My first little music video, and what went into it! (WIP, so feedback greatly welcome)

Robin Posts: 1,669 Enthusiast
edited January 2016 in Practical Filmmaking

So, a fellow student of mine has this band called Pink Pix, and they asked me to produce a video for a short, musical teaser they've made for their upcoming EP. I'm now done shooting and have the first rough cut assembled, so I thought I'd give you guys a look, and see what you have to say! I'll just put the video up front, and I'll give some more thoughts and insights about the process after that:

First off, a lot is obviously still missing. There's going to be a special transition in the beginning with that T-shirt, the edit is rough, and I haven't begun color correction/grading yet.

The goal for the video set by the band was to just have some nice to look at images going along with the music - nothing fancy like a story, plot, or deeper meaning, just the band members playing in their rehearsal room. So, I set out to do that, and make it as interesting as possible on the way.

I knew from the start that lighting and available time for shooting were going to be the biggest issues. The LED matrix and spotlights were great, but unfortunately they were fixed to the wall, I could only turn the spotlights a little bit each. So I took a desk lamp I had sitting around to cover the band members from the right, which actually worked better than I expected! That's basically all I had for lighting, I just used a bicycle flashlight in places to light up the faces. Should have done that in more places in hindsight, same with the strobe setting on the spotlights, which I now only have on the drummer.

The smoke machine did wonders in creating an atmosphere in that small rehearsal room together with the lights, and also greatly helped to make it less obvious that in fact all band members were shot in exactly the same spot.

One thing I started to suspect during the second shoot and that proved true while editing was that I shouldn't have been filming so much on tripod in the beginning. On the first shooting day (3 in total, each one just 2-3 hours) I had the camera locked down about 50% of the time, which resulted in lots of boring shots. The handheld shots turned out so much more interesting and gave me more than enough coverage so that I only used one or two seconds of tripod footage. Of course focus pulling got a little difficult with the handheld, especially as I only had the little camera display (Canon t4i, by the way) to check focus and the focus on the kit lens really sucks. I'm not really that satisfied with the overall sharpness of the video, but well it has to do now.

So yeah, that's some insight about what went into this video. Right now I'm awaiting feedback about the general style, before I work into the details. At the same time I wanted to post the video here to get some more feedback about what could make the video better from a filmmaker's perspective, so please, fire away with your criticism :)


  • Palacono
    Palacono Posts: 3,423 Enthusiast
    edited January 2016

    The bit at the end where you cut a few times to show the drummer not hitting anything looked a little weird. With so many short cuts on the beat I had to go back a second time and see what I was supposed to be looking at, as I couldn't keep up the first time. Then I found that for some of the shots the answer was: nothing much. It's a lot easier to focus on a big, simple, plain, unambiguous shot of something in the middle of the frame for a small fraction of a second then it is a more distant shot of something with lots of potential focus points. My eyes haven't got time to look around the whole frame before it's gone again. ;)


  • Robin
    Robin Posts: 1,669 Enthusiast

    @Palacono That's a good point. I'm still contemplating that end sequence. The cut getting faster with each beat is intentional and I don't really want to change that, but you're right it feels to fast, overwhelming right now. I'll see if I can fit some easier-on-the-eye-shots in there instead, good call!

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,595 Ambassador

    Yeah, other than what Palacono said, not much to say here. You learned the vital lessons. Camera movement in music videos is good. And cheap lights are good. 

    Other than that, you did a good job of making the room feel bigger than it was. 

    Next time you do a music video type thing where you get to set up shots, shoot up from the bottom of any drums with a transparent head (I saw a couple on that kit). Try a couple of different focal lengths and depths (ie, focusing on drummer's head, then focus at the drumhead.). Trust me that's an awesome shot. 

    Also note when shooting live bands, or for a "live" feel, you can actually get away with "bad" shots--maybe a bit of focus hunting or overshooting a pan. For this type of quick shoot, I actually keep a "micro lighting" kit. Things like little LED keychain lights in different colors, some cheap battery flashers, flashlights etc. You can't light a whole room with those, but when you're doing mostly half-person shots, those things are great! Plus it's just always smart to have flashlights around. Even the flash on a smartphone in flashlight mode is a good fill! 

    I think this is the first non-lego of yours I've seen. 

  • Robin
    Robin Posts: 1,669 Enthusiast

    @Triem23 Thanks! That's an awesome idea. I think I might actually try to convince the band to fit in another very quick shoot after one of their rehearsals just to get that before the deadline... Could be worth it.

    That kind of lighting kit is a good idea. For the band shoots I always brought the front and back lights of my bicycle, but I might stock that up as you suggest.

