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Table of Contents

  1. Historical Context
  2. Music Videos – Analysis and Interpretation
  3. Light Intensity – Psychological Research Study
  4. My thoughts, after investigating thus far
  5. Colour Theory
  6. Right = Good….Left = Evil?
  7. Tips and Tricks, Going back to Basics, Focusing on the Details
  8. Target Audience
  9. Copyright
  10. Microphones – Recording Drums and Vocals
  11. Research into film location
  12. Camera Choice
  13. Editing Software – Final Cut Pro
  14. Harvard Referenced Bibliography


Music Videos – Historical Context

Although MTV was the main reason behind music videos becoming popular, there were still music videos being made before MTV started airing them. The Beatles were purveyors of early music videos, after giving up touring in 1966, they made short promotional videos for their singles, the most well-known of which was ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. The music video featured fades, slow motion and reverse effects, and ‘unusual, and slightly imposing’ camera angles. (Quora. 2010) (Cawley, C. 2015)

It can be debated that the first ever music video was The Little Lost Child, produced in 1894. The song was the first ever ‘illustrated song’ – this was an art form in which live performers or a music recording would be accompanied by images or moving pictures that projected onto a screen. (4) These illustrated songs would be played in movie theatres and often were the precursors to silent movies or were played for the audience during reel changes, but also were sometimes played on their own as the main attraction. Although these early versions of the music video weren’t recorded, mass produced or distributed, they still had an impact on the listeners – ‘the illustrated song technique proved so enduring it was still being used to sell songs before movies and during reel changes in movie theaters as recently as 1937 when some color movies had already begun to appear.’ (Wikipedia. 2017)

People often argue that the first ‘real’ music video was ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ by The Buggles. This is most likely because it was the first m/v to be aired on MTV, however there were already whole TV show dedicated to showing music videos, and this is obviously what the song is commenting on – the fact that TV had begun to undermine radio and take the world by storm, artists were no longer getting as much traction from just making music. Their audience wanted visuals, too. (Music Fans Stack Exchange. 2018)


Music Videos – Analysis and Interpretation


It’s important to remember that music videos are made to accompany music, and not to surpass or outshine them. They need to enhance the song, the audio visual experience, and highlight the meaning of the lyrics. I find that analysing others’ interpretations of their own work helps to reinforce my ideas and perhaps bring some new ideas to the table. 

I’ve realised that a lot of the music videos I view every day influence my decisions, especially when it comes to the presentation of the visuals to my own music. 

Obviously I already have a very clear vision for my video, but I found some interesting features in music videos by Sigrid, Aurora, Massive Attack, and Kate Bush, that I think will synchronise with my vision well. 


Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ really has an impact on me due to the delicacy of the production and attention to detail in the lighting and set up.

Bush wrote the song to describe the difficulties that men and women have understanding each other, and has said ‘”if we (men and women) could actually swap each other’s roles…..be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised….it would lead to a greater understanding…..the only way I could think it could be done was….a deal with God!”‘ (Bush, Kate. BBC Radio 1. 1992)

The song obviously has a lot of meaning to Bush, relating to equality, acceptance and the interpretation of other’s experiences. Even though Bush isn’t directly speaking to him in the song, I feel that she is quietly begging God to agree on the deal, or praying. The dance between her and the male actor represents this praying in a physical format, the gentleness of the movements and softness of the lighting conjures an image of a person praying at an altar, the sun streaming into the room mimicking the way light behaves when shining through church windows. Very clever subliminal imagery magic.

Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill – Official Music Video. (Bush, Kate. 2011)


Although my music video will be in no way similar to theirs, I feel that ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack is still relevant in considering different options for my visuals. My interpretation of this song is that the narrator is speaking about not being afraid to love, trusting your instincts, and ‘teardrop on the fire, fearless on my breath’, describing how the person feels no shame in crying, they understand and accept their emotions for what they are. The video uses soft lighting, in a similar way to ‘Running Up That Hill’, with a gentleness and delicate warmth that makes it feel as if the baby is praying, while narrating the song’s lyrics.

