Making Your Own Music Video - DIY Guide
September 16, 2015
Let’s face it: the internet is a visual medium. Despite the popularity of music streaming sites like Spotify, nothing has the reach of YouTube, and Vimeo is also growing in popularity as people seek out new entertainment. So if you’ve got a great song and you really want to get it out there, you’re going to need a video to go with it.
The good news is that making a music video doesn’t need to cost a fortune. It’s something you can do yourself – with the help of a few friends – and this guide shows you how. It will take you through all the steps the professionals follow so that you can produce something worthy of your music. We’ll even give you complementary tools and kits to help you get great results.
Before you begin, you’ll need to make sure you have what you need to get the job done.
• Video camera – the best quality you can afford, but even a phone will do.
• Tripod – so you can keep the camera steady.
• Lights – preferably more than one, and as a rule, the brighter the better.
• Video editing software – such as Sony Vegas, iMovie, Movie Studio Suite, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or deluxe Avid suite.
• A crew (for handling all of the above).
• A cast (which might include you).
• Your music!
You can hire professional quality filmmaking gear even if you’re an amateur. You may also be able to borrow some of what you need. it’s worth asking friends, fellow musicians and your local small business support centre if they can help.
If you want to make a music video, the chances are that you already have an idea. Don’t worry if it’s just a simple one – many videos now regarded as classics are conceptually very simple. If you’re feeling stuck, think about videos that have inspired you and ask yourself what kind of themes or images would suit your song. You might want to tell a story or it might be more important to get the mood right. Do some brainstorming with your friends or fellow band members until you come up with something that works.
Once you’ve established the idea you want to go with, you’ll need to prepare a treatment. This means coming up with a storyline – essentially a list of what will happen when. You can break this down into scenes. This can then be used to create a storyboard – a succession of sketches showing what happens in each scene, like a cartoon strip. Add notes to each sketch to establish how you want to film the scene (thinking about things like camera angles) and how it should be lit.
When you’ve finished the treatment, you should be able to start working out what making your video will cost. Draw up a budget, taking into account the cost of buying or hiring equipment, bringing in any professional help you feel you need and paying, if necessary, to use particular locations. If you’re working with friends, allow for the cost of feeding them and buying some drinks afterwards. Remember that costs can go up unexpectedly, and make sure you can cope if this happens.
At this stage you need to focus on the logistics of bringing your treatment to life. This means finding the right locations, arranging filming dates when everyone can be there, and making sure each crew and cast member is capable of doing the job required of them. You’ll need to obtain costumes and props and make sure that all your equipment will be available when you need it. Don’t forget that if you’re shooting outdoors you may need a generator or lengthy cables to supply electricity.
When it comes to filming itself, you’ll never have as much time as you’d like – no-one does. Good planning will ensure that no time is wasted and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Use check lists and, especially if you’re delegating responsibility, always have a back-up plan.
Check out this article for further details: Music Video Production: roles and responsibilities explained
When you’re ready to shoot, whether in a studio or on location, you’ll need to allow time to set up properly. This will ensure you can produce good quality material, and will reduce the risk of you having to go back and re-shoot things later, which can be expensive and difficult to organise.
Start by laying down marks (you can do this with chalk or gaffa tape) so cast members know where to stand. You can then position the camera to get the angle you want. With that done, assess the lighting situation and bear in mind that everything will look darker on film than it does in real life. Set up your lights as needed. If you’re relying on daylight, remember that it might change during the shoot. Some filler artificial light can still be useful.
When you’re ready to go, shoot each scene at least twice. If you have time, film it from different angles. This will give you material to cut away to, make the video visually more interesting and make editing easier.
Time how long it takes you to shoot your first scene and budget time for other scenes accordingly, allowing for the possibility of sometimes being lost if things go wrong.
Carefully label everything you’ve filmed and store cards in a secure place as soon as they come out of the camera. The last thing you need is material going missing.
After the shoot, you can focus on any other assets you need to produce, such as animated sequences or lyrics to add to the filmed material.
Once your video has been shot and any other assets produced, you’ll need to edit it all together. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, the more material you’ve shot, the faster this will usually be. Start by putting all your filmed material in order. Categorise it carefully and then start setting aside takes that don’t make the grade. Don’t delete anything as you never know when you might need to go back to it – just keep it in a separate folder. Filter your shots until you have a sequence that corresponds roughly to your storyboard.
Once this has been done, lay down your music and begin cutting the surviving material to fit it. Add scene transitions as needed. You’ll gradually see your video emerge. When you have something you’re happy with, you can add any other assets and can also add special effects if you want them – everything from colour filters to morphing effects.
Your video is now ready to export. Choose the right format for the media in which you intend to show it. You might want more than one version.
Publishing your video on YouTube is free and it’s also free on Vimeo if you only want a basic version. Vimeo will make it look better, but YouTube has a wider reach. You could also put it on your own website or ask about getting it hosted on genre fan sites.
Make sure you link to your video from all your social media accounts and ask your friends to do the same. Contact local music journalists and invite them to take a look – you never know until you try!
This article was written by Epik Music Videos who are professional video production company that works with musicians from all backgrounds, in all genres. If you choose to go down the professional route, the Epik team can find the right director to create exactly the kind of video you’re looking for.
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