How to Film a Music Video by Yourself

How to Film a Music Video by Yourself

Hey friends, I’m Ginny Di and today I’m
gonna walk you through how you can make a music video all by yourself. [Singing] Never have
to face a fight alone you see, I’m here to keep their eyes on me. They danced through the day and into the
through the snow that swept through though the hall. Think of all the cons I’ve done
think of all the masquerades I haven’t won. And I dug my axe into the side of her pretty little souped-up pirate ride, carved some dicks into this floating heap I have been making music videos for the
internet for almost a decade now and quite a few of those have been created
almost entirely alone, without a crew or even someone to stand behind the camera
and press the record button. It shows that you don’t need a full production
team in order to create some pretty cool videos, so if you’re interested in doing
that kind of thing, hopefully this video will teach you the basics that you need
to get started. I’m going to specifically talk about music videos here, but a lot
of these principles could also be applied to other kinds of video
productions, too. One more quick note before we start: Throughout this video
I’m gonna talk about free or cheap options and then I’m going to talk about
what you can do if you’re willing to invest a little bit more. In most cases
the free option won’t be the best quality option, but I don’t want
equipment expense to stop people from creating. There’s no shame in starting
with what you have and investing and growing over time when it becomes
feasible for you. Before anything else, you need your actual music. If you’re
going to record your own song as opposed to working with an audio engineer, the
biggest thing that you’ll need is a good microphone. The free option here is to
just use your phone or your computer’s microphone. Most modern smartphones have
a pretty good mic on them these days, and you can download recording apps that
give you a little bit more control over the result. I like the app VoiceRecorder,
that’s one word, for iPhone for recording sound effects or clips when I don’t have
a mic on me. Some gaming headsets may also have a pretty good quality
microphone. You can experiment and see which of the options you already have at
home will deliver the cleanest sound. If you’re willing to spend a little, you can
pick up a good quality USB mic like the Blue Snowball or the Blue Yeti for a
reasonable price. Make sure you get or DIY a pop filter — that’s this — and do a
little self education on how to use the mic properly to get the best quality
sound. As for software, there’s a freeware program called Audacity that’s very easy
to use, supports multi-tracking, and has a pretty functional noise reduction tool.
If you want a more powerful software Adobe Audition is available with a
Creative Cloud subscription for about 20 dollars a month. That’s what I use when I
do any of my own audio recording at home. When I work with Blake, my audio engineer,
he uses Logic Pro. You have a bunch of different options. For most songs, unless
you’re doing something a capella, you will need an accompaniment. You can
accompany yourself on an instrument like the guitar or the ukulele or the
piano, or have a musical friend help you out. If you’re willing to invest a little,
you can pay someone to create an accompaniment track for you. All of my
tracks are created by one of my best friends, Blake Smith. If you would like
him to create an instrumental track for you, I will include his contact
information in the description. I’m sure he’d be happy to send you a quote for
whatever you’re looking for. If you’re doing a parody or a cover, You can also
purchase the rights to a premade karaoke track, but please keep in mind that
whatever rights you purchase need to include the right to modify and
redistribute the track, which is usually a few hundred dollars. If you’re
recording your own vocals over an instrumental track, make sure that the
instrumental is playing in headphones while you record, not out loud where the
mic can catch it. This will ensure that you don’t get a weird echo effect. you can do literally anything for a music video. You can do stop-motion, you can
make a lyrics typography video, you can have dancing, you can do animation, you
can use a drone, you can use stock footage. Some of my favorite music videos
are incredibly simple conceptually, like Tessa Violet’s lyrics video for “Games,”
which is just a single uncut take of her crouching and then eventually dancing in
front of a giant glowing cube, or the music video for “These Bones” by LARP
House, which is just top-down footage of her lying on the grass. In short, there is
no right way to do a music video. The most important thing is to have a plan,
no matter what that plan is. My best music videos are the ones where I had a
complete shot list laid out before filming. The more prep you do up front,
the easier filming will be and the easier editing will be. When I create a
shot list, I usually create a spreadsheet that cites timestamps in the song, lyrics,
what set will be used, the style and width of the shot, and notes on what will
happen in the shot. For example, will I be singing in the shot? Is it an
over-the-shoulder shot, is it a close-up? The more detail you have in your shot
list, the easier it will be to film, because you’ll basically just be going
down a checklist. You can either film in a set that you’ve put together yourself
in your own space, like hanging a backdrop, filming in your house, or
constructing a set, or you can film on location. If you’re filming in a public
location, make sure first that you are allowed to film there. You may need a
permit to film in some public spaces. It’s also important to make sure that
you won’t be getting in someone’s way or they won’t be getting in your way if you
do film in a public space. Once I planned an entire shoot weeks in advance at a public park where I had shot before, and then we
showed up to film and there was a huge yoga in the park event happening and we
had to switch locations last minute and it sucked. Don’t do that to yourself!
You’ll also want to check on things like availability of power, parking, how you’ll
get your equipment there, stuff like that. If you’re going to film on location, it’s
a good idea to visit it before your shoot and check out the space. This is
called location scouting. You can even bring your camera and test out some of
the kind of shots you want just to make sure that they look the way you want. If
you’re filming in your own space, you’ll want to make sure that it is clean and
well lit. You can hang up a backdrop or a film against a solid colored wall for an
easy, clean set. I personally have a collection of photo backdrops that I’ve
