish everybody healthy families, finances, bodies and spirits.

At some point in time this will end and we will miss the online jams, but for now, we have an opportunity to enjoy them, so please take this opportunity while you can. These jams have been made just for you … yes you. Now smile at the love being shared and pick up your uke, it’s time to practice.


BUMS Inc Online Jams

With the success of our inaugural BUMS online jam, more are planned. The BUMS Online Big Uke Jam are streamed fortnightly in the private Facebook Group BUMS Online – Brisbane Ukulele Musicians Society (BUMS) Members. To be accepted you MUST be a member of BUMS Inc. Find out how you can get FREE membership until 30 June 2020.

BUMS will be streaming jams on Wednesday 29 April (get an extra one as there’s five Wednesdays in April!), 6 May and 20 May. If restrictions stay in place, then 3 and 17 June.

 

Here’s some tips from our Media Manager Jo Kunde for creating a great looking video!

We encourage all of our members to share a song, a technique or even a lesson with our community in BUMS Online group. Maybe you’d like to lead a set in our Big Uke Jams Online? You’ve got a smart phone and you’re ready to go.

Before you post, whether you’re an experienced video poster or wanting to share for the first time, try some (or all of these ideas) to make your video look more professional.

Achieving a great look is more about your technique than your tools, you can make great videos with whatever you’ve got right now, just by paying attention to a few key details.

Using your phone

If you’ve got a smart phone you have everything you need to shoot a good video.

  • Use the camera on the back of your phone if you have someone who can film for you. The front camera’s quality is not as good on most phones.
  • Record in landscape mode (that is, horizontally instead of vertically). This will give you footage that looks good on larger devices, not just phone screens.
  • If your phone has a feature that allows you to overlay a grid on your screen, use it. This will help you keep your phone level and position yourself in frame.

Light

We want to see you and what you’re playing.

  • Through the day, face or stand adjacent to a window. Natural light is very flattering!
  • If you don’t have a window or it’s at night try to use a couple of lamps. Position a lamp on either side of you. With light coming from these three spots you can avoid strange shadows.
  • One thing to avoid is just using overhead lighting – it can cast very unflattering (spooky) shadows on face.

Filming outdoors? Position the camera with the sun behind,  you don’t want shadows across your face.  A word of caution filming outside can mess with your sound.

Consider where you are filming.

Have a look at what’s behind you- Is it very distracting or showing something you’d rather keep private?

  • A good choice is to stand in front of a  wall or door. It doesn’t have to be plain behind you but consider what’s there.
  • Of course you can also use your background creatively e.g. showing off your fav poster, that photo of you with Jake or your fave houseplant!
  • Don’t have a good spot? Consider hanging a sheet or using a screen.
  • Try to stand out from your backdrop to avoid casting shadows on it …unless you are going for a more dramatic effect.
  • Be careful not to film with a window, mirror or glass in the background. You could inadvertently catch the camera and your set up in the reflection. Besides that, having a light source like a window behind you can make you look dark and shadowy.

Getting as Good Sound as possible.

I’m not suggesting you go out an buy a microphone, if you have sound equipment you’ll know how to use it. That’s more technical than these simple tips.

Just be aware of any background noise- TV in the next room, traffic, birds, and even the noise of the wind, all of these sounds will be very obvious on your recording.

Avoid the Shakes

It’s hard to hold a camera completely steady, if you are lucky enough to have a helper, so try not to hold it all. Instead, use a tripod, or prop your camera on a sturdy surface.

If you are doing it all yourself try putting your music on a music stand at about chin level and prop the phone up next to it.

Your Position

Feedback from our uke community is they like to see your hands as well as your face.

  • Just to confirm you are filming in landscape (see using your phone above) gives you extra space
  • Try standing slightly sideways to get both hands in.
  • Have your fretting hand closer to the camera.
  • We like to see your face, but if you are shy, we want to see what you are playing.

Extra Tips for Set Leaders 

  • Leave space (about 10 secs) on the front and end of your video for editing. Gives you time to get in position and your smile going.
  • You do not have to film at full HD which makes for a smaller file size when uploading video to share. HD 1280 x 720 is fine. When streamed your video is shown smaller next to the song sheets. You can usually set your video quality in the camera settings.
  • Share video by iCloud link, Google Drive Shared folder or link, or shared Dropbox folder.

