What does it take to make a music video?
Not just anyone can wake up one morning and say they want to record a music video. If you’re reading this, it means you’re either a singer or a cinematographer. Maybe you’re just reading for a friend or to build up an interest; all are acceptable.
Before you can make a professional music video, here are the things to have:
A song track
It’s called a music video for a reason; because it’s a video to a piece of music. However, while it is often the case that people who record a video do so for their own songs, it’s not always so.
A music video can be for another person’s song. But since you’ll be using another person’s intellectual property, you need the express authority of the song owner. If you don’t have this, you risk infringing on copyright law, which you sure don’t want to mess with.
You might think this is cliche, but really, it is not. Creativity is needed to make a music video. Videos are a form of art because they require you to present a narrative to the audience. that they would interpret that they require to make meaning of the body of work.
Creativity is that ability that helps you visualize a central idea for the music video. You’ll be engaging your mind in piecing together a professional visual representation for your song. You can also draw inspiration from other people’s work. And more importantly, the song should be your best source of inspiration.
This goes without saying; you can’t record a video without a camera or at least a device with a camera. But before you get all excited and whip out your 19th-century model portrait camera, you should know that the quality of your equipment determines the quality of your video (1).
A lot of people are now asking how to make a video with music on an iPhone. This shows that more people are taking up the challenge of making music videos. You no longer have to own a sophisticated camera to make a professional music video.
Video editing software
Video editing is a crucial aspect of video making. Once you get your editing right, you would be adding that extra touch of professionalism to your shoot. You’ll need video editing software to do this. These can be useful both for the pre-production and post-production stages of your music video. This means when planning for your video shoot, you should factor in how much video editing you’ll be adding as well.
How to make a professional music video
To make a music video come out as professional as possible, you need to check all the essential boxes. While you might not have to go all out and hire a complete movie crew, Hollywood style, you sure won’t want to go at this alone. At the least, you need an extra pair of eyes to help visualize your ideas.
Before you start the production process for your music video, you should bear in mind that it requires some effort. So, you need to be well-motivated, get friends to support you, and be ready for a busy schedule.
Before you start out on your music video project, here are some tips that might be helpful:
- Your main idea – Keeping the idea behind the shoot in mind would help you visualize the goal and as well, help you work towards it.
- Determine the budget – From the idea of the shoot, you should be able to figure out some of the things you’ll need. Writing them out in a budget would help plan ahead.
- Time – Shooting a video would take some time. You should allocate enough time for each stage of the production.
- Permissions and licenses – If you’ll be using places or equipment that aren’t yours, you’ll need to request access from the owners.
Nothing stops you from making a music video yourself. You only need to learn the right way to do it so you don’t come off as an amateur.
We have compiled the entire process on how to make a professional music video into seven steps.
Here they are:
Step One – Record a high-quality track.
Not just any song recording can be used for a professional video. It must be a high-quality track preferably recorded and mastered in a studio. Your song choice also is important. You can record a music video for your own song or for someone else, but in all, the song must be one that inspires the singer and one that the audience can relate with.
If you’ll be making a video for someone else’s song, ensure you’re not infringing on any copyright restrictions.
Step Two – Create a narrative.
The narrative is the main idea behind the music video. It’s the creative wheel that steers the whole process. The narrative is also called the concept.
Every professional music video you’ve seen has a concept. Some are direct, while others are deeply twisted, but in all, the project the song in a unique way. That’s what separates a music video from ordinary music.
Again, you should note that music videos are a form of abstract art. The creator is the artist with a mental picture to paint.
In creating a narrative, here are some points to pay attention to:
The characters in a music video are all you have to bring your story to life. So, you have to carefully define the role each individual involved in the video would play. You should be mindful not to create too many characters as that might lead to a storyline that isn’t easy to unravel. If there’s anything you don’t have when trying to make a music video; it’s time.
Bring your concept to life using a storyboard
Using a storyboard is an excellent way to paint a picture of the scenes that make up the video’s narrative. Just as you’ve thought of the concept in your mind, now it’s time to put it to paper.
The storyboard is essential to help you remember the idea you’re trying to create. And also, it’s a handy tool in showing people involved in making the video what you’re trying to make. If you can’t sit down to create a storyboard, you could opt for a video script or even go for both.
And in the case where you don’t have the time to do this yourself, you can hire someone else to write the script or draw the story. Be sure to be detailed in your description to come up with something that captures your main idea well.
Step Three – Choose appropriate location(s)
The set or location for shooting a music video should speak volumes about the scenes you’re enacting. Of course, if your narrative is complex, you might have to use more than one location. However, as much as you want to express yourself in your videos, only limit the scenes to a few sites, so you don’t wear yourself and your team out.
Standard sets for a music video include:
- A film studio,
- Event center,
- Public park,
- Club, and so on.
Whichever venue you choose to use, you need to carry out location scouting; where you scrutinize the location before making a final decision. Try to get pictures or a video of the location to get a proper view of how it comes out on camera. You also need to get ready necessary permissions, as well as confirm the availability for the day and time of the video shoot.