bought online that I’ve used for music videos like “Look What You Made Me Do” or
“Take a Hint.” You can also pick up a green screen and use some of the techniques
that I outlined in my partial green screen set video, which I will link in
the cards. The sky’s the limit when it comes to building sets, it just depends
on how much labor you want to put into it. For my Firefly music video, I
hand-painted giant sheets of styrofoam to turn my parents garage into the cargo
hold of a spaceship. Don’t ever be afraid to think big or challenge yourself to
use your resources creatively. When it comes to equipment you can spend
a ton of money, or you can really fly by the seat of your pants and go super
budget-friendly. You get to decide what you want to invest in and what you’re
willing to compromise on while you learn an experiment. I’ll link to a collection
of equipment recommendations in the description in case you’re ready to
invest. The main thing you’ll need in order to film a video is of course a
video camera. If you’re really tight on funds, you can literally use your phone
for this. Some recent smartphones can shoot video in 4k. You’d be really
surprised by what you can achieve with your phone or an inexpensive
point-and-shoot camera. If you want to get fancy, you can get a DSLR that shoots
video. Personally I use the Canon 80D. You’ll want to do your own research on
which camera has the capabilities that you want within a price range that you
can afford. Also, if you’re going to be shooting on your own, a tripod is
absolutely essential. Nearly as important as the camera is the lighting setup.
Unless you’re gonna do all of your shooting in natural light, you’ll need
your own lighting equipment. Footage that’s too dark or that’s grainy because
your camera is compensating for a lack of light is an immediate hallmark of an
amateur. An otherwise great video can be completely ruined by poor lighting,
something that I have learned the hard way before. I’ve turned off my lighting
equipment really fast just to show you what it looks like when I film with the
regular overhead light in my house. Household lighting can be very yellow,
and since it’s usually ceiling mounted, it can also be very unflattering on the
face, creating heavy shadows underneath the eyes. A good place to start is with a
basic continuous lighting kit. This kind of light kit is very common in
photography and usually comes with two or three LED lights with diffusers such
as soft boxes or umbrellas. I use a combination of softbox lights and
sometimes a ring light if it suits the style that I’m going for.
If you plan on having any singing footage in your video, you will also need
some sort of speaker to play your track out loud while you film. You’ll need a
speaker capable of playing your song loud enough that both the camera and the
performer can hear it. You sing along with the track while filming to make
sure that your timing is correct, and then during the editing process you
match up the track with your footage and then mute the video. One of these cheap
Bluetooth speakers is a good investment for this, but you can also play the song
through your phone or your computer. The only risk is that if the volume isn’t
loud enough for both the performer and the camera to hear, it will make editing
a lot more difficult. When it comes time to actually film, make
sure that you give yourself plenty of time. Shooting a video pretty much always
takes longer than you think it will, and shooting your own video takes even
longer. I’ve shot three-minute music videos that take multiple 10 to 12 hour
filming days to shoot. It’s always better to give yourself more time rather than
risk not giving yourself enough. I highly recommend filming a test clip, uploading
it to your computer, and checking it before you shoot your entire video. This
will make sure that you aren’t making a silly mistake that will ruin your entire
video, like shooting with the wrong settings, or shooting with poor lighting.
By that same token, make sure to check in and review your footage regularly as you
shoot to make sure that everything still looks right. Especially when you’re
shooting your own footage, it’s easy to not notice that you have a funny wig
hair sticking up, or a safety pin showing until you’re editing it it’s too late.
It’s a good idea to get at least two good takes of any given shot just to be
safe. If you think you got a good one, go ahead and shoot one more, because you
never know what kind of problems you’re gonna run into later that you didn’t
anticipate or didn’t notice while filming. Finally, once you’re done
shooting, back up your footage immediately. There is no worse feeling
than losing track of an SD card that you need, or worse, accidentally formatting
your card and then realizing that you just lost your footage because you
thought you’d already backed it up. To edit the video you will of course
need some kind of video editing software. I use Adobe Premiere, which you can get
through a Creative Cloud subscription for $20 a month. Sony Vegas and Final Cut
Pro are also popular options. If you’d prefer a free software, you can use
Windows Movie Maker on a PC or iMovie on a Mac. If all you need to do is cut clips
together, the free options will work fine, but a more professional software like
Premiere gives you more control over things like lighting and color
correction and special effects. If you have footage of you singing, you’ll want
to match up the clips with your song track to make sure that your lip
movements are matched up to the song. Hard consonants or sharp beats in the
song are a good place to make sure that everything is in sync. Once you have them
lined up, mute or remove the audio tracks from your video recording, so that the
viewer sees your footage but hears the clean audio from your studio song
recording. How to edit your video will depend a lot on the kind of video that
you’re making. I’d recommend having a few music videos
to inspire you and paying attention to things like how frequently they cut, what
kind of effects they use, etc. Ultimately your main goal should be to cut together
a video that matches the emotional tone of your song and is visually interesting.
Don’t be afraid to show drafts of your video to friends and get feedback on
what is and isn’t working. And it’s totally normal to occasionally need to
film additional footage, usually referred to as “pickup shots,” to fill gaps or to
correct for mistakes in your video. And that’s it! That’s all there is to it, it
is definitely not as scary as it sounds. Like any creative art, the biggest
obstacle is just conquering your fear and trying it. You’ll learn as you go and
your work will improve over time. Hit me up in the comments with any questions
that you might have, and good luck making your own music videos, I can’t wait to
see them! I did it. Vidjas!