    Hehe, that's because it is actually only my second one so far (not counting purely CG tests), and the first one I posted here   The first one was a 15-something minute long comedy short based on How I Met Your Mother that I directed and edited for my grade's graduation ceremony at my high school*. It's in German though so I never bothered to post it here, but in case anyone is interested, it's here: 

    *(the German equivalent of a high school, to be exact)

  • Palacono
    Palacono Posts: 3,423 Enthusiast

    Here's one I was thinking of where you find you can easily keep up with the text because your eyes don't move and your brain is essentially doing pattern matching and not actually reading the words.

    This is twice as fast and still readable. :)


  • Sarasota
    Sarasota Posts: 267 Just Starting Out*
    edited August 2016
  • Robin
    Robin Posts: 1,669 Enthusiast
    edited February 2016

    Probably final version!

     The main big change is the color correction/grading now being in place (think I've overdone it in some places, looking at it now), and the transition in the beginning.

    Overall, there are less changes to the video since the first version I put up than I anticipated, because we initially planned to add some slow-mo shots and pretty B-roll to it, but that didn't work out either. The reason was the video being so short and rhythm-driven, every way I tried to bring additional stuff in it ended up being too much a break from the flow of the video. So, after talking with the band we decided to scrap that, and focus on what was already there.

    Oh, one general thing - the multicam editing capabilities of Sony Vegas saved me lots of pain with this project. There's no way I would've achieved what I did in the time I had if I would have been forced to manually overlay all tracks and slice, cut, crop my way through all of the takes, keeping in mind the big picture.

    @Palacono Those reading practices are awesome. I remember them popping up one or two years back when this stuff was advertised as soon to replace conventional reading on websites, apps, e-readers etc. Wonder where that effort went  Anyway I discussed that montage at the end with the band, and they really liked it for exactly what we agreed to be a little bit distracting and wanted me to leave it that way - so yeah, not my decision really. Have to roll with the client 

    @Triem23 We actually managed to try those through the drum shots, but it turned out not to work well, mainly because the drumheads already are quite worn off with lots of visible, partly opaque marks from constant hitting with the sticks, and made the whole picture blurry except for the very edges. With some more time and effort we maybe could have made it work, but we were already short on time.

    @Sarasota Good suggestions, but didn't fit into the schedule anymore...

  • GodofThunder
    GodofThunder Posts: 190 Enthusiast

    Much better! All I would change is the shot at approx the 47 second mark, where you have the background too clear in frame. It's just an empty room. Perhaps try and disguise that fact (unless that's the look your going for) with a lens flare or dry ice fx.

    tbh the colour at beginning looks just like stage lighting.

  • Palacono
    Palacono Posts: 3,423 Enthusiast

    Edit: Re-reading this post, it might come across as a bit harsh, so...pretend it's about something/someone else.

    Firstly: yep, Sony Vegas (or Movie Studio) is the only way to edit something like that.

    Secondly, I thought: "what transition at the beginning"? So watched it several times. Oh, the fade through the T-shirt to the guy that looked sort of like the shape you zoomed through? OK....

    Rotoscoping him to be flat and pink for a few frames and actually look like the piece of T-shirt that fades into a person might have made it more obvious. Or masking out the section of the T-shirt as you zoomed in to look like there was hole through to him, or....something? The rest: the client  is always wrong about creative choices. If they weren't they'd be doing the editing and you'd be in the band. If you can add something (quickly, budget dependent) that looks good - even a few fancy transitions - they're hardly going to tell you to take it out. But you must have tweaked something with the drummer, as it now looks OK, or I got used to it.  I expected some sparkly particles or something flying off the guitar strings, as in the Hitfilm tutorial that's around somewhere. Otherwise, you could have edited this in Windows Movie Maker and no one would have been any the wiser.

    No crash zooms, glitches, distortion tied to the sound, lens dirt, noise, or lens flares?

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,595 Ambassador

    Ok, if you're a Vegas Editor might I suggest you look at Ultimate S Pro, Vegasaur and Excalibur for Vegas? All three are similar things--script based effects and automation tools. Any of them will transform the way you work. Ultimate S I use on every project. I prefer it's multicam, too. 

    Ok, off to watch video. 

    *ten minutes later.*

    You're done, leave it alone. The music is raw, the shoot is low budget, you have a great stage lighting look, obviously in a room, but it cuts as big enough for the whole band with extra space, not cramped it. It moves with the music and it's got the "break" shots like strobes on the drummer. 

    So don't finesse it any more--you'll risk getting too slick. Leave it raw, like the song.