Shooting Music Videos: challenges and tips from musicians!

Imagens: Bespoken, Sonamo, Bloody Beetroots, Margarita Monet (Edge of Paradise).

We will be walking the NAMM (Natl. Assoc. of Music Merchants) show floor next month and have been digging out great examples of how Flicker Free and Beauty Box can often save music videos without breaking the bank. There are so many amazing content creators out there using our plugins to fix unavoidable flicker and retouch skin tones distorted by low light! From teasers of ‘Musique Concrete” projects (check out Bespoken!) to heavy metal bands creating parallel universes: they can all benefit from some quick and easy post-production plugins. And that’s because…recording music videos is challenging.

Venues are usually low-lighting environments, and musicians are often not only performing but also shooting the performance. Setting up the lights and tripods, making sure the sound is clear, framing the shot, assuring the camera is still going while they play, and more. So, as we talked to our customers about NAMM – and how they have been using our plugins to “fix it in post” – we made a list of the most common challenges musicians face shooting their videos (according to them!) and added some suggestions (also coming from them!) on how to avoid the issues:

1 – Embrace low lighting (and fix it in post !):  ok, ok… so maybe you don’t WANT to fix it in post if you can avoid it, but the point is, sometimes you get what the lighting gods give you and all you can do is fix it later. So do everything you can to avoid dark shots and noise grain (reduce shutter speed! Maybe use manual mode for more control over white balance, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO), but don’t get caught up if the shot exposure is not perfect. One of our clients saw his hands turn blue while filming a teaser for a music video project and used Beauty Box in post-production to fix it! Bloody Beetroots experienced severe strobing caused by LED lights in this music video featuring Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue fame) and Flicker Free saved the day. Margarita Monet, from Edge of Paradise, says that sometimes the band “might have this great shot, but one of our faces looks shiny, or the light is not completely flattering. Beauty Box can fix those issues and allow us to use the shot we want!”. 

2 – Find an unobstructed view ahead of time: scouting the location is key! Make sure you have enough time to look around the venue, see where columns and tables are placed. You have an audience! So also consider them when choosing your camera placement. You want them in the shot, but you want the band to be there as well! Sonamo lead singer Giuseppe Pinto highlights he “learned to anticipate where the audience is likely to gather and place cameras accordingly for unobstructed, engaging angles. In post-production, using digital zoom and 360-degree footage helps add dynamism to the videos” (and maybe minimize the band being covered by the audiences on important moments). One way of working around crowded spaces is to shoot high-res footage, like 4K. This will allow for more flexibility in the editing since you can crop or zoom in later. For example, if the crowd is low in the frame, you now have two shots: one closeup of the band, and another with the band/audience. Or possibly have two cameras, one for the band close-up and another for the band/audience shot.

3 – Is there enough room around that tripod? : no matter where you place the camera, make sure it is safe. Bumping on cameras and knocking things out is not only problematic when you have exciting, dancing, partying audiences. Musician Johnnyrandom recently mentioned to us that he is usually filming himself as he plays, and that can be very tricky even in controlled environments. “There can be a lot of juggling between musical performance, framing a shot, lighting it correctly, and managing the time required to get enough footage to edit. When things get macro, it’s common to bump into tripods, lenses, and lights midperformance”, he says. So, take the time to place everything correctly. 

4 – Equipment is not everything: music videos can be expensive and time-consuming. If you don’t have the budget and need to stick with a DIY, one-man band approach… shoot your video anyway, the best way you can. Giuseppe Pinto (Sonamo) says “the key is not to get too caught up in equipment. While quality cameras are important, the essence of a moment and the emotion it conveys are paramount. It’s more about capturing the spirit of the performance than the technical perfection of the shot”. Johnnyrandom, composer of Bespoken, shot this amazing teaser on his own and edited it with the help of his friends.

5 – Record the audio separately: because music videos require (surprise!) good audio… consider using a dedicated audio recorder with a directional mic to capture sound and add it to the video later. This may capture better audio than the camera and you can place it further away from the audience (it’s small, and doesn’t need a tripod). If your camera is near the audience, you may pick up loud claps, talking, screaming, etc. In more professional environments you can record audio straight from the sound board.

Experiencing other challenges we have not listed while filming your music videos? Let us know by leaving a comment or emailing! We will keep updating this blog post to include more tips.  

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