Filming your own music video: Know the basics

  • Tai Campbell
  • 28 Jul, 2013

At Epik we regularly receive queries from young musicians who are looking for a price to get started with their first music video...

Howsoever hard we may try to accommodate your exceptional talents within our prices, still many of you are left out disappointed.

Let's face it, establishing yourself as a musician requires a lot of time and effort, along with the cost of bills that you need to pay to live, eat and practice. If you are stuck in such a situation where you can't get your video done professionally, you might want to shoot one with your friends. Even though it won't be all gold and shiny, it will still allow you to upload your music on YouTube and get a fan base going.

To shoot your own music video, you'll need:

  • A good enough camera

  • A tripod (or any other stable stand)

  • Software for editing the video and adding effects such as labels

  • Some friends

Step 1 – Get a recording of your song

shooting a music videoMany of you will have had your songs recorded professionally, however there will be a few of you who are waiting to get it done.

If you‘re in a hurry and don't believe in Guinness' motto of 'Good things come to those who wait,' you could use a field recorder or even your iPhone with recording apps (like Garage Band) to record your song. Play this recording while you shoot the video to lip sync your song.

Step 2 – Location hunting

Once you have the recording of your song in your hand, you can start thinking about the video that you can sync with it. Being on zero budget doesn't mean you will need to do an extempore recital on the video (well unless that was the Big Idea), instead think of it as a chance to flex your creative brain nerves! Yes you will be limited in some aspects, but you can still take advantage of what you have got. For example; Without proper lights, indoor shoots can lead to grainy video quality. So try to shoot your video outdoors or if you can afford - buy a light kit.

While shooting outdoors, a sunny weather or a cloudy day would be your best bet, as long as the heavens don't start leaking. You'll have ample natural lighting in the day to have a good quality video. Some locations you could experiment with can be a park, city streets, some building's roof, an derelict street, a parking lot or any other naturally well-lit space.

Step 3 – Shooting your video

For this low-key project you can forget about the script and just concentrate on your music and have fun with it. Forget about the technicalities and enjoy your music passionately while your friend works the camera. You can try experimenting with different kinds of shots, such as close-up, mid shot, wide angle, extreme close up, etc. (Watch this Talking Article to learn more about Screen Grammar).

If you don't have a friend who has studied Journalism or Photography at uni, you can ask your cameraman to focus on just one simple rule – The Rule of Thirds. Divide the entire frame into 9 equal squares and then focus the subject of your frame at the points where four different squares intersect and you'll always get a good looking shot.

Be natural or act the way you want, look into the camera or not; do what you feel like doing and enjoy your project.

Step 4 – Editing

The most important part of the production process where your video comes to life is editing. Sit down with any of your geek friends or if you fancy it yourself, try your own hand at it. Use a professional editing software such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere to edit your video. If you can't afford them, try other apps or tools available online (such as Tubifi, WeVideo), but don't use Windows Movie Maker or iMovie that allow for only linear editing.

Lay down the soundtrack first before you start cutting your video. Add effects, graphics or text as you please. However, don't use long cuts or spend much time on the same angle as it can easily make the video boring. Remember, some editors prefer cutting to beat, while others use verses. You should however, focus on making it look good because whatever pleases the eye, works. Once you are done editing the video, you can export it to a format of your choosing.

Watch your edited video a few times and make some more edits if necessary. Upload it online to sites like YouTube or Vimeo once you are satisfied.


Shubhit S., Epik Music Videos


Last modified on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 09:27
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