My Advice for Steem Musicians
Hello musicians of the Steem world! Let me give you a brief introduction to myself. I worked in the music industry promoting upcoming bands and artists for about 3 years, and eventually decided to move onto film and creating music videos and visuals. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and am by no means a professional. I learn something new with every project I work on.
Because of my industry focus, I couldn’t help but notice that there are so many incredibly talented musicians and artists on here, with so many amazing songs, but no visual material. Fear not, I’m not here to sell you my services, I’m here to give you the lowdown on just how easy it is to get some budget visuals done DIY, that look professional and will definitely help you reach new fans. What a lot of people don’t realize is the full potential of visual content when combined with sound. On popular social media sites, it is a known fact that people have a short attention span, and eye catching content is the best way to keep a new viewer glued. It’ll make them stick around on the song longer, boosts the chances of it being shareable and will give them something visual to remember your song by.
I’m going to break this article into a few steps as there are so many different areas to talk about. There should be something for everyone here. My goal is to help contribute to a fantastic community of creative people here on Steemit. I really feel that Steemit could be the way forward for upcoming creatives looking to share their work and make a profit, especially musicians. So why not utilize this from the start and jump on board now? It’s a swim, I promise it’ll be an adventure.
Budget Music Videos
Some elements of these are very similar to each other and you’ll find them repeatedly throughout several steps.
I’ll start with the most common method for bands and singer songwriters, maybe not so much for DJ’s/Producers. It’s very popular amongst upcoming bands, as it’s one of the cheapest options, can look really effective and are super easy to set up, even easier if you have a gig coming up soon!
What You Need:
- A gig booked in, or a space to set up for a performance
- A decent camera, DSLR recommended, or two/three. Can be done with one angle, but your best shot is 2 static angles and one handheld capturing close ups and adding new angles into the mix. If you are like me and only have access to one DSLR, you could always set up a couple of Go Pro’s or cheaper cameras. Make sure you are aware of where your camera’s are placed, you don’t your camera operator being in shot of the other angles. You’ll need tripods for the static angles.
- A MP3 or WAV audio file of the recorded song. If you have not recorded the song yet, you will need something to record audio on for a live audio track. Portable zoom mics are very decent for these, and I can almost guarantee you’ll already know someone that can lend you one. I know about 10 musicians with Zoom’s I could borrow. Start chatting to your friends in the industry and see if anyone can help you out.
- Camera operator. If you’re on a budget and want to avoid hiring in an expensive videographer, I suggest finding a friend with a decent camera that’s interested in building a portfolio or maybe contacting some local media students. Again, ask your industry friends and see who did their videos and how much it cost them. Don’t be afraid to ask about. It’s important you know all your options.
- Editing software, If your video is from one angle, you’ll want to do the take a couple of times, with everything exactly the same, but with the camera operator focusing on different angles and close ups each time. You’ll need some decent editing software and a pc that can deal with it either way. It’s fairly easy to cut sync up some angles and cut them together. If your camera person has done this before they might have some editing software and knowledge already. If not there are plenty of great free resources online to learn some quick tips from.
- A plan. What do you want your video to look like and focus on? Any particular colouring that particular outfit choices wouldn’t match with? Plan it all out beforehand. It’ll make your editing journey a whole world easier, trust me.
Other important things to remember:
- You’ll need to be able to sync up audio and visuals, a clapper board or something that can serve a similar purpose is a good thing to have for projects like this.
- Continuity is key. If filming multiple takes, be sure that everything matches up and is exactly the same in each one. For example, don’t swap spaces with the bassist. You may think it’s a good idea at the time, but believe me, it is not.
- Have fun! Shoots are stressful enough, so just make sure you plan everything thoroughly, and you should be able to let your hair down at the shoot and just watch everything fall into place.
Pro’s and con’s of making a live video:
- It's easy for almost anyone to set up, and is a cost effective way us showcasing your talent with the help of visuals
- It's quick, you can have the whole thing planned, shot and edited within a couple of weeks if you really get your game on
- It's a super fun way of spending time with your group and getting to know each other a bit better (if you are a new band)
- It'll be a huge learning curve for everybody involved (if they are new to this sort of thing)
- It is a very over saturated type of video, often a lot of bands will just film a live video and leave it at that. There is none to very little creative process involved, often leading to boring videos everybody feels lie they've seen before. Try adding something new and mixing it up a bit with B roll or something. Just try not to be too basic with it. Experiment. You might discover something you like.
- Poorly lit venues or areas can often be a problem, if you are filming a gig, it might be worth checking out the lighting situation beforehand. This can easily be fixed with a quiet chat to the soundman or an inexpensive portable LED light for DSLR's.
Here is an example of a interesting live performance video.
Now I know this would have had a much larger budget, for the those of simple special effects and motion graphics can really spice up your video in ways you'd never of thought of. Get creative with it, that is what you do best! There is also some very good uses of camera angles and how you can set up a performance here.
This is also a good one! Quirky and inventive!