At points within the video, the contrast between light and dark is taken to such extremes that the focal point of a scene is almost in complete shadow, leaving only a patch of the image still lit. It appears to resemble a lunar eclipse, probably considered by the directors as a reference to the lyrics, ‘night, night of matter, black flowers blossom’. It is also likely that they considered the moon as a metaphor for allowing oneself to feel – with connotations of femininity, emotiveness, vulnerability and sensitivity, the idea of a lunar eclipse perfectly ties in with many of the lyrics, ‘gentle impulsion….fearless on my breath….of a confession…..as in love falling apart’

Massive Attack – Teardrop. (Massive Attack. 2009)


When filming my last music video, I had an idea for a scene in Before Our Time: a hand, or body, pushing through material. This idea plays with light and shadow, the simple movement of the material stretching. I then later found this idea used in Sigrid’s ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ video (6) –

Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe. (Sigrid. 2017)

Sigrid uses this idea to resonate with the song’s lyrics:

‘you shot me down, you like the control…..you love to tear me down and pick me apart…….don’t kill my vibe!’

The visual symbolises her being pulled down, pushed and pulled around by the other person who is constantly trying to bend her to their will, and she is trying to pull away, shake it off, by telling the other ‘don’t kill my vibe’. (6)

I think this visual aspect would be great interspersed with the other scenes, and would be particularly powerful using a nude lycra material, replicating skin. Similar to Sigrid’s idea, it will also symbolise the child narrating Before Our Time, trying to escape what the world has in store, while still in the womb. They are trying to fight against what is pulling them down.

Aurora also uses this pushing idea in her ‘Conqueror’ music video, when she is exploring a large glowing box – she cuts into the box and there is a boy inside. I understand this to symbolise all negative emotions, sadness, emptiness, loneliness, calling out to her, making the box glow and pulse, and the boy is the embodiment of these emotions. (Aurora. 2016)


AURORA – Conqueror. (Aurora. 2016)

Aurora uses a lot of bright white lighting in her videos, conveying purity, clarity and serenity. It also encourages a brighter sound to the track, I feel, for the viewer, as they see such striking and clear visuals. The white glow is a running theme in a lot of her videos, with the tone of the light adjusted to suit the mood of each song:

‘I Went Too Far’

The stunning bright lighting reflects the cool blue of the sea below Aurora, which in turn reflects the light sadness within the song (she sings about giving herself up in order to receive love from others, and finally realising what she has done, she sings ‘why can’t I turn around and walk away, go back in time?’

The bright light also shows her heading to a better place at the end of the video where she isn’t rejected, she isn’t covering up her true self. As well as the lighting, I also really like the storyline of the video and how it progresses, with Aurora climbing a ladder that rises out of the ocean – in the end she finally gets to the top of the ladder, where another ocean begins, and dives in. I love the way the video has a simple yet effective storyline which echoes the philosophy of the song. (Aurora. 2016)

‘Runaway’

This song is about wanting to go home, not belonging. From this lighting and the way it was filmed, I feel like the light is pulling, or calling her back home, where she is happy and accepted, not in the darkness anymore where she is misunderstood. The shining light serves as a beacon to the place she calls home – ‘but no, take me home, take me home where I belong’. (Aurora. 2015)


‘Queendom’

Bright white lighting gives a regal feeling, holiness and purity, peace and reverence. The light also has a slight golden, warm tint to it, which really transfers the uplifting and positive vibe of the song to the viewer.

The video also includes scenes similar to ‘Running Up That Hill’, where sunlight streams onto the artist and creates a fascinating play between light and shadow, onto the walls and floor of a ruined building, with peeling paint and dust. It makes the building look beautifully aged and weathered. The incredible use of light in this manner echoes with the philosophy of the song, the ‘Queendom’ being a place where broken, strange, and different people can gather, and be outcasts together, shining light and warmth onto each other’s ‘flaws’ and ‘inperfections’. (Aurora. 2018)


‘Conqueror’

This video uses a lot of golden, warm and peachy lighting to show the happiness of the song in a visual form. It is also a strong juxtaposition to the underlying sadness of the track itself: ‘I’ve been looking for the conqueror, but you don’t seem to come my way’.

In my eyes the lighting was used as a way of describing visually the warm feeling one gets when hopeful, expecting something positive to happen. This lighting goes away as the lyrics become more negative, and reveals the boy in the dark room, the harsh truth that the hope was for nothing.

