March 6, 2021

10 Tips To Shooting Cinematic Music Videos

(intense music) – Hey, how's it going? Parker Walbeck here withFulltimefilmaker.

com and today I am joined by ournewest team member, Nick Sales.

Nick specializes in shooting music videos.

And together we are going tobe giving you our top 10 tips to shooting cinematic music videos.

Now quick background, about eight years ago before I even got into video production, I originally wanted toget into music production.

Which naturally led me to makemusic videos for that music, which then led me to discoverthat I was actually better at shooting video thanI was at making music.

And even though I still havea great passion for music, I do recognize that Iwasn't nearly as talented in music as I am in video.

So I pivoted my passionsand pursued video.

But I do still love making music videos and in fact it's probablymy favorite genre of video to shoot, however, I only shoot a few a year.

As you guys know I shoot awide variety of video content.

But Nick here shoots around80 music videos a year, and is one of the best music videographers that I personally know.

For the past severalyears, he's been making over six figures a yearshooting music videos around the world.

And since he's been killing itin the music video industry, today he's gonna be helpingme reveal our top 10 tips to shooting cinematic music videos.

Also, just FYI, this videois one of 50 plus tutorials in a new mini course that we put together called Music Video Pro that dives into everythingyou need to know to make a career out of music videos.

This new mini course isincluded in Full Time Filmmaker, but we're also gonna beselling it separately for those who wanna focusjust on music videos.

And we'll talk more aboutthat at the end of this video.

But let's go ahead anddive into our top 10 tips.

Tip number one is buying the right gear and renting the better gear.

Nick, what has been yourexperience with renting gear that you can't quite afford yet? – Well, when I started myproduction company three years ago I had just come from acompany where we were shooting with high end RED cinema cameras.

But as someone who juststarted his own business, I didn't have any of theright gear to make the type of music videos that I knew I could.

And there's no way that Icould a RED camera right off the bat.

However, I wanted to be knownfor someone who had the best production value possible, soI decided to rent RED cameras for every music videothat I shot for six months until I could afford one myself.

I believe you can makean awesome music video with any camera and in thecourse Parker has a video showing you how he shot acinematic looking music video using just his iPhone handheld in his living room.

So by no means do you need expensive gear, but my clients knew theproduction value they were getting when I would rent a REDand it made me stand out from the other videographers in my area.

Which made it so that thoseclients chose me over others for future music videos.

So my first tip would be to use whatever you can afford at first but as you start landingpaying jobs to use part of your clients budgetto rent some nicer gear to help separate yourproductions from others.

I'll often spend part of my budget on hiring a lighting technician to bring in some nice lighting set ups, which also helps take myvideos to the next level.

And though you can use aphone in your living room like Parker has proven, ifyou wanna be take seriously by clients and expectthem to invest in you by paying you big budgets, youbetter be willing to invest in some nicer gear yourself.

A RED camera is gonnabe a stretch for most, I understand that, but there'ssome great options out there for professional quality in cameras.

Like the Blackmagic 6K, the Canon 1D X Mark II, or a Canon EOS R.

To go along with the solid camera body, a great all-purpose lensthat we both often use is the Canon 24-70mm f/2.

8 lens.

Allowing you to get bothtight and wide shots at a shallow depth of fieldwithout having to switch out the lens.

For drone shots we use the Phantom 4 Pro and the Mavic 2 Pro, both great options.

And of course we'll alwaysrecommend a good stabilizer to go along with your camera.

And the one that we recommend the most is the Glidecam HD-PRO.

– Shooting with quality equipmentis important to be looked at as a professional and beingable to charge high prices.

But it won't make a differenceif you haven't mastered how to use that equipment.

We often run into filmmakers who want to become professionals but hardly ever go out and shoot anything.

And I'm not talking about fouror five videos, I'm talking about dozens of videos, hundreds of videos.

You have to put in repetitionto improve as a filmmaker.

The main reason why Nick hasgrown so much as a filmmaker is because he's shooting around80 music videos a year.

He's constantly learning from his mistakes and improving the quality of his videos.

I'm constantly being hitup by students asking me why they aren't landing paying clients, they just can't seem to get hired, or they're not able tocharge as much as they want.

And 90% of the time the reasonis because they haven't put in enough time to mastering their skills.

