This is how we filmed an entire music video in one evening and how it turned out pretty sweet. Check out the music video below.
Tip #1: Have A Simple Plan
Not the band. Although the band wouldn’t hurt. No no no. Have a simple plan for the night of filming and let me tell you, our plan was very simple. We kept the crew small. We kept the cast even smaller. We avoided using sets that limited us to certain angles and instead picked 5 locations we could show 360 degrees. All our locations were places around Cleveland that we had already scoped out in the past that had the look the music video called for. We filmed on a weeknight to make sure no weekend crowds messed up any shots. We picked locations that were well lit so that if one location took longer and we lost sunlight we would still be safe. We had the singer bring multiple different outfits and had her change between locations.
Tip #2: Keep The Work Within View
This is important throughout the entire process in order to not get ahead of yourself or to accidentally over-commit to something in front of the person who hired you. Don’t allow complex pieces of the process to be around the corner to be figured out later. Figure them out before you get on set. Don’t say we will figure it out in post and capture a shot that needs rotoscoping or a logo removed or something massive taken out of the background. Don’t try something new on set unless you have backup options where you don’t do the effect so you don’t miss out on the content.
Tip #3: Keep Your Equipment Light And Consistent
For this video we either used natural lighting or these super simple soft light led bars. Since they were so thin and light we were able to screw them into a boom pole and easily walk with the cameraman and light the subject in a way that makes her pop off the background nicely without being too harsh with the shadows. The goal for this video was to have the singer be lighting a dark world and it actually works with the way we lit her with moving lights that could easily be floating above her on a light handheld boom pole.
Tip #4: Do The Whole Song
Rather than trying different sections and working on specific lines in the song for specific shots… Just do the whole song with each take. The singer will be able to feel more comfortable knowing they will be avoiding all the starting and stopping. Also, not doing the full song each time can make you risk not getting a section of the song from enough angles. Especially because as creative-type-people, directors can sometimes focus on certain areas they are more excited about and then accidentally leave blind spots or areas where they failed to get enough coverage. You’ll thank me when you get to editing the video and realize what your blind spots were.
Tip #5: Edit Faster By “Trimming The Fat” First
The way I got 70% of the editing done was by lining up the video to the song and creating a new track for each take. I then would watch each take and cut out anything that was out of focus, shaky, out of frame, or anything that happened with the talent (like the time her heel fell off in this take) Then from there, the last 30% of the editing process is much easier and more fun. You can choose what shots you want to use knowing that everything in the timeline is at least decent to look at. You have more freedom to focus on the story and what shots you genuinely like best without the bad stuff cluttering the timeline. Bonus tip. Make your cuts on beat with the song! It makes the cuts feel much more natural and enhance the song.
Tip #6: Choose One Way To Make It Memorable
If you have all the aforementioned processes down and are comfortable making a standard music video, you can now add the hook somewhere in your process. Not the hook to the song, but the visual hook that will get people’s attention and encourage viewers to watch multiple times. For this video our hook was recording it in slow motion. Yep. The way we got the singer to look so graceful and floaty was by playing the song at double speed for her while on set. Then when editing we slowed it down back to its original speed making all the footage slow motion. It’s not overtly distracting but it will help to stick into the audience’s minds much better since it looks different from what they have normally seen in standard music videos.
That is how to make a simple music video that you can actually be proud of.