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Old May 30th, 2010, 09:19 PM   #1
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Can Someone Please Explain What Makes a Good Music Video?

I should first say that I never understood music videos, I never enjoyed them and I never watched many of them. My impression of most of them was that they were just trying to flash enough images on the screen so that someone with a 10 second attention span would sit through a 3 minute song. Some of them actually told a story, most of them didn't.

But now I've been "hired" to make one. They have realistic expectations: a few shots from a live concert, a few from a studio rehearsal, and a few wandering around in an aspen grove. I can string them together and dub in the song and we'll have a video.

But that seems really shallow. And while I tend to believe that most videos are really shallow, I'd like to think that I can go at least one step up. I just haven't much of a clue how to do that.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 10:07 PM   #2
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Let me tell you a story.

In the mid-90s, a respected, artistic, film-maker from town was hired to direct a video for a Top-10 band which was making a video for MTV.

He said when the studio heads got on the scene, all they seemed to be concerned about was would there be enough cars and tits. Whatever the story- fine. Just get those cars and tits in there.

I doubt much has changed in the mainstream. They have their expectations.

This film-maker did the job, and managed their concerns along with his- but he did not go on to do more MTV videos. His choice, he chose another path.

I'd say the song and a story is the most important thing. Depending on how corporate the gig is, however, the requirements will change….

Music video, at the dawn of MTV, was very creative and compelling. As it got very popular, the videos were homogenized. That's not to say that today there aren't great videos. Take, for instance, MGMT's video of "Time To Pretend." I guess- consider the audience.

I think, to "step it up", it will be important to tell a story with your video within the constraints of the job. I know this a tangent and philosophical, but hopefully it helps somewhat.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 03:48 PM   #3
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Hello Ivan Jasper.


Well im still a rooky, but i had my share of experience in making and editing video's where trough out all of the video were music playing. Its basically the same thing . Video with music- Music video.

To make a good music video you need to have good shoots, and i wont tell you how to do that. Since your working in this field i assume you know how to get good shots/from which angle etc.
But u better make plenty of shoots so you have some to choose from at each location .

But wherry important thing is that you sync the video with music. They both have to match in some degree. for example you cant have a fast paced video with wherry slow paced song. It might work , but the correct editing needs to be applied, and its hard to get done . And its good that your Video has the same rythm as the music . Meaning , try to make transitions in video sync with transitions in Music( change of mood in music/rythm/ new point of view in the song/ you be the judge.)


When you watch your footage and you feael that some shots are more dramatic than others, place them in editing line so that they match with some dramatic part of the song. If the singer sings something that is relavent to the Video your shooting . Like "example" singer sings "We all survived" in one part of the song and you flash some war veterans standing and saluting to their flag . I hope you get the point.


Video needs to be dynamic . Its really hard to explain , you have to see the video and "Kinda" feel it and understand where to put the exact footage matching the best part of the song it can .

And if you will place ur Video clips so, it will feel like your telling a story .But if you will fail at it , it might come across as a boring footage , and it will seam that you had to fill 3 minutes of song with some random video clips.

Be creative and know ur footage. 2 enemies of a good design is Boredom and confusion. Take that in notice as well.


Hope you found something useful in this.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 08:08 PM   #4
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I'm afraid you're attempting an impossible job.

You will try to work on something you have "never understood, never enjoyed, never watched" - can you imagine a xyz (any sports here, or any type of job) player/worker with this kind of history/attitude going on the field or job site and doing a good job playing or working? This is the kind of thing you are attempting.

Might be more fair both for you and the client to simply say: thanks but no thanks, it's not my cup of tee.

No offense please, ultimately it's your decision, and my two cents...
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Old June 1st, 2010, 06:19 AM   #5
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Nah , i think he should go for it . Maybe have a talk with the service buyer, and let him know that this is not rly your field of work . But that you will see what you can do .

But ye, if ur not planing to invest in this particular order ur effort into making it good i would recommend you to back out.

But other than that, you cant rly gain experience differently. And ppl do learn the most from their mistakes. From mistakes that hurt and actually influence your life.


But if you do talk to the buyer about this issue offer him a lover cost for this service . He will appreciate it.