They haven't shot enough, they haven't practiced enough.

And when first starting out, I understand that it's intimidating toattempt shooting anything but you have to get overyour insecurities and realize that the first few videosthat everyone shoots are always pretty terrible.

But that's the only way to improve.

I look back at my firstfew music videos I shot and I am horrified.

But with every music video Ishot I learned something new, got a little better, andthrough perseverance I was able to go from shooting dumbmusic videos with my friends to getting hired by The Piano Guys.

But The Piano Guys never would've found me had I not shot hundredsof videos before that to get my video skill set tothe point where I was worthy of their music.

So get out there andshoot and start learning from your mistakes right now.

– And as a byproduct ofputting in time and the work, tip number three is tohave a killer demo reel.

This is the most commonthing that I see lacking with people who wannaget into this industry.

Your future clients wantto see what your capable of and the quality of videothat you can make for them.

So do everything youcan to build a portfolio that shows your best work.

These are the shots withgreat movement, composition, lighting and the shots thatconvey an emotion in the viewer.

If you don't have these typesof shots in your demo reel yet go out and shoot music videosfor free with the intent of adding those shots to your demo reel.

Don't waste your timeshooting anything mediocre.

If you're shooting something for free, make sure that it'syour absolute best work.

Keep your demo real shortand keep it engaging.

Anywhere from one to two minutes is ideal.

As your skills improve andas you upgrade your gear make changes to your demoreel to keep it current and to show your best work.

For me, I release a new demoreel every year showcasing the best shots from that year, as well as a master demo reel that has a compilation of the best shots from the three years that I'vehad my production company.

I owe so much of mysuccess to my demo reel.

Remember these tips, implementthem into your reels, and I process that they willhelp you to find clients.

And we have a whole videoinside of Music Video Pro that talks more in depth on how to create a killer demo reel.

– Moving on now to tipnumber four is networking.

Get to know everyone inyour local music industry.

With music videos, as with mostvideo, who you know is just as important as what you know.

Find the people in your areawho are shooting music videos and offer to assist themon their shoots for free.

Reach out to musicians in yourarea and get to know them.

Reach out to recording studios and make sure they know who you are and that you shoot video, because they have artists intheir studios almost every day asking if they know anyonewho shoots good music videos.

So if you've built a goodrelationship with them and they trust you as aprofessional videographer they will likely recommend you tomany of their artists.

And make sure to have your demo reel done so that you can sendthat to all those people we just mentioned.

This is probably the secondmost important element to landing paying clientsafter mastering your skills and having a portfolio, is networking with people and building relationships.

Most of our businessinquiries come from people either stumbling across our demo reels or they were recommended to us by someone who knew us and trusted us toshoot quality music videos.

So don't underestimate the importance of building relationships.

– Once you've landed aclient, tip number five is to pre-plan the shoot.

We often get askedabout our pre-production and story boardingprocess for a music video.

We both start by doing the same thing.

Listen to the song about 20 times and just visualize what imagescould accompany that music to best bring out the emotion that the song is trying to convey.

What location would match the music? What type of lighting? What type of camera movement? What lenses would you need to use for said locations and movements? What extra gear or peoplewould you need to bring on to make your vision come together? What kind of story mightyou be able to include as B-roll to the artistperformance footage? This process takes time.

Several hours, sometimes evendays to premeditate all the visuals in your head whileyou listen to the music and write down your thoughtsuntil you have solid idea of how you want to film the video.

If the song is slow andbeautiful, I usually visualize in my head lots of slowmoving smooth Glidecam shots.

If the song is upbeat and poppy, than I usually visualizequicker moving shots that have more energy to them.

Listening to the songdozens of times beforehand will also allow you toknow it well enough to know what parts are coming up inthe song as you're filming so you know how to best film those parts so you aren't wasting timeon say learning the emotion of the song.

If you're filming a choreographed dance, make sure you ask thedancers to send you a video of what the dance looks likeso that you can watch that 20 times as well to know everymovement the dancers make, to best know how to track themwith you camera movements.

If you're filming aB-roll story with actors, make sure you have thelocation scouted out, the costumes ready to go, and a shot list of whatshots you plan on putting to which parts of the song.

These few hours or daysof preparation will make all the difference in how thefinal music video turns out.

