How to make a music video on any budget
So you’re an aspiring musician with a song which might just be the one to define your career, or with a track you think needs something to go along with it, but don’t know where to begin? A music video has probably crossed your mind, doubtless due to their booming popularity in recent years in the business. Where before, a music video was simply a recording of a performance with the studio recording of the song on top, music videos have become a creative outlet for many musicians to share the vision they had when creating the song.
The process of creating a music video can be daunting if you don’t already have an idea of how to make a music video. This blog post aims to give you a starting point from which you can get creative and make your own music video to any budget.
KINDS OF MUSIC VIDEOS
Before we get started with instructions on how to make a music video, it is worth taking into account the different kinds of music videos. Different types work for different songs, and there are multiple to consider. Here is an article which goes into a little more detail about each of these, as well as giving other useful knowledge about how to make a music video.
Performance music video
A performance music video is a music video featuring the musician or band playing or singing the song. Generally, these are filmed and then the track is edited on top of the video to create a lip-sync effect. These were very common in previous eras of music, and the technique is still used today, either on its own or combined with other types.
Creativity is still a huge part of performance music videos, despite the fact they are ‘just a performance’. A great deal of thought needs to go into the elements of this type of music video. Where will it be filmed? Will it be on a stage, and if so, will there be a crowd? Will it be somewhere more abstract, such as a beach or in the streets? Theme and mood also need to be considered when thinking about how to make a music video, and these things will be unpacked in greater depth later on.
Narrative music video
A narrative music video is a music video with a story to tell. The story generally loosely or closely runs along with the lyrics of the song. A narrative music video is generally structured with a beginning, middle and end and has characters. Mostly, lip-synching is not used in a solely narrative music video.
These can be more difficult to film as the set may be larger, multiple locations used, and actors may need to be hired. However, with clever thinking and some willing friends, this can be achieved fairly easily without crushing your budget.
It’s important with a narrative music video to know what you are trying to say with it; find an artistic intention and stick to it. This will make the video more coherent, as a narrative music video is essentially a short film with a song over the top.
Concept music video
A concept music video is a music video which is more abstract. Elements of both performance and narrative may feature, but ultimately a concept music video is used to show the musician’s artistic thought process behind the song. It may not make sense to watch at first, though may become more apparent with more views.
Themes, colours and moods are especially important for these. A sad song might have blue-tinged lighting or a blue background to show that emotion, while a happy song may be filmed outside on a nice day. All of these things help to give tone to the music video.
Animated music video
An animated music video is a music video which can feature anything from the three above, but is animated. This can be with 2D animation, stop motion or even CGI. Typically these can be more abstract or fanatical due to normal world conventions not applying.
Mixture music video
A mixture music video is a music video encompassing two or more of the general ones. For example, a narrative music video may have snippets of performance included, used as a B-roll around the storyline. A narrative music video may have elements of concept in it, such as the colours and set used to convey a certain concept.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
There are things to consider before you begin filming a music video. Jumping straight into things isn’t a good idea with a project like this. Before you begin, make sure you and anyone else involved agree on the creative direction. What are you trying to say with the video? Is there a message, and how are you going to make that clear?
Have you decided on a location? Does the location fit within your budget? Do you need any extras, and how are you going to get them? Do your costumes, setting and lighting fit the mood of the song, and the message you are trying to deliver? Spend time ensuring you know exactly what you are doing before thinking about filming, and make sure you stick to your intention so you can produce a clear, coherent video.
Be sure to keep your audience in mind. If your fanbase are alternative, perhaps they wouldn’t mind watching a video involving blood and gore. However, if your fanbase is mainly younger teens and preteens, consider what they would find appealing to watch as well as what you’d like to create. The key to a successful music video is finding the balance between what you want and what the audience wants.
It’s worth having a colour scheme to stick to for outfits, instruments, setting and lighting. Choose one which reflects the mood of the song, or once which echoes the song cover or album cover. This can make the video more understandable and appealing to watch.
When you have made all the decisions and have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with the video, you now know how to make a music video. It’s time to start filming.
A good camera is generally a must-have for music videos, unless the look you are going for is ‘shaky iPhone’. These can be expensive to buy, so renting or borrowing one may be a good option if buying a camera is not in your budget. A gimbal is useful to keep the camera truly steady for a clear shot.
Sound recording, here, is not necessary. The kind of microphone on the camera is thankfully not something you’ll need to worry about, as the music will be cut over the top of the video in post production. Instruments also do not need to be plugged in or working, and it’s advised that drums are muted if there are going to be repeated takes, to protect the ears of musicians and camera people.
Be sure to get as many takes as you need. It may take a while but if you have the money to pay crew, or willing friends with cameras, taking more footage than needed is a lot better than taking not enough and having to ‘make do’. Editing is to worry about later. During filming, make sure to get interesting angles and shoot enough footage of each band member, if you are a group.
Be sure to keep your budget in mind. A good music video doesn’t need a huge budget, if you know the right people and have understanding of videography and how to shoot things. A crew is nice to have, but not necessary if you have good friends or family with some knowledge of cameras. A music video is defined by both the visuals and the storyline or emotions it puts forth. Even with a huge budget, a music video without a clear direction will not do as well as one with one.
Be sure to keep these points in mind, and have fun when filming. It’s a creative process just as important as the songwriting itself, and should be enjoyed!
Post production is very important, and is crucial to include in a blog about how to make a music video. Without post production, you could be left with reels of footage and no idea how to use them to your advantage. With the right software, some knowledge and patience, a fully fledged, professional music video can be created. Many people prefer different software, but a list of good software for making music videos can be found here.
Post production includes syncing up the audio of the song to the video, picking and choosing the best shots to include, correcting colour and lighting where necessary and essentially creating the best cut you can.
Some people prefer to use a professional video production company, such as Nostairway, to do this job for them. This ensures that a high quality final video is made exactly to a brief you provide them with. If you do not want to pay for software or learn how to use it, this may be a better way to go about producing your video to a high quality.
Production companies generally have a portfolio on their web page which can show you what they are capable of achieving. This may help you to choose a production company. Alternately, doing it yourself is still an option.
So you’ve learned how to make a music video, and you’ve made one. Now, what do you do with it?
Music videos are typically uploaded to YouTube, due to the popularity of the site, though can also be promoted on social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. When you are happy with the finished music video, be sure to fill the correct credits into the description, such as directors, producers and camera people. Then sit back and hit upload!
Congratulations! You’ve just made a music video, and now you know how to make a music video for your next big hit.