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Preparing for your first video - how to avoid screwing up?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by pklima, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Just exactly this. The singer I'm working with now wants to make her first video. She has some ideas, a director, and even an actress, but...

    How do we make sure that we get something usable? Is there a standard checklist of things to make sure you have in place, a list of errors to avoid, or even a recommendations for keeping it simple for your first video.

    I've been in one "proper" video before, and I came away with the idea that this could have been done a lot better. Like the director shooting closeups of me first, telling me to move around as much as possible, resulting in me moving around more than everybody else put together, which made all those 15 minutes or so of closeups practically useless.

    OTOH, a friend of mine spent literally $7 on props a few years ago, got a film student to make a video for his portfolio, and ended up with something that works. Sure it's weird, but so's the music. So, what did he do right?

  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    IMO, the best thing he did was to get someone who knew about how to make a movie in charge. You don't have a fan who loves music serve as your bandleader. Similarly, there are technical aspects to shooting what is really a short movie, about which you are uneducated - lighting, script, pacing, how to use a freaking camera, etc.
    StyleOverShow, biguglyman and pklima like this.
  3. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    That's true. The first video I was in, the people filming definitely knew cameras and lighting, but I'm not sure if this was actually their first music video or first film project, too. That would be a good question to ask in this case, so we have at least one person who understands the whole process, beginning to end.

    While I completely trust the singer to not release a video which isn't up to a high standard, I'd just like to avoid time-consuming or expensive detours on the way to getting there.
  4. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Video production is a big topic. To understand the challenges, check out this guide for beginners:

    Shooting Video that Doesn't Suck

    Also useful short videos to watch:

    Choosing a Music Video Genre

    12 Kinds of Videos to Promote Your Project

    Out of print but good if you can find it:

    You Stand There: Making Music Video - The Ultimate How-to Guide and Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Art of Music Video by David Kleiler & Robert Moses (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997)
    StyleOverShow, Alik and pklima like this.
  5. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    I haven't shot a scripted music video. I have shot performances of my band, but not in a "story telling format" typical to music videos. But if you're interested in what a video script looks like, I just shot and produced this video on How to Record Acoustic Bass Guitar. Here's the script:

    Script - How to Record Acoustic Bass Guitar.pdf

    pklima and Oddly like this.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    This is pretty much what I was thinking. We spend our lives working at making great music. Others spend their lives working at making great videos. Some do both, but most don't. If you want a great video I'd suggest finding the right people and turning it over to them, OR accepting that you're not going to have a "perfect" video and that you're in the learning process. You learned from your last, you'll learn from this one, and the vids will get better and better as time goes on.

    Easier and more cost effective I think to just find the right people.

    I know the video for my song FAIK isn't great, but it didn't cost me a cent to make cuz I had a friend (the drummer in the vid) that was willing to put it together for me. Considering it was done 10 yrs. ago, and I only had 1 hour recording time from setup to out the door, I'm happy. If I did this on my own it would have been a disaster:

    OK, yeah... I posted that so I could get more hits on my vid :). Doesn't compare with the vid your friends did, but my point is to just find the right people for your budget. See the work they've done in the past and let that be your guide. The BBFT video in my signature cost well over $10,000. Was that worth it? I dunno, but I didn't pay for it either :).
    pklima likes this.
  7. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Thanks to both of you, that's some useful stuff.

    Another thing I'm thinking is - it helps to have few people in the video, and asking all your friends to be in your video is probably going to end up more trouble than it's worth. Doing a "band playing live" video is an easy way to do it, of course, though with this poppy and electronic music that's kinda not the same, haha. But we might film our next gig just to see if we get useful footage out of that.

    Oh, and here's a video another friend of mine put together herself that's simple and very effective. She took some simple footage by a highway and added a 3D model animation and lyrics to it. Toss some effects on all three to give them a coherent black and white grittiness, and it really works. We can't copy it in this case, since our singer is a human and not a synthesizer, but for this it works, and only took her about three days to make.

