High Level

Making a music video for your band on the cheap

Are you interested in making a music video for your band on the cheap? You’ve recorded a demo and you want to bring your bands music to  a wider audience? What next? For many bands, the next step is to make a music video. In the early 1980’s the cost of this was prohibitive for all but the top signed bands. Some local bands would film gigs etc, but even with a video, getting it shown anywhere was nigh on impossible. We now have YouTube to screen videos and we have Facebook and Twitter to promote videos. We have simple and easy to use tools such as Windows Movie Maker, which are easy to use and for those wishing  to get more technical some pro quality products are available for a few hundred pounds. So what do you need to make a good video. The two essentials are a half decent video camera and a tripod.  The tripod eliminates any camera shake.

The biggest issue for all “live” videos is sound. Just about every video which is professionally made will have the band playing along to a studio quality recording. The exception to this rule is live gig video, but even this generally has overdubs etc. If you can, see if you can geta live feed from the mixing desk (if everything is mic’d up). Using simple tools such as moviemaker allow clips to be spliced together to a backing track. A good place to start is to play along at a rehearsal. Get some close ups of the drummer doing fills and the guitarist playing their solos. The thing which really makes a video is the lighting and scene. If you can get a good background for your video this can make all the difference. Have a look at the way the bands you like make their video. You have a choice between a “live” video and a “story”. In a live video, you play and use the dynamics of the band to make it interesting. For a story video, you actually need to work out the scenes in advance. You can also have a mix of both. The more controlled you can keep the environment, the better the technical results. It is important to make effective use  of lighting and editing, and to try and keep a consistent look, for example if the setting stays the same, keep light levels consistent (unless the storyboard requires a change). It is important to ensure that you look the part for the video, so make the effort. It is also worth bringing a change of outfit, just in case what you are wearing isn’t working. Make up can also improve the visual effect of the video where appropriate. It is well worth begging, stealing or borrowing decent lighting for the shoot. Make sure that you plan the details in advance. Work out what shots you want where, by writing a storyboard for the video. For a live performance, this means making sure you film the solo’s and the drum fils. Another handy tip is filming a full take just of the singers face in close focus. This can be cut to whenever other shots aren’t working. It is also good to get a few short close up shots of drum fills & guitar work to splice in, as this really helps add dramatic effect.

I recently was discussing this with a band and the singer said “I don’t really want to be in shot without the band”. He then said he wanted a video like “The Fixer” by Pearl Jam stating that this was simply a gig with no focus on individuals. We then sat down and watched it and went through all the shots Having done this, he admitted that he’d not really noticed. That is the secret of a well made video. These things don’t happen by accident. The Pearl Jam video was shot professionally and cost a few bob. Whilst you may not have access to their equipment and their cash, you can learn alot from their creativity and the way they shoot the scenes. Another thing which can improve a video is using a greenscreen background and this enables you to add whatever background you want and have your subject in the foreground. We have greenscreen facilities at Mill Hill Music Complex studios and our customers have had some blinding results. If you want a really pro looking video, you can shoot one in our off peak sessions for as little as £80 for the day. A popular cheat is to get some stills of well known settings and then use these as the background for you video using the green screen. As with everything, the best results will come with preparation and planning. Find a few videos you like and work out the shots and storyboard. If you copy these, you won’t go too far wrong.


Here’s a few of our favourite vidoes shot at the Complex.

Happy Martyr  – Christmas Kisses – Studio 15

Boz Boorer, who was our first ever paying customer, back in 1979 with the Polecats, wrote and produced this track with Happy Martyr.  The video makes full use of the infinity cove in the studio. It is a great video, shot on a tight budget, which is highly watchable.

Invaders – Hummingbird – Studio 15

This is one of the finest videos we’ve seen. It is a great song and the video looks fantastic, fully capturing the power and darkness of this classic track by Invaders.

Rob Finlay – These words aren’t meant for me – Studio 15

This is a truly awesome video. Rog Finlay hired a projector to get the effects and had a full FX team work on the production, making a remarkable video.

Knuckledust  – Life Struggle – Studio 7

This is a storyboarded video with live band segments shot in studio 7.

We picked these videos as each one displays a totally different side of video film making. We are proud of the Videomaking at Mill Hill Music Complex over the last few years.

It is great  to see the facilities being used by such brilliant filmmakers.


Next Steps * Checkout our video studio *

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