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Pre-production for Music Videos

Just having a great idea and a good storyboard doesn't mean you're ready to shoot just yet. Like any good cinematographer, you'll first need to consider how to get your location ready,what you'll need for make-up and wardrobe, and what to prepare for your talent and crew in order to ensure that your shoot day goes well.

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Video Transcript

You've got a killer idea and have signed your contracts, but you're not ready to shoot just yet. Like any good filmmaker, you'll first need to consider some important pre-production details in order to ensure that your shoot goes off well.

Music video shoots are like a good mystery: they're not easy to solve. To help you with yours, we look at how to get your location ready,what you'll need for make-up and wardrobe, what to consider with your talent and crew, and how to plan for specialty needs for a successful video.

Most video producers have a love/hate relationship with location shoots. Shooting on location can save money and add variety but often comes with some loss of control. That's one reason why it's important to scout your location before the shoot begins. While there, you'll want to note if there are power sources for equipment, nearby restrooms and parking for talent and crew, where to store food and gear, and most importantly, if the look to the area meets your creative expectations. Due to the time it takes, location scouting is often done by just a few crew members. Usually, only the lead electrician, director, producer, and camera operator will typically need to study at the location beforehand. If you're new to an area or want to find new locations, consulting with a location director can save you time and headaches. These people are often experts on the locale and know who to call to get access to restricted areas. (DR) If you plan to build a set in the location or shooting a wide shot, you'll want to make sure you have plenty of time in your schedule to dress and light the set before the rest of your crew and talent arrive. This will not only make your electricians and art designers happy, it will save on human resource costs as well.

Another factor is your equipment. To guarantee that you have everything you need on the day of the shoot; look at each scene in your storyboard and note which piece of gear you'll need for the shoot. This includes everything from the camera rig all the way down to cables for the monitors. Some frequently forgotten but useful items include gaffer's tape for securing cables, black wrap for lights, charged batteries, sandbags for weighing down stands, walkie-talkies for crew communication, tables, ladders, and coolers for drinks and snacks. Making sure you include these small details on your equipment list will ensure a smoothly running shoot day.

Of all the factors to think about before a shoot, your talent and crew should always come first. Because personnel costs are some of the highest expenses you'll have on set, you'll want to make sure to have the right amount of help to get the shots you need. For complex shots this may require a sound operator, grips, and an assistant director. For simple shots you may only need the director, a camera operator and talent. Either way, it can be extremely helpful to use your shooting schedule or storyboard to determine the size of the crew you'll need for each shot. From there, you'll want to create call sheets. A call sheet is a list that shows crew members and talent when they need to arrive on the set and what their duties are when they get there. One of the best ways to assure a smooth operation is to give some thought to how you treat your talent. The day of the shoot can be incredibly nerve racking so finding ways to make them comfortable can go a long way in getting a good performance. Many directors will ask the band what kind of food and snacks they prefer so that they can provide them at the shoot. Though it doesn't take much effort, it can go a long way towards making an artist happy which leads to better performances. It's also good practice to have a separate room or area where the talent can relax between takes. This area should have snacks, a table and chairs, and forms of entertainment if setup goes long. Another consideration to have on-set is a proper make-up room. This room should have a medium to large sized mirror, a chair, and plenty of good lighting so that the talent can see the way they'll look under lights like the ones you'll be using. If you don't have a set big enough to hold a makeup or artist room, you can always rent a trailer or set up a table and chairs outside where there's more room.

The last thing to consider before your shoot is what kind of specialty needs you might have. If your music video involves a night scene on a street, you may want to consider renting a truck the day of the shoot to hose the street down. If you can't find a truck that can do this, it may be possible to get the fire department's permission to hook up to a fire hydrant. This creates reflections on the street that can help a scene look less static and more interesting. Also, if you're shooting a music video that requires using a large public parking area, it's always a good idea to close off the lots you'll need the night before the shoot is scheduled to begin so you don't have to worry about towing cars on the day of the shoot.

Pre-production involves some serious planning but it often pays off in the end. By finding solutions to potential problems before you shoot, you'll be able to successfully handle any problem that may come your way.


Peter Phelan's picture

Looks like you have just purchased a camera glidetrack. I find it's over use and the moving backgounds behind the talking head shots in almost all of your instructional videos completely distracting and inappropriate. Why not just concentrate on the actual content. For me, effects should subtly enhance a video and the viewer should not be actively aware of them. If they are; as in this case, they are overdone.