Research:The music video industry By Lewis Ireland
How are music videos made?You could record a simple music video with just a handheld camera and a smalldesktop computer however for a really professional music video, expensivesoftware and hardware is neccesary.Equipment:• Video Camera• Editing Software (e.g. Sony Vegas/Final Cut Express)• Computer Hardware (MAC if using final cut)• Studio Lights• Green ScreenThe equipment highlighted in bold are the most important and usually require a bitof money to purchase. Getting down to the basics, the camera records the footageyou want to film which can then be uploaded to editing software using a computer.Additional equipment includes studio lights allowing better lighting for footage andgreen screen if you wish to use additional editing software for effects such asAdobe After Effects.Doing all of this on your own will be too difficult and will require some assistance.People will need to be actors in your music video, this could be yourself or othersbut you will need to make sure someone is recording this process. You will need atleast three people to make the task less difficult, any less and you are bound tostruggle.
Production Process• Writing Music Video Treatments• Storyboards• Casting• Location Scouting• Broadcast quality digital video• Editing• Production Insurance• Mastering(In depth in the following slides)
Writing Music Video TreatmentsAt the beginning of every music video project, there is a need to work with the artist to define adesired treatment. A video treatment, also known as video concept, outlines information with regardsto what the music video will be about. Conceptually, a music video could show the artist performingthe song in front of a live audience or by itself; alternatively, a music video can also present a story linewhere certain situations and storytelling takes place. Furthermore, it can also be an experimentalexercise where random images are shown to complement the music in a more abstract way. All ofthese angles constitute the treatment, or concept, of a music video.However, a video treatment goes beyond this exercise of defining the overall direction of the video.The treatment goes down to describe the kind of locations, situations, stories, images, look andfeel, tone and colour, pacing and so on of the music video. Even though most treatment writers dontfollow specific guidelines or structures, a well written treatment is one that can successfullycommunicate complete ideas to artists.We have had the chance to write several music video treatments for several artists where differentideas and angles were presented for them to consider. Also, a video treatment can help with theprocess of creating the production budget where items identified in the treatment are included in thebudgeting process.Summarizing, a music video treatment is the starting point of every project. It allows the productioncompany to communicate its ideas to the artists and it allows artists to make decisions regarding thedirection of their video. The treatment also helps production companies to write production budgetsthat are accurate and that give artists a complete view of what to expect when embarking on theproduction of their music video.
StoryboardsUsually after a music video treatment is approved by either the artist or the record label, the next stepis to create the storyboards. Storyboards are a great medium to help everyone involved in theproduction get a visual understanding of the treatment.Storyboards allow the director to try different approaches to a scene. Storyboards also serve as acommunication tool between the production company and the artist where either party can provideinput or feedback in a more contextual way than if it was only based on a narrative treatment.Another advantage of using storyboards during production is that they are a great time saving tool.Storyboards help keep the process of filming stay focused on pre-planned and pre-determined anglesand takes.Furthermore, everyone involved in the pre-production, production and post-production process canbenefit from storyboards. From actors to camera operators from lighting technicians to producers, fromeditors to wardrobe, makeup and hair stylists. Having a visual reference of what is being filmed andhow it will flow when cut helps everyone work towards a common, organized goal.
CastingCasting is the process of hiring actors to play thecharacters in a script, typically done by a castingdirector, but with some input from adirector, producer, or studio. (Internet Movie Database).Music videos based on the artists performance usuallydont require actors as the only subjects on-screen arethe band members. There are however, situations wherea basic performance video can be complemented withminor appearances from actors helping depict astoryline or simply relationships between people.In more complex storytelling situations, it is important tocast actors that can play the roles in a way that is asrepresentative as possible of those described in thetreatment.In this kind of situations where the success of thestorytelling depends on the actual artistic performanceof the characters, it is essential that the chosen actorscan match the requirements of the role, either naturallyor by training.In summary, storytelling-based treatments will requirethe hiring of actors, preferably with on-screenexperience and that are versatile enough to adapt to therequirements of the roles.
