With the Band? Some Tips on Shooting a Music Video on a Shoestring
Something of a new opportunity arose recently when friend Pete and I were asked if we wanted to shoot a music video for a local band, Audio-Cover. Having never shot any serious video before this seemed like an interesting challenge which we took up with some alacrity. Audio Cover are a 5 piece band, based in the North East, who play a range of popular classics at weddings and high-end functions, including material from Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Wilson Pickett, Donna Summer, Bruno Mars and Grease, all to a very high standard, with stunning lead vocals from Maria Mandehzadeh. The rest of the band are Carl (guitar and backing vocals), the two Dans (sax/keys and bass) and Mike (drums).
Some major challenges were to be encountered. Firstly, our relative lack of knowledge of both shooting video and indeed editing it, although fortunately Pete did have more experience than me. Secondly, our differing gear – Pete utilising Canon and me with my own Fujifilm kit. An initial experiment at one of the band’s rehearsals quickly revealed that if we were to create anything decent then we would also need to be introducing some movement into the video – cue the creation of Dolly, Pete’s masterpiece homemade video dolly, created from a piece of kitchen worktop with four castors. Very basic, but incredibly effective, Dolly immediately introduced a more professional and dynamic look to the video work. A second rehearsal allowed us to practice more with Dolly and the various mixed lighting that we had gathered together between us.
Prior to the shoot the band had laid down seven show reel tracks in a studio and that would be what the band would perform to in the shoot. That level of professional sound greatly enhanced the final product and meant that we were not troubled by setting up high quality sound on the day and were able to match the clips in post by the soundtrack mainly.
So the day of the shoot came and just our luck that, although only April, the sun was beaming and the temperature high as we locked ourselves away in a shuttered room for six hours with a total of seven people and many hot lights! Our key feature was that, given the three different cameras, we were able to secure a number of different angled shots, including moving dolly, high moving jib, overhead on drums, some handheld and some statics on tripods.
I find it amusing that on the Fujifilm X-E2 there isn’t even a button dedicated to video – that has to be custom set in the menu. Yet surprisingly the X-E2 shoots very good 4K video. The Canon is much more mature in video terms with its dedicated features and articulating screen so the Canon and Fujifilm do make slightly odd bedfellows. As we suspected, those differing sensors and settings would cause us extra work in post processing as we had to spend additional time matching up the camera looks, so a lesson learnt there.
Ultimately six hours of shooting with three cameras, seven tracks and many takes resulted in 65GB of video files and some stills to be processed, which we worked on for a good while. Our main approach was to initially split each of the songs up between us with Pete taking four and me three to create individual project files in Premiere Pro with clips matched to the music. Once that was done we had to address the mismatched looks between the cameras which was achieved by creating our own Premiere Pro presets which seemed to do the trick in most cases. Pete then forged on with the transitions, text and final rendering. I’m sure many video professional will see many issues with our final product but overall, for a pair of video amateurs making it up as we went along we are quite pleased with the final product. Ultimately, our clients, Audio-Cover, were thrilled with the final show reel and are now using it as their main marketing tool.
Although we clearly already had our own basic camera and lighting set up the budget for this shoot really only ran to cost of four wheels for Dolly. Would we do it again – yes definitely! Future work will no doubt see to enhance our kit list and we will continue to learn new techniques as we go. Shooting good video is hard, but fun! The final result for this project can be seen below - judge for yourselves! If you like what you see and would like us to shoot your music video, do get in touch and we can chat through your requirements
For those interested, our final main kit list comprised: 1 x Canon 650D body plus EF 24-105mm f4L IS II USM & EF50mm f1.4 lenses
2 x Fujifilm X-E2 bodies plus XF18-55mm f2.8-f4, XF56mm f1.2 & Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS lenses
1 x LED Ring Light
2 x Godox Modelling Lamps
3 x Generic continuous lighting bulbs
Dolly the Trolley
3 x tripods
Post Processing in Adobe Premiere Pro CC