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The Secrets of Shooting Your First No-Budget Music Video

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

Would you like to surprise your children by proposing to turn their favorite song into a music video? Are you a fan of your neighborhood band seeking to improve its profile by creating a music video? Check out the pointers below to get going.

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    Some years ago, you would have had a hard time putting together a music video. Today, with the advent of affordable and sophisticated video editing programs, you could easily produce a music video that has a professional look.

    Also, you don’t have to worry about getting your video noticed. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can easily upload your creation to video sharing sites and reach thousands of viewers and even get comments.

    Producing a music video need not be an expensive affair. You can make do with your existing equipment and get volunteers to participate in the project. Here are a few tips that can help you put your act together if what you have in mind is a no-budget production.

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    Captivating Song

    It must be a song that captivates you, that generates images in your head. The first thing you should do is listen carefully to the song. Note the lyrics and break them up into parts with shot suggestions penciled in.

    If you’re just starting out, choose a short number and one that can easily be translated to video.

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    You would then want to consider the talents available to you. Do you have a family member who’s quite a crooner? You could probably get her to mime the song in the video. Have someone who can dance? You could incorporate a few cool dance moves that go with the mood of the music.

    You really don’t need an array of talents. At the minimum level, you need only one. It could be someone who may not be willing to mime the song, but willing to portray the mood of the song through facial expressions.

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    Can you associate the lyrics with existing images around you? For instance the lyrics of a love number may suggest the talent walking along the neighborhood lake at sunset. List the images as they occur to you and refine as you brainstorm with others involved in the project.

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    Come up with a storyboard based on your visualization of the song. It does not have to be as detailed as a Hollywood-style storyboard. It has to contain a breakdown of shots for the music video though.

    Treat the storyboard as your music video roadmap. With it, you should never be in doubt as to what the next shot is.

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    Choose locations where you don’t need to seek permission to shoot or where there wouldn’t be a crowd interrupting your shots by walking past the camera. The location must also suit the mood of the music video. You may not want to shoot a rock music video along a serene hillside.

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    Don’t worry if you lack the lighting equipment to shoot indoors. You can use the sun as your lighting source. Shoot at a time when the sun’s light steals in through your window early in the morning and late in the evening.

    You can even capture the specks of dust floating in the sun’s ray to add some dramatic effect to your video.

    Otherwise shoot outdoors on a sunny day to get the best lighting for your music video.

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    Don’t leave home without a tripod, extra battery packs, reflectors and most importantly, a CD player with speakers that could produce sound loud enough to be heard by your talents in open spaces.

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    CD Compilation

    Apart from having a full-length song on your CD, you could also have the main track edited into smaller parts to match your shots. This would come convenient when you need to replay them for shooting from different angles and when retakes are needed.

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    Shoot to Edit

    Shoot with editing in mind. Take a lot of cover shots and other relevant shots you can use as cutaways in case something goes wrong with your main footage.