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Any tips for shooting my first music video?
  • Hi folks,

    I've got a local band interested in shooting a music video or two with me after I showed them some footage I got of a small gig of there's shot handheld live with a single camera.

    I need to flesh it out with them some more, just exactly what sort of things they're looking for but thought it'd be a nice thing to ask if anyone here had any tips about attempting my first one?

    I think we'll be shooting multiple takes with the band miming over the top of a sync track which will be used for the actual audio in the final video. I guess I'm wondering first about the best way to tackle the syncing issue. I'll record with the camera the sound in the room so should be able to here this sync track and sync all the clips to the actual music properly before I start editing... Wondering the best way to go about that tho, obviously can't rely on a clapperboard as such, and when the artists start miming to the track I'll likely hear they're instruments over the sync track so I wonder if having a small bit of un-mimed to music at the front of every take may be the best idea for having something clear to sync with.

    I'll try to edit with FCPX, I guess it's multicam work of sorts, not sure if that update dropped.

    Who knows how it'll go, I look forward to trying, and would greatly appreciate any suggestions from anyone else on here who's more experienced in these matters.



  • 11 Replies sorted by
  • @jimtreats To help both you and the muso's sync at the start of the song try this.

    If the song is say in 4/4 timing record an 8 beat click track (2 bars at the correct tempo) and add the clicks to the beginning of the recorded song. The first bar (4 beats) should allow the band to find sync so that by the start of the second bar they should be on beat and come on right in sync when the playback starts.

    ie 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, Go!

    To ensure everyone is on the same beat during the clicks have someone call out "One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four"

    If you want you can leave out actually saying the last "Four" so you don't cut it too close to the start of playback.

    For visual sync at the start of the playback you could have the drummer tap his sticks together in sync with the click track. The singer could nod or click their fingers in sync with the click track. The guitarist could nod or tap his plectrum on his guitar body etc.

  • @pundit That is a good advice, but in my experience, @jimtreats It is not that hard to sync everything afterwards. If you are not familiar with instruments and how and where each note or part or riff is played, have someone from the band with you at the first editing stage, where you sync all takes to the song. He or she will help you a lot, since musicians generally do recognize their way of playing each part. In that setup, one camera, a band, low budget, not much time and/or experience, probably, before the half of the shooting you'll be running to get anything good, capturing good shots, angles, last thing you'd think about is sync. Best advice is to try to get most out of the band, expressions, energy. Don't bother them with counting before each take, let it go, the part where you scrub thru footage you can't escape anyhow.

  • On the music videos I've done, we've just rolled playback, and let the artist mime. With dozens of cuts, it's actually simple to sync everything we need with a tool like PluralEyes, which was recently bought by Magic Bullet's creator I believe.

    More important is to capture the personality of the musicians, and have them do something interesting. It's more compelling to see humor or art in motion, even if the sync is a little off.... people are very forgiving if you entertain them.

  • Thanks everyone for the great advice.

    When i said syncing originally i'd meant me syncing the footage to the sync track, i'd not even thought about helping the performers to start at the right time to start miming with the sync track.

    Agreed with it all being new, we'll just try to keep things light and get some natural reactions, and emotion. It's going to be fun, whenever we do it.. fingers crossed i'll get something reasonable, if not spectacular :)

    Also helpfully FCPX does now have nice multicam support so that side of things should be a little easier.

  • Take the microphone away from the singer.... they have a tendency to hide behind them & you'll have to throw out half your shots as a mic tends to create a "disconnect" with the viewer.

    Sure, they'll bitch & moan, but show them some footage & you'll win them over.

  • ...also, make sure the guitar players are playing to the camera & not staring at their fretboards. I made a serious mistake last year & had to pretty much throw out an entire music video because it just screamed "College band."

  • Two things for a music video: use a camcorder with IS, zoom, face, exposure and focus tracking, and don't blow the highlights.

  • FCP X's sync works really well, too. Take the video clip and separate or de link the audio from it, then select the clean audio file along with the video and hit sync.

  • Music is easy if it's written. Then you can do just a minimal storyboard and represent your shotlist on the sheet along with the music, chords or even words.

    Do just a few storyboard drawings to represent shot-sizes.

    Next you can just use different colour felt pens to represent Camera A, B, C as parallel lines on the music or chart.

    You can discuss with the musicians, publicists what to watch out for in terms of instrument close-ups, singer face & body movements &c. Or you can do a single take, discuss what you missed and rewrite the shotlist for retakes.

    Some coloured lines will represent external vision.

    You can do a multi-cam one-shoot live, or single camera multi-take mime.

    Even if you have little time to prepare you can set up a multi-camera shoot and shoot for full-cover.

    It's the easiest shoot you can master. Have fun!

  • With multicam, don't even think of doing it without a start and end clapper, start to finish.

    Else "I'll come around to your houses and rip your bloody arms off."

  • I've tested a number of sync methods and IMHO they are basically responsible for what I consider a widespread problem of stuff being slightly outta sync. OK, most ppl can't tell the difference. True of many things. Just like color correction, you need to bump it a bit like a pinball machine to correct for in cam offsets, cam drift, clock drift, and distance where one frame is more or less 24 feet. Fact is, even in a multimillion dollar movie, there are often places where the sync is off. And here's what it takes to fix this problem: skill and patience. As many have noted, the clapper, or a disguised version, like a drummer (good idea), or tapping on the microphone, whatever, will greatly improve the final product and cut down on post time. But it still has to be synced.