Way the job yourself. If to much is on the line then yes, back out.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 09:11 AM   #6
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Ivan,I also think you should go for it. Get lots of footage, lots of angles. I am assuming that this is a one song deal. Before shooting listen to the song gazillion times. Memorize the melody, understand the lyrics, feel the song in your bones... that will make the shoot easier. Be creative. When shooting their live concert don't do it with one camera, take at least 3. Play with your shots. When shooting rehearsals don't be afraid to ask the band to play the song one and more times. Doesn't have to be the whole song, ask them for certain parts, places where you can place your camera and shoot just that ONE second of the drums or the guitar, etc. Get lots of closeups. Before shooting, if possible, sit with the band and talk about their feelings towards that song. They should be able to give you good ideas as to the mood and the story they want to tell through the song. Finally, when you sit to edit it take your time and enjoy it.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 09:41 AM   #7
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Do Your Homework: Look at a Lot More Videos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan Jasper View Post
I should first say that I never understood music videos, I never enjoyed them and I never watched many of them. My impression of most of them was that they were just trying to flash enough images on the screen so that someone with a 10 second attention span would sit through a 3 minute song. Some of them actually told a story, most of them didn't.
Hi Ivan,

I'd have to say that your impression of music videos is not entirely correct. For practical intents and purposes, the music video is a 30-year old art form. In the 80's most music videos told a story of some type or another (Thriller, I'm Bad, Hungry Like the Wolf, etc.) or tried to convey what the song was about much differently from more current videos.

You are correct, most new videos are trying to convey an energy level or a feeling using a variety of techniques, but that does not mean you have to do it the same way. You can do an "80's style" video or look at the different genres of music and see how they do it. Concert videos, booty-shakin' videos, story videos, etc.

Or you can just do it your way. But I think the smart thing to do is find out what the client wants from this video because you don't have a signature music video style that they are specifically hiring you for.

Immerse yourself in videos of all different types of music styles from the past 3 decades for a couple of days at least, maybe even a week, and also pay close attention to videos that use the same kind of music style as your client and you'll do fine.

I hope this helps.

Ken
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Old June 1st, 2010, 09:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan Jasper View Post
I should first say that I never understood music videos, I never enjoyed them and I never watched many of them. My impression of most of them was that they were just trying to flash enough images on the screen so that someone with a 10 second attention span would sit through a 3 minute song. Some of them actually told a story, most of them didn't.

But now I've been "hired" to make one. They have realistic expectations: a few shots from a live concert, a few from a studio rehearsal, and a few wandering around in an aspen grove. I can string them together and dub in the song and we'll have a video.

But that seems really shallow. And while I tend to believe that most videos are really shallow, I'd like to think that I can go at least one step up. I just haven't much of a clue how to do that.

What makes a good music video - is someone who CARES about making a good music video.

If you do - you might.
If you don't. You won't.

End of story.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 02:23 PM   #9
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In general that sums it up . :)
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Old June 1st, 2010, 03:18 PM   #10
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I didn't take your question as expressing disdain for the format but rather as asking for help on something you've never worked on before.

The question about what makes a music video "good" is really a question about "good for what?" What does the band want, who is the audience for the video and how is the video going to be watched?

Ken suggested looking at a lot of music videos. I'd suggest asking the band if they have any music videos they like. Does the band just want a music video so they can say they have one or maybe they have some specific purpose in mind. If you look at some of their favorite examples, you may be able get an idea of what and how the band thinks they want to showcase themselves. If they have an idea. Maybe they don't. Maybe you need to help them focus on what they want.

Is this video going to be something for the band's website? If so, people are going to be looking at it in tiny computer windows where detail gets lost and the music playback fidelity can be next to nil, which may have some bearing on what and how you shoot. What is good for full screen Blu-Ray may be completely incoherent in a small You Tube window on a computer with teeny low-fi speakers.

Maybe this this going to be a demo DVD for the band to send around to get club dates? Or is it something for local broadcast, say on Montana PBS? What kind of band is it?

With you being in Billings and mentioning some shots "wandering around in an Aspen Grove," it sounded like it might be a string band or one of the local country/rock/western bands who want to hang out and play in an aspen grove on the way up Beartooth Pass. But maybe they've got actors or somebody else that they want to have wandering the aspen trees? So, is the song about landscapes or something else? It it fast paced or slow, or both?

You mentioned studio shots and live concert shots, as well, and dubbing in the audio. That sounds like the video is supposed to be about the band. How are you getting that audio? Will the band be handing you concert recordings and studio tracks? Or are you going to be recording them while you shoot in the studio and concerts? Does the Band wants to hand you studio tracks and have you add concert energy on some shots (which could require some fancy audio intercutting). Maybe the band just wants images of them playing specific parts of the song in concert? Maybe there's something in the song about this?

