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How to Make a Music Video

A good video can turn a mediocre song into a smash hit, while a bad video… well, that’s just embarrassing.


  • Step 1: Pick a song Pick a song. Ideally, you want one that’s less than 4 minutes long. Songs that tell a story work well, though non-narrative approaches can also be arresting.
  • Step 2: Brainstorm Brainstorm ideas for how you’d like to illustrate the song. And don’t feel you have to be too literal; many of the greatest videos represent the emotion or theme of a song, not just its lyrics.
  • Step 3: Make a shot list Take your idea and make a list of the shots you’ll need to make your video. Draw sketches of particular shots that you think are very important. Planning shots ahead of time will make things run much more smoothly.
  • Step 4: Choose a style Choose a style for the video. Maybe you want to shoot entirely in black and white, or maybe you want to use stop-motion animation. It’s better to decide now than halfway through the actual shooting.
  • TIP: Don’t forget to consult the band! Some bands will want to be featured in the video, some will want to have shots of them playing spliced into the video, and some won’t want to appear at all.
  • Step 5: Start shooting Shoot the actual elements of the video. Since the only sound in most videos is the song, you don’t have to worry about audio.
  • TIP: If you’re going to have shots of someone singing or rapping, play the song in the background of a shot to make sure their lips are perfectly synchronized.
  • Step 6: Do multiple takes Do multiple takes of each shot, and don’t be afraid to mix things up if a new idea comes to you. The more footage you end up with, the easier the editing will be and the better the video will look.
  • Step 7: Edit the video Load all of your raw footage into an editing system, turn on the song, and start editing to the music. There are a variety of editing suites available for every budget, ranging from thousands of dollars to free. For starters, try the inexpensive iMovie or Final Cut Express.
  • TIP: Great videos feel like visual versions of the songs they represent. Make sure your edits reflect that—a bunch of quick, sharp cuts during a lazy bass solo is probably going to look awful.
  • Step 8: Add effects Add effects to put the finishing touches on the video. Blur scenes, add slow motion, correct colors—this is just as much a part of the video as the shots themselves.
  • FACT: Some six months after appearing on YouTube, OK Go’s video for 'Here It Goes Again,' which showed the band dancing on treadmills, had been viewed more than 10 million times—and had won them a Grammy.

You Will Need

  • A song
  • An idea
  • A shot list
  • A video camera
  • Video and audio editing tools

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