The trick with music video clips

Some enthusiast videographers buy cameras in order to shoot music videos for local indie bands (and I am one of them). One thing to realize though is that professionally-looking music videos need a special kind of shooting. You can’t just set your HV20 to PF24 and expect the “music video” look.

Check this video here, recorded in 25p with a Canon HV30 at a live performance. And then check this video clip here, which is a proper music video, also recorded at 25p with a Canon HV20.

You will immediately notice how different the *motion* is between the two clips, even if they were recorded at similar shutter speeds and frame rate. The first video looks like “video”, and the second one looks like a proper video like the ones you watch on MTV or VH1. No, the “film look” has nothing to do with this, neither the shutter speed does.

Instead, there was a trick that was used during the recording to give it that look. They first burnt a CD with the song in question, but sped it up during its audio encoding to about 25%-33%. Then, they have the band perform the song at this sped-up rate (lip-syncing of course, as they hear it from the portable CD player that usually sits close to the drummer, who guides the rest of the band in terms of beat).

Then, on post production, you slow-down the band shots as much as needed in order for the lip-syncing to sync with the non-sped-up song version. This way, you get this kinda slow-motion look that you see on pretty much 95% of music video clips since the ’80s. Because this trick is used so much on music clips and because it’s only slightly unnatural, most people don’t realize that this is not the way it looks in real life or even how it was recorded. Here’s how you carry out this trick.

There are other ways to have the same effect, as long as your video editor supports it, but if its algorithm is even just a bit nuts, you won’t be able to get the same synced result, so the speed-up audio way remains the most fool-proof way. A discussion about this can be found here.

While this gives an otherworldly feeling to the viewer, it certainly changes fashion and likings. Most people now dislike normally-shot versions of songs. They just don’t feel right, even if THESE are the ones that are actually “right”. Sign ‘o’ the times.


Dave Rosky wrote on April 4th, 2008 at 3:41 PM PST:

Hi Eugenia, I’ll leave a comment even though you’ve turned them off for future posts.

Your last paragraph says a lot. This is sort of the same thing that causes so many videographers to want that “film look” even though modern video cameras can reproduce motion and color more faithfully than film.

Michael wrote on April 7th, 2008 at 1:56 PM PST:

Comments are closed as this blog post is now archived.

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