Shooting and Editing Music Videos (Gr 5-6)

Wow, this was a tough one. This project ended up ok, but didn’t happen as I originally intended. Let me explain.

The whole point of getting students to shoot and edit their own music videos, was to teach them the technique of “multicam editing”. This is the technique where multiple cameras are used to shoot a scene (let’s say, a close up, medium shot and wide shot) and the editors in Premiere Pro would sync each clip together (usually with a clapperboard sound or hand clapping) and then simply choose which clip to place in their video one at a time.

Here is a good video that explains the process.

I thought – and this shows my lack of education in this area – that i could adapt this by having the students in groups to have 3-4 different versions of them performing a song. Let’s say . . .

  • Version 1: Kids singing the song
  • Version 2: Other kids singing the song
  • Version 3: Kids dancing to the song
  • Version 4: Kids “acting” parts of the song.

They would need to play their song from an iPad off camera on a count of 1,2,3 – Go. That word GO is what would sync all the clips in Premiere.

Make sense? Well, sort of. What I came to realise is that’s not really what multicam editing is meant to be for. It only really works if mutliple cameras are shooting the same scene, as the name implies. Also, the kids would need to record each version for the entire length of the song. Most groups did not do that.

So, I had to backtrack a bit, after seeing what the kids filmed. We had to look at editing it in a more traditional way.

So, to set up this project, I got each group to nominate which song they wanted to do. I said that it had to be a song that the singers in the group knew very well. I assured them that we would take out the sound in editing, and sync the real song in it’s place – so, no need to feel self conscious. I also made it clear that they couldn’t lipsync the song. Lip syncing always looks incredibly fake. Obviously I had to vett the songs to make sure they were appropriate. Although the kids knew that meant no swearing or inappropriate content like sex, drugs and violence, they often would miss some of the more subtle innuendos in the song, in which case I told them they had to choose again.

musicvideo

I then put all the songs on iPads 1-6. These were the “audio” iPads. iPads 7-12 were my “video” iPads – the ones that the kids would use for filming. Again, the idea is that the audio iPad would be close to the video iPad, but off camera, with a countdown.

In explaining all of this, I showed them a cut down version of what I did. I always say to the kids that I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I would not do myself. So, on my own, I did do a (deliberately embarrassing) version of Pharell Williams “Happy”. I filmed the song four times, in this way.

  • Version 1: Singing standing up in one location
  • Version 2: Singing sitting down in another location
  • Version 3: Dancing to the song in yet another location
  • Version 4: Snapping my fingers to the song in yet another location

When I filmed, edited and explained this, it was still my intention to go the multicam route. If I had known that we would be editing this traditionally, I wouldn’t have bothered to film the entire song for Version 3 and 4. It wouldn’t be necessary. These two I call wild tracks, because it doesn’t matter where in the video you put them, it still works. Obviously the singing has to be in the right point in the song.

To my chagrin, here is my (cutdown) version of Happy.

So, after laughing hard for about 10 minutes, each class went out to do the filming. One group even went to the effort of bringing costumes for the shoot, which I loved!

It was once I reviewed what they had done that I realised that the multicam workflow was not going to work. Especially since most students had not recorded full song videos for each clip.

So, for the next session, once all their videos were transferred to our school server, we could begin looking at how to edit this music video traditionally.

The first step was to sync the song to the video. This required students to listen out for that 1,2,3,go intro and put the song right at that point, muting the video audio at the same time. Then they had to look at other clips they had, and choose subclips at different points.

Here’s a video I made to explain the proceess. Please note, because I used the Pharell Williams song “Happy” I didn’t play the sound in the video below for copyright reasons

The whole project took 3 sessions, with the first being the shoot, and the last two being the edit. Although the students did save the projects and export them as movies, we could not upload them to YouTube for their portfolios because of copyright issues with the songs themselves. This was the perfect opportunity to explain why copyright exists and the permissions needed to include other people’s songs on projects. We did save them and share them, though.

All in all, a challenging project that did need to be reworked, but the students had a lot of fun doing it.

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