Music in Motion – Tips for Making a Music Video

Pop quiz, what is one of Dean’s favorite things to do with music?

Since you’ve read the title, it shouldn’t be too hard. I love creating videos! I love working together with a good crew and friends. It’s another level of magic to the art. The music video is a beautiful thing. It adds depth to the song – entirely laughable if you think about some examples of music. 

It can be funny, it can be sappy, it doesn’t have to match up with the lyrical subject matter. An example would be… well, most music videos. At the risk of saying something obvious, it doesn’t have to show what you were writing about. The music video helps to draw your fans (or soon to be fans) into your world. I feel it’s one of the best ways to get new blood to your music. EVERY single time I make a music video, that song consistently streams higher. Every. Damn. Time. 

This is the era of DIY, you can go viral by creating something stupid like this –

Viral – Less than one hundred and fifty words into this post, and I want you to get that word out of your vocabulary when you’re creating something at this stage in your career. Don’t make something to be popular. If you try to create something everyone will love, simply so that they will love you – you will hate it, and it will always end up hurting you. The world needs more originality!

Come over here into the corner with me, sit down bud… I want to talk with you real quick. – I know it’s a common theme throughout this blog is that you stop comparing yourself to what an established artist is cranking out. If you compare yourself to Billy Ellish, remember she has millions of dollars behind her. You are talented! But you are still improving, and that’s okay! I’m not saying you can’t get where you want to go. I’m saying, you’re not there right now. If anything, that should excite you!

So we’ve cut the word viral from our vocabulary. We’re creating something because it fulfills this artistic need, or because it’s fun, or even just because we want to do it – which is the best reason to do most things. 

What will you need to make this music video happen? The honest answer is… not much. Take a look at these videos done for super cheap. Sure, they’re old now. BUT they still prove my point, so I’m going to use it –

“Two videos in a post. Damn, Dean is getting lazy.”

First off, I​’m not a fan of Watch Mojo, I think its the delivery on the channel.

Secondly, I don’t know – My point? *Ahem*

If you can think it, you can do it… sort of.

The trick is to dream big, then make a video and let reality have that collaboration credit. 

What will you need? Well, in most filming situations, you will need someone to handle the camera. If you’re wanting anything more than just a steady, mounted shot, you’re going to need someone who has a little talent holding a camera. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Hell, just keeping in focus with any movement is difficult. It’s not that you can’t have your friend do it, just know they will make a myriad of mistakes. 

(Myriad is the word of the day – and I like it because it makes me think of the word Pyramid, which is fun!)

T​he first few times you’re making the video, be patient with yourself, learn what is possible with what you have at your disposal. 

Here are eight tips on creating your first few music videos.

1. Have a meeting before the shoot Meet with everyone involved with the video before the shoot! I mean this is a basic idea, the concept isn’t hard to understand. This meeting will save you so much time! Everyone will be on the same page, it saves you an absurd amount of time. Sometimes, you will not be able to meet with everyone involved, it happens. You can still make phone calls, you can still send emails. There really isn’t a valid excuse for not communicating with everyone involved before the day of the shoot. You might just notice that you need extra hands, or that you don’t have the lighting equipment for a shot, OR that there is a better version for the specific shot idea that you had! So many things can be solved by meeting with everyone before the shoot! Write down a list of things you will need, don’t be lazy!

 2. Give yourself more time than you will think you will need – This is an absolute, written in the book of John, it is a universal law! The shoot will not go according to plan, you will not be able to make it look exactly how you imagined it. It’s okay that you were not able to achieve this, welcome to the real world. Just don’t think you can shoot the whole thing in an hour. For the love of God, don’t be stupid. Remember that you will have to edit the video, which will take more a few hours. It always takes more than three hours – Always. Even if you can swing the whole thing under time and budget. You will be STRESSED. Have you ever been so stressed that you considered selling your mother to Isis so that you would stop feeling stressed? It’s that bad. The shoot should be FUN; it will totally show through, it will help the end product look awesome.

  • Listen to me – Let’s go back to that corner and have a real talk. Come here, bud. *gently grabs your hand* I’ve done this before, I promise you will be happy you gave yourself more time. I promise you. 

3. Plan out the shots – Be able to tell the person handling the camera what they’re going to do. If you can’t verbally explain it, you need to be able to show an example BEFORE THE DAY of the shoot. Do not show up the day of the shoot and wing it. It will go poorly. I have made this mistake a lot. I feel like you can make it a lot less stressful and much more fun if you over-plan your shots. Practice explaining your ideas to someone! Is that overkill? NO! Plan out where you will be shooting. Don’t show up the day of the shoot and say something like “So where do you think we should go?” Have a plan! Be open to suggestion, but have a plan.

4. Be flexible, understand it is hard work– Expect that everything will not go according to plan. It’s okay! This shoot will not be the exception to the rule. Remember that what’s in your head isn’t always possible, and that’s entirely okay! 

5. If you are syncing up the video to you singing, you have to sing to the FINAL version of the song– Do not wing it. It will not line up. Don’t think you’re going to get lucky, you will not get lucky. 

6. Bring plenty of help– You need someone running the camera – who will probably need an extra pair of hands. You might need some extra support as well. It’s just convenient to have a couple additional people there to help out with the shoot. In that planning meeting, you can establish how many people you will need. 

  • An extra tip – Remember that people are flakey. It’s not a bad idea to have someone on deck to help out the day of the shoot, just in case, someone drops out last minute.

7. Establish and keep the tone of your video – Are you breaking the fourth wall in the video? Can you at any point see the camera man’s foot? Do you want shakey footage? What is the overall feel of the song, is it somber? Is it serious? Be careful of changing tone throughout the video, it can really bring someone out of the magic you’re creating. (That last sentence felt cheesy, huh?)

8. There are really no rules to this thing– I know that sounds like I’m contradicting everything I’ve said so far. You should be creative! You need to think outside the box and create something that is distinctly you. 

I have been really lucky! I have an awesome brother who I bother all the time to help me shoot stuff. He’s incredibly talented, he’s got some great filming equipment. He’s also reasonably priced. 

For $500 a project (that’s meeting, filming, editing… which is an absurd deal) you can hire Lance to make what you have in your head a living thing. He is using a RED camera, the same camera used on most (if not all) of your favorite movies. If you are interested, (and honestly, you should be) Here is his contact information! 

If you need any advice on shooting your next video, feel free to comment below and let’s get this thing made! 

Lance Nelson 


His Instagram tag is 



Published by crazylegsdean

Self defined as: taste taster for the aspiring musician on the go.

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