You should be aware of such dangerous titles that pretend to give you a ultimate flawless creation method, the good tip, the good recipe, a system like some would say that would allow you for sure to make a perfect video…
Well, you’re right, because man got to Earth with a whole package and the taste was part of it. First, a video about 3 balls of paper could be as appreciated as a video financed by several million dollars. Although with money it is a lot easier (this article starts well, no?), it hasn’t so much to deal with the fact that money gives you access to exuberant material goods but more with providing the access to very experienced and talented people. With the development of communications tools, specially the Internet, we live in an Era of Concepts and Ideas and anyone who has good ideas today will sooner or later be recognized.
As in every creation there is the base content (the message, the concept) and the shape (it’s round, it’s blue, it moves, it’s beautiful). In this article we will not take too much time on the question «How to find the right idea?» that is directly related with creativity and which we will discuss shortly. No, we will be discussing the general keys and making a list of the technical and aesthetic characteristics from big productions videos. So, on the characteristics of a good video we rely on an average, «standard» model, and off course every rule has its share of exceptions.
General keys and definitions to make a Pro-Video
Before starting to create your video, you should keep in mind a few guidelines that may seem obvious but a list always helps to clarify their meaning. Keep this in mind and watch the quality of your videos increase considerably.
- Run through images
- Get ready in advance
- Final goals – Message and Emotion
- A video is all about music
- Don’t do anything halfway, be demanding without falling into an excessive perfectionism
- Know how to make sacrifices
- Know how to surround
- Be critical
- Consider yourself already a pro
Run Through Images
It’s certainly one of the most important rules you should put on permanent practice. Be curious and be inspired by every visual elements around you. Expand your visual culture, open your mind to different styles, not just to videos: explore illustration, films, sculpture, dance… As the inspiration is all around you, you become a mix of it.
Get Ready in Advance
Usually we don’t get to the filming set shouting “C’est bon Jacquot, action!”, we do research, draw story-boards, write lines on sheets of paper… So even if we wish to preserve some creative freedom, spontaneity, you should allow yourself to have space for creative freedom. There is also the filming preparation (batteries charged, full equipment, prepared sandwiches…) for your creative ability must reflect your ability to well-produce.
Final goals – Message and Emotion
Throughout all your reflective phase, while the avalanche of ideas and their gathering, keep in mind this two issues:
Is this choice consistent with my message? Will it bring something to it?
And specially: will this choice touch the viewer?
The term message doesn’t suit everyone; however, if we want to create a bound between the viewer and our video, we shouldn’t reflect on the emotion’s economy that will generate a choice.
A Video is all about Music
Once you cut the music out, your clip will lose part of its emotional charge, such as when we cut the sound of a horror movie. All the rigor you should apply to creating your video, you should have previously applied to your music. Afterwards, you must ensure a perfect marriage between image and sound, for the ambience of one should illustrate the ambience of the other to clearly make any emotion meet your intentions.
Don’t do anything half-way
If your goal is to be credible, to be taken seriously, you have to get to the bottom of it. Do you think in professional productions they say “She didn’t finish the 007’s costume? It’s not a big deal, I’ll finish it quickly at Célio’s…”? No, every detail counts and if your will isn’t to make other people laugh or to become a «has been», you better change your mind other than getting half-way through.
Be demanding without falling into an excessive perfectionism
You should be demanding and perfectionist, however the main challenge is to distinguish the perfectionism from the excess of perfectionism. You can be a perfectionist and work as fast as anyone who makes a mess of their job, but this degree of competence involves having been confronted with a set of problems, which is what we call experience.
Know how to make sacrifices
Do not loose time, go straight to the point, because otherwise you will lose the initial enthusiasm and you could do wrong and end up doing nothing of what you anticipated. You should know how to put aside too much ambitious ideas.
Know how to surround yourself
Working with specialists will provide you more time but also and especially quality. The only condition is that they are good and may not agree to work with someone by sentimentalism because you may bring your amateurism to you production.
Be critical and compare yourself to the best
No mercy on yourself, do not be judged by mom, grandma or friends, watch the best, analyze what differs between the quality of your work and theirs, and rectify yours.
Consider yourself already a pro
The problem when starting a new career is that it takes a while until we feel at ease and thus professional. Therefore, you must force yourself to consider yourself a professional since the beginning, by having the same rigor and by putting yourself in their skin. By consciously putting this exercise into practice self-confidence will come faster. However, you should put in a good skin, which means, of a humble professional and not of a pretentious artist.
