So you’ve spent hours in the studio tracking your epic debut concept double album. Now what? If you’re thinking of making your first music video as the next step in your career, don’t get all flustered yet. You don’t have to be OK Go to make an awesome budget-friendly video but you do need some good ideas, a healthy amount of pre-planning, and some serious dedication. With that in mind, here are a few things to strive for and to avoid when shooting your first silver screen masterpiece.
Do: Stage a live performance
The live performance video is a classic for a reason. It’s simple, easy to set up, and doesn’t require your awkward bassist to pretend that he knows how to act. Perfect. Just remember to have adequate lighting – even workman’s halogen lights will do – and a tripod so that you can capture at least one full steady take of the band in addition to your cameraman’s love of zoom-in close-ups. Just remember to synchronize your playing with what’s actually happening in the song. You don’t want to look like this:
Don’t: Film a real live performance
Unless you can draw a huge crowd at a good local venue, you’re probably not at the point at which you can successfully film a live performance and not have it look like a bunch of overenthusiastic musicians playing to a half-empty room. Look, that happens to everybody at some point, but it doesn’t mean that you have to capture it on camera. Plus, there’s nothing like a bad stage dive or a drunk fan to ruin your shoot. Case in point:
Do: Plan your video’s plot in advance
If you’re going to go for a plot-driven music video, put in some time and thought before you start to shoot. It might seem tedious, but storyboarding your video during the pre-production process is essential to making the shoot go smoothly as possible and ensuring that you don’t end up with an incoherent mess. Plus, even if the rest of your video is ridiculous, you can still boast a compelling narrative. I mean, just look at this dude.
Don’t: Create the plot of your video as you shoot
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get excited about the production process and forget that you actually need to know what you’re doing before you get out there and start filming. Without pre-planning, you could end up creating an unintelligible abomination that barely resembles any kind of clear narrative. Journey knows all about this.
Do: Use royalty-free, non-copyrighted stock footage
If you’re going for a vintage feel, there’s no cheaper way than mining old footage that’s available online absolutely free. For sources, check out the Library of Congress digital collection or Archive.org. Some videos do this to great effect already, like the pretty heartbreaking video for Sam Amidon’s “Saro.”
Don’t: Make a slideshow of still photos
If your video looks like a 13-year-old One Direction fangirl made it in tribute, then you’re doing something wrong. The same goes for accompanying your song with images that are literal to the point of absurdity. See below. You’ve been warned.
Do: Use tactful special effects if necessary
Whatever editing program you’re using – iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Elements – you should consider employing simple effects like color correction during the post-production process. These can add more pop to your shots. Even changing the contrast can sometimes have a dramatic effect.
Don’t: Overuse tasteless special effects
No glass shattering effects, starwipes, and please, no poor greenscreening.
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