However, after the second chorus, Aurora sings ‘but I feel a-la-la-live’ – pushing away the broken hope and powering on through the loss, and the lighting turns bright and airy again, with cold light streaming through windows onto the artist, echoing the regained positivity. (Aurora. 2016)


Light Intensity – Psychological Research Study

The fact that a different emotions or atmosphere can be created just through the use of light, and the tone of the light, really interests me, as it is a stand-alone feature that has a massive impact on the viewer’s experience.

I researched this in more detail, and found that there were scientific studies carried out to find out how and why lighting affects emotions. One study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, showed that ‘the more intense the lighting, the greater a person’s emotions — both positive and negative.’ (HuffPost. 2014) – this reinforces my ideas about Aurora’s music videos using the sometimes blinding white light to heighten the meaning behind each song. 

The findings showed that feelings of warmth (in the participants) increased in response to bright light, even when the temperature of the room was kept the same’ (HuffPost. 2014), and this is the main feeling I think Aurora and her team were going for in her videos, to intensify the reaction to the positive or negative stimulus of the song, through the vivid visual aspect. Coincidentally, when the participants in the study were exposed to brighter lighting, they thought ‘positive words were more “positive”, and the negative words were more “negative”‘ (HuffPost. 2014), providing evidence that just the brightness of the surroundings, or the screen in front of a viewer/listener, plays a massive part in increasing the potency of the lyrics and music.  


My thoughts, after investigating thus far:

I would love to use bright, cold, white light in Before Our Time, as I want to convey the sadness in the narration, and the purity of the child at the same time. Since the child is describing their sorrow for having to be born into such an unforgiving world, there will be bright light in a confined space, to represent the safety, peace and security the child has in the womb, before they are born. Perhaps this could then be juxtaposed by dark shots, colourless images of the outside world, that flash onto the screen in between these glowing white shots, to convey the looming horror and fear that awaits. By these images flashing quickly, and disappearing again, it will bring about the same confusion that the child has, the same panicking feeling of disorientation when thinking about an uncertain future, in the viewer, like they are seeing the child’s thoughts materialised. 



Colour Theory

Since I plan to make prominent use of white, blue and red tones in my video, I thought it would be interesting to research into the psychological effects of each colour, similar to the research I found in the scientific study above.

Blue is often associated with depth and stability’, and symbolises trust…wisdom…truth and heaven’ (Colour Wheel Pro. Year Unkown) – it is a very strong colour in depicting sadness, transferring this to the viewer, therefore the use of the phrase ‘looking blue’, to mean that a person is seeming sad or pessimistic. It also interested me to read from a few sources that blue has been found to spur thoughts of heaven, as I would originally think that the colour to cause this would be white or cream – however, with the combination of blue and white I believe I can find an eye catching way to present the light in the video. Research into the colour blue also showed that it actually slows human metabolism and produces a calming affect’ (Colour Wheel Pro. Year Unknown), and is in fact beneficial for both the mind and body – although more medical than emotional, this was really insightful to read about as it means my music video, by simply using this colour, can bring about actual physical changes in the body, not to mention making a person feel at ease and relaxed, even before any thought provoking visuals or scenes begin. 

‘Red is a very intense colour. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure’ (Colour Wheel Pro. Year Unknown) – wow. Even this alone is a pretty good reason to consider it a strong contender for an m/v colour scheme – it provides a very strong juxtaposition to the calming “properties” of blue. The colour is also ‘widely used to indicate danger’ (Colour Wheel Pro. Year Unknown) and this bodes well for the visual aspect of the song, with a sense of foreboding towards the life that the child will lead. However, from my research into red, there are a lot of colour theory articles that show red also has connotations of willpower and courage, which I can use within my video to perhaps hint at a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, a fighting spirit.

As a side note, even though I wanted to primarily look into the connotations of blue and red, I also found that white ‘can represent a successful beginning’ (Colour Wheel Pro. Year Unknown) – how coincidental, to incorporate into the video, that in this context it symbolises the false hope of the mother and father wanting a good life, free of pain and troubles for their child, and the child is almost trying to speak to them to let them know that this is not the case ‘I’m not prepared, I’m so scared’ (Before Our Time, BRUCH. 2017)



Right = Good….Left = Evil?

My mother is a graphic designer and studied different symbols and images used in art during her degree – this included certain subliminal messaging methods.

