4 Rules of Music Video Production
Music videos are a different kind of beast when it comes to professional video production. There are multiple aspects of a narrative that is led by music that any creator of this type of video needs to keep in mind and pay close attention to. These are 4 of the essentials we found to be essential in our own music video shoots, and offer to any of our readers as they may venture into music video production.
The Music Video Concept
Number 1: The concept: The story, song, and setting may mathematically count out as three things, but when it comes to a cohesive theme that a team needs to follow, all of these things merge into one shared idea. Without any one of these, there is no music video. A music video typically doesn’t follow a concrete storyline with a rigid script to follow. It ebbs and flows through scenes and cuts designed to create a mood amongst the audience. With this said, the theme is your most critical aspect of any music video production shoot because it gives the project a guide to follow. At the forefront of every shot, scene, outfit, or look, is the overarching concept that should connect every moving piece of the shoot. In simpler terms, make sure that the vision is never steered from.
In our most recent shoot shoot, our story followed Joz Victor, a Haitian musician singing to a lover that he is unable to reach due to differences in time or place. The song is titled, “Here I am” (or, “Me Voila” in French) and the story follows Joz singing to this out-of-reach lover. In some scenes, Joz is invisible and in other scenes they are together, representing the memories Joz has from the times that they had when they were in love. Our script was more of a schedule that followed the light of the day and the tides of the beach where much of our shoot took place. We knew we had a specific amount of time to capture this beach scene because we researched the time that tides were high vs. low, and how long we had to count on sunlight. Our “script” consisted of a shot list, timeline, and concept.
It is a universal theme– longing for something that isn’t completely attainable or possible. In this instance, something disallows complete connection with Joz and the woman he loves. To capture this theme, we wanted it to seem that Joz was invisible to the woman as he sang his heart out to her in one of the scenes. In other scenes, from the past, or in his own imagination, Joz and the woman were together, enjoying each other’s company and completely in love.
For any kind of professional video production, there needs to be a script or schedule. When it comes to a music video there is a script already outlined from the lyrics of the song. With “Here I am,” we focused on creating a story about the things longed for and unable to be reached. For any video, this needs to be clearly defined before shooting and consistently explained throughout the moving narrative.
Best Settings for Music Videos
Number 2: Setting: You know the saying, “Location, location, location.” It’s all about the setting and what you can do with that environment to capture a story when it comes to making a professional music video. We were fortunate enough to be able to shoot in a gorgeous beachside mansion on the North Shore of Massachusetts. As a New England video company, we couldn’t help but be thrilled to be shooting in some of the most beautiful places around our area. It was a gray and cold November day. What may have seemed like a bout of bad luck, actually made the lighting for the shots extremely well-balanced and added to the nostalgic feel of the storyline.
We had a plethora of options to shoot from. In addition to the beach itself where the couple would hold each other, in the interior of the home, we had the deck to shoot solo scenes of Joz singing into the camera, the bedroom to shoot the two actors together, the bathroom, the living room, and the ballroom for the scene where Joz is invisible to the one he loves as he sings to her.
For every story, the setting must be able to capture and explain the drama. This isn’t to say that every story has a specific location, but every story must be able to adapt to the chosen location. When deciding on a location, plan out the scenes and ideas that need to be portrayed in the video before choosing, and make sure the storyline can be adapted to that environment.
Music Video Equipment Essentials
Number 3: Equipment and Camera: As a professional video production company, we knew we wanted a cameraman with a beautiful aesthetic to capture these scenes. We were fortunate enough to book Jake, who uses a 4k, vest setup, and Steadicam. The camera made anything and everything look amazing. Along with the camera was the lighting equipment. C-stands, light diffusers, and extension cords followed us everywhere throughout the day. Jake and his gaffer were thorough and disciplined until every shot looked perfect.
It is not only about the camera that makes a scene look good. It has to be well lit, distractions need to be minimized, and framing needs to be correct. Jake and his assistant made sure that all things were checked off the list before the record button was turned on. This is what can qualify amateur music videos into professional rankings. Yes a nicer camera can make things incredibly easier, but having the eyes and diligence to make things right like our cameraman and assistant, is the true key to a professional look.
Direction is Essential
Number 4: Direction:
As with all professional video production companies, direction is crucial. A director is the person who can see the scene before it is on camera or the set is readied. Along with this, they have the overarching theme in mind and ensure that every scene portrays this theme consistently and successfully. In order to keep eyes on every scene and how it looked on camera, a monitor was used to show exactly what was being recorded and our director analyzed everything on camera. In a way, it’s an “editing as you go” process.
This aspect of music video production is paramount– especially when working with actors. When on-screen, everything is scrutinized and the director needs to be able to notice those things that will be a distraction, or could be executed more artfully. For example, in one of our scenes, Joz is sad and sitting on a chair thinking about the woman he loves and misses. When shooting this scene, it was difficult to get Joz to capture the emotion correctly. What he needed was an objective point of view to direct him to adjust his behavior to communicate the emotion more effectively – “Keep your hand under your chin, don’t touch your hair, and gaze off towards the bed.” He took the advice and the scene was finished.
Direction is the key to any successful video production shoot. What it does is notices the distractions or things not done correct and puts things in order to capture the vision more effectively. If you don’t have a director, you’re sitting in a car with no driver.
The Takeaways: When it comes to any sort of professional video production shoot, these four aspects–concept, setting, equipment, and direction–are essential. When it comes to music video production, these aspects are perhaps even more important due to the artistic and entertaining nature that must be followed. During our music video production, these are four things that were consistent throughout the day.
Introducing “Me Voila” by Joz Victor
Skillman Videography Group LLC specializes in professional video production. Call us anytime at 1-800-784-0140