The future of music

How to Make a Music Video: Comprehensive Guide

December 29, 2023
how to make a Music Video

If you want to learn how to make a music video, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you’re interested in videography or you’re an aspiring singer, this guide will help you get through your first steps.

And you’ll be happy to hear that making a music video has never been easier – with online editing tools and programs, you can easily do it by yourself. 

You just need to learn how to approach the whole process. 

So without further ado, let’s take a look at all the basic steps of creating a quality music video. 

How to Make a Music Video

Creating a music video might be easy nowadays, but it does require some time and effort.

And if you want to do things right, you’ll also have to invest in the necessary equipment.

That said, you need to think things through before deciding to shoot a music video.

But if you’re motivated and ready to learn, you can undoubtedly make a video you’ll be happy with. 

You can even do it with a limited budget. 

And if you have a clear vision of your video, you’re already on the right track. 

Part 1 – Conceptualization 

The concept is one of the most important aspects of every music video.

And it mainly depends on your specific goals.

For instance, if you want to make a cool video out of your travel clips, you will have to focus on finding a suitable song, editing, and putting it all together in a nice way.

If you’re an aspiring singer or you’re in a band, you should focus on the message you want to convey, the actors you want to involve, the types of scenes you’d like to shoot, and so on. 

And if you want to make a music video for another artist, you’ll have to talk with them about potential ideas and wishes.

Filmer making a music video.

Whether you’re making a music video for yourself or for another musician, this video will be yours

As a music video director, you should make a concept that aligns with your own style and preferences.

Of course, you can incorporate other people’s ideas, but you also need to be ready to make a final decision. 

That might be challenging when you’re just starting out, but you’ll develop your own filming style eventually.

And before that happens, you should focus on the following steps:

1.1. Determine Your Budget

If you want to know how to create a music video in a simple and efficient way, you should first determine your budget.

That way, you’ll know exactly what kind of video you’re able to make, and you won’t come across any unexpected scenarios.

But how much does a music video cost?

Well, that depends on many factors, including:

  • Type of the video
  • Equipment
  • Filming location 
  • Staff involved
  • Props
  • Editing

That said, small music videos could range from $1 to $10K. 

And for big artists, music videos usually cost much more. 

Either way, getting a sense of your budget is important before proceeding with the next steps.

1.2. Find Your Approach 

When you know how much money you have at your disposal, you can start planning your music video.

First of all, you need to decide what kind of video you want to shoot.

That is the most important thing when developing a concept. 

For example, you can make:

  • A performance-based video – similar to a live performance of the song
  • A narrative-based video – includes a plotline or a story

You can watch popular music videos to find some inspiration.

But generally, if you want to find the best approach to your music video, you should listen to the song you’re making the video for.

So, listen to the music and allow it to create images in your head.

Paying attention to the lyrics is also important.

person writing while looking at the cellphone

All of this is much easier when you’re making a video for your own music.

And if you’re shooting for someone else’s song, make sure you talk with the artist about the main idea behind the song. 

You can even approach your music video in a completely different way – not all videos align with the story or mood of the song.

In fact, some music videos work well simply because they feel like they’re a contrast to the song. 

The important thing is to come up with something unique and memorable. 

1.3. Create a Mood Board

Many music directors browse through still images while making a concept for their music videos.

Creating a unique mood board (an arrangement of images) will literally help you set the mood of your video.

In other words, creating a mood board will help you create a specific vibe in your video.

You can create a mood board for characters, settings, cinematography, and so on.

A mood board will also help you create a treatment or a creative outline of your video.

If you’re collaborating with someone, you can pitch your treatment to the artist – you can put it in the form of a document and briefly describe your concept and the overall idea. 

You can also add reference images to your video treatment. 

Part 2 – Preparation   

When you have your creative outline and general concept ready, you can move on to specific preparations.

The pre-production phase generally includes setting clear expectations, finalizing the cast and crew, finding the necessary equipment, and so on.

So, if you want to make sure you got everything ready for filming, go through the following steps: 

2.1. Create a Storyboard

One of the most important steps of pre-production is creating a storyboard.

In essence, a storyboard is a combination of the script and corresponding visuals for each scene.

A storyboard of a music video usually involves shot-by-shot sketches, words, images, and key production details such as camera angles, lighting, transitions, and so on.

animation drawings for a music video storyboard.

You can build your storyboard by thinking about the following elements:

  1. Scene planning
  2. Scene breakup
  3. Types of shots

That said, building a storyboard will help you plan your scenes, establish the types of shots, and finalize the overall idea of your video.

2.2. Scout for Locations

And now you can scout for locations based on your storyboard. 

Location scouting is an essential part of music video making, and it basically involves searching for a suitable place (or places) to shoot a music video. 

You can consider shooting in a local studio, someone’s house, a bar, an abandoned warehouse, some natural setting, and so on.

There are many factors to consider when location scouting, such as:

  • Budget
  • Weather
  • Dimensions
  • Location options 

Each location comes with unique production requirements.

Therefore, you need to know exactly where you’re going to shoot beforehand.

