The great thing about creating shot lists for music videos, is that you’re not usually writing speaking lines for your actors or talent. This allows you to solely focus on the look of the video and each shot. Pure aesthetics is all you’re focusing on as you prepare your music video from start to finish. This also makes the artist happy, because very few musicians want speaking roles and lines to memorize. They DO know their music, however. And when you place them in front of a camera and tell them to flow to their song, that’s usually right up their alley and for the most part, pressure free. So, you’ve definitely come to the right place to learn how to create a shot list for a music video.
So, next comes the shot list. Depending on the style of music video you’re filming, shot list styles will vary. If your band/group/artist is looking for a ‘live performance’ style video, there doesn’t necessarily need to be much concrete planning of shots. The videographers will definitely want to have a plan in place so that they are working in unison, rather than getting in each other’s way. After all, if you’re only filming with 2 cameras and one of them catches the other in their frame, then you better hope the other camera has a solid shot or you’ll be forced to work a little magic video editing in post. Ultimately, however, live performance style music videos mainly require you to know what sort of shots you need before the song begins to play and the performer does their thing.
As for story-style music videos, the shot list is going to be your best friend.
If you don’t have the shot list down pat, your day of filming is going to be hectic with a lot of standing around wondering what to do next. That’s not good for you or your client. At Stories and Stills, we begin with a basic shot list/filming plan for our clients to ensure that we’re all on the same page and our vision matches the client’s vision. Once that is agreed upon and our client is satisfied, we move on to the official shot list for the music video. This is usually created on our end, as many musicians/artists would rather spend their time concentrating on their craft. After all, that’s why they hired us in the first place.
The first thing you need to do is listen to the song numerous times to get a feel for the song and the story behind it. The more times you listen, the more ideas will pop into your head for how to best showcase the story in the video. In addition, the more times you’ve heard the song, the more likely you are to imagine ideas that aren’t obvious, low-hanging fruit shots. This helps to build respect between you and the artist. After all, if they are able to come up with the same ideas as you (the videographer), they might not even need you.
So, how to create a shot list for a music video begins with the big ideas. Write or type out your main ideas into large chunks of the song. Pay close attention to the factors that will cost you time and money on the day of the shoot. Logistics and practicality play a major role as you put together the pieces of the puzzle. Once you have the large puzzle pieces arranged, the next step is to imagine each specific shot. We’re talking camera angles, movements, zoom or distance from the subject, etc. This will make the day of filming feel like the easiest part of the entire process. And make it way more fun for you, your crew, and the artist.
We also recommend using an app for the shoots that really need extra attention to detail. There are numerous options out there.
We particularly like the apps that allow you to insert pictures into your shot list. That way, you can add images to your shot list that are similar to the shots you are pursuing, which helps take out the guess work on the day of filming. And, if you have additional videographers working with you, you can show them the camera angles and looks you’re going for. It’s also a major benefit to your artist. Simply show them the image you’ve added to the shot list app, and provide them direction based on that image. It’s like showing a model what pose to make before you take the picture, rather than just telling them what to do. It’s always easier to show than tell.
We hope this post helps you learn how to create a shot list for a music video. If nothing else, it should at least get you started. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions. If you’re a musical artist out there looking for a video production company to create your next big music video, we’d love to work with you. All genres welcome!