Category Archives: Media

Choir practice during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Singing proved to be a challenge during the Corona pandemic, both because of hygienic considerations and contact restrictions.

While conferencing software like Zoom, Teams or Skype worked for other types of remote collaboration, making music together proved to be impossible due to the latency – having musicians with more than 0.5 seconds delay trying to interact with each other does not work. Some choirs resort to a many-to-one setting, meaning that everyone is muted except the choir director who plays the score on the piano. This results in everyone singing at home alone, just listening to the piano – and the director is fully on their own, with occasional questions like “did anyone have a problem here?” left as their only feedback channel.

Still, this is better than not making music at all, but luckily there is a better (but way more compilated) solution for it. We used the open source tools Jamulus and Jitsi.

Jamulus for audio

Jamulus is a software dedicated to low-latency audio connections over the internet. You can set up your own server but we used a paid service for this, as it proved to be fast and reliable: It is even possible to just start the server on your home PC, but the experience in terms of quality and latency was much worse!

I would only recommend to start a server on your home PC for the first phase and this is the “getting everyone up to speed” phase, which can take a couple of hours. Unfortunately, Jamulus is not an out-of-the-box solution and often has issues with the audio hardware.

  1. Have every singer read through the setup guide here: . At the very minimum they need cable headphones. An Ethernet cable and an external microphone are highly recommended.
  2. Have a tech-savvy person available who starts a preliminary server on their PC, because it is cheaper there.
  3. Invite the other singers in small groups (more than four would likely overburden your preliminary server) to test their setup. Prepare for a couple of hours of tech support here (again, you need at least one tech-savvy person for this). In general, you need to experiment which audio settings work for each individual.
  4. When you are confident that the singers are ready, book your sessions on Melomax and invite the whole group there.
  5. Be prepared for additional tech support and expect that setups which worked previously might miraculously break later.

The setup can be very frustrating, but the outcome was really worth it – we had a really emotional situation when we were able to digitally sing together after months of silence!

Jitsi for video

Jamulus only supports audio and it is already sufficient for making music together. But the main drawback is that you still need a “main reference” i.e., a piano to sing along. This is needed to cope with the minimal but still existing latency – everyone has to concentrate on it so the choir does not get slower and slower.

But good news! It is possible to also enable low-latency video, using a second software named Jitsi. The trick is to setup your own Jitsi server and configure it to be low-latency. In essence, this means to

  1. Reduce the video quality to a bare minimum (e.g. 320 x 190 pixels)
  2. Disable Jitsi audio
  3. Disable encryption

To achieve this, you need to setup a Jitsi server (this time, an existing service won’t be enough as you need detailed control over the instance). Then, add the following settings to the /etc/jitsi/meet/<server name>-config.js :

    testing: {
      disableE2EE: true,
      p2pTestMode: false
    enableNoisyMicDetection: false,
    startWithAudioMuted: true,
    startSilent: true,
    stereo: true,
    disableAP: true,
    resolution: 200, 
    constraints: {
      video: {
        aspectRatio: 16 / 9,
        height: {
          ideal: 200,
          max: 200,
          min: 100
    enableLayerSuspension: true,
    prejoinPageEnabled: false,
    p2p: {
      enabled: false,

The result

This technical setup allowed us to come together during the lock down(s) and hence, we were able to record the result quickly when we were allowed to meet again. Still, with unusually large gaps between every singer, but at least physical again:

You can find more about the choir (in German) on

My A Levels 2009

In spring 2009 I graduated from German high-school and of course I took my camera with me. I filmed the days of examination and the A level party and produced a movie. During the party I used the camera crane which resulted in really awesome pictures :-).

Something interesting about the background story of the film’s creation: Our first A level party was canceled due to a school shooting menace (which would later turn out as having been a hoax) and was replaced by a storming of the school by the police. According to a police officer the balloons of our decoration caused serious problems to the police special force – spontaneously bursting balloons were responsible for one or more adrenaline rushes and they had to destroy a serious number of them to access the teachers’ lounge.

Fortunately we were able to postpone the party and had it two days later, after the building was thoroughly checked. The student who had announced the shooting only because she wanted a day off, was identified.

Nicolas Rocker, Nicolas Pilia (filming) |
Philipp Hasper (filming, editing) |

N.T. – A commercial

I filmed the clip “N.T.” (N.T. is a phonetic wordplay for the German word for duck) in the context of the Ehre und Karriere contest 2008. 17 companies, among them Sony, Mini and Bacardi organized a competition for creative filmmakers, producing their own commercials. Visit for further information. With over 700 contestants participating, we reached the shortlist (Top 14) but unfortunately didn’t win a prize.
Our clip is based on my idea for the wheat brand “Snow Wheat” and was filmed with the Sony HC7E and my camera crane.

Patrick Herrle (cast) | Nicolas Rocker (assistant, set) |
Philipp Hasper (director, filming, editing) | Michael Donner (music) |
Snow Wheat (bread) | rye bread (stunt bread) |

DIY camera crane

During 2007 my father and I developed and self-constructed our very own camera crane. It is about 6 meters tall and has a motorized remotehead plus a small control screen for the camera’s view. Without pilots and prototypes we would have had to spend about 400€ though the real costs were much higher.

Camcrane whole Camcrane operator

The camcrane’s main component is a common 5 meter flagstaff. The joint for pan and tilt of the staff is a swivel castor wheel bolted directly onto a strong tripod. On the flagstaff’s upper end there is a servo-motor-driven remotehead that can be controlled by a joystick attached to the other end of the flagstaff. The joystick was taken from an RC car’s control.  The camera’s picture can be observed live through a small monitor near the stand.

Camcrane gears Camcrane height

The flagpole consists of multiple segments which can be disassembled. This has the advantage of easier transportation, although it takes longer to set up – especially the trapezoid which levels the head as well as the horizontal cross booms need to be connected every time. The remotehead is designed for the Sony HC7, so a notably bigger camcorder may not fit and could affect the stability of the crane. To support power to the remote head and the display, we used two 9V car batteries which (together with a bar-bell) also acted as counter-weight.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions or if you want to use the crane in your project! Building one yourself based on our learnings will take some time but it is doable.

You can get an idea of the crane’s capabilities by watching the following clip (in the end, there is also footage showing the remote head in detail):

In the time since the construction of the crane, it had multiple appearances in my film projects: It contributed to several advertisement videos, filmed a school party and also was part of a documentary about a brass orchestra. Nowadays, you might probably use an off-the-shelf camera drone, but back then this crane really elevated the video quality and allowed entirely new perspectives.