Music Video Production
in association with
If you’d like to make a music video with Clockwork Amoeba, there’s a few things I’ll need first:
• Can we hear the track?*
• Do you want a performance video or a directed video?
• What are your initial ideas?
• Can we read your lyrics?
• What’s your budget?
• Are you free to talk on the phone or meet up?
*All recordings are kept strictly confidential and are not given to third parties. We are happy to sign non-discloser agreements should you require this. We reserve the right to turn down projects if we feel taking your money for a video is taking advantage of you where your music needs longer to develop.
I love listening to new music, there’s nothing like it and I’ve been very lucky to be one of first people hear so many incredible songs. Before shooting the video make sure that the recording is locked, we’ve fine to take a master just before rendering out the final version, but we need all the timings to be correct when we start filming.
A performance video is exactly that. If it’s a band, typically you’d be playing your instruments in one space and angles would work around this. The same principal can be applied to solo artists, but with more time spent on the individual. These are usually the most cost effective music videos, and just require musicians and a good location to make them happen. The creative choices are limited to location, lighting, camera style and grading. These also have the shortest turnaround time.
Directed videos mean handing us the freedom to creative the visual side to your music. Some of my proudest achievements are the music videos I’ve been allowed to direct, and they got that way through care, understanding and planning. What are your initial ideas? It’s reasonably unheard of for bands to come to me with a blank slate, although it does happen. As musicians are creative people many come to me with a rough idea, and I’m happy to take the best elements of that and work it up into a concept. This requires time and a lot of planning, so the more advanced warning the better. I study lyrics very carefully to keep true to the music and often ask the songwriters a lot of questions about the different meanings behind songs. I often write a treatment, which may go as far as turning into a script before it’s turned into a shot list and a set of callsheets. I often ask musicians what resources they have in terms of locations, actors, props etc so that we can pool all possible resources to keep things to a sensible budget.
We like to stay affordable so that new artists can break through, and whilst I love what I do this isn’t a hobby for me and my team, this pays the bills and keeps equipment current. Once we hear what you are after, we can give you a ball park figure, and make a few suggestions based on the extent of the budget you have. Sometimes things may need compromising; you might not need that fire breathing dragon that appears at the end of the video when you hear our creative approach to your song. Having a huge budget doesn’t guarantee you a good video - it’s about being smart and using all resources you have to make a work of art. If you’d like to commit to a video I generally take an advanced partial payment which commits us all to shooting. In 2013 I’m offering a deal which may be of interest if you’re looking for a good deal, click here or go to “13” above.
I’m very happy to chat on the phone to discuss your ideas and work out some rough figures. It’s always good to have sent me the track first so that I know a bit about what I’m working on. I’m personally based a 35 minute train journey from central London, and if you’re serious about getting a video made I’m happy to meet there or in my home town of Milton Keynes. I have family and other musical connections in Liverpool should you wish to catch up in the north of England, but this is subject to commitment.
The basic question is, what do you want your music video to look like? In an ideal world I'd get asked "make me something that's never been done before!" but I except that there are various things that inspire you. One of the bands I work with a lot likes the look of 1970s vinyl covers, other artists go to previous music videos, and I've been asked on more than one occation if I could recreate Bladerunner.
Photos, video links, little ideas - at this point in the process send them my way. What I can do is work with you to find from what inspires you, the look and feel that will work with (or if intensional- against) what your music feels.
If I'm working directing a project and I'm given the freedom to create something unique I may give you a selection of possiblities that you can pick over. If there project requires a narrative I may go away and write up a treatment, and eventually develop a script.
It's best to have more ideas that you'll use, and then to refine them into a good set that can be achieved within the budget and resources avalible.
It's also important to establish a location at this point.
Now we have our ideas worked out, I'll go and prepare a shot list that fits with these. Hopefully a location is in place - if not it's important we take a look and see if it's suitable. Having looked at the ideas and the shot list I can see what kinds of equipment I might need. If I need lights controlling on the day or camera movements, I may need to bring in my various crew members that do these roles. You may wish to have makeup on board. We might need to source and buy certain props or even build a set.
Whilst the many aspects of a productions logists are arranged, usually with me taking the lead and artists being consulted when it's something reliavent, the most import thing for any musician to be doing at this point in time is practising. Learning the lyrics might seem trivial, but the wrong words during an otherwise stunning moment in the video might kill really good angle for the moment it would have been perfect for.
During the preparation period (film crews call this pre-production) I try and see a gig or sit in on a practise session if at all possible. Whilst I get many great ideas, and talk about the project during these catch ups, my priority is too look at certain aspects of performance. I look at what bad habbits you might have, and any signature parts of your performance I'd like to emphasise. Do also tell us if there is any particular angles you'd rather we avoided - I, for example have a rather elogated head, so don't like profile shots....
