03 August - 2016
The Fundamentals of Filming a Music Video By: Nikki Halliwell, 0 Comments

Filming your first music video as a musician can be an exciting yet daunting experience, particularly when you don’t know what to expect. Here, the Directors of Epik Music Videos, Andy and Tai have answered some of the most common questions they are asked by their clients.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay for my Music Video?

Andy: The saying “you get what you pay for” is highly relevant here. It is common for music video production companies to vary in terms of their minimum costs and most people tend to sway more towards the cheapest option. However, be realistic in what you envision the outcome of your video to be like and have an adequate budget for the creatives to meet your vision.

Tai: Totally agree. It’s really a combination of the concept of your video and your decided budget. Any decent music video production company will come up with ideas which reflect your personality without overstepping your budget, so it’s a good idea to have an ideal budget in mind, but be flexible with it when deciding what you want

What Determines the Cost of the Music Video?

Tai: The content of your video will be the main influence of the cost of production. Driving around London in a Rolls Royce throwing money around will evidently cost more than a green screen video. However, there many other production elements you will need to consider, including things like:

  1. The location,
  2. Equipment needed,
  3. Crew required,
  4. Hair stylist etc.

Andy: To give you a more definitive answer, you’re looking at around £1,500+ for a basic music video, or £300+ for a basic Lyric Video. But a chat with your chosen Music Video Production company will tell you how much you’re looking at for specific ideas and extras, so get in touch! Alternatively, read this article for a bit more advice: How Much Does a Music Video Cost?

Find out where your money goes, decide your maximum budget and then you can decide on a concept which meets this.

How Detailed Does the Brief Have to be?

Andy: Writing a brief for a music video is vital if you, as a musician, want yours to reflect who you are effectively. Firstly, you will need to decide how much you are willing to spend to know what type of video you can afford. The brief will need to be detailed enough to give the director enough information to come up with a concept, whilst giving the production company a rough estimate of how much it is likely to cost.

Tai: Your background, how you want to be perceived, your audience, previous music and videos etc. Basically, the more information, the better! If your budget is limited, we recommend you state this upfront as a reputable music video production company will be happy to work towards this. We would also recommend providing examples of music videos you like to give a better idea of the style you are looking for.

How Do I Choose the Right Director?

Andy: The relationship between the artist and the director is key! You should always choose the Director who shares a similar vision or at least understands the vision you have for your music video. The relationship between you and the Director is also integral for a smooth shooting day and a great result, so meeting them in person is important.

Tai: Creativity plays a part of this, can they interpret the song lyrics like you do?  Aside from this, there are many qualities to consider when looking for the best Music Video Director: passion, strong leadership, editing skills and knowing the medium well are all checkboxes you should use to determine whether a Director is worth their salt!

How Do I Determine How Many Crew Members I Need to Produce a Music Video?

Andy: The treatment and general plans for your video will form the basis of costs, so identifying your concept ideas and budget will be crucial in this. A treatment is a document which the Director uses to communicate their concept idea to the artist.

Tai: These two factors define the production crew you will need: the more complex the concept, the more crew you will need. For example, if you require a set to be built, you will need set builders. Decide a budget and go from there.

What Basic Equipment Do I Need to Hire?

Andy: Put simply? Camera. Playback. Director. Location. The concept and resulting treatment for the music video will determine what other equipment is needed. Are you in a studio and need special lighting or are you filming outside? What camera is the Director using, and does this require different lenses? Do you need to build a set? Green screen music videos are often filmed quite minimally, with the special effects added in post-production.

Tai: Your production company will help you get the best equipment for your needs, so concentrate on the concept you want and the rest will fall into place.

How is a Shooting Day Organised?

Tai: This is the responsibility of the production team who organise the day based on the shot list, which is inspired by the treatment. A typical shooting day will start off with an on-location run through to confirm shot angles, lighting set ups, character positions etc. Then, for practical reasons, all scenes with the same lighting, makeup, location etc. will be shot together to save time. The Director will take “test takes” with stand ins to get the lighting and composition right, and then you will more than likely want to rehearse your performance before you begin shooting for real.

A Treatment is the Directors written expression of how the video will be constructed and how it will look.

How Would I Go About Organising All My Crew During Filming?

Andy: It is the job of the Producer and Director to turn the treatment into a production by identifying exactly what needs organising. You, as the artist, won’t have to worry about a thing. 

What Do you Have to Consider When Researching, Choosing and Securing a Location for a Music Video?

Tai: Filming days are often very long and demanding. Is the location affordable and available when you need it? Can it be lit properly? Is the location easy for everyone to get to? Will there be electricity points available? All of these questions can be answered by organising a “recce” – a viewing of the chosen location to give a better idea of how everything will be set up and to diagnose any potential problems etc.

Andy: Insurance is often needed for location shoots, but the Directors will handle this for you. All you need to think about is whether the location is the right look for your music video and the right price for your budget. All the practical issues will be the responsibility of the Producer and Director as they will have their treatment to hand to help identify any requirements or issues.

How Do I Set and Manage Timelines and Deadlines?

Tai: Similarly, this is the job of the Director and Producer. They will often intentionally overestimate how long things will take to complete. This is to ensure a little bit of leeway so everything is done either when it is meant to be, or before. Why? Well firstly it is good practice for life in general, but mainly because it would be incredibly expensive to organise a reshoot day!

How Do I Keep Track/Ensure the Budget/Deadlines are Being Met?

Tai: Although this is primarily the responsibility of the Producer who will only shoot to budget; we would suggest managing your budget on a spreadsheet yourself. By doing this, you can firstly communicate any problems with your Director and Producer straight away, but this also enables you to identify if there is enough budget for any extras you may want. Our directors are always happy to accommodate additional requests providing they are feasible!

Can Old Footage be Incorporated into the Music Video?

Tai: It sure can! Haim’s music video for “Forever” is the perfect example of using old footage of them integrated with present day footage, and it is an awesome video! It is easy to do with the right soft and hardware, and wouldn’t cost any more unless it is VHS footage. A skilled editor can easily integrate them both seamlessly.

What is the Best Format to use for a Music Video?

Andy: Platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Myspace typically accommodate most file formats. However, there are many other factors you will have to think about: compatibility with different players, file size, loss of quality and such. MP4, H264 10ATP or .mov, a QuickTime movie file are your best bet for distributing online.

What is the Best Software for Editing a Music Video?

Tai: In our experience, there are 3 unbeatable heavyweight editing tools:

  1. Apple’s FinalCut Pro,
  2. Adobe’s Premier and
  3. Avid.

You have to pay for these, but they are by no means restricted to professionals – they just require a little training. It is worth the money if you are editing your own music video.

Who Owns the Rights to the Music Video? Artist/Producer/Record Label?

Andy: That’s simple. Whoever paid for the music video has the right to do what they like with it. As a musician, it is vital that you are aware of the Copyright Act and how to protect your Music in the UK, so get on it!

How Do I Get the Video to the Target Audience?

Andy: To start out with, we would recommend sending your shiny new music video to a small circle of friends, getting their opinion and then communicate any changes to your Director and Editor. We are always happy to tweak your video for no extra costs. When everything is perfect, this is where the fun starts. There are plenty of ways to promote your music online, social media and your own website being the most obvious. Successfully promoting your music on social media is a sure fire way to get yourself heard with your target audience, but having your own website is your most valuable asset.