She led me to an ancient connotation with the idea of evil. Since almost the very beginning of religious artwork, the left side of a painting was often used symbolically as the “bad” side. Shadow would come from the left, and light from the right (usually the other way around, looking out from the picture), angels would be situated on the right, demons on the left.

‘The Latin adjective sinister originally meant “left” but took on meanings of “evil” or “unlucky” by the Classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin, and in the English word “sinister”‘ (Wikipedia. 2018). The Bible refers to the right hand of God being the favoured hand, as Jesus sits at God’s right side. Gabriel (one of the six angels of death) sits at God’s left side, and God’s left hand is the hand of judgement. In one parable, the good and the bad are separated and sent to opposite sides: ‘sheep represent the righteous and goats represent the fallen: “And he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left.”(Matthew 25: 32–33) (Wikipedia. 2012)already, the left side was being given a bad reputation. 

The Romans also had a strong belief in the meaning of right and left through performing a type of divination named “ornithomancy”:

the art of divination the early Romans named avspecium….one way auspices would use to guess good and bad omens was to watch which direction some auspicious types of birds like ravens, crows or eagles were flying by. These birds were supposed to play the role of messengers of the gods….(also practised in Ancient Greece and named οἰωνίζομαι (ornithomancy)).

If birds were flying by on your right this was good omen. On the left (sinistra) that was bad omen.’ (Stack Exchange. 2012)

It’s not surprising to see, then, that so much religious artwork contains a hint to these old beliefs, and some modern artwork too, even if it’s not widely realised.


(The Temptation of Christ. Ary Scheffer. 1854)

(Annunciation. Kapkov, J. Year Unknown)

In the painting of Jesus and the Devil (The Temptation of Christ), from the point of view looking out from the painting, the Devil is to the left of Jesus, slightly set back and in shadow. Jesus is to the right, higher and in the light.

In the painting on the right (Annunciation), of Gabriel and Mary, Gabriel stands to her right, with a beam of light shining down from the right of the painting to the left (POV: looking out from the painting). The rest is in shadow, but it is clear to see what direction the light is coming from.

This theme is continued below – angels dance within a wealth of light on the right, while the left side of the image, depicting a woman kneeling, is surrounded by darkness.

(Annunciation. Pittoni, G. 1758)

I think this idea of “right = good” and “left = bad” would be really interesting to explore within my video, as it is a very subtle, yet very strong subliminal message that I can effectively use to tie certain scenes together, by adding a shadow during the effects process to the left side of the shot, and making the right side even brighter. 


Tips and Tricks, Going back to Basics, Focusing on the Details

Despite having already made 2 music videos in the past, I thought it would be useful to research into some simple tips and tricks to make great m/v’s on a budget, in case I could find any useful information on something I might have missed last time, and a little extra help can never hurt.

I found a particularly useful tip in one article, ‘always allow plenty of time for shooting – the finished shot may only last 10 seconds, but could easily take several hours to set up and shoot…..if you have time, shoot it again.’ (Flegenheimer, A. 2017). For my previous music videos, we took care to shoot many takes of one section, so we had a variation to choose from, and especially due to any anomalies that could compromise the shot during filming, i.e: camera card failing, batteries running out, lighting discrepancies, etc. So, we were careful to make sure there was always at least a few usable shots. However, time was always an issue, and the two videos that I have done were both filmed in under two days, due to constraints.

For this video however, I think it’s really important to take our time, get everything perfect. And although we always shoot many takes, this tip in the article made me realise that we never allowed much time for setup, it was always rushed and the focus was on getting good footage, more than the actual focus of the footage being perfect. So, this time round, I will place much more emphasis on the preparation for each scene in the shoot, getting the shooting area as perfect as it can be, and not skipping out on any ‘more elaborate’ shots because it would take a bit longer. 

For example, for one particular scene in the video, I will be curled up, wrapped in white mesh and chiffon, and surrounding me will be white flowers (likely fake, or made of paper), carefully placed in circles, radiating from the body in the centre. This will be both a strong and delicate image, and the theme will be used somewhere within the visuals of each song on my upcoming EP, tying the songs together. I like that this idea will be connected to nature, and also will have a slight ‘ritualistic’ feel to it, due to the regimented placing of the flowers. I’m also incorporating crystals into my EP visuals, so will likely place blue or white crystals within the circle design too.

