Videos are one of the more favored ways to consume music in the digital age. With so many accessible platforms to watch them on from YouTube to Vimeo and even Instagram, they form a massive part of popular culture.
At Spinnup we want you to get recognized, and having a slick music video can really give you an edge. It’s your chance to impress potential promoters, managers, labels, and fans.
We caught up with Southampton based video producer Simon Keene who has been filming for ten years. More recently he has worked for the Solent University Music Department and produced music videos for BASH!, Djuno, Jetski Babylon.
So, if you’re looking for some advice on creating a great music video from an experienced video producer, then read on!
Give Your Fans A Multi-Dimensional Experience
“Sound is important but it is just one element,” says Simon. “If you put video to it, that changes the context of the music. It gives it an extra dimension. Also, people are more inclined to click on stuff that is visual.”
A Chance to Show What Matters To YOU!
“Being creative is all about pushing boundaries,” says Simon.
Not only does a music video promote your song, but it can be an opportunity to further showcase aspects of your personality and topics that are meaningful to you. An example of this is Freddie Long and Ben Hunter’s video for ‘HOPE’, which raises awareness of male mental health. Addressing a topic such as this can help you attract potential fans who share the same interests.
Emphasize Your Brand
Like album artwork, music videos are a vital aspect of your brand. Think about what imagery or iconography you use. Similarly to The Stone Roses and Parisian quartet, Polycool use lemons as a big part of their brand with them splayed across their website, album artwork and in their music videos. This use of iconography leaves a lasting impression in our minds.
Picking The Right Style
When creating your music video, it is important to consider the different styles that are out there. These include:
• Narrative – Narrative style videos can help the viewer to understand your song or put meaning to your song and attempt to tell a story. For instance, Michael Rice puts his song ‘Bigger Than Us’ in a new context by telling the story of a friendship between two children.
• Art / Surrealist – Art style music videos are more experimental and creative. “If you put your music to something a bit artsier, then you imagine your music as something a bit more contemporary,” says Simon. Look at Polycool – ‘Polywood’ for example, with it’s talking lemons and bright colours.
• Staged Performance – Staged performance videos are a mediated version of a live performance. “Live music videos appeal to those who are technically minded, you want to show off how many pedals you use, your guitar playing style, or how flamboyant you are on stage,” says Simon. His video for BASH!’s Lovely, Smart and Beautiful adopt this style.
However, you’ll notice that a lot of music videos tend to crossover these styles as it makes them a lot more engaging and varied.
Take Inspiration But Don’t Copy
“When creating a music video, the artist and I will look at other music videos and pull out what we like and what we don’t like about them,” Simon explains. “But look to what you see in your head for inspiration. A great music video works specifically for the song, complementing it.”
Build and Construct From An Initial Idea
“First of all, I have a meeting with the band and listen to the song. I listen to their ideas first and then adapt them, adding my own ideas of what would make it more creative and unique. Build and construct from an initial idea,” Simon says.
Think About Practicality
“You take that idea – for example, a video that’s going to include a moving spotlight – and then think about it practically. Where do you get a spotlight from? Where can you get a big enough space to do that? Where can you find the correct lighting facilities that are cheap and easy enough to use? Normally we’ll assign tasks between ourselves, like booking equipment and performance space. You plan all of that, set a specific date to film then go and do it!”
Where to Find A Videographer
Everything is so open and accessible now so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. “You can find videographers through agencies, by Googling them and on creative platforms. Search on YouTube for people that you like and Instagram and just give them a message!”
Rates can vary, depending on the videographer. When Simon began as a videographer, he would charge £50 for a day of filming or a 5-minute video. “Some people will go into the thousands, but these will be the most experienced ones with the best kit. If you spend more you’ll get better quality,” Simon advises.
No budget? Fear not!
Of course, the top end kit is going to be the best quality, but that’s not to say that you can’t make a great video with a low budget as long as you’re creative! “I’ve seen some perfectly great music videos that people just film by themselves, just with their mates,” says Simon. “If you’re creative enough you can make it work, even with mobile phones and smaller cameras such as GoPros. Any camera can be a good camera as long as you have the right person who knows how to use it.” says Simon.
And if you do want to use a DSLR, even a cheap one, they are easy to come across. “It’s the lenses that make the difference with DSLR cameras.”
Also, don’t forget that there are many student videographers out there with access to high-end equipment, who will be often looking for people to work with, and usually for free!
“I find that you can often storyboard and plan your video down to the most minute detail, but then you get to your location and suddenly find that have to do everything differently. Sometimes it’s just better to show up to a place as you will be surprised what you can make and it gives you a bit more freedom.”
With all of our digital technology, it doesn’t matter if you’re not happy with your footage – you can reshoot as much as you want and use what works and delete what doesn’t!
Keep Up the Communication
It’s no use if you don’t communicate with your videographer, or whoever’s shooting, about what’s working for you or not. So giving feedback is so important.
“After shooting, I stick the footage away, edit it down and show it to the artist, they give me their notes and then I will change it accordingly, maybe reshoot sections, film some more, depending what everyone thinks it needs.”
Location and Permission
“Imagine the location in your head first, such as a street with trees, then go out and find streets with trees,” says Simon.
“Normally if its a public place, you could probably get away with just filming but let the council know that you want to film in that location. It’s always best for insurance purposes to get permission from whoever owns the land, especially if it’s a private location.”
Shot Types and Editing Techniques
Different camera angles, shot types and editing techniques can give different effects and convey different meanings. For example, a close-up shot or a video with a lot of attention on one person can create intimacy and highlight their importance if they are a lead singer for example.
After shooting your video, you’re going to want to edit it using video editing software. Simon recommends Premiere Pro. “Most places or people have it, it’s pretty accessible. Da Vinci Resolve is also a good one I’ve been using recently. Its industry standard, compatible with Mac and Windows and ridiculously easy to use. It also has really good tracking technology and colour grading software. You can get the free version and its not much different from the paid version.”
Green Screen is Easier Than You Think
If you’re wanting to create a more surrealist video (see Simon’s video for BASH!’s ‘Indecisive’), then you can use a green screen.
Green screens can be ordered online and most photography studios will have them. “It doesn’t even have to be green – as long as it’s one flat colour that isn’t the same as what someone’s wearing, it can be edited out pretty easily. The only thing you really need to think about with a green screen is the lighting. You want to make sure there are no shadows being cast on the back as that’s harder to edit out.”
Cover Your Back
Think of every possible eventuality and make sure that you’re covered for it. It’s always best to have release forms with you if you’re showing someone’s face. Cover yourself as much as possible, try and put everything into a contract if you can. Always include a health and safety risk form just in case you know, a meteorite strikes.
If you do end up shooting a video to audio released through Spinnup, then send across an Mp4 snippet to Promo@Spinnup.com for a chance to be featured on our socials ; )