Everything has been prepared. All you need to worry about as an artist at this point is performing well, and you'll be directed for the rest of the shoot. Try and absorb the experiance and enjoy being an artist.
Cameras are effected by different colours and patterns, and certain clothing doesn’t work well under bright lights. Avoid wearing stripy clothing, especially black and white stripes. This can cause what’s known as the “moiré” effect, which looks like a kind of strobing effect on the clothing. This can also happen with certain other clothing patterns, such as houndstooth patterns, so always bring several options of clothing to a shoot. White clothing is to be avoided where possible as it means compromising the amount of light on a subject, which means compromising more import things like skin tones and highlights. All the above counts for any item on screen, be it a top, footware or even an instrument. Let us know what your bringing ahead and see if we can help you with alternatives.
Shoot days are long. The first part of the day, for a musician, will mean setting up any equipment of yours and then waiting for a few hours as crew set up most of the gear we need for the production. When it gets going, if your a band, this might not require you for every single shot, depending on the angles. You will be expected to perform the song, sometimes more than 30 times in a day. When your the focus of the shot, that's your time to really go all out. Don't tire yourself on other peoples shots. Locations can vary between being very hot because of the lights, or very cold, if they're large spaces without much sun light (which happens to be great for filming). Bring water and a coat you can throw on between takes. The location pictured above was freezing!
For all musicians, perform for real, in time with the playback system. It's especially important that vocalists sing for real, as people are wise to anyone mouthing along. Singing will show your true peformance. The one thing you don't have to worry about is tuning guitars. On one shoot I did a piano was hired in, and it was horribly out of tune - but noone will know...
I tend to power through shoot day, but I've build up to that. To the uninitiated there won't be a huge ammount of breaks. I used to schedule breaks, and if it's something seriously strenuous then I will factor it in, but I generally take the feeling of how people are looking around me.
A shoot is a place of business, much like the rules many bands have on who can come to their practice rooms, only key people can come to a shoot. Anyone who doesn't need to be their should be. It's also not a party, even if we're pretending it's one. People drinking will end up looking bad on screen, or causing hassle for the shoot. If you'd like to get drunk with us, invite us to your launch party!
Photo credit: Andrew AB
Behind the scenes on The Thespians "Reason to Reason"
Post Production starts with syncing up footage, followed by editing and then revisions. Once revisions to the cut are made and everyone's happy, other processes may also kick in before the video is complete. This includes any digital effects and picture styling - known as grading.
The first thing you will get to see will be a rough cut. Revisions are normal with any production. I have no problem changing shots that you do't like, especially if it briefly shows a glimpse of an artist in anything less that their prime. We can either do revisions in person, if you live nearby, or via the internet through a series of private video uploads. In person is always better as you can see exactly what we're working with an can see changes straight away. Always apoint a spokes person when there's more than one persons input, and make sure that they can talk for everyone.
Please note, we do not hand over "rushes" - unedited footage - for any reason, unless expressly stated at the start of this process and prearranged. This is so footage we never intended for release doesn't end up being shown, which makes everyone look bad. No edits will be handed over until all due invoices are paid.
Ocasan sit down for a post production meeting in 2010.
When a music video is finished, provided all balanced are cleared, we'll hand over your video and then talk with you about releasing. We'll supply an uncompressed video and an internet ready version. We're also happy to put you in touch with the relivent third parties to get broadcast tapes made.
If you don't have a marketing plan in place already, it's best to have a few weeks leading up to the release of a video where you promote the date you'll be releasing the video on and maybe release a few related pictures. Social networking is now pretty much mandiatory, and sites like Facebook and Twitter are very useful if used correctly. Most videos go online first, even if you're wanting to take them to broadcast. The only exception is where you make an exclusive deal for the first airing of your video, which can happen. We'll be happy to promote the video on all our reliavent social networks, and encourage you to promote it as much as possible, and to promote your videos often, not just when they've just been released to get the most out of them. Videos don't go viral on their own, they need to reach the fans that will share them without prompting.
We make no promise of broadcast, but we have had success with a number of bands and artists going on music channels over the years, and keep hearing more have been broadcast. If you're looking to engage with particular channels you may try contacting them directly, going through services like fastrax or a music related PR company. Much of the world of music video promotion is simular to the way a single may be promoted.
There are many ways to make your video more suitable for broadcast, and give yourself a better chance of being aired. Making sure your video conforms to minium broadcast standards is one hurdle that we can certainally deal with, so let us know your ambitions for the music video at the start of the process.