Below is an example, the shot I was inspired by on Instagram a while ago (content by Finley Jordan. 2016) – it made me think of how powerful it would be to replicate this idea, but with specific colours of flowers that linked to the emotion, and colour of each song. With a main focus of a body in the centre, it will appear ‘holy’, like the image was set up to mimic an altar, worshipping the child, or perhaps praying for their good fortune after birth. Through analysing the subliminal imaging techniques used in ‘Running Up That Hill’, my vision for this has become reinforced, and I will try my best to make this metaphorical imaging clear to the reader, while still retaining an essence of mystery around the video.

(Jordan, F. Instagram. 2016)

Target Audience

With regards to “target audience”, one should consider age, gender, favourite genre, likes and dislikes of their fans before creating material. But I prefer to consider their mindset, rather than these limiting factors. 

Most of my followers on social media are 13-34 years old (see photos below). But my live shows prove popular with audiences of older generations, 55+, who often also begin following online. I cannot squeeze my audience into a neat box. They have a span of 13-80 years, enjoy my originality and passion, tend to be artistic, creative, with a connection to nature, and the self. Evidence of this is proven by post-performance, first-hand discussions, and social media direct message commentary. All of my demographic information has shown that there is an even split between male and female followers. As a new, young artist, I feel that pigeon-holing could be the wrong decision, and limit exposure, rather than increasing it, and I must keep my artistic integrity. I have been monitoring my statistics on various platforms for over a year now, to find out where my fanbase and demographic lies, and will continue to take them into consideration when completing this project. To direct Before Our Time to the right outlets, I have researched into the most popular online music journals within my demographic, so that I can submit the music video to them for review. 

I looked different online journals that review music videos, seeing which ones reviewed artists similar to me, and found some that accepted submissions from artists, such as The Line Of Best Fit and A Bit Of Pop Music. I will endeavour to send my music video to these sites. From feedback from my fans over the past year, I know that the two platforms on which they listen to my music the most are Spotify and YouTube – whenever I release a new music video it is always very well received and serves as a visual aid for fans who are perhaps undecided on my music.

From looking at the websites of artists I like, a webpage can be a great way to advertise a new video, as you can customise the entire theme and appearance of website to match. Having a particular aesthetic can be a great marketing technique for a new release or visual.


Copyright

In my video I am not using anybody else’s content but for my own, so I do not have to worry about copyright licensing for images or audio. However, for the sake of this project, I have harvard referenced the videos and photos that I have studied within this research section, so proper credit is given to the owners of said content. 


Microphones – Recording Drums and Vocals

I spoke to my studio engineer for our session, Giles Stelfox, about the mics we used and how he used them:

Kick – Shure Beta 52a

‘This microphone was placed at the port hole of the bass drum and captured the low end thud, but also the attack from this drum. It was placed here to give a warm and open bass drum sound, but still with enough attack and high end to cut through the mix.’

Kick Out – Neumann TLM103

‘The TLM103 was used to capture the large midrange character of the kick drum and the room sound to give an enhanced low end response, but also with some distance and spacing to pick up the boom of the drum and the sustain.’

Snare – Shure SM57

‘The SM57 was used on the snare top, facing the centre of the drum, about an inch away from the rim. This was the ideal place to pick up the warm punch of the drum, and also detail and depth to create a large snare presence in the mix.’

Rack – Sennheiser MD421 / Floor – Sennheiser MD421

‘The MD421 was selected for the toms due to it’s midrange character, with the 70s style open, but warm response. This was great for the track as the toms needed to boom and have a lot of character and sustain, which worked especially well with the Bubinga shells of the toms. They were placed around 2 inches away from the tom rim, facing the centre.’

Hi-Hats – Shure SM81

‘The hi-hat microphone wasn’t as specific to the track, as there wasn’t much intricate hi-hat work, but the SM81 was suitable as it has a sweet high end response without being too harsh, with enough character in the 1k-3k to pick up the chick and stick attack.’

Overheads – Beyer Ribbons (Not sure of model)

‘These Beyer ribbon microphones were placed in phase with the snare drum in between a glyn johns (sic) and spaced pair style of positioning (click here to read my research into the Glyn Johns Method )The choice of mic was crucial to the detail of the kit. The rolled off high end provided an explosive and warm drum sound, but without the high end harshness from the cymbals and room reflections. These suited a big boomy kit sound, reminiscent of a 70s rock style of kit sound.’