If you have any questions please send to Jo via .

I can’t wait to see your videos!

 

 

Stay connected with your uke friends.

In response to the challenges presented to our community as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, the BUMS Inc Committee has created a special Extraordinary Associate Membership for the balance of the 2020 financial year.

The good news is its FREE!

This gives our many visitors to our regular jams, and new players the opportunity to be approved for BUMS Inc Associate Membership.
We’ve even simplified the joining process. All you need to do is complete the online form and submit.

On receiving your application our secretary will send you a welcome email with your invitation to join our private BUMS Online Facebook Group. The group is to support and help our members, with all things ukulele for including sharing songs, performances from home, discussions, reviews, and tutorials. This is where all of our BUMS Online Big Uke Jam and any other events are streaming from.

As we all negotiate and come to terms with all the current changes, our hope is you can check into the group, enjoy a song, be inspired to try something different and take some time for yourself. You can share photos, videos and files (PDF of tabs or a song sheet) and only our group members will see them.

The ways we interact with our community have changed for the near future, and BUMS mission is to help our members and community stay positive and connected.

Read more about BUMS Inc Memberships HERE

BUMS Inc on Facebook 

From BUMS on seats to BUMS online … our busy BUMS community leaders show amazing resilience, creativity and community spirit. As a result, the Internet’s alive with ukulele activities from our local leaders and overseas friends.

BUMS Inc Members

Just for BUMS members we have created a private Facebook group called, you guessed it, BUMS Online! The group is to support and help our members, with all things ukulele including sharing songs, performances from home, discussions, reviews, tutorials, and even live-streaming jams (fingers crossed).

All members should have received their invitation by email Saturday 28 March, 4:40 PM. If you didn’t check your spam!

For those not financial members, there is still lots of free resources and content being shared on the BUMS Facebook Page @brisbaneukulele.

Open Mics and Play-alongs

Leading the move online are The CAGE band leaders, Bec Lochel and Ian Phillips.

Fortunate Facebook friends are treated to almost daily posts from this energetic pair. This week, they’ve composed parodies, and posted simple songs to play along with.

Recently returned President Dave Pedler and Lyn Lucas, also entertained us with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.

Online Jams

Behind the scenes, jam leaders Andrew Hunt (Albany Creek & Northside) and Linda Gough (Ferny Grove ) were very busy. Last week they worked with President David Pedler, IT Manager John Henderson and Media Manager, Jo Kunde, to navigate licensing issues and investigate online jam options.

online trial

Andrew Hunt trials a Facebook jam format.

So far, our team has trialled Zoom and Facebook. In addition, they’ve assisted interstate colleagues in their online trials. And the committee surveyed member about their online preferences.

Band Practice

Band leader, John Low is trialling Zoom to keep NUMB BUMS members collaborating. If you missed the memo, Zoom band practices begin Monday 30 March 2020.

Online Tutorials

In addition, enterprising BUMS member and ukulele teacher, Erin Harrington, offers free YouTube tutorials.

Experience entertainer and ukulele teacher, Vic Kena, offers you an ‘Easy Way to Play Along with Bohemian Rhapsody‘ via YouTube.

Gotta uke? Get involved!

I hear those ukes a-comin’ … they’re strummin’ round the bend
I ain’t done no jamming … since I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Covid lock-down … and time keeps draggin’ on
But my uke just keeps a-hummin’ … as I strum along.

While you’re missing the usual ukulele vibe, try something new.  Take advantage of the BUMS online activities as they emerge.

Meanwhile Overseas

Manitoba Hal Brolund: LIVE STREAM
2:00 pm Saturday 28 March Halifax NS time (Atlantic).
Into the blues? Join Hal if you can! Hal will play songs, loop, talk, and hang out with you. If you miss this one, there’s sure to be more. Watch Hal’s Facebook for notices.

Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel: Not-so-Little Online Ukulele Festival LIVE!
10:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday 11 April 2020 Hawaiian time
Join Craig and Sarah for free lessons, performances, demonstrations, play-alongs, Q&As and prizes.