Location ScoutingWhen filming on-location, as opposed to filmingin a controlled studio, there is a pre-productionstep that needs to be taken: location scouting.Typically done by directors in conjunction withdirectors of photography and sometimes lightingtechnicians, location scouting is the process ofselecting a right location for the different scenesof the production.Locations have a significant impact on the finalproduct. They can be either exteriors orinteriors, studios, houses, livingrooms, offices, stores, warehouses, openfields, etc. Every set where the action is filmed, isa filming location.Choosing the right locations is the responsibilityof both the production company and the artists asthe locations need to please the artists as well asserving the technical and creative requirements ofthe treatment as interpreted by the director.
Broadcast Quality Digital VideoWithout getting into the technicalities ofwhat broadcast-quality digital videomeans, it is more effective to concentrateon the practical applications of this formatand what makes it compatible withbroadcast standards.When filming, or taping action using digitalvideo, in most if not all cases, it isimportant to treat the captured footage tomake it compatible with televisionbroadcast standards. Technicallyspeaking, there are certain limitations inthe amount of colour and luminosity thatneed to be respected. For instance, a verybright image or one with over-saturatedcolour can fall outside the acceptedscope, according to NTSC televisionbroadcast standards. This is why it isimportant to do proper treatment to thefootage through colour correction toensure the final product will be broadcast-friendly and therefore considered forbroadcast by television stations.
Editing and ColouringEditing is the most important step during the post-productionworkflow. Without editing, there wouldnt be any cuts andthere wouldnt be any video. After all the footage has beenloaded up into the system, the editor will layer out thesequences on a timeline and will carefully select which part ofwhich sequences will be used to build the final music video.This process takes a fair amount of time and its directlyproportional to the amount of footage shot duringfilming, known as principal photography stage.Once all the shots have been laid out into the timeline, its timeto do some colour correction.The process of colour correction brings a few benefits to thefinal cut. Some of these benefits are:ensure colour found in the selected shots dont exceed thelimits set by broadcasting standards;if desired, increase the consistency of colour throughout thevideo;also if desired, create specific looks for some or all the clips onthe timeline (high contrast, burnt image, saturatedcolours, etc.).Once all the clips that need treatment have been corrected, it isnow time to apply transitions and effects.Transitions are used to join two clips together. Some of themost commonly used transitions are cross dissolve, dip tocolour dissolve and fade-in and fade-out. Different transitionshave different "meanings" in the language of filmmaking. Forinstance, cross dissolves can be used to cut between action inpresent time and a flashback scene. On the other hand, fadescan be used to express that a longer period of time has passedbetween the situations depicted in the joint clips.Once all the clips have been cut, colour corrected and smoothlyjoint together using cuts and transitions, it is time to master thetimeline.
Production InsuranceWith every video production, theres a risk foraccidents, loses or other inconveniences that may ruinassets that are either irreplaceable or very expensive toreplace. There are also other cases where dangerous stuntsor handling of potentially dangerous elements are requiredduring production. In these situations it is very importantthat the production company provides insurance to cover forthese potential inconveniences. In some cases, when rentingexpensive motion picture equipment, it is a requirementfrom the company renting the equipment that this iscovered by production insurance.The cost of production insurance works in a similar way toany other insurance policy. It depends on the conditions inwhich the production will take place from the location to thestunts, weather conditions, cost of equipment, third partyliability, and so on.There are cases where productions are executed in a verycontrolled environment and where recreating assets in caseof loss may not be as expensive. In such cases, it may beokay to not get a production insurance policy as it may endup being more affordable to cover the costs of redoing thanto pay for a policy that after all, may not even be needed.
