You’re an artist or musician, you have a few hit songs and are ready to promote them and make a music video. Where to start? How do I go about making a music video? Is it possible for create professional music videos without having any experience first? We’re glad you are here because we’ve set out to give you a few tips to help you complete this journey. We won’t go too far into the tall grass on this one with camera angles and such, but we will include some helpful tips for shooting your first video. We remember when it came to shooting our first music video, we had no idea where to start. All we knew was that we had a camera and had watched a few of our favorite music videos to study up on some ideas, but after that we were in the dark. Today we can hopefully share some of our experiences with you that we learned the hard way for some guidance before you get going. Let’s get started.
How to make a music video
Make a game plan for your music videos
Before you can start shooting, you have to make sure every little detail is in place. From locations to budget to crew availability, even weather can all play a big factor in putting together your first shoot. First choose your best, strongest song, as in the song your friends and fans like the most. Avoid locking yourself into your favorite song. You may be an artist, but even some of Picasso’s personal favorites are paintings nobody has ever seen or heard of.
Next, make a storyboard to help you keep track of your thoughts and give the video a direction. You don’t need an elaborate software package to do this, just a legal pad and a pen. Draw out the scenes and imagine what you want them to look like, just let your creativity run wild at this point. Don’t worry about how complex it is or how much it will cost at this point, just create and make sure it follows the song you are going to play. Keep in mind that this will be a rough draft as well — you may end up improvising when you get to filming or even do so in post-production. Also, know what mood you are trying to set in the video. Is it set indoors or outdoors? Is it set at night or sunset? Sunset is typically the hardest time to film because of the time crunch. You can use sunrise for sunset also, but getting your friends up before the rooster in order to set up the shoot can sometimes be a nightmare. Every director has to make sacrifices and you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll have to use your creativity in order to get the shot you want (if you want the video to take place on another planet for example).
Go out and scout some locations that fit the story of the song. You’ll be surprised by how many people will be more than happy to let you film a music video on their land (provided of course that you asked them first). Make sure you have access to a vehicle big enough to transport all of the equipment to the film location.
Budget and cost of music videos
When figuring out how to make a music video, budget is the 800 pound gorilla. If you have the means, then obviously you have a head start, but it doesn’t take a huge budget to make your own music video. We will talk more about that later. If you have a band, then everyone has to contribute an equal amount to the video. Nothing will put a bigger strain on the relationships during this process than if one member put a lot of money in and another barely put any in. This is especially true if the shoot has hiccups (which it will) and the costs start to rise. Make sure everyone is an equal partner in the project. If you’re a solo artist, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family members for a bit of scratch to help you out. Don’t be upset if they say no, and be ready to film the whole thing by yourself on a shoestring budget. It’s obviously more challenging to do everything yourself, but it’s a great learning experience going forward. The next time you make a music video and you actually have a crew, you will be intimately familiar with every aspect of the shoot which will help that shoot go smoothly.
Considerations regarding the budget will go from big to small and everywhere in between. Things like renting a location, hiring a crew, buying equipment, lighting, costumes and editing software are all the big things. The little things like chargers, extra batteries, umbrellas, flashlights, props, surge protectors, extension cords, chairs and food all add up quickly. Every eventuality has to be planned for and a solution needs to be in place before filming. Be ready to troubleshoot quickly and understand that it will always be something you didn’t plan for that will probably happen.
Music video equipment
Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve created. If you have the budget for a studio camera, pyrotechnics, props, wardrobe, dancers and actors than this section probably won’t be of much use to you. This section is all about low-budget beginner tips for making music videos. First you’ll need to figure out where this video is eventually going to find your target audience. The best option in this case is to plan ahead. That means spending a good portion of your budget on the camera — our music video cameras guide can help you with this. It doesn’t have to be spectacular and cost $10,000; however, we do recommend it needs to be able to film in 4K resolution. You can find one for about $400 or if just don’t have the cash right now, even maybe on the cellphone in your pocket right now. YouTube has 4K as one of its formats and if you do create a masterpiece and make it big, you don’t want to be stuck in a position of only having a garbage low resolution video to send to a producer.
Again, plan ahead. Lighting can be a bit of a pain if you don’t get the right ones. When filming indoors you want to control all of the shadows and light on the screen. No matter how you want the video to feel, use soft lighting. When you get into post production, even the best video editing software will have a hard time dealing with too much, or the wrong kind of lighting. Studio lights aren’t too expensive and buying a few used is the cheapest way to go. They should each come with a light umbrella to diffuse the light and keep it even. If you are shooting green screen, the material is fairly inexpensive, and transporting it is a breeze. You can find a green screen rack online, but you can easily make one with a few wooden two by four’s, brackets and some screws.
Filming your music videos
We don’t want to spend too much time on the actual filming of your music video here. After all, this is beginner tips for making music videos. It’s a personal and creative process when making music videos. We will give you a few simple tips here, though. Make sure you and your band (if you have one) know the song you are going to use inside and out, frontwards and backwards. The video is going to be a lip-sync performance. You won’t need microphones unless you want to use them as props. You will want to have a speaker playing the song for you to make syncing easier — anything will do, even a portable Bluetooth speaker for cheap. Don’t worry about any outside noise or people talking in the background. All of the sound will be taken out in post-production anyway. Shoot several different angles and create a few crazy shots (anyone got a drone?).
Shoot several takes, a few from every angle so when you get into post-production you’ll have creative options. Not to mention if you had a fly land on someone’s face during a take, you can use a different take. Like we said before, it will always be something you didn’t plan for that will probably happen. There’s no such thing as ‘too much’ right now — film, film, film!
Bring some friends for help
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it can get complicated and you don’t want to lose friends over something as petty as making a video. You definitely can’t do this alone. Chances are your friends or family will be more than happy to jump in and help out though. Once you have the game plan, you know how many people you will need and what those jobs will be then it’s time to crew up. Create your filming schedule and share it with everyone. Be ready to adjust the schedule to fit their needs, after all you are asking them for their time to help out and you have to respect that. Depending on your budget and how big the project is, you might need as many as 30 people to put it all together. However, you can do it all with just a few friends and a camera.
Plan on shooting everything in just a few hours because you don’t want to make your friends stand around for an hour or two while you figure out how to set up your next shot, they won’t thank you for that. If you need a crowd for your shoot, put the word out on social media. Fans would be ideal, but there are tons of people out there who would love to be in a music video. Be prepared to offer them something though, snacks or a few bucks if you have the budget. Not everyone will want to do it for free.
Post-production music video editing
As far as software goes, post-production is going to take you about as long as planning the shoot. It is a tedious but necessary evil, however it is also probably the most fun part of making music videos. Expect this process to take a few weeks to a month. If you have a friend who already owns video editing software, knows how it works and is willing to help out, that would be best (you can even offer to pay them some cash). Adding effects, cutting and editing are all the fun bits of the process. This is where you really get to let your creative juices flow, and build the video you imagined when you made the game plan.
We won’t go into which company’s software to buy here, but the spectrum of available video editing software is pretty large. We do have two guides you may find useful here — video editing software as well as free video production software. You can spend as much or as little as your budget can afford. Any video editing software will allow you to remove and insert any sound you want into your video. This is when you want to insert your cleanest copy of your song and adjust the film clips accordingly. Most laptops and desktops come with some form of video editing software built-in.
So there you have it, how to make a music video. Remember, you can do all of this with your cellphone and a laptop nowadays. That doesn’t mean it will be any worse than a full-blown budget video, your passion and creativity will shine through in any format. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.