You also need to talk to the owners or management of any location you want to use.

Whether you plan to shoot in a studio or outdoors, you need to be prepared; and that’s why we suggest visiting the location right before the shoot.

That way, you can get a sense of space and do some test shots.

If you choose an outdoor location, pay attention to the light as well as the sound and noise.

Also, when choosing a location for your music video, try to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you need permission to shoot?
  • Is there power?
  • Are there any events scheduled for your shoot day?
  • Is there a bathroom nearby?
  • Is there enough space for all the equipment?

If you want to shoot a budget-friendly music video, try not to shoot in multiple locations and generally opt for something simpler. 

2.3. Create a Shot List 

When you have your storyboard and locations ready, you can plan your filming in more detail. 

The best way to plan this is to create a shot list.

In filmmaking, a shot list is a guide to all of the shots that need to be filmed during production.

It’s usually created by both the director and cinematographer, and it should cover:

  • Scene number
  • Shot number
  • Shot description
  • Camera details (angle, framing, and movement)
  • Action and potential dialogue
  • Subjects and actors in the scene
  • Props
  • Extra notes

Creating a shot list will allow you to have everything under control.

And your crew will also need to be aware of every step of the production process.

2.4. Find the Filming Crew

Speaking of the crew…

If you want to make a professional-looking music video, you will definitely need some help.

Of course, you don’t have to hire a big filming crew, especially if you have a very limited budget.

But you should consider gathering a team that will help you out in the director’s department, production design, and cinematography department.

Now, exactly how many people you will involve in your project depends on the scale of your production.

But generally, music directors collaborate with:

  • Videographer – a person who is in charge of capturing the action
  • Gaffer – checks if everything is ready for the shoot (lights, actors…)
  • Sound man – a person responsible for cuing up the song
  • Grip – helps with the wires, lights, and props
  • Wardrobe – coordinates wardrobe changes 
  • Props – in charge of props 
  • Choreographer – coordinates dance scenes 
  • Dancers 

Some of these positions (like dancers and wardrobe) are optional.

As a beginner music director, you can easily do some of these things by yourself, or with a help of a friend.

But if you plan to film in multiple locations and you want to involve a lot of props and equipment, you should consider hiring at least a small production team.

Production set filming a music video.

2.5. Get the Right Equipment 

Your next step should be getting the necessary equipment for filming.

There are different types of music video equipment, and what you’re going to get depends on your budget and concept.

Some of the essential pieces of filming equipment are:

  • Camera
  • Lenses and stabilizers
  • Light
  • Audio
  • Software

If you want to get a basic filming starter kit, you won’t have to spend a ton of money.

You can even consider filming a music video with your smartphone – if you have a high-quality phone camera, you can indeed make good clips.

But if you plan to continue making music videos, we suggest investing in a good video camera.

You should also get a basic video lighting kit and a mic for high-quality audio recordings.

Regardless of where you’re shooting, you need to have a consistent source of light and good sound conditions.

Of course, filming in a studio is much easier in that sense, but outdoor locations can offer you scenes you can’t recreate in a studio.

Either way, getting or renting the right equipment is essential – but the type of gear you’re going to get depends on your goals, budget, and type of video. 

2.6. Create a Production Schedule 

The final step before filming is creating a production schedule.

Your video production schedule should include:

  • Locations
  • Scene/shot
  • Equipment
  • Staff
  • Contact info
  • Date and time

You should create a schedule based on your storyboard.

And you should include all the details, and you should determine what crew members and equipment you need for every shot.

Good organization is crucial in filmmaking.

And creating a detailed production schedule is the only way to get through the filming part in the right way.

Part 3 – Filming 

And now comes the most exciting part.

If you’ve finalized the conceptualization and pre-production stage properly, the filming phase should be smooth.

However, some unpredictable things can always happen.

But the more prepared you are, the less chance there is of big and unpleasant surprises.

3.1. Set The Stage

Before shooting your first scene, you and your crew need to set the stage.

Preparing the stage for shooting usually involves putting everything into position and getting everyone ready for filming.

But you should also pay attention to:

  • Lighting – setting the lights might involve using the reflector (a piece of fabric that reflects the sunlight) if you’re outside, and getting the artificial light in order if you’re indoors
  • Sound – your sound needs to be crisp and clear, so make sure there are no distractions in your location 
  • Subjects and actors – getting everyone in their position, including vehicles, props, actors, and dancers

When you have everything and everyone ready for shooting, you can do the following steps:

  1. Set the camera – you can use a tripod for static scenes, for instance 
  2. Cue up the music – people on the scene need to get in sync with the music, so make sure your sound person is ready 
  3. Power the lights – make sure all the lights are on
  4. Start the camera and say action! – Press the record button on the camera and start recording

3.2. Start Filming

After yelling  “Action!”, you started filming your first scene.

And you need to repeat the same process for all the scenes in your video.

You should film your video in small segments – segmenting your script will help you in shooting as well as editing.

And you will probably end up with multiple takes and angles.

But shooting multiple takes of each scene is important because it will allow you to avoid bad shots.

