Editing Live Music Videos: Timing Your Cuts

I covered the macro aspects of editing in my previous post; check that out for my take on how to use subject, balance, distance & pacing to support the music. This is the micro side; zooming in on each cut to make sure it lands on the best frame. This is one of those things that makes a small difference individually, and a big difference across the whole video. When you nail your timing, the cuts flow seamlessly (sometimes invisibly) through the song, becoming another aspect that supports the performance rather than distracting from it. My cuts land on one of two cues; visual & audio.

Visual Cues

Visual cues are motions that draw the viewer’s attention, covering up the transition of a cut and maintaining the visual flow. Visual cues include:

  • a performer moving, turning, waving, nodding, jumping, etc.
  • a guitar strum, piano chord, drum hit, etc.
  • a light flare or lighting change
  • a camera pan or zoom

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Continue reading “Editing Live Music Videos: Timing Your Cuts”

Editing Live Music Videos: Recreating the Concert Experience

For me, editing a live music video is about recreating the performance through the eyes of the audience. Imagine you were the entire audience; not just one person, but everyone in the venue. What would your collective experience be? You’d be watching the performance from the front row, from the balcony, and from the crowd. Your focus would shift from the bassist to the lead singer, to the drummer as he laid down a fill, and to the people rocking out in the front. When I’m cutting together a live concert video, I’m trying to recreate that experience; bringing the viewer into the space and creating the feeling of being right there.

My second goal is to follow the music. The musicians are already telling a story through their words and notes; my job is to support & mirror all those elements. A bad edit will work against the music, cutting out of time and focusing on the wrong subjects. A good edit flows with the beat, amplifying the hits & emotional energy of the music. When I’m putting the edit together, I’m focusing on four elements; subject, balance, distance, & pacing.

Subject

Editing live music videos is mostly a pragmatic process; my main goal is just to focus on the most interesting element at any moment. On my first pass, I’ll go through all theĀ  different angles and pick out the best moments from each (I’ll also cut out any uninteresting or unusable footage). For the lead singer, I’ll pick out the verses & choruses. For the guitarist, I’ll pick out riffs that stand out and any solo sections. For the drummer, drum fills; and so on.

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In my second pass, I’ll go through and pick the most interesting moments from all the angles combined. At this point, I’ve got a good starting point to build my edit from. Continue reading “Editing Live Music Videos: Recreating the Concert Experience”

Breakdowns: How Much Does a Live Music Video Cost?

I’ve been studying Alex Chaloff’s music videos recently, as they’re incredible examples of live music captures. It’s a testament to his work that even though I’m taking notes on camera angles, lighting, and sound all the way through, I can’t help but get lost in the performances.

Part of breaking down these videos is figuring out how much it might cost to put together a production like this. That’s helpful for me as it puts my rates into context; it’s also helpful for my clients to understand what goes into creating a video at this level.

There’s two parts to the cost of a production; kit fees and labor costs. Kit fees cover the equipment, and labor covers the efforts of everyone involved. $600 is a standard day rate for studios & camera ops here in CO, so I’ll use that for my estimates. As for the kit, a standard rate is 1% of its value per day. Let’s start with a minimal shoot like this one:

Continue reading “Breakdowns: How Much Does a Live Music Video Cost?”