    And here's a brilliantly simple video from Mongolia. Sure, the edges of the green screen don't quite work, but...

    Not that I'm saying we need a brilliantly simple concept. Maybe it's best to be simply simple. But it does look like it's possible to get something great without a ton of money, if you get the right person to write, shoot and direct the video.
  8. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Actually, the bulk of effort any video project is (after developing the concept and writing the script) post production. That includes producing the music to a professional quality and editing the various video feeds to match the story line and music.

    This thread I created explains some of the post production process I use to create YouTube videos.

    How to create a budget-minded, quality music video for YouTube
    pklima likes this.
  9. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    I don't have this book, but I have several others written by Bobby Owsinski and his guidance is first class. This one is on video production for musicians.

    Musicians Video Handbook
    Musician's Video Handbook
    pklima likes this.
  10. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    I worked with Director Marty Thomas (and his cinematographer) on a couple videos. The first one is by Above the Law back in the early 90's.

    All the aerial work is my footage using the first, real, film/video drone in Hollywood. We pretty much invented a lot of the rap video shorthand that was popular through the 90's on location that day. Marty was a real kick to work with.
    The other is this one for Jason's Lyric-Forgot I Was a G by the Whitehead Brothers. Again, all the aerial work is my stuff.

    We made it up as we went along-pretty much. Marty had the script in his head, but knew exactly what her wanted to see on the screen. Also, it was a pro level crew on both shoots with pro gear and plenty of time. I think the budgets on these ran in the 50K range AFAIK.
    All shot on 16mm film, then transferred to video, and likely posted on an Avid system.
    pklima likes this.
  11. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Aerial shots are awesome, and with drones they're becoming much more accessible...
  12. We have a few videos. This one is our most professional one.

    We learned several lessons in the process of making this video. Thankfully the guys who did the filming had a lot more experience with making music videos than we did.

    Small things like be careful not to change your look while you're shooting. For example if you wear a hat keep it on or once it's edited there will be disappearing reappearing hats. Sleeves rolled up or down were another one.

    we did not use $10k cameras. This was shot with a nice hand held digital camera and drone camera. Some people like the look of lower quality cameras. We weren't going for like an Indy look but we didn't what such high def that you could see our pores on our faces and stuff.

    How you monitor the song so the video is in time. You really need to be hearing the music through a PA system or in in-ears. We had a lot of trouble shooting because it was hard to hear the song over even just the drums acoustic volume. we had the song playing from a car stereo because we were so far from any power to power a PA. Got through it but it was a pain in the butt at times.
    pklima likes this.
  13. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Haha, yeah, fortunately I've watched enough crappy movies that featured things like that, that I'm probably more sensitive to them than most people.
    True - the one thing I did a decent job of in the video I'm already in was have the song loaded up as stems, so I could boost the part of whoever was getting their closeups shot, solo the piano part so the pianist could remember what he played on the recording etc. And then played a bunch of other songs at the same tempo while the audience was being shot, so at least they'd tap their foot in syncable time. Nobody really wanted to hear that same song for the 30th time at that point...
  14. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Hire a pro crew and storyboard the shoot.
    Get all your props, costuming, make up, set designs, etc locked in in advance of the shoot
    Make sure you have adequate sound on set for the lip sync.
    pklima likes this.
  15. That's a great idea. Another trick is for close up hand shots you can just play the song from your phone into regular ear buds because your head isn't in the shot.
    pklima likes this.
  16. dxb


    Dec 25, 2016
    If you have the option, pick a shorter song rather than a longer one. A 3 minute video is half as much work as a 6 minute one. This can make a huge difference if you're on a tight budget.
    pklima likes this.
  17. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    If you have previously produced videos for your band, check out the YouTube (or whatever) playback metrics. I bet less than 5% of playbacks went to the end of the song. I bet 75% of them didn't last 20 seconds.

    For music videos, short is fine. Forget the long solos. Forget the long moody middles. Short and sweet. No one has the attention span anymore for "adult length" music videos.
    pklima likes this.

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