Room Mics – AKG C414XL

‘These microphones were selected due to their very flat and even frequency response, picking up the sound of the room without adding any of the microphones sound to the recording. They were placed around 15ft away from the kit to add enhanced bass, low end sustain and also the resonance of the room to give a large and characterful sound.’

Mono Room – Sontronics Sigma

‘The sigma was used as a ‘crushed’ microphone, to be used as a mono source of warmth and saturation through a compressor. Placed around 5ft away from the kit, facing the centre, the warm and rolled off high end sound of the sigma is very useful for saturating and using to give the kit a more explosive sound, and more life in the mix.’

Vocals – AKG C414XL

‘The C414XL was used on the vocals due to the very detailed high end response, without too much harshness usually found on other condenser microphones. These suited the female voice well as they did not enhance the low-mid frequencies that could cause problems later on in the mixing. This mic had a plosive filter placed around 6 inches away from the mic to avoid any intrusive noises.’


  • For my releases, I used to record vocals simply with my NT1-A Rode studio microphone (a large diaphragm condenser) at home, which worked really well, but I thought by recording the lead vocals in a studio, I would get a better sound. To be perfectly honest, I noticed when editing and mixing my track, that the sound quality is the same as the takes I did in my home studio, with the home recordings only having a very slight bit of hum. This was surprising to me, as I thought my own lead recordings weren’t up to scratch, but now I realise that this was just my paranoia in creating the track myself, and my Rode microphone has a very high sound quality too. 


Research into film location

From my sketches of scenes for the video and description of my ideas so far, its clear to see I need a big area, with a lot of white space for most of the scenes. Scenes such as the darker contrasting images can be shot at home, with a black backdrop and a more confined filming space.

The question of where to shoot has an easy answer really, as we live just down the road from a ‘community hall’, you might call it, called Jubilee Hall. They have a main area for voting days, a theatre for shows, and multiple empty rooms to hire for parties, or, in our case, a filming session. One of these rooms has skylights, large windows that OPEN (hurrah) and lots of usable white space, that has quite a bit of height to it too. From hiring this hall before, we knew it was around £11 an hour, which is quite reasonable. What we didn’t know was that the price went up to a very uncomfortable £32 an hour on weekends, and bank holidays. Due to being so busy during the week, the weekend was the only option, so, reluctantly, we booked 3 hours in and made it our priority to hustle and get everything done.

If our budget was bigger (for example, being supported by a record label or management), we could have considered other indoor filming areas. MFS hires out their Studio B for filming, which has a large white ‘corner infinity cove’, big enough to film cars in if needed. The company states this backdrop is usually white but can be painted any colour upon request. The room offers a wide variety of filming capabilities, and a comfortably sized relaxing space when not shooting.

As you can see below, its not cheap:

Half day – studio only – £250
Full day – studio only – £400
Half day – studio with lights – £320
Full day – studio with lights – £500
Half day – with lights & assistant – £400
Full day – with lights & assistant – £650

(Meadows Farm Studios. Year Unknown)

It’s clear that this would only be a viable option with outside help provided, which I currently do not have. Needless to say, we chose to stick with Jubilee Hall for its practicality, location, and cost.


Camera Choice

When it came to choosing a video camera on which to film my music video, I had limited options. As a single parent family, our budget is very low. We do not have funds to hire or buy a broadcast quality camera. Research suggests camera hire can be anything from £63 per day, up to many hundreds. Buying a camera of this quality can also cost anything from £1500 upwards, depending on requirements and budget. However, my uncle owns a Canon camera which gives professional HD quality, and is always happy to lend it to me when I need to film anything. I have researched this model to ensure it has everything I need to produce my music video.

