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How not to make a music video

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Making a music video looks like it should be reasonably simple, but it is fraught with pitfalls. The Loughborough Student Union (LSU) Executive has had plenty of experience making awful music videos to promote the Student Union; its latest offering, which is a take on Naughty Boy’s song “La La La”, plumbs new depths so extreme that it has become a YouTube hit.

Of course, the LSU video was probably made tongue-in-cheek. It does, however, serve to illustrate what not to do if you are making a music video:

  • Don’t use people who can’t sing. The people in your video should be able to sing at least tolerably well – there’s nothing worse than someone singing out of tune.
  • Don’t try to film without a tripod. It takes great skill and considerable practice to hold a video camera steady. From the opening frames of the LSU video it is clear from the unsteady picture that the camera is being hand held. This detracts from the video and makes it difficult to watch.
  • Avoid panning too fast. Early in the LSU video a singer points to an image on a wall but the camera pans away so quickly that it impossible to discern what is being shown. This mistake is easily avoidable – just slow down.
  • Watch the lighting. Lighting in all types of photography is the key to a great image. Strong lighting behind the subject will make it appear dark while too much light, from a flash or floodlight on the camera for example, can bleach out the subject and reflect off the subject. This happens several times in the LSU video. It makes the video hard to watch and the images hard to see.
  • Control the framing of the picture. Keeping the subject properly in frame is an obvious necessity. It keeps viewers interested and means that they see exactly what you want them to see.
  • Don’t keep flitting between close-ups and longer shots. There is nothing more frustrating and annoying for viewers than continual movement from close-up to longer views and back again.
  • Don’t breach copyright. Popular music is usually copyrighted which means that you have to get permission before you can use it.

With all these mistakes, you would expect the LSU video to have been a disaster, but to the contrary it has attracted massive attention, possibly because it is so bad that no one can believe it so everyone wants to see it. From LSU’s point of view, therefore, the video has been a great success because it has been watched by thousands and has been the subject of articles in the press and on radio.

It is also a good advertisement for Clifton Clothing, providers of the snazzy looking polo shirts worn by the guys and girls. Perhaps it all goes to prove that a video doesn’t have to be brilliant to attract a big audience.

You can see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w4vwTdQcPc andhttp://www.thecontroversy.co.uk/ (this also has some previous efforts by the Loughborough students).

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