The One Thing that Will Make Your Music Video More Affordable
by T. Perry Bowers
When I first stepped into the music video business I planned to undercut my competition. I had the facility. I had guys that could run cameras and edit for an affordable rate. They had just finished college and were hungry to put some projects in their portfolio. My gear was a DSLR, a couple of lights and a laptop with editing software. A minimal investment of less than five thousand dollars and I had what I needed to make a decent music video, cheaper than my competition I thought. But it turns out that was an almost impossible task. Because there was one factor I didn’t consider:
Time. Music videos are time consuming. The preparation and the shooting are mostly finite. You set a date. You prepare beforehand, you shoot and most likely you’re wrapped reasonably quickly. You might do an additional shoot for a few things to fill in the gaps, but typically music videos are shot in one day. Videos are mainly for promotional material these days so budgets are tight. Nobody except the top acts put big dollars (over twenty thousand) into a music video.
The time drain is the editing: not only the process of editing but the rendering. In order to see the final product, the video has to be rendered. This is the process in which your computer puts all the edits and effects together so that viewing is cohesive and seamless. The editing software renders the file into an MP4 or some other format so that people can view it on different devices. Depending on the equipment, this process can take hours every time a new edit is made. At industry standard editing rates ($75-$300 per hour) this gets expensive very fast. As the producer, I’ve already quoted the price. I don’t get paid any more, no matter how many hours my editor spends rendering the video.
Often the directors are also the shooters and editors. They perform technical tasks requiring a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge, while at the same time activating the right (creative) side of their brain. They work with the band members to get the best performance and set up the most interesting shots they can muster. They make sure the light hits the subjects at just the right angle. Modern day music video directors are worth their weight in gold. You can’t pay them any less than they deserve.
But there is one little thing you can do to help cut your costs and get the video done quickly:
Get out of the way!
That’s right — Let the man (or woman) do his (or her) job!
Hopefully you picked a good director. You watched a bunch of videos online and found a director you thought was cool. You trusted their vision then so keep trusting it throughout the whole process.
If your drummer doesn’t like the angle at which the director shot his drum fill, it isn’t going to make or break your video. Maybe you look goofy in a couple of shots but maybe that’s just the way you look. More than likely the director thought it was charming or you engaged your audience with your quirky expression. Of course, there are a few things that you as the artist can see and there is nothing wrong with bringing these things to the director’s attention. But, ask yourself if you’re being so nit-picky because of your ego or because your audience genuinely won’t like it. If it’s the latter, then make the edit. Otherwise leave it alone.
I could tell you more than a few stories of bands who ruined their music videos with their own egos. That’s worst-case scenario. More likely bands just drag the editing process on and on, continually increasing the cost. The director can feel like the band is taking advantage of his time. Meanwhile the band gets all bent out of shape because the bass player doesn’t like the shirt he was wearing. Seriously?! Take the video seriously by not taking yourselves too seriously. Give the director creative control — the shooting process will go more smoothly and the editing process will be a breeze. The question to ask yourself — “is it because of our egos or is it for our fans?”.