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Lessons from a master!! When you're not creating awesomely beautiful artistry, you are sharing your incredible and insightful knowledge of that artistry, to let others begin and grow their own creative ventures!! You will always be one of the most astounding creative forces in any of the artistic realms you operate within!!!

  2. I really could have used this a few weeks ago when I had to do this for my journalism class. Great video none the less though!

  3. Your videos are always amazing! So awesome to hear about what you use and what’s easily accessible to everyone. Thank you!

  4. Thanks, I want to cover some music videos for years and already have some ideas what
    I want to do but not how.
    So, thanks Ginny!

  5. You were one of the reasons I started to making CMVs. Thank you so much for making this video! I can’t wait to use these tips to improve my work in the future 💜💜

  6. Do you have any advice on filming a shot to appear to be a low light environment without compromising video quality like happens when you just film a low light environment?

    I’m wanting to do a music video for a song about Vax offering himself to the Raven Queen which takes place mostly in the Sunken Tomb, which is not exactly a well lit location.

  7. This was such a great video!! I wish that I had this info a few months ago, when I was helping a friend with their music video. It would have turned out so much better! Maybe I can convince them to let me try again, now that I know better lol
    Thanks Ginny!! <3

  8. Thank you for the behind-the-scenes look Ginny! I now have an even greater appreciation for the amount of effort that you and other creators put into producing your videos. 👍

  9. I really enjoyed this video and found it helpful for videos in general, I was considering starting my own YouTube channel. [I know it's not easy and it probably takes more work than raising twins] but anyway you seem like you're fun to hangout with. My question is: What do you do for fun?

  10. Blender is a great free option for editing. It's main focus is 3D modeling but the video editor is better than movie maker


    New hair!!

    I don't need any of this. But it's a Ginny Di video so fuck yeah I'm watching it!

    Also you got new hair! Love it!

  12. Hey Ginny! Thanks so much for this awesome video! This is just what I needed! I've been wanting to film CMVs for years now, but keep running into obstacles.

    If you don't mind, I do have a question! How do you film yourself without a cameraman? The problem I always seem to face in filming is that I can't set up a shot well, because I have to be the subject in the frame and press record at the same time.

  13. Regarding the lighting, do you recommend something picked up at an actual photography store, or is it something I can find on Amazon?

    I’m planning on making videos of Wargaming, and need some lighting for that. I’m wondering if the softboxes/umbrellas like you have in your application will also suit my needs.

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