Am quite interested to discuss this video, and music videos in general - I'm in the process of trying to film a music vid for a rock band, so very different look and feel to this, but interested in your opinions all the same.
So, your video 'looks' really good, decent angles, good backdrops - like the train going past, that was a nice touch.
But, and I'm hoping you'll have the insight here, do hip hop/rap artists, such as the one you've filmed, specify what they want in their video or how they want it to look, etc? Only, since checking out this forum and a lot of similar forums, especially ones based in the US, this kind of video in terms of its substance seems to be fairly standard fair. By that I mean obviously the focus is on mostly on the rapper, doing their thing - but a lot of the videos I'm seeing are almost interchangeable, the faces and the rhymes change, but the outfits, the poses, the look - almost identical.
I was just wondering what causes this? I've a few theories, just wondered what you thought;
Is it being driven by the artists - are they craving this kind of standard look in their videos? If so, I guess its more a promo-thing, maybe all they want from a video is to get their face seen, by potential A&R people, etc, rather than to carve out a unique visual identity?
Are video makers being too quick to take the easy option, make a video that 'fits in' with current trends rather than push the envelope a bit? I'm less inclined to believe its this one, although I'd be intrigued to know if anyone who was negotiating with a hiphop act about a forthcoming video, and upon having heard the artists vision for it, seeing that it was another one of these generic looking videos, has actually tried to convince the artist to try something more 'left-field?'
If I'm being honest, I dare say that most genres, when it comes to making these types of promo clips, fall into easy generic stereotypes, but with something like a rock band you have multiple musicians to film, all projecting their performance in different ways - whereas with a rapper you have a more limited focus - their music will most probably be sequenced electronically, which means you have no fallback footage of the music being played by musicians, you're sort of limited to purely looking at the artist on his own for the entirety of the video. Frankly, even if the track is outstanding, there is surely a limit to how many jaunty shots of the artist, with skew-if baseball cap and doing standard hip-hop hand gesticulations you can do before, well, before it starts to get really repetitive.
Hopefully, one day I'll be approached by a hip-hop artist and get a chance to try out some of my theories. I guess it'll either be a visual extravaganza, or I'll prematurely end some poor dudes musical career!
Conventional looks, poses, gestures, cloths in rap and rock videos in my opinion has to do with the musical artist wanting to get signed by a label. And if they are signed, wanting to stay popular with the target audience. If you put on mtv2 and watch the similarity in hip hop videos sub genres, they have aspects like you said are almost identical. Especially party hip hop and street rap. Street rap is starting to die off as a sub genre and party rap like LMFAO and club rap mixed with r&b seems to be dominant.
In terms of coming up with a left field idea or even a better creative idea in that same expected form, that comes down to time, resources, the artists liking of the idea, and talent level of the director.
The question is how much of a good idea can you execute in 4 hours when 1 shot with a jib crane takes 20 minutes to set up. In my lower budget video world, the artists want a fast shoot because they usually have jobs and responsibilities to attend to. So being able to pop out a decent looking video in 4-6 hours of shooting time that has some decent production value is what fits their immediate needs.
As a low budget video director the goal is to get increasingly better quality with the same amount of resources. How can I make the video more cinematic and more effective given I don't have that much time to shoot it. Especially when you are about to get kicked out of a location because you are not shooting with permits. Personally , I enjoy making these videos because I consider it my film school. This video teaches me certain angles that cut well together that I would of never considered if I did not make it, this other video taught me which color schemes are compatible with certain emotional tones and themes. So I see it as a opportunity to keep gaining insight and hopefully improve as a director.
For your video coming up assuming you have a budget, time , equipment, locations, and some decent energy on set, its going to boil down to your talent level to paint something special.
Have you directed any videos before or will this be your debut?
Thanks for replying, thats a great insight, you make lots of valid points.
I understand what you're saying about delivering what you can within time, equipment and budget constraints, it sounds like you work under a lot of pressure.
I'm in a very different situation, I'm a complete newbie filmmaker, my background was audio production, but I'm now married with a young family, so what was previously a part-time but fully functional recording studio has been scaled back to a home studio, and mostly sitting idle. I had a pretty good PC for recording audio, and found it was up to editing home video as well and my interest in things visual has grown ever since.
I shot an extremely low quality video for my friends band, literally I just filmed them from various angles lip-syncing in their rehearsal room, cheap camcorder, no proper lights, just to get a bit of practice setting up shots and editing. The results were naturally very poor, but enough to motivate me to try again but with a slightly more advanced rig.