Recording a music video.

Getting the perfect shot is not easy, especially for beginners.

Therefore, make sure you have multiple shots, just in case.

Also, don’t forget to shoot from a variety of angles – this will allow you to choose the best shot in the post-production phase.

You can also shoot B-roll footage.

B roll (or background footage) is any supplemental or alternative video that can help you establish a scene, make a smooth transition, or add visuals. 

If you want to make a B roll, plan it ahead with a shot list to ensure you capture a B-roll that aligns with your concept and storyboard.

But the most important thing about actual shooting is to be aware of the composition and framing of shots.

There are typically three main types of shots in filmmaking:

  1. Wide-angle shots they are focused on the location and wider background
  2. Mid-shot or medium shots – show the character from the waist to the top of the head
  3. Close-up shots – ideal for emphasizing details and elements you want to highlight

Some filmmakers use low angles, extreme close-up, extreme long shots, and so on. 

But in the beginning, you can stick to the most common types of shots. 

However, there are also some other elements and filming rules you should pay attention to and plan beforehand.

For example, you should use a rule of thirds – this means you need to divide your frame into thirds (vertically and horizontally) and put your subject on one of the intersections.

You should also try to create depth in the frame – to do this, set the focus off-center and away from the background. 

There are many tricks you can use to get the best shot for your music video, but you will learn them with time.

woman video recording

Learning how to make high-quality music videos takes time and practice.

So, don’t expect to get a perfect shot right away. 

But the more you shoot, the easier it gets.

And eventually, some things will come naturally to you – you’ll be able to recognize good lighting and angles, and you’ll know how to capture unique, subtle moments that will make your music video interesting and memorable.

Part 4 – Editing 

In the post-production stage, you’ll have to focus on editing and color correction.

Editing can be a tricky part for beginners though.

It requires technical skills and an eye for detail.

But if you take it step-by-step, you shouldn’t come across any obstacles.

4.1. Transfer Your Video to a Computer

The first thing you should do is transfer your video to a computer with USB, Firewire, or other connections.

You should then organize and level your footage.

If you want to speed up the process, the organization is crucial.

Also, if you want to use your best material for editing, you’ll have to work through all the takes and choose the best ones. 

And that might take a while, especially if you made a lot of shots, including B-roll footage. 

After choosing your best shots, you can organize the clips by the type of shot, the kind of take, and so on. 

Alternatively, you can drag all the clips into your software and start piecing them together.

4.2. Choose the Right Software

If you want to make a quality music video by yourself, you’ll have to use the right software.

Some of the best video editing software on the market include Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere Elements.

Regardless of what you choose, you need to familiarize yourself with your software and learn all about its features and possibilities.

4.3. Start Editing

When you’re familiar with all the editing features of your editing program, you can finally start editing.

You can lay the music track over the footage to get started.

Editing your music video.

We also suggest editing the video performance first – this means you should start cutting the video together as one big performance video and then edit it to the beat of the music.

You should also collect your favorite B-roll shots to make things more interesting.

When editing, try to use moderation – don’t exaggerate with shortcuts or long takes.

Finding the right balance is crucial.

But if you stick to your storyboard and concept you created in the first phase, everything should go as planned.

Once you’ve matched your audio to the footage, you can begin with color correction and effects.

If this is your first music video, you don’t have to dig deeper into effects and adjustments – you can just make small adjustments in exposure, brightness, and contrast.

Doing these adjustments will make your video look more consistent and cinematic, and it will help you add that vibe you created in your mood board.

4.4. Develop Your Own Editing Style 

With enough time and practice, you will start developing your own editing style.

Developing a unique editing style is important for every music director – that’s how people will recognize your work right away.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll edit your music video in the same way again and again – it simply means you’ll find a way to add your signature touch and stand out from the crowd.

So even if you start making music videos for famous artists, all of these videos will have something in common; your signature style.

Your unique visual style will certainly help you build a reputation as a music director.

Even if you just want to make an amateur music video for your band, adding a personal touch and creating a unique vision is important. 

And if you want to work on the development of your editing and filming style, you can learn from the greatest – find inspiration in successful music videos and write down what you like.

Also, don’t forget about improving your skills.

If you want to become a successful video maker, focus on the following steps:

  • Search for courses in video production and video editing
  • Learn more about the editing software you use
  • Learn more about your equipment
  • Work on your creativity
  • Watch music videos and listen to music
  • Connect with fellow video makers, directors, and producers

If you put in the hard work, you’ll surely see the results.

And who knows – maybe this will be the beginning of your successful career in music video production! 

How to Make a Music Video – Final Thoughts 

If you want to learn how to make a music video that will get noticed, you’ll have to go through every stage of the process in the right way.

You’ll first need to develop a concept, go location scouting, find your crew, get the right equipment, and create a production schedule.

And then you can proceed with final preparations, filming, and post-production.

Making a music video from start to finish is not easy, but if you plan everything ahead, you will undoubtedly succeed in making your unique vision come to life. 

You may also like: 15 Ways to Promote Your Music

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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