Working with recruitment firm Star Medical and bringing their staff together to form a Virtual Choir
Back in May we were approached by Medical recruitment firm Star Medical to help them create a virtual choir. At that point the UK was still under fairly strict lockdown although there was some hope of things starting to ease over the coming weeks.
The brief was to put together a choir made up of staff from Star Medical who were currently working from home in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. With some hope of lockdown lessening during June and July one of the key elements to the video was to show people starting to emerge from this. This is why the final scene of the video (which actually took the longest to put together) shows people coming out of their front doors.
“Lean on Me” is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. It was released in April 1972 as the first single from his second album, Still Bill. It was a number one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100; the latter chart for three weeks in July 1972. Bill Withers’ childhood in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, was the inspiration for “Lean on Me”, which he wrote after he had moved to Los Angeles and found himself missing the strong community ethic of his hometown.
In his own words:
“I bought a little piano and I was sitting there just running my fingers up and down the piano. In the course of doing the music, that phrase crossed my mind, so then you go back and say, ‘OK, I like the way that phrase, Lean On Me, sounds with this song.'”
Based on its sense of community and feel good factor, Lean on Me is a great choice for putting together a virtual choir, particularly in these challenging times.
Recording the Song
Star Medical recruited a professional choir leader, Joe Evans, to teach the song to their staff. This was done over a series of Zoom sessions. Jo had recorded a suitable backing track and included a count in so that everyone could clap at a given point. This serves the same purpose as a clapper board in film making and helps to line up all the audio tracks.
Once the videos were ready they were sent in via ‘westransfer’ (other options are available!). From there first we split out the audio tracks and produce the master audio file. With a few plugins raided from our recording toy box we can make even the audio from an iPhone sound pretty impressive. Whilst videos are of course a visual thing the quality of the audio does matter. Even the best video with ragged tinny audio is never going to be great.