Do You want to make a video for your music but don't know where to start?
Here are a few ideas:
Decide if you want to make a performance video, or a music video showing scenery and/or other things, or you can do a mix of the two, so that’s three options.
If you decide on purely a performance video, there are a few different ways you can approach it. Oftentimes, performance videos are made by playing back the already-recorded music and performing along with it, so not live. The advantage of this over trying to record a purely live session is the ability to better control audio, lightning and other areas of video production for dramatic effect, such as shooting from multiple camera angles instead of just one or two, or adding a moving-camera shot which will add visual interest. Utilizing creative camera angles and movement shots to help support your musical storyline will be perceived by your viewing audience as “more professional” than a single camera shot. Not that single-angle shots are always bad, it’s just a different perspective.
Location, Location, Location.
This old business adage holds up in the video world as well.
Having a visually interesting foreground and background can add a lot of interest to what you are trying to accomplish. Your surroundings help set the over mood so it is important to try and make those surroundings match the mood or feeling that you want your music to convey. Even if you are filming in your living room because you play piano and can’t take it out to the beach, having proper lighting and perhaps maybe even some props or extra (practical lighting) will help set the mood. Practical lighting refers to the light that's present in a scene and is visible to the camera, such as candles or a lava lamp. If your instrument is mobile, try performing by a pond, river, sand dune, sculpture, or on a stage, for a few examples. Pick someplace visually interesting that goes along with your music.
The camera, whether it is a $100 phone or a $300k+ ARRI ALEXA, has the same job -- to help tell your story. If you have one camera and one angle, spend time experimenting and finding the right angle for you. This is art so there is no one camera angle to rule them all, and having an interesting angle or view might help enhance interest. I realize that a lot of us would love if it were only about the music, however in this day and age great production sometimes can mean a huge difference in how your video is perceived no matter how amazing your music is. As a side note, there are no absolutes and overproduction can sometimes be a bad thing as well, it really depends on the platform and audience you are reaching for. TikTok is an example where you might not want to over-produce, but there are still background things like lighting and decent sounding audio that need to be considered.
Back to camera angles, if you have the ability to do multiple camera angles, two, three or even four, you could use these varied camera angles in combination with some camera movement of a single performance, such as a staged performance or on-location, plus adding shots of other things (nature, scenery, cityscapes, or anything else that sets the mood or tells your story). If you only have one camera but want different angles or shots, simply record the performance multiple times and move the camera each time you have a good take. Yes, it is a lot of work but can have very rewarding results.
What is the song about or what is its theme? Do you have a story to convey? The theme or story will tell you what other shots you could consider. Using my friend Lynn Tredeau’s solo piano piece “Lunch with Vincent” as an example, that piece is about her having lunch in Paris with Vincent van Gogh. That brings
a ton of imagery to mind and a multitude of directions to go. In this example, if it would be too much work to set up a Parisian café scene with actors (i.e., Lynn having lunch with Vincent), or finding such a location to shoot, instead you could use a themed set of stock photos and/or videos of Paris and edit those together, and either including or not including live performance shots of her on piano. So really the music will tell you what shots you need, and then it is just the scale and direction you decide to go from there. I will talk more in future instalments about the more techie side of things lighting audio etc. Be well and create great art!