Music videos are a great opportunity to highlight a musician’s art in fresh and unique ways and push the boundaries of traditional narratives. Music videos are similar to short films and share some basic production principles that remain the same whether you go high-concept or bare bones.
Below are some reminders of what to take into consideration when producing a music video.
Once you have your storyboard and concept, you need to figure out your budget. Indigo Productions’ estimates the average professional music video budget to be between $20,000 and $500,000. Detailed budgeting keeps you on track with all the expenses ranging from equipment, staff, wardrobe, location, makeup, food, lighting, transportation, VFX, etc. The list goes on…
The location is one of the most critical aspects of the video and needs to be chosen correctly, so make sure you trust your location scout and that they understand everything the artists will be doing on-set. If stunts are needed, plan for medical units to be on-call and have easy access to major roads.
Once on-site, security is key for talent, crew, and equipment, and budgeting for enough security can be overlooked. The event space host can usually provide additional security as needed. And don’t forget to apply for and receive proper permits. Being overly cautious is best since many music video productions improvise and stray a little from the storyboard. It is not uncommon to move to a new, unplanned locations on a whim.
You want to make sure your team is satisfied and fully energized all day long. This will keep them upbeat for more consistent performances. Healthy food is always best, and when possible, nothing messy.
Don’t forget about allergies! Label everything correctly so that your crew knows what NOT to eat. You certainly don’t want your main artist to be sent off to the ER with an allergic reaction that could easily have been avoided.
Gear and Gadgets
As for all video shoots, proper gear needs to be considered for all circumstances in all locations. If the entire shoot involves a car chase, use light-weight, smaller cameras with special rigs.
Budget for specialty gear as well. Drone or 360 shots may be necessary for the music video. Each tool has its purpose, so pick accordingly, But be sure not to skimp on audio. While most of this is left up to the re-recording mixer, intros and outros of videos need to match the audio quality of the entire piece.
Wardrobe and Makeup
You want to make sure that the artist is dressed in a manner that's in line with the music video's overarching tone. You must be on the same page as both the talent and wardrobe and makeup departments to make sure each shot fits your vision. Clothing can and should function as an extension of the visual story for your video. Asking basic questions like, “How often will wardrobe changes be needed?” in various locations can easily be overlooked.
Keeping the “artist” in mind and making sure you stick to the story will be the best guideline during edits. Avoid stock footage whenever possible.
Depending on the genre, you may want to display live performance shots during choruses but more narrative shots during verses or bridges. Again, this will all depend on the initial story chosen, atmosphere/mood, song tempo, and lyrics. The editors will set the pace of the story, and while the song guides them, be sure they are meeting your original vision in terms of the types of cuts they are implementing. Also, use a secure sharing platform for approval during your edits. Content approval will be much faster than having to burn V1, then V2 on a DVD and send it over.
A few examples below of music videos that made it to the top 10 rankings in 2016:
Beyonce – ‘Lemonade’
Beautiful footage with flashback moments and scenery changes.
David Bowie – Lazarus Heavy
OK GO – Upside Down and Inside Out
Solange – Cranes in the Sky