DIY music video production tips from three independent artists

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Behind-the-scenes of a DIY music videoA glimpse behind-the-curtain of three DIY music videos

Between CD Baby and Illustrated Sound (CD Baby’s new YouTube network), we hear from lots of artists who’re releasing cool-looking music videos.

Every so often I’ll share a handful of standouts along with comments from the artist or director about the video production, in hopes that it might inspire or inform your next music video project.

As you watch these, it’s worth remembering that just because you’re a do-it-yourself musician, it doesn’t mean you can’t work with pros when it comes to any aspect of your video production: videography, editing, set design, etc.

So, let’s take a look. Below the embedded videos are comments from each of the artists about the shoot.

“I didn’t actually have a well thought out plan. My best music video efforts have come from not planing too much ahead. What I DID have (which I think is key) is a very real and communicable FEELING at the heart of the video.

I had a brand new Canon 70D that a videographer friend had recommended as a low-level pro camera. Several people who love me pooled together to get it for me for Christmas. Love love love it.

I knew I wanted to release a video for my officially released cover of “You Belong to Me.” For me it was about how much I missed my kids on tour. So I took my kids to a cool location, filmed us hanging out. Filmed me driving to and from the location by rigging the camera in place in the passenger seat. Filmed me coming into a venue nearby. Caught little touching bits of me with the kids at home doing our normal thing.

I simply kept my mind open (for a few days) catching little snippets of things around the house, formulating the storyline better.

Then I loaded it all into iMovie. The key to good editing, if you ask me, is short snippets. BUT you also need to make sure it doesn’t feel too sporadic, unless you are going for that feeling. So you need to make sure there is continuity in storyline and visual elements. I recommend no more than 4 different theme/scene setups. And be very clear what each section of the video is communicating on an emotional level. For example, the music video I’m working on right now has this emotional story line: SHAME – DESIRE – LIBERATION – FREEDOM – BLISS. It’s a pretty classic storyline. But the clearer I am about each scene’s emotion, the more people can be carried along.

And there should always be a goosebumps moment: a plot twist or just impressive-looking moment that hits people in the heart and/or gut.

You’ve got this, guys. Go make something inspiring. Go make something that changes the world.” – Alyse Black

“Nowadays you have to know a little bit about everything. Gone are the days when you’re just a writer, vocalist, etc. When it comes to video production, the first thing is to plan out your ideas. Then start scouting for locations in your area.

If you’re working with a small budget or none at all there’s a lot of places that are visually appealing and free to use if you look hard enough. A lot of times there is a great location but the problem is it’s a business, like a storefront. You could easily ask the owner of the business if you can shoot there and in exchange they get free promotion of their place.

If you need extras, get your friends and family involved.

The biggest cost is the shooting and editing of the video. We would recommend to buy your own equipment because it will save you lots of money in the long run. If you’re serious about music, take the time to learn simple editing and video production skills. Learn the basics of lighting and framing the camera correctly. This will make you and your band self sufficient. Or the other option, find a film student that wants to build up their portfolio by shooting your videos.” – Kinto Sol

“My process is pretty simple. It starts with the music and really focusing on putting together the album you want to drive. For me this is the easiest par,t as I produce and engineer all my own music.

Then you have to figure out what your budget is for the project — marketing, merchandise, videos etc. Once the music and body of work is complete and the budget is established I focus on what the singles will be.

After that is decided you have to figure out who the director is going to be for your visuals. I started by looking at visuals from my peers and who they were using locally. I found that in Portland, Oregon, Tim Slew of Soundlapse media was the best fit for what I wanted to present to the world.

Next starts the meetings with the director to give him or her an overview of your vision for each song. For my song “5 Letters” I really wanted to tell a story around us doing better, but I wanted to keep it somewhat upbeat as well.

Once we decided on the direction of the video we scouted locations and after location selection was made we drew out a timeline for each scene. The final piece is to schedule the shoot and figure out all of the extra pieces you need like extras, props etc.” – InfinitRakz

For more tips on making a music video, check out:

6 tips to creating a no-budget music video

A glimpse behind the curtain of four independent music videos

Got any music videos or tips on video production you’d like to share? Leave a link and your comments below. Want to take your YouTube channel to the next level? Check out CD Baby’s Illustrated Sound Network.

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