Music Videos are one of the most visually powerful mediums in recent productions. It is the bridge between the music and the film industry, and the demand is always high for new videos. Music video productions are often the biggest way in for entry-level filmmakers. So many top Hollywood directors get their first few gigs by doing music videos, some of which include Zack Snyder, Spike Jonze, and Marc Webb. And what each of those directors learned was that a music video has multiple layers of unique production requirements. And here at ASL Productions, we understand how to balance audio and video for compelling media. Here are five essential tips for directing your first music video.
Listen to the Music
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the importance of this step cannot be stressed enough. Before you ever begin working on a video, you should sit down, close your eyes, and just listen to the song. What kind of story is the song telling? Do the lyrics tell it or do the instrumentals? Absorb all of the elements of the song into your imagination. Listen to it as many times as you need to get the right ideas for the story, pacing, and emotions. Then jot down all of the primal thoughts and see what you’ve got. You’re already on the right path to a great video.
Balance Visuals with Lyrics
Music Videos are an odd type of art, because video is a visual medium, which means that the visuals are supposed to come first in the storytelling. It is very easy to put the music in the backdrop, rather than making it the prime focus. But with music videos, the visuals are meant to support the song, rather than overpower it. Unless otherwise instructed, there shouldn’t be any manipulation of the song, because then it will go from being a music video into a musical short film. But that doesn’t mean the visuals are not important. Just be sure that the visuals feel like an organic expression of the song’s storytelling elements. When the song goes high, low, or twisted, so should the visuals.
Involve the Performers in the Music Video Production
They are crafts-people like you, so be open to their contribution. After all, this is their video, so you have to make sure that they are comfortable with the production (and the final product). Some Musical artists prefer to have full creative control over the video, while others are fairly laid-back for how it turns out. Do they want it to be a simple performance or a complex story? Not only will this level of consideration enhance the quality of the video, but it will also leave a good impression on the artist.
As mentioned before, the music video is the unique connection between the film and music industries. With that comes the unique elements of both film and music. Music transforms reality with dream-like rhythm, while film (for the most part) is fiction trying to get you to believe it is reality. But with lyrics and rhythm being the focus of the music video, the visuals are allowed to play around with reality. Lyrics and Rhythm provide a surreal, emotional experience that is meant to embody the feeling of the song. And in the music video world, reality can be as flexible as water. Above all else, make sure that the visual story matches the song’s artistic message.
Play the Music Aloud
As mentioned before, the difference between music videos and regular video production is that the music is made the prime focus rather than the visuals. Therefore, unlike a film or televisions show, you already know what music will be edited in. Since the song is the motivation for the project, why not play it aloud for the cast and crew to hear? Think about how this can boost morale for the production team? It can also help the performers get a hold of the rhythm of the shoot. You just might find your grips moving with a pep in their step while working. Just be sure not to play it too much. Anyone can get annoyed by the same song if it plays over and over again.