Today I want to tell you about my experiences with video. For today’s musicians it seems to be a must to build up a presence on youtube or vimeo. Music in combination with video is getting more attention and if you manage it to create a decent visual presentation you are able to attract more people than with just plain music.
I am far from being an expert for the technical side of video, but I want to share a few thoughts about useful gear and software (OSX) and how I have achieved a workflow for creating music videos. So the article will not uncover anything new for the experienced director. I am not a millionaire (Are you?) and I will focus on cost-effective or free solutions, or else I could advise you to buy Final Cut Pro, the newest Camcorder of Panasonic or Sony and to build up a complete studio in your living room with professional lighting and post production (and to hire Quentin Tarantino).
So let’s start with my experiences from the beginning. The first step to create any video movie is to shoot raw material for further use. For this purpose you can use any modern digital cam with video mode, your cellphone, or a camcorder. The first essential buy for video is a tripod. Though all companies, which produce digital cameras or camcorders, promise, that their stabilization systems are the best known to mankind, you will not get decent results without a tripod. Shaking looks unprofessional, though sometimes it might be charming, if the concept of the video asks for an unprofessional look. Use the highest possible resolution and don’t forget to switch to 16:9 format, because nobody uses 4:3 anymore and your video will look squeezed on Youtube. When your location is inside you will also need lights. Depending on the size of your scene two lights from left and right are enough in my experience. Try to buy bulbs with daylight-temperature (5000 up to 5500k) to achieve the right brightness. Avoid to buy older video-lamps, because they are getting very hot, better to use modern LED-bulbs. If you can not set up big stands just use clamps to fix the lamps on furniture (and then it’s much better, when they are not getting too hot). Some people say, that you also need a light-diffusor, but you can get the same effect by covering your lamps with sandwich paper. Beware of the heat! A hot lamp could ignite the paper ( I experienced this myself). Another useful tool is a background with a neutral color. I just bought a clamp-awning from IKEA called “Tupplur“, which works very well. If you want to apply a “Greenscreen-effect” later it’s necessary, that you choose a color, which differs from anything in front of the screen. If you want to wear for an example a green suit in the video the famous greenscreen-background will not work so well. On amazon and ebay you can also buy theme-backgrounds, for an example if you want to perform in front of London’s Big Ben. The darker the scene the worse your digital cam will work, so sufficient light is essential. And if you have a sunny day it’s time to go outside. Natural light is hard to beat inside and probably you will get the best videos, when you choose outside locations on a bright day.
Before you start shooting think over the music video. If your video needs several scenes, camera-perspectives, camera moves I highly recommend to draw a storyboard. A storyboard is like a little comic-book, where you can plan the structure of your work. You don’t have to be a talented drawer, even stick-figures work very well. Because you want to create a music video it would also be helpful, if you mark, where the verse, the chorus, the outro begins in relation to the pictures. Of course you can also do this without a plan in the video-editor, but when it’s getting longer or more complicated it’s much better to have a storyboard. Here you see a storyboard of one of my LEGO stopmotion-movies.
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