4 Tips For Filming A Music Video

Music videos are one of the neatest ways to release a new song to the world. Not only does it highlight the artist, it can visually set the tone for what type of music is going to be played. The shadows, colors, tones, and angles all affect the direction in which the artist wants to take the viewer. We live in a day in which nearly anyone can shoot and produce a music video for a band, whether a small local garage band, or a Nashville platinum record artist.

For smaller budgets, careful planning is essential in order to be sure a successful video can be produced. The luxury of a Director of Photography, Producer, Make-Up Artist, Camera Techs for cams 1, 2, and 3, simply aren’t an option. So, if you are a one-man band, here are a few help tips that save you some time for your next video.

1. Create a scene that allows for quality camera shots. It’s important that your shots have elements that help to create a mood and feel for the video you are shooting. Adding extra elements such rows of items, hidden lights, shiny objects, patterns, and other elements can really help bring a shot out. If you are starting in an empty room, then these extra props will help bring detail. If you have the luxury of choosing your location, such as a rustic barn, an old house or cave, or a medieval church, the structures will provide you with angles that will make your project look great. Whenever looking through your view finder for each shot, ask yourself these two questions: Is there where the angle is, and do I have elements in the shot that will demand viewer attention.

2. Run as many video takes as possible. This can’t be over stated. When shooting a music video, unless you have every shots story boarded and scripted out, you are hoping to have enough good shots of the band and instrumentalist to cover the entire movie. Running multiple takes will help ensure that throughout the video, you are getting excellent shots on all major players. For additional security, set up a wide shot that films the song one time through, so that no matter where you are in the song, if you don’t have an interesting shot to use, you have a default shot that can be used for that point in the song.

3. Don’t stop recording after every shot. Editing a music video can be a beast, especially when you have 15 takes the music video and you are painfully scrubbing through all the footage trying to decide which shots to use. One video editing trick is to keep recording through the entire duration of the song so that when you get to post editing, you line up the tracks and you and you view different takes at various points in the song. It will save you time rathe rather than scrubbing through hours of footage and wondering if you had a better shot for a particular point in the song.

4. When editing, start with the beginning and ending. Finally, when you do get to editing, it can be daunting looking at all the footage. Relax. You are almost at the fun part. If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, the best place to start is at the beginning. Find your opening/establishing shot and begin there. Lay down the studio recorded track and lock that layer. Next find your best opening shot, and sync it to the recorded track. Mute the video audio so you are only left with the highest recording playing. Keep working your way down the song. If you get stuck, jump to the end and work backwards. It can help having your closing shot locked in and see the progress being made.

Filming a music video can be tough and very time demanding. If you are able to follow a few of these principles, hopefully it will help you when your trying to produce your master piece.

3 replies
  1. Tammie Houston
    Tammie Houston says:

    Our local church is planning on making a music video so that we can get more kids to attend mass and since we’ve never done anything like this before, I’m looking for tips on how we can go about it. I love your suggestion about shooting the entire song during takes. That should really help when we’re looking for good parts to use in our video. We’re planning on getting a few rental cars for our film shoots so making full use of them via multiple full takes while we have them should be helpful to us. I really like your tips and I’ll be sure to use them when we start filming our video.

    • Motion Backgrounds
      Motion Backgrounds says:

      Hi Tammie,
      That is great that your church is attempting a neat challenge like this. A few things to keep in mind.
      1. Be organized. Have your camera gear in line, batteries charged, and audio/lighting gear ready.
      2. Do a rough story board/shot list of what you want would like to have in your film.
      3. Prep your actors/talent that it will require several takes to get all the shots. Prepare them for a few hours so they have a rough idea of how long the shoot will take.
      4. Respect everyone’s times by being prepared and ready to begin. Keep the shoot going and try to think of what is next.
      5. For music videos, typically, the audio is already recorded. So have a speaker system or some way to play back the audio so your actors/band/talent can hear the track. This will also help you in post production to be able to sync up your video tracks easier.
      6. Film and then double check to be sure you got what you need in each take.
      I hope a few of these thing can help! Have fun!

  2. Rachel Frampton
    Rachel Frampton says:

    If I were to create a music video, I would make sure to work with the best team that may execute my ideas. Thank you for sharing here as well that it will be a great idea to zoom the intense moments of the video. I also agree with you that it will be smarter to have an excellent video editing trick.


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