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Music Videos 101: Shooting

Updated: May 30, 2018

A good music video does NOT need to cost a fortune to create. Working within your budget, a good concept, and proper execution of filming/editing is what counts. Music videos today are getting better and better, and it all starts with a good idea. As a filmmaker, you need to be able to visually capture this idea, and properly translate it to a video that captivates audiences. This can be done no matter the budget.

Before you get to shooting, it is vital for you to plan. After an idea for the video is conceived, and the artist is ready to move forward - the planning begins. Storyboarding each scene/shot, listing the cast/crew/performers/props & equipment is all necessary to plan beforehand for a smooth shoot.

Fast forward to the day of the shoot. At this point everyone should be prepared and organized for their positions. Once you start filming, it is recommend to keep a good record of what frame rate you are shooting in, making sure the white balance is set on all cameras, and double check lighting to make sure the camera can capture detail.

A little trick I use for shooting in bright outdoor environments without an ND filter: Crank up the shutter speed, and lower the ISO. This hack allows you to keep from overexposing your image, and continues to allow you to shoot in your choice of higher frame rates or lower depending on your preference. But I do recommend using at least 60fps when shooting because you never know what you would like to turn to slow-motion in post production.

Although you should have a storyboard, and an overall plan for exact shots that you would like for the video, it is also important to capture unplanned scenes. Getting natural reactions and improvised material is always great to have at your disposal when it comes time for editing. This way, you can capture more authentic material and add another element to the video. If you notice something you didn't plan out or storyboard beforehand that comes to you during filming, roll with it! If you have time to capture more footage, and come up with a great idea while on set then feel free to capture it. Remember: some of the best moments from music videos or any videos for that matter derive from spontaneity.

Specific scenes that I generally like to include in music videos would be live performance scenes, b-roll slow motion shots, and a general side-story (potentially based off the message of the song, or vibe). Live performance shots are great to be synced up to the bands music, and it showcases the artist’s live energy and style. B-roll is great to play around with in post production again to showcase the artist but in a more artistic sense, or just to make the story/video richer and more interesting. I generally shoot b-roll in 60 frames per second. This gives me the flexibility to play around with speed ramping in post production and really make those clips stand out. It makes it a lot easier to be able to change the pace of clips A side story can tie everything together and showcase the artists/your storytelling capabilities to captivate the audience. These are not easy things to master, but with patience, practice and drive they can be mastered by anyone.


Storyboard: a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a movie or television production.

ISO: measures the sensitivity of the image sensor.

60FPS: the frequency (rate) at which consecutive images called frames appear on a display.

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