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Tips for shooting music video

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James Houghtaling
Tips for shooting music video
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:06:08 pm

I've been asked to shoot a promo video for a local 4 piece band. They will be in a recording studio playing to a studio track of one (or more?)of their songs. I've still got to have a sit down with them to go over their expectations - maybe get them to send me some examples from Youtube on what they like.
So I'd like some feedback from you guys on what sort of things I need to think about. The way I see it now is that we'll record several play throughs of the band playing over the studio track using different camera angles for each take and focusing on each band member... so I'm thinking 5 takes, one wide, and one each for the band members. Here are some questions I put together and would appreciate any comments or additional considerations:
  • What does the studio space look like? Lots of space? Room for backdrops? High ceilings?
  • Flexible existing studio lighting? or do I plan on bringing my own lights? Light mounts on ceiling? Windows? (do I need to bring material to block window light)
  • How much time will you have the space for? Time enough for multiple play-throughs? Daytime or night?
  • How many songs? Durations?
  • Master Audio tracks should have sync marks (beeps) at beginning and end (ask engineer to add prior to shoot – example, three sharp beeps, three seconds of silence, song begins, song ends, three seconds of silence, three sharp beeps) My thought here is that I record each take from start to end and line them up in my NLE along with the master audio track using the sync marks on the audio tracks


Thanks!

---------------
My Hardware:
Core i7 2.67GHz; Nvidia GTX580, 12 gig RAM Win7 64bit.

My Software:
Vegas Pro V11 with Boris Continuum Complete 7, VASST Ultimate S; Bluff Titler; AE5; PhotoPaint and other stuff.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:39:51 pm

[James Houghtaling] "What does the studio space look like? Lots of space? Room for backdrops? High ceilings?
Flexible existing studio lighting? or do I plan on bringing my own lights? Light mounts on ceiling? Windows? (do I need to bring material to block window light)"


This is impossible to answer as nearly every studio is different. The main room in some of the big, brand-name studios will hold an entire orchestra so of course there's plenty of room and invariably high ceilings. In smaller places with movable baffles, traps, vocal booths, etc. there can be barely room for the band, let alone much extra. Existing lighting can be good for a moody look, but don't count on it. You may be best served by re-lamping existing fixtures. Windows are a rarity as 1) they are flat, reflective surfaces and 2) they're unlikely to be as sound proof to the outside world as is a solid wall.

The long and short of this is you HAVE to do an site visit to know what you will be working with.


[James Houghtaling] "How much time will you have the space for? Time enough for multiple play-throughs? Daytime or night?"

It should go without saying, but recording studios charge in units of hours, days, weeks, and so on. You can likely get as much time as you're willing to pay for. You may, however, be able to negotiate a discounted rate if they'll assign a junior engineer who just has to handle playback for you so you're not tying up a regular engineer. Ask.


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Chris Tompkins
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Mar 13, 2012 at 3:15:50 pm

I'd suggest doing one song. Since your new at it.

Also, I would suggest shooting that song in another setting in addition to the studio session. Like a live stage setting. Fake concert.
That way you have more shots...

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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James Houghtaling
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Mar 13, 2012 at 3:23:50 pm

Thanks Nick, I might mention that this is most likely going to be a pro-bono or "pay me what you want when I'm done" affair. So I'm not inclined to travel to the studio in advance as it's an hour or so away. The band set the terms as far as where we shoot so I get what I get and they'll have to live with it. That said, I do want to be as prepared as possible so I want to ask the right questions before I show up. My guess is I will bring my entire light kit anyway.

As far as studio time, I won't be paying for it. But I'll let them know that this won't be done in an hour...LOL. I'll make sure they know that 5 takes on a 3 minute song will take a little longer than 15 minutes. :)

---------------
My Hardware:
Core i7 2.67GHz; Nvidia GTX580, 12 gig RAM Win7 64bit.

My Software:
Vegas Pro V11 with Boris Continuum Complete 7, VASST Ultimate S; Bluff Titler; AE5; PhotoPaint and other stuff.


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Ken Maxwell
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Mar 13, 2012 at 6:55:32 pm

I don't think I would touch it with the proverbial "10-foot pole". If these guys are going into a recording studio they've most likely rented the smallest studio around (cheapest). There most likely won't be much atmosphere lighting and it certainly won't be adequate for imaginative shooting.
Space is another problem. Most likely any space not occupied by the performers will be stacked up with music racks and mike stands, etc. Further, if they are live recording you won't be able to make any noise or move around much. Small recording studios are notoriously jammed and you won't be able to do much in the way of lighting.

I suggest that the best approach would be to shoot their music on location against a track playback and in a location suggested by the theme of the music. A location with good opportunities for camera angles, etc.

I certainly wouldn't shoot the project without having seen the suggested location. Your product is the main thing to suffer from inadequate planning and shot under difficult conditions. Most unenlightened people don't realize the value of a good video. You don't want it to look like grandpa's home movies. One must consider the talent and energy required to produce a video that has the same attention to details that they put into their music.

If you are going to a large studio with a high quality lighting system and plenty of space . . . and no time restriction, then go to it and have fun.
Good luck.


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James Houghtaling
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Mar 14, 2012 at 9:02:16 pm

a bit more info came on the studio - it's an old church. so this could be interesting.

---------------
My Hardware:
Core i7 2.67GHz; Nvidia GTX580, 12 gig RAM Win7 64bit.

My Software:
Vegas Pro V11 with Boris Continuum Complete 7, VASST Ultimate S; Bluff Titler; AE5; PhotoPaint and other stuff.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Mar 17, 2012 at 10:44:44 am

I love it. When my band went into a studio for our little CD, we spent over $10k getting it produced? It's considered about a minimum for a decent product.
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/backburnermusic
I bet these folks will be spendingthe same. Our engineering cost was about $35 an hour.you should at least be charging what they r paying for sound engineering, especially for the editing time. You are a camera engineer (g)
To expect to get a quality "music video" pro bono seems like selling yourself short. But if you are trying to build your portfolio then have at it.
Shoot with two cameras minimum.mount one (maybe high) and leave it run as an establishing shot.move with your second camera. That's in lieu of two shooters. I'd expect to spend the whole shoot on one song, to get it right. Are you also lighting it?
A church would likely make a terrible recording studio, without significant rework.
That's a starting point.

Al


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Mike Cohen
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Jul 19, 2012 at 2:02:19 pm

Wonder how James made out with this project..?

Check out the Live from Abbey Road series scattered around YouTube. Granted they shot these with many cameras and dolly tracks and it's Abbey Road, but it is good for inspiration.

Also most music videos have some non-performance video interspersed - need to know what the band expects.

Mike Cohen


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James Houghtaling
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Jul 22, 2012 at 2:37:47 am

Sorry, I thought I posted the final video.
The band loved it and for my first attempt at filming with a DSLR and making a music video, I think it came out nice. I was pleased that even the lip syncing is pretty darn good.

Check it out in HD on the band's Youtube page...







or on my Vimeo page:



---------------
My Hardware:
Core i7 2.67GHz; Nvidia GTX580, 12 gig RAM Win7 64bit.

My Software:
Vegas Pro V11 with Boris Continuum Complete 8, VASST Ultimate S; Bluff Titler; AE5; PhotoPaint and other stuff.


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Chris Tompkins
Re: Tips for shooting music video
on Jul 22, 2012 at 2:29:45 pm

Nice Job!

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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