Again, these all go back to whether you will be showcasing the band, the song, or something else.

Is the audio going to be stereo or surround sound? (An unvarying surround mix can be disorienting where you've got concert shots from widely different angles and locations).

None of these questions are intended to demean you or suggest you shouldn't try this project. They are intended to help you find a style for this video and a "hook" for it. Just as most popular songs have a hook, so also you need a hook or theme to make your music video into something visually and audially coherent.

As with all short video forms, you need to find a thematic coherence that should drive everything else -- pacing, images, audio. Are you trying to show a band that has a good song that they really enjoy playing? If the video is about the band performing, then stitching together studio, concert and outdoor shots with audio dubs may be just what you --- and they --- need. What will make the video good will be how well the images convey the band's personality as they play. Do the aspen tree scenes contribute to this or can they be shot to do so?

Pablo and Gustavs had good advice about technical aspects. You really do need to know the song before you start. Lots of footage during concerts gives you a lot to work with which can be very helpful when you are trying to show something about the band. Multiple cameras are really good for concert shots. (Use a camera flash as a synch pulse for synchronizing your camcorder tracks). Matching cuts to audio beats is important as is picking appropriate transitions when you use transitions. For example, slow dissolves are not good for most hard driving sounds (unless you are using them to, say, layer an image of a guitarist in the studio over a wide shot of the band on stage at a concert.

Ultimately, the important thing is having a coherent idea of what the video is supposed to show. There has to be a story even if it is as simple as showing the band having a good time playing the song.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 04:43 PM   #11
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A lot of music videos are based on fairly random montage editing techniques but unlike other types of experimental montage they often rely on repetition so the same shots or very similar shots can be used over and over in a similar way and corresponding to the music itself which uses repetition of melody, rhythm, harmony etc. It can work well but can also seem rather meaningless. Narrative based videos try a different approach but the stories are often so impoverished as to seem trite so I prefer the former style. Whatever the approach a really successful video enhances the music rather than seeming like a pointless addition or just as bad, can be a lot more interesting than the music!

Easy to say of course.

Some of those early Beatles' films are great despite their zany amateurishness and I love this 60s Pink Floyd film:

YouTube - pink floyd arnold layne
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 08:53 PM   #12
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Wow, thanks. As I said, their expectations are realistic. I'm trying to learn to work in format that I have never understood, simply as an exercise to see what I can learn from it. So far there seems to be some pretty good advice for it.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 01:36 AM   #13
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When I'm heading into a music vid shoot, I like to

- really feel out the song
- get to know the band as best I can and what they intended from the song itself
- have a list of experiments I've been wanting to mess with

From there I can start to form a picture or starting point and build it up.

You get to tell a 3 to 4 minute story and when you shoot, you dont have to worry about good sound :) I think they are completely addicting to work with and I tend to lean back towards the earlier video style where I want to make sure there is a good story or theme running.

Dude, dont try to copy whats out there, do your own thing. Thats the whole point of them. You have greats that totally get that like Schofield, Gondry, Jonze. Get inspired however you can open up. Its one of the closest things to making art where you get paid. Getting paid isn't much of a factor these days either - so make something you really want to shoot for.

Search on Vimeo for FM Belfast - Underwear. Theres a couple guys doing something without much cash and killing it.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 12:59 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Lars McCall View Post
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Let me tell you a story.

In the mid-90s, a respected, artistic, film-maker from town was hired to direct a video for a Top-10 band which was making a video for MTV.

He said when the studio heads got on the scene, all they seemed to be concerned about was would there be enough cars and tits. Whatever the story- fine. Just get those cars and tits in there.
That's absolutely so true!

Here's a MTV Music Video I did in 1988 (I used to shoot a LOT of music videos in those days) for The Ventures: YouTube - The Ventures "Wipe Out '88" - it will give you an idea of what the record label exec's wanted, and how I was trying to push the envelope on MTV content.

Funny that this video was first rejected because MTV did not see the parody in it, but they later changed their minds. And to think I was only worried about the T&A scenes.

That's Rodney Bingenheimer (from KROQ) and his totally stock GTO at the beginning of the video.

Even crazier, is the MTV ran the clip that is on YouTube "as is" (and in prime time), but YouTube makes you sign in to view it.
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