Shooting A Music Video on a Budget – Pre Production
Your EP or album is in the can and you’re ready to start promoting it. I assume you are already gigging because you shouldn’t head into the recording studio until you have had significant experience playing live. Keep it up. You will also want to sample a single to as many relevant radio stations as possible and you should be shooting lots and lots of video.
You should shoot the band rehearsing, performing, screwing around, etc. and you should take even these “informal” videos seriously. For example, after shooting a gig, choose only the best performance of the night to post on your YouTube channel. Sweeten the sound if possible and colour correct / grade the footage. A few simple tweaks can make a huge difference to the quality of your video and you will get a lot of mileage out of your web video content if you post regularly. But enough about that. We’re here to discuss producing a “real” music video.
The first step towards producing a music video is to choose the song for which the video will be made. The obvious choice would be the song that you are taking to radio which is probably the one that your fans respond best to at your shows. But there is another important consideration. When you’re on a tight budget, you should choose a song for which you will be able to make a great, low cost video. Think about your songs. Think about what kind of video you would like to make for each of them. Would one of those ideas be easier to shoot than the others? I’m talking about a concept that wouldn’t require extensive visual effects, booking a studio or hiring a lot of dancers.
Let me back up a step. There are two things you will always need when producing a music video: a camera and an editor…and a tripod. Three things. If you can shoot outside (morning and evening are best), you don’t need a studio and lights. If you don’t need any visual effects, you don’t need to fork out for a green screen shoot or a visual effects artist. You will still need someone who can handle a camera and has a good eye so that you shoot good quality footage. Then use a skilled editor who will make fluid cuts, keep everything in sync and keep the action moving. Check out their demo reel and see if you like their work. Look at the quality of the picture and ask if they performed the grade. Good colour correction and grading are essential to the quality of your music video, so make sure your editor has those skills. Most good editors do these days.
That’s really it. It will be up to you to come up with a simple concept (humour usually works) that you can shoot without hiring studio space, loads of extra equipment and a crowd of extras whom you will have to feed and transport. Draw up a storyboard, choose interesting locations, schedule the shoot to maximise the use of your time and minimise travel. Make use of props. Make use of friends! Plan every detail before you even think about picking up a camera. That’s what pre-production is all about.