Music video production crews create the visual world of a song.
The art of the music video has evolved a lot in the last few decades. Now, in our world of nonstop video content, music videos must do more to stand out; this means more has to go into producing a great visual product that will draw in fans. This is no small task, and it takes a lot of work, but the end product can be especially rewarding.
Most crews are led by a director who works closely with a musician to develop a vision. Depending on the scope of a musician's career, there may be producers or representatives from an artist's record label involved, who may affect the concept with budget, time, or image constraints. The camera operator or director of photography is the person responsible for capturing footage on camera. This requires a deep understanding of camera workings and the technical components required to achieve a particular visual effect, including special lenses, camera rigs, and more. A camera operator may set up lights or work with a crew of light technicians to achieve the right look. Set designers are responsible for creating the physical space a video will be shot in. Sometimes this involves finding a location to shoot at or constructing a series of rooms within a studio. There may be a whole crew of carpenters, props masters, and set dressers on board for high-budget projects, while smaller crews may have a single person who does it all. Increasingly, music videos feature special effects or animation, which calls for a creative director who works closely with a post-production team. Digital effects may be used instead of physical sets or in addition to them, depending on the video's concept. A large music video production is usually buzzing with lighting crew, wardrobe coordinators, makeup artists, and production assistants. In this way, it's identical to a short film shoot; however, music videos rarely have scripts or extended dialogue, and often feature stylized shots of the artist performing. Another key difference is sound; since music videos almost always feature pre-recorded music, they often don't require the same high-quality on-set sound recording, though sound will still be taken for the purpose of syncing footage. A video editor is rarely present for a shoot, but will work with the director to assemble the footage taken into a complete video.
Work in music video production may include...
- Developing a look to go with a pre-recorded song
- Casting actors or backup dancers and getting a crew together
- Shooting footage of a musical artist
- Creating a distinct visual world
- Compiling footage into a video that matches the director's vision
The best way to start making music videos is to shoot some and see what works; aspiring directors may grab a camera or team up with a camera operator and make some simple videos for local artists. Once they have built a portfolio, they can connect with higher profile artists and begin charging standard rates. At higher levels within the industry, an artist's representation or record label may be responsible for finding video directors and crew. Having a solid portfolio of whatever it is you do, whether it's building sets or painting faces, will help the people looking to hire crew determine whether you're a good fit. Once you get on set, be prepared to work hard; days are long, often ten or twelve hours, and may involve equal periods of frenzied preparation and quietly standing around. However, the final product tends to be very rewarding, and having your work noticed in a music video is a great way to line up future gigs. Directors who have a good relationship with a recording artist may work with them again and again, and they're likely to bring stellar crew members with them on multiple shoots.
Many aspiring directors, camera operators, and lighting professionals pursue degrees in film production, where it's common to make music videos for courses. This can be a great way to build that portfolio and start working more frequent or higher-paid gigs.
If you want to work on the line between music and film, consider a career in music video production.
The Music Video Production Association is widely recognized as the official organization representing music video production companies.
WE DIRECT MUSIC VIDEOS pushes for improvements in the music video process on behalf of thousands of music video directors.