MasteringJust like in music recording, mastering is the process of "flattening" all the effects, colourcorrection, transitions, and other effects into a format that can be distributed for broadcast.Mastering also includes making sure that audio levels are in the right place and that the finalversion is technically compliant with the rules of broadcasting.There are a several formats in which music videos can be mastered. Here are a few:Betacam SP: This format has been around for a while in television and most television stationswill require this format in order to broadcast your content. An alternative to Betacam SP isDigiBeta, which is its digital counterpart.DVD: This format is one of the most convenient formats when looking at distributing copies ofthe video to a lot of recipients. It is relatively cheap to reproduce and most people can watchit. The DVD format is also very popular when submitting films to festivals as it is cheaper tomail given its compact size.MiniDV: This format is great for maintaining a master which can later be used as the source tomake duplications. MiniDV is a digital video tape that delivers much higher quality than aDVD, thus making it more appropriate for master.VHS: This format has been around for a very long time and most people have access to a VCRthat can play it. It is very affordable to produce but its quality is not very good. Its also theformat of choice by some film festivals although its larger size makes it less convenient thanDVD or MiniDV when mailing it.
Main Purpose of a Music VideoThe main purpose of a music video is to sell the song but mainly invoke a reaction leaving you wanting to re-listen tothe song, share it with others or even just remember it.A music video can also inform or entertain, depending on the type of music video. A Beautiful Lie (30 Seconds to Mars) Wide Awake (Katy Perry)For example, these two music videos differ. 30 Seconds to Mars’ music video “A beautiful lie” is set to inform people aboutthe glacial ice captures around the arctic circle and we should act to prevent this whereas Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” is anexample of many music videos which is generally made to entertain the audience.However despite all these reasons some people still dispute that the main reason music videos are made are for: promotion.A simple promotional tool for the artist, more than often serving as a catalyst for boosting sales and popularity.
Famous/Well-Known MusicVideo DirectorsOne famous example is the pseudonym “Bartholomew Cubbins” towhich ‘Jared Leto’ (Lead Singer of 30 Seconds to Mars) uses to direct hismusic videos.With many famous and successful short films he has produced with hismusic such as “Hurricane”, “A Beautiful Lie”, “This is War” and “FromYesterday”.These videos are very well known since they all have subliminarymessages that can mean/relate something different to a specificaudience. These songs aren’t set to engage a particular audience, theyengage specific individuals since the meaning of the music video can beinterpreted so broadly.Another famous example is director and turntablist Joe Hahn (or “MrHahn”). Joe has directed several of the famous band: Linkin Park’smusic videos including “Burn it down”, “New Divide” and “Breakingthe Habit”. These music videos are conceptual and different.Breaking the habit is animated and consists of a conceptual andnarrative storyline which you don’t usually find in musicvideos, especially animated ones! New Divide and Burn it down areboth conceptual and entertain the audience since they are just sodifferent from other common music videos.
Music Video BudgetFrom a case study I researched to produce ahigh quality music video, it should cost youaround $5000. Theoretics fundraised thismoney to produce their new music video withdonations from their fans.http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theoretics/jekyll-and-hyde-the-music-video(Embed unavailable)The link provided above includes a video andarticle regarding how the band produced themusic video with five thousand dollars.Companies could spend anything from a poundto hundreds of thousands of pounds producinga music video but sometimes the music videoswill less money which consist of simplicity, areusually the best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?featur e=player_embedded&v=nphr6QGiYrg#An example of a $5000 dollar music video:Providing the detail of professionalism withinthe budget.
Where to access music videos?The most common place to find music videos incontemporary society is on Youtube, a famous videouploading/sharing site. A lot of famous artists upload to acompany called ‘VEVO’ only allowing the most mainstreamartists to get promoted by them, in which users cansubscribe and get notified when a mainstream artistrelease their new song.Other ways to access music videos, via no internet includetelevision and radio. Television channels are usuallydedicated to music, for example: VIVA, Scuzz, MTV, KerrangTV, VH1 and Fuse TV.