How to make a quality music video

In these days of Youtube, Soundcloud and Facebook, the challenge for most bands and artists is to get noticed. There are hundreds of thousands of tracks on these mediums. When bands and artists get it right, they can launch their career and get a few rungs up the ladder simply by making a quality music video and getting noticed. We get asked all of the time what are the secrets of putting a great video together. Here are a few tips to help you plan your video and not spend a fortune.

1. Decide what you are trying to say in the video and whether it is likely to appeal to the intended market. If you are a boy band, then you will make a very different video to a hard rock band. The secret of a successful video is to show all the artists strengths. If you can dance and you are stunning looking, you would be foolish to hide these features. If you are in a dynamic rock band, playing to decent crowds in large venues, then you should also try and incorporate this. If you have a topical song, then exploit this in the story. If  a song catches the mood of a time, it can make an artist.

2. Plan your video shoot. You do this by writing a storyboard. There are all manner of cheap/free easy to use movie making tools, such as Windows Moviemaker. These allow you to splice together clips and edit them into a professional looking video. The hard part is to get the music synchronisation with the track correct, but although this is time consuming, it is worth the effort. Try and get as many different camera angles, which capture dynamic action as possible. If you are going to show a drummer playing, it is far more exciting to show him doing a roll than simply playing a beat. Similarly focus on the vocalist when they are singing, the guitarist when they are doing a solo etc. If you watch professionally put together videos, many of the cuts are only 1-2 seconds long. This means for a 3 minute video, you could have in excess of  100 different cuts. Work out what these will be. A little planning goes a long way.

3. Work out a suitable location. Where will you film the video? You can use a greenscreen room to save time and money and have images in the background. This technology is now relatively cheap and easy to use. At Mill Hill Music Complex, we have green screen facilities and many bands have used these in the most creative way. This short video we made shows what you can do with a green screen

It can save a flight out to  Hollywood or the north pole ! Alternatively you may have access to a club or want to shoot one in a different and unusual location. We also have a hard infinity cove (a white curved wall, where you cannot see where the wall joins the floor). Using this you can make very professional looking videos and the white background allows the mind to focus on the action. Some video shoots fail because the background is too distracting. A bit of planning can make all the difference. This post gives some useful tips on choosing a location

4. Make sure you look the part. If you are making a video, you need to look like you are part of a band or a proper solo artist. Plan your outfit and get pictures taken in it before the event. Clothes that make you look fat or silly will not help, unless that is the vibe you want to portray. If you look bad in a still photo, you’ll look bad in a video. One band at our studios had a member who wore a stripy tea-shirt and a beret as his “trademark” look. In the video, he ended up looking like a rogue french onion seller and spoiled the otherwise cool look of the band. The band had to reshoot his scenes in the video and he suffered much derision.

5. Checkout other videos of a similar genre. See what other people have done, does it work, is it interesting? If you are working with a professional director, they will have their own ideas, but a good director will be open to ideas. It is a great idea to make visual references to things which people who are fans of your genre of music will understand. If you can get people talking about your video, that is half the battle.
6. Be ruthless in your edits. Only let shots that do you justice make the final cut. Many bands make the mistake of trying to give every member equal camera time. This does not work. The video will work best if it is dynamic and exciting. Long shots on one member of the band do not work well. For the singer, use at least three dedicated camera angles. A close up full on face shot, a longer shot to see the whole body and a head shoulders shot with a bit of other member of the band in works well. Cut between the shots. If a song has a powerful guitar riff, concentrate on the guitarist for that.

7. Learn the tricks of editing. If you watch professional music videos, cuts are not bang on the end of the bar, they often happen slightly before the end of the bar there are some useful tips on editing music videos here – If you want to get a specific look, there are plenty of hints and tips on varioys online noticeboards – Here is an example on how to make a glossy video – just work out what you want to achieve and google it !

Only ever release a video when you are happy with it. People have short attention span and are unlikely to persevere with a video which doesn’t cut the mustard. Make sure it has a dynamic start and can hold the attention. Don’t think that because the music is great, people will like the video. The two things are very different. For new artists, a video is like an advert on the TV selling your band to new fans. That is the challenge.You want to make complete strangers decide your band is a band they love. Would you love your video? Unless the answer is yes, you can’t expect anyone else to.


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