Step Four – Recruit a team.
Putting together helping hands to bring your dream video to life can be a ballbuster. Of all things, humans are the hardest to manage, so be prepared for the unexpected. But, even at that, you need a team to pull off something worthwhile.
The main crew for the video making is the technical team. Depending on how expensive your concept is, you might need a producer, camera person(s), costume designer, hair and makeup artist, choreographer, and the likes. If what you’re gunning for is simple, you don’t need to fill all these roles. You could also get friends to fill the void or solicit help from college students who want experience in video production.
The cast for your video doesn’t have to be elaborate like that of a movie. However, in your selection, go for those enthusiastic for the role and fit into the characters you need.
Create a schedule
Now that you have the people you need on board, create a precise schedule. The date, time, and location should be spelled out to all parties involved. Double-check that everyone would be present. Try to keep backup contacts in case someone doesn’t show up.
Step Five – Shooting the video.
It is time to bring all your ideas to life. You’ve got everything planned out, so don’t be under any pressure. Simply follow the plans you’ve made and be natural with your song.
Set the scene
To set the scene, make use of your storyboard imagination. What does the background look like? Try to mimic that the best way possible. You can use your lighting equipment to set the scene; focus on specific areas, create shadows, use colors, and more. Also, you can use furniture and decorations to create the perfect set.
Use a high-grade camera.
Most certainly, you don’t need blockbuster-movie-level cameras. What you need, however, is a high-grade camera that can produce quality images. The best devices have some of these features, if not all:
- Interchangeable lenses;
- Multiple shooting modes;
- ISO range;
- And can make Full HD videos.
If you don’t own one with any of these features, consider buying one. But as that can be costly, you can rent a device too, or as we’ve always suggested, call in a favor from a friend.
Make a video on an iPhone.
Seeing this step, you might be wondering how to make a video with music on an iPhone. Well, it’s pretty simple. New age mobile apple devices record 4K HD videos (2). This works for iPhone 6 or above and iOS 9 or above. If your device is fitting, here’s what to do;
- Navigate to the Camera, go through to Settings, and select Record a video;
- From the prompt, choose the 4K resolution;
- Even better, you can get a third-party camera application from the app store designed especially for video shoots. These come with settings to adjust ISO and aperture for consistent exposure;
- Set your phone still on a tripod stand, and get recording;
Using an iPhone for your music video is okay if you’re using just one point of view. Or else, you can just use the footage alongside what you capture on other cameras.
The key to professional video making is to be patient. You need to capture the moments painstakingly. Here are best practices for great shots;
Use multiple camera angles (best achieved with numerous cameras taking shots)
- Go eye level for a realistic, relatable shot;
- Low angle to empower the subject;
- High angle to reduce subject focus;
- Bird’s eye view for an all-knowing perspective;
- Slanted shots for some dramatic effect.
Take several shots
- Move close up to show emotions and detail;
- Go wide for a broad view;
- Go over the shoulder for a character’s point of view;
- Cutaway from characters to focus on the scene background;
- Ensure singers lip-sync to the song playing onset;
- Beware of excessive zoom.
Step Six – Edit the Shots.
Editing is easier once the shooting is well done. You need editing software and a computer system to pull this off. If you don’t want to bother yourself with the technical delta, hire a professional video editor. If not, you can use any of the following based on your budget;
- iMovie for iPhone and Mac;
- Final Cut Pro for Mac;
- Sony Vegas movie studio for PC;
- DaVinci Resolve;
- Adobe Premiere Pro.
During editing, your objective is to fit the appropriate frame to the right sound. First, sort out the lip-syncing. Then, cut shots as the song beats and sound unravels; you can use the track display on editing software to read the beats.
Once again, avoid excessive use of visual effects. In contrast, the use of appropriate sound effects can boost video relatability. Use color correction to create a consistent image tone.
Step Seven – Review the Video.
Your final video should come out in a usable format; mp4, Quicktime, or some other compressed format. When you’re done with the first video editing, leave the piece for a while to clear your head. When you return to it, watch it all over to point out errors and omissions. You can also show it to a third eye, preferably an ideal audience, to get an honest review for you to improve upon.
You can make a music video on an iPhone using the 4K camera resolution and iMovie editing app.
It is not a must to hire a professional to shoot a music video. With the right equipment and a few helping hands, you can shoot your music video by yourself.
Making a professional music video can come off as an arduous task. But with the proper knowledge, such as we’ve shared here, you can stick to the basics and create something beautiful.
Have you ever recorded a music video? Which device did you use? And what challenges did you face? Share with us in the comments below; we’ll make sure to engage everyone.
- Jim Fisher. (June 2021). The Best Digital Cameras for 2021, PCMag. Retrieved from https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-digital-cameras
- Apple support community. (December 2020). Record HD or 4K video with your iPhone or iPad. Retrieved from https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209431