The characteristic points of a Music video
Here are the features we believe that can make the difference between an amateur and a professional video:
- The average duration of each shot
- The diversity of shots
- The type of shot
- Transition effects
- Effects to boost the dynamics of the clip
- Creative effects
- The camera moves
- The quality of shots
- The quality of lights
- The scenario
The average duration of each shot
3min30 is the average length of broadcast videos, certainly there are exceptions but overall the format is this one. In a clip, playing with the duration of the shots is a way to get those famous 3min30. To show a figure, the average length of a shot for current clips is 1.22 seconds. Some shots can last from 3 to 4 seconds, so average implies that many of them last less than a second! Of course, again there are exceptions and some clips are shot in sequence shots as “You Are My Hight” from Demon, but in general we can say that short shots help punctuate a clip and that model is the most adopted one by unanimity.
Diversity of shots in a video
Front view, from above, on the beach, in a castle, with glasses, without glasses … The dynamics of a video are constantly fed by different shots spread gradually throughout its duration. There are on average 180 shots that make up a direction of 3min30. The diversity of shots is a recurring feature in professional clips.
The type of plans of a clip
Closely related to diversity, the type of shots used plays a huge part on the final rendering of a direction. Don’t make a mistake on the true meaning of what I call “type of shot” at a time, the association of different frames (Wide shot, American shot …), camera movements, composites shot categories and contexts. And therefore the use of certain types of shots helps to make a professional video.
A transition effect is an effect used to move from one shot to another and as much as you can say all presets of your favourite editing software are not welcome. Here is a non-exhaustive list of transitions to free your videos from, as you will not be famous for them: the 3D cube effect, the book page effect, the 180º screen rotation effect, the page burning effect (it is a beautiful one), etc., etc. In professional videos there is often sharp transitions and blinding flashes.
“Boost up” effect types
The “Boost Up” effects are utilized to boost the rhythm of a clip. Among this effects we have the image shaking (VIDEO-SHAKE), the quick scaling (SPEED ZOOMING), the layer shifts (GLIDE-LAYER) or the repeat of luminous flashes (LIGHT-PULSE). Of course the classic travelling technique participates in the dynamic visuals of the video shots, but these are classic and historic effects, and deserve a category for themselves. We found among this classics an historic fact, the offset or the “Vertigo effect”, from the film with the same name, where Alfred Hitchcock has tried it for the first time.
The creative effects
Creative effects are often risky since they often demand technical skills and can rarely be summarized in the application of a simple “artistic” filter to appear convincing. Examples include the so-called painting or drawing animated simulations often made chaotic, though the use and the careful combination of creative effects leads to too much interesting results in order to denigrate. For example, the combination of the effect with a Glow Edge Find & a Hue – Saturation gives a rather original result. Apart the filters we can perfectly speak about the traditional techniques, such as the real cartoon, stop-motion, model building … which always bring a noble key achievements.
The camera movements
Except for artistic choice, camera movements are always stabilized and movements are fluid & linear. To do this, professionals have at their disposal a range of tools, like a steady-cam, crane or rail … of which there are more economic alternatives for limited budgets. Stabilization is one of the fundamental points for rendering qualitative.
The quality of shots
By “quality shots” I mean all the aesthetic characteristics resulting from optical properties of your capture device (definition, sharpness of the image, depth of field, exposure, white balance), also care brought to the image processing in production and post-production (trimming, colorimetry …). None of these criteria should be neglected and it is true that some of them are only available to holders of professional equipment which is obviously overpriced. Fortunately, there are solutions and fallback techniques to obtain surprising results even when filming with a smartphone.
The quality of the light
Here the semi-pro is often unmasked. Understanding & control of light are crucial steps to a convincing render. Even with the best capturing equipment in the world you will not succeed at the pro clips, without having “tamed” the light, and in contrast you will get amazing results with amateur equipment when you have done this. This is a very broad topic that deserves further study.
Most of the TV broadcasted clips are just empty scenario and are in general as simple as overlaping beautiful images without a structured story. It is an artistic, economic but also cultural choice. However, the scenario, the quality of the concept, the strength of the idea, are often the criteria that ensures a better continuity in your designs, because these attributes usually manifest a form of intelligence. The technical achievement is a slave of time, the proof is our perpetual desire to return to vintage, because even for the technological objects, it is the symbol they represent that will continuously affect us emotionally.
Be curious, open and demanding, marry the content and form the most skilfully as possible, and you should do a good job.