These are a bit more tricky, but are more accessible for producers and DJ's. They require a bit more planning and creative process, and a bit of basic writing skill (but don't worry about that, that's the easy part). Often concept videos are merged with performance videos. This is a good idea to spice of a performance video too, more than just adding a little bit of B Roll.
What You'll Need:
- A basic storyline or idea and a character. This can be anything you want, often it is relevant to the songs lyrics and message. Think about the meaning of your song and brainstorm some ideas and messages you would like to get across. Once you have done this you can easily come up with how to portray these ideas. Remember, it doesn't always have to tell a linear story. Feel free to experiment and be as abstract as you wish!
- Actors. Try to stick to one character so you can easily get hold of a student actor or a friend. Consider any other vital characters to the storyline being played by a member of the band.
- Location. Again, the less locations you have, the easier your job will be because there will be less shooting time, less prepation time. Try find a big location where you can film several, if not most of, the scenes in. Somewhere where you could get inside and outside would be perfect.
- Camera/Camera person. Like mentioned in the performance segment, try finding a student or a newbie looking to build their portfolio.
- Again, video editing software and a PC with enough processing power. Or you could go to somebody like myself, a freelancer online, and get them to put your video together for you.
- Outfits and props, try going to charity shops, bootsales and the like to grab yourself some essential bargains.
Other things to remember
- If the crew or actors are doing it for free, you can not expect them to have the easiest of schedules to work around so you may have to do some top knotch production planning and come up with a date that works for everybody involved.
- There is a lot of elements to cover in concept videos, so proper planning is vital. Come up with a shotlist including every shot and it's angle (whether it is a wide shot or close up, low angle or high, handheld or tripod etc). Use this like a checklist on the day of shooting. It will make the whole thing come together so quickly and you'll be at the end of that list before you know it.
- Locations can be tricky, you can not just show up to a place and expect to shoot. If it's in public you may need to apply for licenses in heavily populated areas, which can be expensive and ridicolous. To film a video in Brighton it would cost us £400. To do it down the road in Burgess Hill we did it for free. Make sure a member of the team has public liabilty insurance as this can come in handy if you run into any trouble along the way. Try asking your contacts and friends if they know anywhere you could film. I own a field which has saved my arse many times. Ask around. You never know. One of your friend's Auntie's might live in a palace (or a nice house at least).
- Try not to overuse or prolong shots. No body likes that awkward 20 seconds long shot of someone's feet walking or handing picking up something. Cut the crap and keep it to point.
Pro's and Con's
- It's a awesome way of discovering what resources you actually have. On the way, you might discover a friend has some awesome dancing skills you could get some shots of. And a great way of meeting new people to add to your network.
- Your video doesn't have to have the world's most thought out plot. As long as you get an interesting blend of colours and ideas into it you should do okay. It just needs to be visually appealing and keep the viewer interested.
- You could easily achieve great results that look professional and will help market your work to your potentional audience.
- If you don't watch the costs, they can add up and get quite expensive. Plan and use your designated budget (if any) wisely. Fuel costs, equipment, props, it all starts to add up. Keep an eye on it.
- You need to be very well organized and have every little detail planned way in advance to your shoot. You need to have a clear vision in your mind and know your location well beforehand.
- The editing process can be quite long, If you have no previous editing experience and quite a complex idea you might want to consider hiring a freelancer.
This is a really good example of a simple concept video done by a band who may or may not have played a gig in my living room when I was 13 to me and 3 of my friends. They blend performance with a simple concept.
This is another great example of a low budget concept. Please note they would have had to get permission to film in the cafe.
Stock Footage and Abstract visuals
This is a easier option for all, who want something quick with minimal planning. However it will either require you to have good working knowledge of editing software, or again, get someone like myself on board. These can be completely flexible and done in a variety of ways. I will be doing an article on where to get the best creative commons footage from. There are several amazing websites around, so if this interests you keep an eye out for that article.
What You'll Need
- A simple idea. Do you want an abstract video, a lyric video, or a montage video. Decide what you want, have a look at some other examples and develop your idea.
- Some decent stock footage, or your own footage. Make sure any footage you use is licensed under creative commons and you have full rights to use it. Also beware of common footage which pops up in lots of proects, you don't want your work to look cliche.
- Lots and lots of YouTube tutorials on effects and the like (or a editor).
Other things to remember
- This can be a complex process and a lot of it is trial and error, experiementing until you find something that works for you. You can get music visualizers made, these are really good for electtronic songs. Or you can experiment and make some creative and fun effects.
- Simplicity is key. Some of the best results I've seen with this kinda thing is a few simple effects created with stock footage repeatded on a loop. But again, make sure your content is interesting.
- Cutting n beat with your song. This is very important when relying on motion graphics and lyrics.
Here is an example of a music video I edited for a DJ in New Zealand. I used stock footage to create some cool effects and put lyrics over the top of it. It was great fun and looks really effective. None of the footage was even shot in Miami.
This is an example of a music visualizer, these are super easy and quick to make with software like after effects.
Music videos can be an easy and cost effective way to get your music reaching new audiences. Do your research and come up with a solid plan. Work hard, put in the effort, and good things will come!