Dua Lipa’s video chat performance of “Don’t Start Now” for James Corden was so instantly iconic, indie-pop hitmakers Walk Off the Earth created their own cover video. When social distancing measures cancelled their upcoming music video shoot, folk-rockers Thao and the Get Down Stay Down changed the location – to Zoom. The queen of vintage turned out to be way ahead of the curve: Lana Del Rey has been shooting unique music videos on iPhone for years (true to form, she prefers the 8mm Vintage Camera app).
Social distancing recommendations have made conventional video shoots largely impossible, and it’s unclear when it will be safe for them to resume. But that doesn’t mean that artists can’t create and release great video to connect with fans and promote their music – or that “going live” has to be the only option. As the examples above demonstrate, the content you can make during isolation is only limited by your ingenuity, and restrictions have always been fertile ground for sparking creativity.
Here are a few tools, techniques, and tips for producing high-quality video at home to get your creative juices flowing.
If you happen to have a camera that shoots high-quality video (like most DSLR models), you’re halfway there to creating great video content from home. Most of us, however, will be relying on our phones. Luckily, recent models of phones come equipped with fantastic cameras that allow you to achieve great results. This New York Times guide has some great tips for beginners looking to get the most out of cell phone video; here are some of our suggestions:
- Turn it sideways. Unless there is some compelling reason to shoot vertical video, always shoot your videos horizontally! It works better on more devices, and gives you better options when it comes to editing.
- Think about your lighting. Choose a location with bright, even lighting; “softer,” more diffuse lighting will be the most flattering. Avoid areas with overwhelming backlighting, such as in front of a window. Use your camera app to lock in your focus and exposure (typically by pressing and holding). You might want to invest the ubiquitous selfie ring light; there are many affordable options available online.
- Sound is just as important as image – if not more so. Choose a quiet location without extraneous background noise. Test-record some audio beforehand, as many distracting sounds might not be audible to the ear. If possible, use a second phone closer to your subject to record audio. You might even want to invest in an external microphone.
- Use a third-party camera app for enhanced controls. Filmic Pro is the gold standard for controlling your phone’s video camera and optimizing your image, but it can be intimidating for those not familiar with the manual settings of professional cameras. The iPhone-only app Movie Pro is also useful. If you want the vintage look (without having to teach yourself a lot of post-production techniques), try the 8mm Vintage Camera app – you’ll be shooting like Lana Del Rey in minutes.
Making the Cut
There are plenty of applications out there to edit video from your laptop or mobile device, designed with anything from home video of your three-year-old’s birthday party to an action-packed, effects-laden summer blockbuster in mind. Prices and required skill levels vary widely – here’s a breakdown of a few popular options:
- iMovie. Apple’s beginner editing software comes packaged for free with Apple products (it’s also available for download from the App Store), and is available across both desktop and mobile devices. However, its narrow range of options can be limiting, and lead to a “canned” feel to your finished video. That being said, you really can’t beat the price. Naturally, iMovie is only available for Apple products, so PC and Android users will need to look elsewhere.
- Adobe Premiere Pro. Adobe’s flagship video editing software is a great option for more experienced users, offering a full range of professional video capabilities (as well as integration with companion apps like Photoshop across Adobe Creative Cloud). Many tutorials are available for users who want to take advantage of this time to increase their skills, but the learning curve – not to mention the price for a Creative Cloud subscription – can be steep.
- Adobe Premiere Rush. Adobe’s stripped-down, beginners version of Premiere offers the ease of iMovie with more flexibility and a wider range of options, including some great motion graphics templates. Like iMovie, it’s also available across desktop and mobile devices (including PC and Android). Rush allows for three free exports before a monthly subscription fee of $9.99. I’d say it’s the best option for beginners who are willing to spend some cash (and maybe graduate to Premiere Pro later).
- Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. Another professional application known in the industry for its supremely powerful color grading tools, DaVinci Resolve is free to download and use (a paid “Studio” version offers a few extra features most users won’t require). For anyone looking to try out advanced video editing techniques without laying out cash upfront, DaVinci Resolve is an ideal option.
That’s A Wrap!
It can feel overwhelming trying out new programs but there are plenty of tutorials to check out on YouTube if this is the case. Have fun with the options out there and see what programs work best for you!