Vid 2 is going to be filmed at better resolution with a better camera, and I have a got together a low budget/dIY lighting rig. I'll be shooting each individual band member one at a time as I can't currently get anywhere big enough to fit the whole band plus their instruments into for a reasonable price for a decent length of time, and this time we actually have additional things I need to film, including some footage in front of a green screen. I'm going for a much more ambitious project.
I have no budget other than what I can put aside from my own pocket, which isn't much, so everything is being done on a shoestring. But I have no time constraints, I'm filming at weekends at the bands rehearsal room, so thats not costing us anything, but its going to take weeks, if not months, to get everything shot.
I've actually started a blog documenting how its going, its kind of both a diary of events, and hopefully a guide to other wannabe filmmakers. I'm hoping it will inspire others, whilst also showing the pitfalls too (as I most likely fall into them!) If you want a good laugh, have a look at how I'm doing so far, Crash and Burn! Life as an Amateur Filmmaker.
At this point I've tested all my lighting, and am poised for my first bit of test shooting this weekend, its getting exciting!
Anyway, we're supposed to be talking about you and your projects - you mention that doing these videos is like your 'film school.' That suggests that at some point in the future you fancy progressing into making cinematic projects - are you hoping to make feature films? I'd be interested to hear your plans.
I wouldn't put to much pressure on yourself during a production. Personally, that totally zaps my creativity and desire to do the project. Some pressure I can't avoid and just goes with the territory.
Yeah, I plan on making a film next summer and I'm aiming at getting it distributed. I am in the process of writing a script, and will set up a kickstarter fund page in about 6 months. I should have alot more music videos done by then, and hopefully a decent bag of tricks I've learned from them to use in the film.
I'd love to see your music video. Please publish it on the website once its done.
Cool, best of luck with the planned film, hope that all comes together.
So, d'you have any other examples of your work online? Followed the link to Youtube, then found your website but it looks like its still a work in progress, and couldn't get your facebook page to work.
Do you have your next music vid or project already lined up, very interested to see what you do next. Have you considered documenting your progress in a blog like I'm doing? I've got to admit that I'm finding it so cathartic, it was a bit time-consuming to set it up at first, but now it takes no time at all to submit a new posting, its just like keeping a diary or journal, really. From a learning perspective the journey is going to be just as important as the finished projects I make. And there are going to be periods of extended downtime between my shoots, so blogging and doing the podcast help fill the void!
This is the first music video I have published. I am in the process of shooting my second one currently. I will have that up in about 3 weeks. Yeah, the website is almost completed.
I'm to lazy to blog. haha.
I may make a video blog when I start the feature movie process.
So what type of camera are you using on the new video? I've seen nice music videos shot even with Iphone4 Hd cameras.
Great, can't wait to see what the next video is all about, let me know when its done.
For my shoot, the choice of camera is proving awkward. The first vid I shot, I did it on my fairly cheap and cheerful camcorder, its an old Sanyo Xacti, I think it was shot in 4:3, 640x480 at 30fps. I managed to cram the whole band into one room and time being an issue, I shot about 5 takes of them miming the song, then a few takes with me pottering around the musicians, getting closeups and stuff, then one take solely on the drummer, which became my go-to take when I had poor stuff from the other takes. Naturally, the quality was terrible as it was shot under incandescent room lights, and we didn't have quite enough time to get enough varied footage.
The big difference in the second one is going to be the addition of the lights, but I'll be using a better camera too. Originally I was going to use my wife's Fuji Finepix HS30 EXR - its not quite a DSLR, but it shoots at very good resolution and naturally widescreen. However, I'm not sure if my PC will be able to handle the big hD video files in editing, especially with the complicated elements I'm hoping to edit in. So, the hi res shoot might have to wait until video number 3. I think I'm going to shoot this one using my wifes old camera, a Fujifilm Finepix S5800 - its still only going to be 640x480 4:3 - but the picture definition should be better as its got a far better lens that the Xacti, and hopefully the lighting will improve the quality, and I will be converting it to 16:9 to try and make it a bit more cinematic looking in post. And I should be able to edit it in the way I want without it crippling my PC! I will be upgrading the PC prior to shooting video number 3!
I've got two Gb of what I believe is compatible RAM that I could stick into my PC, but at the end of the day its a 4 year old dual core machine running Win XP 32 bit, I don't think its up to the task, to be honest. I could be looking at a similar investment soon!