Notes on my first music video
If you really want to develop creatively it’s really important to look back on your old work to gain perspective on where you are now and where you want to go in the future. To be honest, where I’d love to go is somewhere where I didn’t have to look at my old work.
My first love is always going to be still photography, but if you’re a photographer in the 21st century and you don’t understand or can’t provide even some basic video services you’re going to fail. No two ways about it. So since I started taking photos I’ve dabbled a bit in the video. I’ve certainly gotten better but calling myself a videographer, as well as a photographer, would probably be pushing it a bit.
I’m working on it though. Slowly but surely. To that end, I’ve been looking back on my old video work to see how it stacks up against what I do now. It’s not a massively flattering answer. But it seemed like it could be interesting to break down how I feel about the first music video I shot and edited all by myself, and see what I’d do differently now.
For context, I shot this in August 2014 on a Canon 650D with a Canon 50mm 1.8 i and edited in Adobe Premiere Elements (because my student ass couldn't afford the full version). I think I'd been taking photos for maybe around 2 years at this point? I can't really recall to be honest.
I think one of my strengths when it comes to video is that I have a pretty steady hand. I can shoot without a tripod effectively. And that sort of approach works for music videos. It gives them energy and there’s actually quite a few moments in this video where I like the raw feel of the handheld footage in a crowded rehearsal room. Not all of it, sometimes I try to hold it to steady and steal the energy as well, but in principle, I do like the approach I took here. Shame about all those really, really boring static tripod shots that tear all the pace out of the video isn’t it?
Cuts & Pacing
Speaking of pace, these shots are all really long aren’t they? Like super long. It was a side effect of not being a massively component editor, I lined up a lot of the cuts with the more obvious musical cues. Occasionally it works, sometimes when the band are really going for it, capturing the whole moment before a transition is cool, but ultimately the whole video is really slowed down by the length of the clips.
That said, I am super proud of the cuts of the instrumental switches before the breakdown. I nailed that first time out. Still a vivid memory of success to this day.
Might have been nice if I’d decided to do any kind of colour grading on this wouldn’t it rather than rely on the pretty flat colours of the rehearsal room wouldn’t it? On the other hand, if I had tried I’d probably have just thrown a bog standard preset on it and left it, so maybe it did all work out for the best.
I’m pretty sure I probably shot this between F1.8 and F2.8. Which is cool. That’s my prefered depth of field: almost as shallow as they come. But when you’re shooting manual focus purely handheld with no pull focus set up...it can make pretty difficult to maintain focus. The number of shots in here where I’m just trying to get in focus, vs pulling focus for an artistic reason, is totally ridiculous.
GoPro vs DSLR
Sure, there’s a time and a place for action cam footage, but if you’re not even going to attempt to look the footage from that look the same as the footage from the DSLR then what’s the point? I’m not sure this is actually a big deal for 90% of the audience, but I find the switching in quality between the types of footage pretty jarring. I like the shots we got with them, especially the instrumental perspective ones but woulda been nice for them to make more sense in context.
And for my feet to be in less of them. Take a shot every time you see me in frame.
All this being said, I still had such a great time making this video with my pals. I’m incredibly lucky I know so many creative people and that they have the confidence in me to let me try and do my thing with the thing they’ve put so much of their own talent, blood, sweat and tears into.
For a pretty impromptu music video on a budget of £0 shot entirely in a 3 hour rehearsal slot in a rehearsal room by a guy who didn't really have any idea what he was doing on super budget gear it actually turned out ok. For what it was, it more than did its job. I did 2 additional videos for Transcension on this album cycle, and I still think this one holds up the best.
This video is a pretty important step in my creative journey, and everything I learned from it has kept me on what seems to be a pretty good path.