Shooting & Making a music video. 8 killer tips to help you succeed. November 01 2013


photo credit: Alex Abian cc

Ahh music video production...

at first glance it all seems so glamorous - the band, the music, the vibe and atmosphere of the final all seems so easy! Well, budding music videographers, don't be fooled - though the end product of a music video is a seamless story that looks easy, energetic and oh so natural, the actual process of shooting and editing a music video takes time, planning and concentration (mixed with a whole lot of fun and creativity). Check out our eight top tips to producing a great music video, making sure you have fun while you're at it!

photo credit: Looking Glass cc


1. Preparation goes a long way

A lot of the music video magic you see on finished products doesn't happen by chance. Scenes and footage are carefully scripted prior to shooting. This includes location, storyline, the 'feel" or vibe of the video, everything. If you're not sure where to start, study some music videos that feature the same genre of music and work out what techniques or shots they have used that impress you. Think about why the director as used those techniques or shots, and whether they would work in your video. You don't have to duplicate what they have done, but reviewing similar styled videos will help you get a better understanding of what shots would work best for your video, and most importantly, why.

2. Find the story in the music

Listen closely to the lean music file and think about the actual music bars prior to shooting your video. Thinking about each bar of music and the imagery that comes to mind will help you visualise the story that your video should communicate. Once you have a rough idea of the storyline and scenes, get it on paper - sketch it, draw stick men, whatever you need to do to get the idea written down.


3. Get your audio up to scratch

When it comes to shooting the video, use a recorded version of the song to play in the background while recording. Why? This background track (or scratch track) will help you synchronise the shots in post production with the real track. Also, when the singer is singing make sure they aren't miming or singing half heartedly. They need to be singing the song as though they were live, as if there are inconsistencies between the movements of the singers face, body and expressions with the actual track, this will completely oblivious in the final product.

If you're thinking of recording the singer while you record the music video, and using that audio for the video itself then take our advice and think again. Quite simply, this will not work. The audio quality will be poor, and if you decide afterward to match it to a clean track, it simply will not synchronise perfectly and you may need to re- shoot. Get the singer to sing along to the master track, you can't go wrong.

4. Record until every angle is covered

photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read cc

Once you've recorded the song for the first time, don't stop there - record it again, from a different angle. Get as many different shots of the singer as you can, including individual shots of the band members (if any) and group shots. Also remember to try and get shots of the singer doing things (other than singing!).  Get them involved with the story of the music where possible- just keep in mind that you don't want to overshadow the music with their antics. The footage, location and activities should all support the music, not dominate it.

5. The benefits of B-roll

B-roll footage, or cutaway footage, is footage that is taken that isn't necessarily the singer or band, but rather footage that relates to the vibe of the song, such as shots of the beach, or people at a party. This footage is designed to add a little variety to the video, build the theme and story, and fill the gaps between the musical performance footage. B-roll footage works particularly well in music videos because it adds another dimension to the music video. Use this footage in between shots of the singer, band members or dance routine, and have fun with it. You can also do is with photo's, however be careful or your video may look strangely similar those hokey karaoke videos.

6. Ready, set..edit!

Now, the really fun part. Editing a music video can take a fair bit of time to ensure that the footage is effectively synchronised with the music so ensure you have enough time allocated to this part of the process (as a guide, however long you think it will take...double it).

To start with, go through each bit of footage you have and pick out your favourite parts that you want to appear in the shot. Don't be scared to skip between different takes; you could start a chorus from take 2, add some b roll footage and end the chorus with take 5, the possibilities are endless.

With regards to the audio of the track, if you have used a scratch track in the filming of the video, now is the time to synchronise this with the master version of the track using the waveform picture in your editing platform. This allows your footage to perfectly align the audio with the music, creating a seamless audio- visual experience. Even though your audio and visual now matches, don't delete the scratch track just yet- just disable it. You may still need it again if you realise you've made a mistake.

If you want to save time and make for an efficient and effective video editing experience, a handy hint is to place all of the footage on the time line, one above the other on stacked video tracks. Ensure that they are all synced to the correct parts of the song (excluding the b roll footage which can be placed wherever you want it to go). Now, use the razor tool and just delete all the clips that are above the shots you want to use. It's process allows you to cut and edit the video footage together without having to drag and drop clips multiple times (since this was already done when you synchronised the visual to the audio). In essence, you are working in the same way as in the editing of TV shows - switching from one camera angle to another. Easy.

7. The special effects.

Don't forget that there are various video editing special effects which you can use to enhance aspects of your video, such as light leaks, pulsing zoom or adjusting color gradients. However, as beautiful and unique as they are, use these effects sparingly - they can add so much to your video, but you don't want the effects to overpower or detract from the actual music video itself.

8. Uploading your video for maximum effect!

Now that you've spent all this effort on making your piece of music video art, you want to get it in front of as many people as possible - this means online!
There are a multitude of video hosting sites out there such as Vimeo, Flickr, Veoh and DailyMotion. The king of all online content though is YouTube, and if you’re going to all of this effort you had better be making a music video for YouTube! This really just comes down to having the right export settings from your editing software so YouTube can show your video at the optimum aspect ratio and picture quality.
For the best bet of being seen, sign up to as many video hosting sites as you can and upload your awesome music video to all of them, the more the merrier, each of these sites has their own unique types of viewers.

So there you have it, our 8 steps to creating better music videos.

The process can be a whole lot of fun - and you can create some killer music vids with a little preparation and creativity. Now that you know what’s involved, is music video production for you? and if you've already dabbled in music video production, do you have any other handy hints you could share?  




Enhance your videos with Light Leaks here.