The Canon XA25 has numerous features:

  • 20x Zoom lens for getting close ups, as well as wide shots
  • 1/2.84 HD CMOS pro sensor which provides superior high quality images, even indoors with low lighting (beneficial for me with limited lighting sources)
  • a touch screen which tilts, for easy playback viewing (so I know if the footage taken/my performance is suitable/in focus/effective)
  • it can record in MP4 or AVCHD (MP4 gives a higher quality recording, so I will use this) onto SD cards, which I can borrow from my mother. MP4s are also easy to transfer to the Mac for editing
  • 2 x XLR sockets, if microphones/satellite equipment ere needed (this is not relevant for me, as the music will be pre-recorded in a studio and lip-synced for the film)
  • Infrared light source, for shooting in the dark/low light conditions, handy for wildlife shoots (this is not required for my video)
  • built in wifi – this can be used to transfer footage directly from the camera, without the use of cables, to a phone/tablet. This is not needed for my shoot.
  • the camera is lightweight, so ideal for handheld filming, if necessary, and I may take advantage of this in my music video. I will also borrow a tripod to lessen camera shake for as many scenes as possible.
  • you can change the frame rate per second; increasing the frame rate to 50fps means you can then slow footage when editing to give a slow motion feel, without losing image quality.
  • the camera has two card slots which move seamlessly over if the first card becomes full during filming
  • the autofocus has tracking capability, so a moving subject will stay focused, regardless of where they move

Professional reviewers agree it has high picture quality, adjusting to changing light conditions and it is lightweight and speedy to start up. Footage is better when taken on a tripod, but can improve  for handheld use, if using the viewfinder and holding the camera close to the body for improved stability. The depth of field is not as great as on many professional cameras, but as my video is primarily being filmed against a plain white backdrop, I do not need greater DOF capability. Most of the footage will be taken on a tripod to keep everything high quality, as this can still be panned/zoomed without creating shake. Reviewers agreed, this camera has a high price, and unless you need all the features (wifi/night vision, etc.), you can buy one of similar picture quality for less outlay. However, as I am borrowing the camera from my uncle, the cost/versus gadgets is irrelevant. The XA25 is no longer produced by Canon direct from their website, but other UK sellers list this camera at around £1500. (Information regarding reviews and features of this product are derived from Roorda, M. 2018. Holder, M. 2013. Hireacamera. 2018. Canon UK. Year Unknown. Bloom, P. 2013. and Amazon. 2013).

As personal reviews could be considered biased, I have used several to balance their feedback equally (including professionals, an online magazine and a hobby user).


Editing Software

I did some research into different video editing software to find the right one for me. There are a few options to choose from, for Mac and PC. All are quite expensive, but they are priced as such due to the work that went into making them.

There is only one application (listed in the the ‘Best Professional Video Editing Software of 2018’) that costs under £100, an app called Power Director. Techradar states ‘We’ve tested a lot of video editing suites, and PowerDirector 16 is the only one that makes the process truly fun….software can automate the entire process if you simply run a clip through the Magic Movie Wizard, or you can get hands-on with one of the other modes. Everything is clearly explained and accessible to users of any level. Highly recommended‘ (Techradar. 2017) – this sounds great for me, as I am a beginner. It also seems the program is quite intuitive and easy to understand. Despite these pros, Techradar also said that ‘some features are quite hidden away‘, and since my mum is unfamiliar with the software too, this may make editing difficult. 

Best for Prosumers‘ – Top Ten Reviews gives a list of applications designed for users who are looking for ‘more than just the ability to trim footage and arrange it on a timeline, but don’t necessarily need all the hefty tools used to make Hollywood blockbusters’ (Chadwick, D. 2018). Premiere Pro is one of these applications. This sounds perfect for my requirements as I want my video to look professional, and the ability to add filters, effects and transitions, but I’m not making a big-budget film. Premiere Pro by Adobe earns the name ‘Industry Standard‘ and is obviously highly thought of in the field of professional video editing. this is priced around the £200 mark, making it one of the more reasonably priced pieces of software for it’s capabilities. 

Best For Mac‘ – the obvious choice seems to be Final Cut Pro. This is Apple’s ‘signature professional video editing software‘ (Chadwick, D. 2018), and is another industry standard application. Since I used to use iMovie when I was younger, and Logic Pro X to edit my track files, it was a very easy transition to test out Final Cut Pro – in my Development Diary post regarding test footage and first edits, I found the application very intuitive, with a user interface akin to Logic. Reviews say Final Cut Pro is ‘intuitive enough for new users to grasp while providing the expansive tool array demanded by veteran and pro video editors’ (Chadwick, D. 2018), and since my mum has a wealth of experience with the software, this will really help me in the editing stage. Final Cut Pro also seems the best option for me as it came in a package deal when I purchased Logic, so there is no need for me to fork out extra money for another application that will serve the same purpose. 



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