There is a singer, songwriter and a musician in all of us. We come up with so many interesting ideas, but more often than not, we don’t follow them up with the right amount of work. People are always worried that making their own music video requires a fair amount of financial backing and a lot of time and effort, but that's not true. Today, we’ll show you that it’s pretty easy to sing and produce your own ‘professional looking’ music video. All it needs is a start…
Step 1: Getting Ready to Record
To start off, we need to make a list. This part encapsulates a lot of stuff, but we’ll list it out in order of priority. First, get your song ready. By that we mean, get your lyrics, backing tracks and tunes sorted. In case you don’t have instruments and have problems filling up the ‘entire spectrum of sound’, you can use backing tracks that are available online, but make sure you give credit where due. Another alternative is finding loops. To get you started, you can find a few royalty-free loops here, here and here. Once the song is ready to be recorded, you can go either the free way by recording it at home, or get it done professionally at a recording studio.
Another alternative to Audacity
Step 2.1: Recording at home
Looking at it practically, all you need is a laptop to get started with recording. If you want better quality results though, then you can consider purchasing a microphone. We found USB-powered ones for 300 bucks and they were good enough to get us started. Next, try sound-proofing your room a little; nobody wants car horns and other strange sounds to be captured while recording a track. A few simple tips for sound-proofing include drawing the curtains and ensuring that the room isn’t too big. There’s a reason why many people sound brilliant when they sing in the bathroom: small rooms don't have any room for echoes. If you have the provisions, you can try singing sitting in there as well! Coming back to recording, Audacity is a good software to record to start off with. Paid alternatives include Cubase, which offers you full-blown recording and tweaking features – but it's a little intimidating if you are a newbie.
In case you have multiple instruments to record, it’s best you record them individually and then mix them together in Audacity. It takes a little bit of effort but gives you a lot more options to customize and tweak your song. For example, if you’re happy with the guitar but need just a part of the vocals again, you can simply sing that bit and add it to your project.
Step 2.2: Recording at a studio
If you’re not satisfied with the quality you achieve using the devices you have, you can always book a recording studio. We approached a range of recording studios and the average rate was Rs.1,000 per hour with an average song taking not more than two hours if you are well prepared with your stuff. If you do record it professionally, make sure you get the entire project from the studio so you can make changes to it later on, if required.
Step 3: Shooting the video
A song will get that added amount of boost if you accompany it with an equally impressive music video. However, you don’t need to have professional equipment to shoot videos for your song. If you have a smartphone, there are a lot of free apps for both Android and iOS that let you create brilliant movies with your phone’s camera. For our video, we used a free stop-motion app called ‘iMotion HD’ for the iPhone. Android has a range of stop-motion apps as well. The important tip to follow is to ensure that you keep your phone on a flat surface (or a tripod) and keep your hands off it to make sure you don't have any wobbling. The more phones you have the better it is. You can simply place them at different angles and get different perspectives of the subject to be shot. They can be interlaced together while producing the video later on. If you need audio to be recorded in the video, you can use a handsfree kit to record sounds. Make sure that the lighting is perfect. The background needs to be well lit and you shouldn’t have any glaring shadows or bright lights on the camera.
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can simply take the videos off your camera and edit them on your laptop. If images make up a big part of your video, like they did for us, Picasa proves to be pretty useful.
Using iMovie is pretty simple
Step 4: Producing the video
Once you’ve got the video content, the video can be edited using free software. Movie Maker for Windows is a brilliant place to start. We required iMovie though as our transitions were too quick for Movie Maker to register. You can add effects and transitions to give it a ‘movie feel’. If you are adding lyrics, make extra sure that they sync with the timing of the song. Show it to family and friends once to see if your video's message is conveyed properly. Screen it once before you go live.
We made part of the video in Movie Maker and the other part using iMovie. iMovie did give us a few more creative themes to choose from, which made the job a little easier. There are detailed clip adjustments and trimmer settings to give you the right amount of tweaking for your videos. For example, our video required extremely fast transitions and it was a breeze editing the video and adding the transitions using iMovie.
Step 5: Online hosting
These sites need no introduction, but there’s YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion and others to start off with. YouTube is obviously the most popular choice due to the reach that you get, but it has a few limitations unless you partner with them. For example, you cannot choose your own thumbnails. Vimeo will give you the right kind of exposure as far as creative artists are concerned. Be sure to put in the correct tags so your video is visible when the user searches the relevant tag. Additional tips include selecting a logo and uploading the video using your band or artist name. If you’ve taken content from other sources, you can give credit where due. Lastly, share it on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and spread the word.
The video we made: We Didn’t Start The Fire – Indian Version
A few days back, my cousin and I decided to create an Indian version of Billy Joel’s popular song – We Didn’t Start The Fire. We spent a couple of days deciding on the lyrics and the plan. I followed the steps we just talked about in this feature and put together the video using iMovie. The video was uploaded on Youtube and though it’s barely been up for the last few days, we’ve got enthusiastic and encouraging feedback, as you can see. Hope you like it.
There are innumerable opportunities and a tonne of talent online, so you can use this idea to put together a music video of your own along with others online. If you’ve made your own videos, feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.