And we go more in depthabout this in the course, but hopefully this givesyou some good ideas.

– Once you have your shootpre-planned, now let's give you some tips for the actual shooting process.

Tip number six is camera settings.

Settings for musicvideos are pretty similar to other styles of video.

We recommend shootingin 4k for best quality and the ability to digital zoom and post, but 1080p can work just fine too if that's all you can afford.

For frame rate, we usuallyshoot all the performance shots at 24 frames per second.

Unless we want that dreamy look, then sometimes we'll speedup the music up to 250% and shoot everythingat 60 frames per second and then slow that footageback down to 24 frames in post, which will match up will match up with the normal songspeed and make it look like they're singing in realtime even though everything is slowed down.

As for shutter speed, we recommend shooting at twice your frame rate, which for 24 frames persecond would be 1/50th.

For aperture we likeshooting at a low aperture like 1.

4 or 2.

8 to give usthat shallow depth of field.

But for wider shots wherewe're showing off more of a landscape or a group ofpeople we'll pump that aperture up to around an eight or a 16 so that you can get more in focus.

For ISO you generally wannaget that as low as possible so you don't introduce toomuch noise into your image.

And white balance is just gonna depend on your lighting environment.

But typically for outside daylight, you're gonna be around 5600k.

– Once you've go your settings dialed in, a tip number seven is composition.

This is a huge part to makingyour images look professional.

Great composition startswith a great location.

So like we mentioned, makesure to take some time before the shoot to findan aesthetic location that matches the emotion of your video.

And then as you're shootingin that great location, make sure to remember the rule of thirds.

This rule states thatyour subject should be in one of the thirdson the screen depending on what direction they're facing.

Make sure that theireyes are on the top third and remember to not givethem too much head room.

This is the most common mistake that I see with new videographers, isthat they give their subject too much head room and theyforget to have their eyes on the top third.

The second thing to knowwith the rule of thirds is to have your subject onthe left or the right third depending on which way they're facing.

If they're facing to the right, have them on the left third.

And if they're facing to the left, have them on the right third.

If they're lookingstraight into the camera and their bodies aresquared up facing forward then just frame them inthe center of the frame.

This takes practice keeping clean framing through entire takes, but it's crucial to making your imagesfeel professionally shot and well composed.

– And as an importantelement of composition, tip number eight is lighting.

Lighting can make or break a music video.

You can follow all thetips we've just given but if your lighting sucks then your video is gonnalook pretty armature.

So if you're outside, typicallythe best time to shoot is during golden hour, whichis the hour before sunset or the hour after sunrise.

And when deciding which direction to shoot you usually wanna make surethe sun is behind your subject to keep an even soft lighton your subjects face and to have a nice backlight to work with to introduce sun flares.

And it can help to have anextra body and a reflector handy to help reflect some ofthat sunlight back on to your subject so thatyou don't have to blow out your background too much.

But we've both shot plenty of music videos without the luxury of a reflector.

And you can still produce beautiful looking images without one.

And if you're shootingindoors, we recommend that you turn off allthe fluorescent lighting and then bring in your own lighting so that you can chose the amount of light and the direction of light tomake it look more cinematic.

Your back log is probablyyour most important light for music videos.

And then once you set upyour back light you can set up a key light to put some filllight back on your subject.

Soft light produced bysoft boxes creates light that looks most flatteringfor the human face and harsh light produced byspot lights create lights that look a lot more dramaticas it creates more shadows.

So depending on if you'regoing for more of a beauty shot or for more of a dramatic shot will depend on whether you choose soft orhard light for your key light.

And again we have fullvideos on the course talking about lighting more in depth.

But point is, don't skip on lighting.

It can make or break your video.

– Moving on now to tip number nine is to make camera movementsthat match the feeling of the music.

If the song is a slow, beautiful love song, the camera movementsshould be slow and smooth on a Glidecam, or a motorized gimbal.

Or for even slower songs with super slower movements, sometimes sliders.

For super slow songs, you caneven just do a static shot without any movement.

Although Parker and I bothfeel that adding some kind of movement usually helps addto the emotion of the video.

We both typically shootthe types of music videos that cater more towards thesmooth Glidecam-type movements.

And we'll usually put in avariety of push ins, pull outs, parallaxes, and so on.

