The Musician’s Video Handbook

The Musician’s Video Handbook answers the following questions:

• What kind of camera do I need?

• How do I work the camera like a pro?

• What’s the best way to light the band?

• How do I encode for YouTube so it looks the best?

• What’s the best format to use?

• How do I cover up edits?

• Why is great audio so important?

• What kind of releases do we need to have signed before a shoot?

• How do we make an electronic press kit?

• and much more!

What It's About

The Musician’s Video Handbook describes how the average musician can easily make any of the various types of videos now required by a musical artist either for promotion or final product. But just shooting a video isn’t enough. The book will also demonstrate the tricks and tips used by the pros to make it look professionally done, even with inexpensive gear and not much money.

From music videos to concert videos to an electronic press kit, The Musician’s Video Handbook shows you how to use a camera, audio for video techniques, editing techniques of the pros, basic 3 point and 4 point lighting, as well as all the creative and production know-how needed for just about any kind of production.

The book is also accompanied by a DVD that takes the viewer through each phase of the production and post-production processes with easy to understand tricks and tips from some of the best in the business.

Let's Look Inside

Table Of Contents


Chapter 1 – Types of Videos
    A Bit of History
    Types of Videos
        The Performance Video
            The Video Mirror
            The Performance Clip Video
        The Music Video
        The EPK
        User Generated Content
            The Mash-Up

Chapter 2 – Video Basics
    The Camcorder
        The Lens
        The Imager
        The Recorder
            DVD Camcorders
            Mini-DV Tape-based Camcorders
            Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Camcorders
            Solid State (Flash, Memory Card) Camcorders
            Old School Camcorders
    Camcorder Specs
        The Codec
        Common Video Formats
        Video Resolution
            Why Resolution Is So Important
        The Scanning System
        Frame Rate
        Camera Light Levels
        Useful Camera Features
    Camera Accessories
        The Tripod – Your Second Most Important Purchase
            Different Types of Tripods

Chapter 3 – Camera Operation
    Setting Up The Camera
        White Balance
        Color Temperature
        Frame Rate (sometimes called Shutter Speed)
        Audio Resolution
    Adjustable Settings
            The Correct Exposure
    The Film Look
    Using The Tripod
    Basic Camera Technique
        Shot Types
            The Extreme Wide Shot
            The Very Wide shot
            The Wide Shot
            The Mid Shot
            The Medium Close-Up
            The Close-Up
            The Extreme Close-Up
            The Cutaway
            The Cut-In
            The Two-shot
            The Over-the-Shoulder Shot
            The Nod Shot
            The Point-of-View Shot
            The Weather Shot
        Composing The Shot
            The Rule Of Thirds
            Leading Room
            Horizontal/Vertical Lines
            The 4 T’s
            Cutting Off The Chin
            Avoid “Firehosing”
            Avoid Backlighting
        Shooting Technique
        The Three Learning Stages of a Cameraman

Chapter 4 – Audio For Video
    Using The Microphone On The Camera
    Using External Microphone To Record A Band
    Using External Microphones To Record Dialog
        Using a Lav
        Using a Boom Mic
        Using a Mic on a short Stand
    Using An External Audio Feed
        Using a Feed From the Mixing Board
    Recording The Audio Wild
        Using a Hand-held Recorder
        Using a Multitrack Recorder
            A Simple Track Sheet
            It’s Time To Mix
        Keeping The Audio And Picture In Sync
            SMPTE Time Code
            The Clapboard
            The Handclap
            The Camera Flash
            Setting The Audio On Multiple Cameras

Chapter 5 – Lighting Basics
    Types of Lights
        Soft Light
        Hard Light
    Types of Lighting Kits
        Photographic Lights
        Video Lights
        Stage or Theatrical Lights
        Types of Light Fixtures and Bulbs
            Be Careful
    It’s All About Contrast
        Video Versus Home Lighting
    The 3 Point Lighting Setup
        The Key Light
        The Fill Light
        The Back Light
    Four Point Lighting
        The Background Light
    DIY Lighting Kit
        The Lights

Chapter 6 – Production
    The Crew
        Hiring The Crew
            Be Straight About What You Need
            Film or Video Experience – It’s Not The Same
            Get Some References
    Preparing For The Shoot
        The Treatment
        The Script
        The Storyboard
        The Budget
        The Shot List

Chapter 7 – Post-Production
    Post-Production Steps
    Digital Editing Systems Overview
            PC Minimum Requirements
            Mac Minimum Requirements
            The Essential External Drive
            The Computer To Hard Drive Interface
            Hard Drive Speed
            Drive Capacity
        Video Editing Software
            What to Look For in Editing Software
    Video Post
        Basic Editing Techniques
            Types of Edits
            Transition Tips
            Use Your B-roll
            Living In The Age of Quick Cuts
        Stock Footage
        Video Graphics
            Still Graphics
            Title Safe/Action Safe
            Still Libraries
        Motion Graphics
            The Graphics Package
        The Editor
            Finding The Right Editor
    Audio Post

