How to Film a Music Video?

How to Film a Music Video? You will find the answer in this article.

Those who are truly interested in making films can start their film making career by filming music videos. Through making music videos one may learn basic strategies of cinematography as well as find the best way to start his/her career in film industry.

But, before taking this initial step, you need to know some rules and tactics about how to film a music video. First of all, figure out which types of videos you like to shoot. Almost everything you must know about filming a music video is available in this write up. Just go through till the end.

2 Types of Music Video

A music video basically means a short film that combines a song with a visual. It is mainly produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily created and used as marketing strategy to promote the sale of music recording. There are two types of music video. Such as,

  1. Romantic/ Thematic Music Video
  2. Bit Music Video ( slow/ fast bit)

Required Gadgets to Film a Music Video

If you are planning to shoot a music video, some essential equipment you may need for this purpose. They are:

  • Camera- It is not necessary to have high tech video camera for principal photography of a music video. Your handy cam or camcorder/ DSLR even smartphones with good camera is sometimes well enough to shoot a music video.
  • Tripod or Gimbal Stabilizer
  • Video Lighting Kit
  • Interchangeable Lenses- Most preferred prime lenses for a music video are 50mm, 85mm and 35mm. Besides you can use other variable lenses if it requires fulfilling your story demand.
  • Headphones, Zoom box
  • Music Player
  • Speakers
  • Microphones
  • External Camera Monitor
  • Digital Audio Recorder or video mac
  • Extra Batteries and Memory Cards
  • Drones

Step by Step Guidelines

Gadgets are not well enough if you can’t properly utilize them. In the following, I uphold some effective tips on how to shoot cinematic music videos.

1. Buy the Right Gear & Rent the Better Gear

I think one can make an awesome music video with any camera if he/she has the perception of cinematic frames. So, you don’t need expensive gear in any way. But, if you make any music video for commercial purpose or you want to show it any clients/ producer as portfolio works then it’s better to buy or rent a better gear. Firstly, use whatever you can afford. Later, you can rent some nicer gear to satisfy your probable clients. Better gears may help you to separate your productions from others.

2. Pre-Plan

You may be asked about pre-production and story boarding process for a music video. You can start both at the same thing. Listen to the song about 20 times before shooting and just visualize what images could match with that particular music to bring an appropriate pictorial presentation.

Think about location. Fix the location for filming that match with your music video’s storyline. Then pre plan about light set up, camera movement, required lenses and finally extra gear or people that you may need. This process takes time. It may take several hours, sometimes even days to determine all these issues. Think visuals in your head while you listen to the music and write down your thoughts until you have solid idea of how you want to film the video. Keep in mind that pre-production makes all the difference.

3. Camera Settings

Camera settings for music videos are pretty similar to other styles of video. I recommend shooting in 4k for best quality and the ability to digital zoom and post, but 1080p can work just fine too if that’s all you can afford. For frame rate, I usually prefer 24 frames per second. Unless you want that dreamy look, then sometimes speedup the music up to 250% and shoot everything at 60 frames per second and then slow that footage back down to 24 frames. As for shutter speed, I suggest to shoot at twice your frame rate, which for 24 frames per second would be 1/50th.

For aperture I like to film at a low aperture like 1. 4 or 2. 8 to give that shallow depth of field. But for wider shots where you are showing off more landscape or a group of people then set the aperture up to around an eight or a 16 so that you can get more in focus. For ISO, I generally set it as low as possible so that too much noise into image can be visible. For white balance it depends on your lighting environment. But typically for outside daylight, you’re going to be around 5600k.

4. Composition

This is a huge part to making your images look professional. Great composition starts with a great location. Make sure to take some time before the shoot to find an aesthetic location that matches the emotion of your video. And then as you’re shooting in that great location, make sure to remember the rule of thirds. This rule states that your subject should be in one of the thirds on the screen depending on what direction they’re facing. Make sure that their eyes are on the top third and remember to not give them too much head room.

5. Lighting

Lighting is one of the important elements for proper composition. It can make or break your music video. If you want to film your music video at outdoor under daylight, typically the best time to shoot is during golden hour, which is the hour before sunset or the hour after sunrise. On the other hand, if you’re planning to shoot indoors, I recommend that you turn off all the fluorescent lighting and then bring in your own light setup so that you can chose the amount of light and the direction of light to make it look more cinematic.

Once you set up your back light you can set up a key light to put some fill light back on your subject. Soft light produced by soft boxes creates light that looks most flattering for the human face and harsh light produced by spot lights create lights that look a lot more dramatic and it creates more shadows.

6. Camera Movement & Shot Variation

Make camera movements that match with the feeling/ mood of the music. If the song is slow and romantic, use smooth slow motion shots. You can use pan/ dolly shots in this case. If the song is upbeat and poppy, then use fast and quicker moving shots that may look energetic as well as to match the tempo. If you can do this better it will help the viewer to feel the music and ultimately make the music touchier.

Make sure you cover a variation of camera angles when shooting. A wide shot to show the whole location, a long full body shot, a medium shot showing from the waist up, a close/ extreme close up shot which usually focuses just on the face or specific detail. Try to capture some cutaway shots or B-roll of a story to piece together with the performance shots. Most importantly, try to get at least two takes of each of those angles. To add a cinematic essence or provide birds eye view angle in your music video, you can take help of the qualitative drones.

7. Convey a Message

This is the most important part in figuring out what your music video’s story is going to tell the audience. Try to find ways to tell a story with the video that can convey a strong meaningful message. Another goal of your music video story is to evoke an emotional response among the viewers.

8. Master Your Skill

Shooting with quality equipment is important but it won’t make a difference if you haven’t mastered how to use that equipment. It is not enough to shoot 2/3 videos to be a professional maker. You have to shoot dozens of music video. Try to shoot 50 to 80 videos each year to improve your skill. Every time you film a music video, you will learn something new. If you can analysis your mistakes from every production there is possibility to be more accurate your next video. Thus, you can master your skill.

9. Networking

Try to know everyone in your local music industry. Find the people in your area who are shooting music videos and offer to assist them on their shoots for free. Reach out to musicians in your area and get to know them. Reach out to recording studios and make sure they know who you are and how your work is. If you built a good relationship with them and they trust you as a professional video maker then they may recommend you to other artists as well. This is probably the second most important element to create proper networking with right people. Building good relationships with them may add value because most of business inquiries come from people either evaluate your demo works or recommended by someone who know you well and trust you to shoot quality music videos. So don’t underestimate the importance of building network.

10. Make Outstanding Demo to Enrich Your Portfolio

This is the most common thing that lacks in beginner maker. Keep in mind that, your future clients may want to see your previous works. If you have no eligible and good example of works to show them, you may lose good opportunities. Consequently, it’s just time waste, nothing else. So, do everything best possible to build a portfolio that shows your best works. These are consisted of great movement, composition, lighting and the aesthetic shots that convey an emotional punch in the viewer. Your demo works have to be engaging that convince your client to invest money for any further project of yours. If you don’t have these types of demo yet then start making from today.

Final Words

Here is all about today’s topic. I hope you have found these step by step narrations helpful. Try to follow these basic instructions. I am adding one more last tips here. For instance, before filming a music video, watch some best music videos created by professional hands. By doing so, your imagination and visualization power will improve. As a result, your music video quality may enhance. Good luck for you!