And as most songs have bothfaster and slower parts within the song, we usuallytry to match the speed of our movements to the tempo of the song.

So for slower parts of the song, we'll slow down the movements.

And for faster moreupbeat parts of the song, we'll make the movements fasterto match the upbeat tempo.

Doing this will better helpthe viewer feel the music and ultimately make themusic convey more emotion.

– And speaking of emotion, tip number 10 is to find ways to tell a story with the video.

The number one goal of story telling is to evoke an emotionalresponse from your viewer.

So you can often gagehow well you told a story by whether or not theaudience felt the emotion you were hoping they would feel.

So as you're pre-planningeach video, ask yourself, what do I want people to feelwhen they watch this video? Or, what message does this song portray? This is the most important part in figuring out what story to tell.

If the song is happy andcarefree, you can create a story that goes along with that.

Or if the song is a love song, then you can start thinking of ideas that will create feelings that would go hand inhand with a love song.

Visualize in your headwhat the shots are going to be looking like before you film it.

This is important not onlyfor the flow of the story but also so you know how the edit will come together as well.

Which is kind of a bonus tip that goes along with storytelling and that is to shoot to edit.

Make sure you cover a variation of camera angles when shooting.

I live by something thatI call the 5 Shot Rule, which means where possible, I try and cover at leastfive different angles when filming an important piece of action.

A wide shot to show the whole location, a long full body shot, a medium shot showing from the waist up, a close up shot which usuallyfocuses just on the face or specific detail.

And then I always try andcapture some cutaway shots or B-roll of a story to piece together with the performance shots.

And to be even more exhaustive, we try and get a least twotakes of each of those angles.

So by giving ourselves a varietyof different camera angles or options to chose fromin the editing room, this allows us morefreedom to tell the story the way we want to, to helpbring out those emotions.

With time crunches onsome shoot schedules, you're not always going to have time to cover that many anglesor to do that many takes.

And so as a minimum, try andget at least two wide takes of the full song, and at least two close uptakes of the full song.

But there you have it guysthat a look at our top 10 tips to shooting cinematic music videos.

Obviously we're justskimming the surface here.

We have full in depth videoson each of these subjects inside Music Video Pro to help you shorten your learning curve and quickly start makingmoney shooting music videos.

– So if you'd like to learnmore, we have over 50 tutorials just like this in the MusicVideo Pro mini course.

This course covers everything, from the knowing the best gear to buy, to in depth camera settings, how to shoot differentgenres of music videos.

Our top five tips and tricksfor shooting music videos.

How to compose a shot.

Our top five favorite musicvideo camera movements.

How to tell stories in music videos.

How to direct musicians and singers.

How to edit and color grid music videos.

Editing tips and tricks.

How to build a demo reel.

How to land and keep clients.

How to make a viral music video.

Figuring our what tocharge for music videos.

Multiple job shadows where youcan see a behind the scenes look on how we operate ondifferent types of shoots.

Also, editing job shadowsto give you a raw look from beginning to end ofhow we edit music videos.

And we'll also be providingRAW footage and Pr Project file to one of our shoots so thatyou can practice editing and see inside the softwareall the discission we've made.

And with your purchaseof Music Video Pro you'll also get 50% off of PLURALEYSwhich is a $300 software that helps you sync up allof your takes to music, saving you hours ofmanually syncing up audio.

And it's a software wehighly recommend to anyone who plans on shootinga lot of music videos.

– Essentially we teach youeverything you that needs to know to get started on your own to eventually make six figuresa year shooting music videos, and work with some of thetop YouTubers and musicians in the world, just like we are currently.

So if you wanna take yourmusic videos to the next level you can sign up for thiscourse by clicking over here.

All our links are also in the description.

We have a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren't fully satisfied.

If you're not gettinggood value out of it, we don't want your money.

And again, yes this is included inside Fulltime Filmmaker as well.

So if you're already amember you have access to it or if you plan on joining the FullUltimate Online Film School, you will have access to it in there.

But that's it, folks.

Hopefully this was helpful to you.

Don't forget to subscribe.

And if you have any furtherquestions, please let us know.

(fist thudding) (intense music) But Nick here shoots about80 wedding videos a year.

– Music videos.

– What did I say? – Weddings.

Oh! (laughs).

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