Chapter 8 – Performance Video Production
    Types of Performance Videos
        The Video Mirror
        The Performance Music Video
        The Performance Video Clip
    Purpose of a Performance Video
        Determine Your Progress
        Promote Your Band
        Promote A Song
        Get A Gig
    Performance Video Elements
        Shot List
    Production Concerns
        Check The Venue Lighting
        Don’t Over-light
        B-roll Is So Important
        Shoot Establishing Shots
        Shoot  More Than  One Take
        Shoot More Than You Need
    Extra Equipment Needed
        Lighting Gels
        Bring In Some Lights
            500 Watts Is Enough
        Fog Is A Great Addition
        Audio Gear
    Post-Production Concerns
        Not Enough Coverage
            Use The Shot Again
            Enlarge The Picture
            Use Some B-roll
        Is The Audio Clean?
        Does The Audio Have To Be Mixed
        Syncing The Audio
        Syncing The Cameras
        Finding An Editor
    PaperWork And Agreements
        Crew Agreements
        Location Releases
        Appearance Releases
    A DVD to Check  Out

Chapter 9 – Music Video Production
    Types of Music Videos
    Music Video Elements
        The Script
        The Storyboard
        The Shot List
    Extra Equipment Needed
    Production Concerns
        Scout The Location
        Stay On Schedule
        To Lip Sync Or Not
        Camera Audio
        Get Establishing shots
        Shoot More Than One Take
        Using The Green/Blue Screen
    Post-Production Concerns
        Staying in Sync
        Use The Best Audio Quality
        Find The Right Editor
    Paperwork and Agreements
        Location Permits
        Cast Agreements

Chapter 10 – Electronic Press Kit Production
    Press Kit Elements
        Press Kit Electronic Additions
    Putting Together The Kit
        Make It Professional
        Take Care With The Photos
        Shooting The Interview
            Interview Techniques
            Framing The Interview
            The Follow-up
    Extra Equipment Needed
    Production Concerns
        Setting Up The Interview
            Example 1
            Example 2
            Interview Final Check
    Post-Production Concerns
        Dialog Editing
        Video Editing
    Paperwork and Agreements
    Final Thoughts

Chapter 11 – The Final Cut
    Exporting Your Video Master
        Picture Parameters
        Sound (Audio) Parameters
        Why So Many Different Formats?
            File Formats
            Choosing The Best Compression Format For Your Purpose
            16:9 Widescreen Versus Standard 4:3 Screen Size
    Compression Techniques

Chapter 12 – Posting Online
    Places To Post
        Using Tubemogul
    Best Encoding Practices
    Titles, Descriptions and Metadata
    Using Video On Your Site
    User Generated Content
        The Mashup


Chapter 5 Excerpt - Lighting Basics

Types of Light
There are basically two types of light – soft and hard, and they each have their particular uses. In general, hard light is not flattering and soft light creates a warmer feel.

Soft Light 
Soft light refers to light that wraps around the subject and casts shadows with soft edges. The softness of the light depends mostly on:

  • Distance of the light source. The closer the light source, the softer it becomes.
  • Size of the light source. The larger the source, the softer it becomes.
  • Angle of the light source between the illuminated object and the light source. The larger this angle is, the softer the light source. 

There are numerous uses for soft light. If you start to carefully observe lighting in real life, you’ll see them for yourself. Soft light:

  • Can cast shadow-less light.
  • Can reduce shadows without creating additional shadows. This is called “fill lighting.”
  • Can make a subject appear more youthful or presentable by making wrinkles less visible.
  • Is created by a floodlight. Floodlights illuminate a large area with diffuse soft light.

Hard Light
Generally speaking, hard light is used to portray a mood, like in a theatrical presentation. Hard light:

  • Will cast shadows that have harder, distinct edges with not much transition between illumination and shadow. 
  • Will produce harder-edged shadows. 
  • Will accentuate the textures and details in an object when hitting the textured surface at an angle.
  • Is created by a spotlight. A spotlight produces a narrow, focused beam of light.

It’s All About Contrast
Lighting is important for a lot of reasons, but if we break it down to just one thing, it’s all about contrast. Contrast is the range between the darkest and the brightest areas that we can perceive. Unfortunately, even the best studio cameras can’t handle the contrast of the world’s reality the way our eyes see it. Most people perceive a contrast range of about 1000:1 (darkest to the brightest), but the best video cameras can only deliver a contrast range of about 250:1 and your average camcorder can handle a contrast range of about 100:1. In order to stay inside your camera’s optimum exposure range, you have to compress the contrast range either by adding ambient light or by reducing light on overexposed areas.

