Music Video Planning
A great thing about music video planning is that there are very few rules to follow. Besides the basic format — a series of images that accompany a song — a music video can be almost anything. They can range from the standard "people singing into microphones and playing guitars" to blobs of jello doing the samba, or grains of sand hurtling through space.
A music video can use pictures to tell the story of the song (as in my "Global Warming" music video), or it can have nothing at all to do with the music. It can be still pictures, animated vegetables, archival footage, or a bunch of guys dancing on treadmills. It can be upside down, backwards, black and white or blue and green. It's one of the best ways to show off your imagination through cinematography.
When doing music video planning, sometimes you have a very good idea of what kind of music video you want. Other times, however, you may not know which direction to go, or you may want to try something totally new and unexpected. At times like these, it's helpful to generate ideas by doing some brainstorming.
Brainstorming is usually done in a group, but you can brainstorm by yourself as well. The main rules of brainstorming are
- Come up with lots of ideas — the more, the better
- Don't critique or eliminate ideas as being too impractical, difficult, strange or expensive. Just let your imagination run free. You can critique the ideas later.
- Look for unusual ideas.
- Link and combine ideas to get even more ideas.
Music Video Planning Idea Lists
A fun way to have a creative brainstorming session is to use idea lists, such as the ones below, to help pick your music video's "Big Concept," mood, genre, setting, etc. Just pick one idea, or more than one, from one or more categories, then link them all together and figure out how you would apply them to a video featuring your song.
You can also just use these lists to help you think of other moods, settings, etc. that you want to use.
If you really want to think outside of the box, randomly pick one item from each list, and try to make them all fit together with your music. You might be surprised by what you can create!
1. The Big Concept(s):
- Live performance
- Performance in unusual places
- Focus on performers and/or instruments
- Short story: Related to the song, loosely connected to the song, or not at all connected to the song
- Random images and scenes
- A "gimmick" (such as choreography on treadmills)
- Sci Fi
- Art Deco
4. Location Settings:
- Bar, tavern
- Dance hall, disco
- Ghost town
- Amusement park
- Gypsy camp
- Corporate office
- High-rise apartment
- Hotel room: high end, low end
- Fashion show
- Beach: tropical, California, East Coast
- Sailboat, speedboat
- Yacht, cruise ship
- Tugboat, tanker
- Hot air balloon
- Blimp, zeppelin
- Back alley
- Skyscraper: penthouse, roof
5. "Natural" Settings:
- Upper atmosphere
- Outer space
6. Ethnic & Historical Settings:
- American: Civil War, Colonial, native American...
- Central and South American: modern and ancient (Mayan, Incan, Aztec..)
- European: modern and ancient (Greek, Roman, Celtic...)
- Asian: north, southeast, Indian, Japanese...
- WWI, WWII
- Playing: games, sports, video games, instruments
- Dancing (alone or in a group)
- Driving, riding or racing: cars, motorcycles, boats, trains, planes, helicopters, bicycles, horses, llamas...
8. Sports, Hobbies & Activities:
- Synchronized swimming
- Skeet shooting
- Motorcycle riding
- Rock climbing
- Bungee jumping
- Scuba, skin diving
- Kite surfing
- Kayaking, canoeing
9. Special Effects: Flying/floating things:
- Random objects
10. Other Categories (each with its own list of items)
- Gems, precious metals
- Video games
- Game shows
- Fantasy characters
- Historical figures
- Fairy tales
- Things that explode
- Wonders of the world
11. Other Techniques and Effects:
- Stop motion
- Time lapse
- Animation: hand-drawn, CGI, claymation,....
- Chromakey (green screen)
- Slow motion, fast motion
- Extreme close ups
- Angles: overhead, high, low, wide
- Focus: sharp, blurred, bokeh
- Exposure: over, under
- Lyrics and other text: overlaid, made from objects or food or people...
- Lighting: strobes, projections, spots, gels
- Post-production effects: 3D, kaleidoscope, coloring, multi-screen (dozens more)....
So, for your music video planning, just go through these lists, pick one or a few items from some or all of the lists, and use your imagination to come up with something that works with your song.
If you're ready to go into production mode, read more about Music Video Production on the page about my Music Video contest entry.