Creating Your Own Music Video
In the last 25 years the invigorating art form the music video has grown to be one of the most influential and individually stylistic modes of production in the industry. Music Videos began by bands filming themselves singing their hit songs until technology and big budgets showed up to create what we see in the medium today. But don’t be fooled, you don’t need a big budget to create your own music video, (the band OK GO created their music video “Here It Goes Again” in one take and after posting it on YouTube walked away with a Grammy 6 months later). Production companies charge a fortune for even the simplest promo video, but you can easily do it yourself.
Step 1: Music
First things first, however; you have to choose your song. A simple idea well executed is often more effective than a complex idea done badly. Songs that tell a story work well, though non-narrative approaches can also be arresting.
Music videos do not need to cost a fortune and can be made very simply. You just need a good idea. How many videos have you seen on MTV that consist of the band playing in a club, with the lights flashing whilst the audience jumps up and down? Exactly. Try and think of something different when you make your video. Be creative and have fun.
Step 2: Planning
Brainstorm ideas for how you’d like to illustrate the song. Do not feel you have to be too literal; many of the greatest videos represent the emotion or theme of a song, not just its lyrics. Also, filming a music video can take a lot longer than you think, so plan to create a video for the 3 to 4 min song and allow plenty of time for shooting. Start by creating a storyboard for each shot. Planning shots ahead of time will make things run much more smoothly. Also, make a list of your crew, performers and props you’ll need for each shot.
Step 3: Style
Maybe you want to shoot entirely in black and white, or maybe you want to use stop-motion animation. It’s better to decide now than halfway through the actual shoot what “style” will best fit the song. Don’t forget to consult the band, as well. Some bands will want to be featured in the video, some will want to have footage of them playing spliced into the video, and some won’t want to appear at all.
Step 4: Shooting
Shooting the actual elements of the video is the fun part. Since the only sound in most videos is the song, you don’t have to worry about audio. If you’re going to have shots of someone singing or rapping, play the song in the background of a shot to make sure their lips are perfectly synchronized. Do multiple takes of each shot, and don’t be afraid to mix things up if a new idea comes to you. The more footage you end up with, the easier the editing will be and the better the video will look.
You’ll have your plan and storyboard to follow, but remember that some of the best moments in a video can be unplanned. Keep the camera rolling.
Step 5: Editing
Your footage might be great, but it’ll only become a great video through editing. Load all of your raw footage into an editing system. Upload the song first and match the footage to the audio. To do a good job you’ll need patience, time and more patience. You’ll need to decide the ‘feel’ and pace of the video. Will it be made up of long sweeping shots, or quick sharp edits? Do you want to
follow the mood of the song and edit to the music or do you want the video to contrast with the track?
Great videos feel like visual versions of the songs they represent. Make sure your edits reflect that —they should flow with the music. For example, a bunch of quick, sharp cuts during a lazy bass solo is probably going to look awful. Consider also adding
in effects and transitions to put the finishing touches on the video. Blur scenes, add slow motion, correct colors—this is just as much a part of the video as the shots themselves.
You can spice up your video by adding some stock footage, but you need to be aware that, like music, almost video foot
age is subject to strict copyright law. Making use of footage without the copyright holders express permission is illegal. Fear not, however, there are free royalty free footage – footage that’s in the public domain.
However, there are source of footage that you can legally use. Royalty free footage is footage you can re-use in any setting, without asking permission or paying the copyright holder a fee each time you use it. Some sites where you can download public domain footage for free are:
From the first frame to the last, music videos serve as a blank canvas to your mind’s eye, a place to show the world what you can really do when let loose with a camera. But, if you let your creative juices drown your common sense approach to production, your music video masterpiece could wind up a public-access catastrophe. Keep your song choice always in your mind – it will drive your ideas and the shots in your film. Take your time in the planning process but don’t be afraid to experiment. Have fun! And who knows, maybe your music video will be the next YouTube hit.
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