For that reason, when we see a stage or location lit by video lighting, it doesn’t seem very realistic at all. When something looks well lit and easy to see to the naked eye, many times the lighting just won’t work for the camera because it’s out of the acceptable contrast range of the camera so we have to make everything brighter. That’s why you always see gigantic lights all over a movie set. All that light looks totally unrealistic to our eyes, but the camera sees it a lot differently. What that means is whenever you think you have plenty of light during a shoot, chances are the camera will want more.

Video Versus Home Lighting
One of the big differences between video lighting and home or architectural lighting that we’re so used to is the angle of the light. Architectural lighting is nearly always straight down from the ceiling, and that ends up casting some ugly shadows on the eyes and under the nose as a result. Video lighting is aimed into the subject’s face rather than down on the top of her head. This eliminates some of the ugly shadows and sends light into the eyes of the subject so that the viewer can connect with the her.

It’s been found that anywhere from a 45 to 75 degree angle (measured from the top of the head) works best. You can prove this to yourself if you have an on-camera light or flash on a still camera. Any light that point directly into the eyes of the subject gives them more of a “deer in the headlights” look or makes them squint. That’s why the angle is easier on the subject and more flattering as well.

Chapter 8 Excerpt - Performance Video Production

Performance Video Production

Paperwork and Agreements
The vast majority of shoots by club bands or up and coming artists can get away just fine without needing location or appearance releases. Let’s face it – your not big enough for anyone to care. It’s only when some big money starts to roll in (or the perception of money rolling in) that not having these agreements become an issue. That being said, you have to consider how big an act you are and where you’re located in order to determine the kind of agreements you need.

Crew Agreements
You probably won’t need an agreement with each member of your crew until you start paying them, with the exception of work done on spec, which means you’ll pay them later when some money comes in. Here’s a quick list of items that an agreement should cover.

How will the crew member be paid? By the hour, by the day, or by the project?

 When will that payment occur? At the end of the shoot or at some other time?

 How much time will the crew member be spending on the project, and what happens if you need him beyond that?

 What equipment, if any, will the crew member bring to the project?

 What kind of credits will he or she receive in return for their services?

This aren’t all the points that you can cover, but it’s enough for everyone to have an understanding of what’s expected of them.

Location Releases
Don’t assume that people will be just too happy to have you shoot on their property because it will be “good publicity.” Most property owners are now pretty hip to the fact that they can and should get paid for the likeness of their trademark, so it’s best to hash this out before the shoot. I was shooting in a famous Hollywood studio and was stunned to find out that the fee to shoot the outside of the building or the entrance where all their gold records were placed was $5,000. They wanted a fee to even film inside the studio, but waved it because I was a paying client and the shoot was during my session.

That being said, you can set up a camera to shoot in almost any bar or club in America and no one will ever say a thing, but just try it in even a dive bar in Hollywood, New York or Nashville and the club owner will be on you with his hand out so fast it’ll make your camera flip. If that’s the case, you’ll need a location release from the club owner, but you’ll probably have to pay to get it signed. This is also the case in just about any club, theater or venue above about 500 people that caters to national acts.

Many clubs will either charge you a token fee to shoot inside the club or wave the fee altogether, but if you shoot the marquis and the venue signage, they’ll want to get paid. That’s why you should always have an agreement in those situations and it should be with the owner or the venue manager, not a bartender with no authority. If you only get a verbal yes to shoot, you are open to them coming back at you at a later date with their hand out. In that case, you have zero negotiating power, and your only options are to either pay or not use any footage that features the venue.

What happens if you shoot without the release? Realistically, nothing if only 25 friends and fans see the video, but if the band blows up (makes it big) and the video goes viral to the tune of a couple of million views, the venue’s owner, manager or attorney might be filling your phone with texts asking for you to cease and desist showing it (or taking it off your DVD) or pay them a lot more money than you would’ve paid in the first place for the privilege of using the club’s likeness.

Appearance Releases
That’s also the reason why you get an appearance release from audience members if they’re shown, even if they are fans. They’re not officially “talent”, but they’re treated as such if they’re in your video. Sure, some like the attention and are initially flattered, but if the band blows up later there’s always someone that thinks you’re making way more money than you really are and thinks their appearance is the reason why. Most fans are only too happy to sign off on a agreement as it makes them feel special that they’ll be in a video.

So what do you do with a crowd? The safest way is to get everyone to personally sign off, and that’s best done as they enter the club at the door. Another effective way is to give them a ticket stub that states that they may be filmed and that by entering the club they agree that you can use the footage and their likeness for as long and in whatever way you want.

If you’re just a club band with a mailing list of 500 and playing out in the sticks of Arkansas, chances are that you’ll never need any sort of agreement from anyone, but if you want to cover your butt, get one anyway. These things have a way of coming back to haunt you as you get more successful. Clubs and audience members rarely think about free exposure, they think “exploitation” and they want some bucks (usually a lot more than they’re worth). In order to avoid all that, be sure to get a location agreement and appearance agreements from anyone if you think the video will go anywhere beyond your private viewing. Check out the DVD for some examples of agreements.