7 things you must know when making your first music video!

  • Epik Music Videos
  • 16 Oct, 2012

Making a music video can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you could hope to be involved in: from imagining the visual concept and treatment, to planning the people, the props, the location, then filming and finally editing it produce your very own handcrafted 3 minutes of magic.

However, it is easy to dream. The doing is considerably harder! Or so you would have thought if the tales we hear and see are anything to go by. If you’ve never made a music video here are some simple guidelines that will help you on your way.

We cover the basics of:


  • Teamwork
  • Ideas
  • The Treatment
  • Budget
  • Planning: Commonsense, Imagination and Charm
  • One Director
  • Editing and the review process


Teamwork is the heart of all good filmmaking. Yes, there can only be one Director but every successful shoot we’ve seen has always had laughter on set. People like to know what they are doing on set, so always talk to your team and bring them on the journey with you, explain what you are trying to create and at least listen to their ideas.


Not every idea is a great idea and not all great ideas will be suitable for your video. So start by grounding your thinking and ideas around the song, it’s message and the audience you are talking to. Ask yourself how you would like them to feel having heard your music and seen your video. And then ask yourself, what is your brand all about and how the two mesh together. After all that it may just be that a performance video beautifully lit and shot is what shows you off to your best.

The Treatment

The words that describe the action and the pictures that shows the words in action. This doesn’t mean a second by second account of the video. It means showing the key moments, the look of the shot, where the light comes from, an inter-play between people or a prop. Ideally you’d have an artist on board who can create these for you, but actually a mood board of images, borrowed or otherwise can just as effectively show what is intended.


This had to rear its head at some point. There has probably been very few films, music videos, TV programmes or otherwise where money has never been an omnipresent consideration. Whether your budget is a few hundred a few thousand or ten times more… how much it costs will at some point be an issue. So it’s worth restating that everyone has a budget, but not everyone has a great idea. The ideas and treatment will give you a wish list of requirements needed for the film – the budget is the reality.

You should know what your budget is from the outset but don’t reveal it except to the closest until the ideas have been hatched. You’ll be amazed what can be achieved with commonsense and imagination.

Planning: Commonsense, Imagination and Charm

Be realistic in your ambitions and plan for what you know you can deliver. If budget is low and you need an office scene, think who you can politely ask for help – maybe at the end of the day or on a weekend.

Earlier we talked about teamwork – holding meetings at key stages to get everyone up to speed sounds like a good idea and we recommend it. Realistically though this isn’t always possible, so use the telephone and be proactive in chasing up the team and soliciting their feedback. There’s a good chance your emails will get read on an iPhone, probably on location. It has to be digestible, so always be clear and concise in what you say.

Because you haven’t done this before it’s vital you keep a checklist of what you need and add to it as you learn more. If you have assigned someone to get a piece of kit then make sure they know exactly what you need.

One Director

This is something we feel quite strongly about. Whoever is directing the video is the one responsible for the videos final look and feel. You must work with them to help them achieve that vision. Just like you, they’re artists in their own right. They have a vision, a sensibility, a way of communicating that will deliver you what you want. It is vital you choose your director well and you take the time to talk through your music and your vision with them. And if it’s you who will be directing your own music video we refer you back to the section on Teamwork.

Editing and the review process

Often forgotten about and treated as a processor of video files, the editor is actually the one who can properly realise the director’s vision. This is why in the music video world you will see a lot of director/editors or closely knit teams of two or three people. Your director will probably want a big say in whom the editor is, so your responsibility is to review their work and role in each piece of show-reel. Look for examples similar to what you have in mind.

Typically the editing process consists of:

  • Logging the data
  • The Assembly edit which shows the footage in the order of the storyboard. It wont be neat and tidy and many of the shots may change. What you’re looking for is to check the general flow of the video works as intended.
  • One or two further review stages

When it comes to reviewing this is our recommendation: 

  • Listen together as a team
  • Listen three times before talking about it. The first time at full screen size, the second time with the sound turned off and finally with the sound on but at the screen size it will usually be seen at – which probably means YouTube size.
  • Note gut reactions in the first time around and add them on the 2nd and 3td times.
  • Discuss. If there are major surprises it is either because the storyboard wasn’t clear enough or the filming and editing wasn’t good enough. There shouldn’t be any surprises after the assembly edit if everyone is doing their jobs properly.


Above all else what you should aim for is to complete the video. You may end up not liking it and you will certainly think you could have done better. But now you’ve started you will be a lot wiser and richer for the experience. The next one will be even more fun.


Andy Woodruff


Last modified on Monday, 14 July 2014 11:16
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