music video

Innovative Music Videos Aspiring Filmmakers Should See

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For the last few decades, music videos have grown to be an important part of the music industry. Once seen only as marketing tools, music videos eventually came to serve as a new medium where musicians and filmmakers could express themselves.

While there are countless amazing music videos all filmmakers should check out, below are some of the most innovative. Whether these videos used a clever animation technique or did more with less cash, they’re all worth enjoying — and perhaps even learning from.

“Take On Me” – A-ha

The music video for this catchy ‘80s tune left viewers mesmerized by its use of rotoscoping. This technique involves using a combination of live people and places with pencil-sketch animation. This style helped the video set itself apart from others at the time, giving it a strong romantic fantasy feeling.

This creative music video won a total of six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Concept Video and Best Experimental Video. Aspiring filmmakers can learn from A-ha’s attempt at doing something different and unique instead of sticking to less-risky ideas.

“Sabotage” – Beastie Boys

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This 1994 hit song came with a music video that pays tribute to classic crime series from the 1970s. It serves as a parody to the action-packed opening credits of fictional cop dramas like “Starsky and Hutch,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “S.W.A.T.”

Although the video didn’t win any of its nominations at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, it remains relevant in popular culture. At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, it was awarded “Best Video That Should Have Won a Moonman.”

“Thriller” – Michael Jackson

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There was a time when people across the world weren’t just waiting for another feature film or music album to release. Instead, they counted down the days until Michael Jackson, the late King of Pop, would release another music video.

This is all thanks to his monstrous hit “Thriller” and the lengthy video that accompanied it. The effort Jackson put into this project made people start seeing music videos as not just a promotional tool but as an unique work of art.

“Here It Goes Again” – OK Go

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Time and time again, American rock band OK Go has shown us how creativity will always be more important than how much money is spent. They have gained a following for creating numerous music videos that go viral on Youtube and social media despite budget constraints.

One of their best efforts is the music video for “Here It Goes Again,” which earned them a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 2007 as well as the 2006 YouTube award for Most Creative Video. The video features one continuous take as the band dances together on treadmills.

“Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel

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The music video for this 1986 song used a combination of live-action and stop-motion animation to create a whimsical experience that ties in perfectly with the song. From dancing oven-ready chickens to chalkboard roller coasters to faces formed out of food, there’s no shortage of creativity.

If anything, the video showed how far one can go with dedication and passion. Creating this video required Gabriel to lay under a sheet of glass for over 16 hours. This music video won nine awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, making it the video with the most wins.

“Lost In The Echo” – Linkin Park

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The video for “Lost In The Echo” is unique in that it connects to your Facebook account and uses your pictures to weave the video’s narrative. It is one of the most innovative attempts at an interactive video that uses today’s social media technology to draw viewers into the world of the song.

Linkin Park won Best Interactive Music video for “Lost In The Echo” at the O Music Awards. Although most viewers found the personal photos humorous rather than moving, the video is a big step forward in the realm of interactive music videos.

Are you a filmmaker who loves music videos? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

Beyoncé Music Video Evolution: 5 Cinematography Lessons

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Beyoncé may have begun her career as just one member of a commercial RnB band, but Beyoncé has evolved over the past two decades to become the most powerful woman in entertainment and a master of all trades: singer, songwriter, dancer, producer, and business woman.

But Queen Bee has another talent that is frequently overlooked; Beyoncé has an amazing knack for great cinematography when it comes to her music videos.

September 4 marks Bey-Day, so it’s a fitting time to look back on the evolution of a pop icon with five of the most cinematically brilliant Beyoncé videos to date.

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)”

The one that put an already unprecedented career right into the stratosphere. With over half a billion views on YouTube, “Single Ladies” will always be a timeless icon of Beyoncé at her best.

Female empowerment is a hallmark of both Beyoncé’s songwriting and music videos, but she’s also got a penchant for black and white cinematography.

Coupled with a clever use of lighting to effectively remove the set entirely, the stark imagery and clean lines accentuate the exceptional dance choreography by putting it front and center. And while there are a few cuts in the video edit, the “Single Ladies” video was shot in one take — making the finished product even more of a technical marvel.

The golden lesson for filmmakers here is that less is often more.

“Run the World (Girls)”

While we all love a bit of stripped-back Beyoncé, she can also take it to feature film-like extremes to great effect, and the video for “Run the World” is a classic example.

Implementing a strong visual theme reminiscent of the post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” universe, everything here is cranked up to 11: alongside the usual dance-heavy routine, we’ve got an insane amount of extras, special effects, location and costume changes, props, fire, water cannons, and floodlights.

Oh, and a lion for good measure.

The color pallet is also eclectic, with bright block coloring of the girls’ outfits playing in contrast to the muted tones of the wider set and the monochrome outfits worn by the male extras.

The camera work in “Run the World” is worth singling out, too, since it’s effectively a master class in exploiting visually interesting angles. At one point (the 3:17 minute mark) it even shoots upside down.

The only thing stopping all this turning into a jumbled mess of visuals is a clinically perfect approach to the editing, with every shot exactly as long as it needs to be.

“7/11”

Aaaand we’re back to Beyoncé at her most basic. In fact, it’s the least technical music video she’s ever produced…

… because sometimes, the best approach is to just grab a camera and start filming.

From a musical standpoint it’s perhaps not Bey’s most well known track, but the video itself serves as a delightfully goofy reminder that, above anything else, filmmaking should be fun.

“Formation”

Beyoncé’s most political (and arguably controversial) video output to date, with more than a few overt references to Hurricane Katrina and racial tensions across the country.

The video was directed by Melina Matsoukas, a Grammy Award winner who has worked with Beyoncé on a number of occasions since 2007. Matsoukas stands firmly behind the idea of substance mattering far more than expensive equipment: “It’s not necessary for a quality video. A good video has the right visuals, a well conceptualized story and should be exciting and elicit reaction.”

With “Formation,” all those boxes are well and truly checked.

“Lemonade”

With the release of this year’s unanimously praised “Lemonade,” the queen of reinvention managed to push the envelope of innovation even further by putting out a 60-minute conceptual film to support the record.

Divided into 11 chapters incorporating poetry by Somali poet Warsan Shire, we couldn’t possibly explore the entirety of the visual extravaganza that is “Lemonade” in this short post. But suffice to say, this piece draws you in with impressive set pieces and a delicate yet purposeful handling of the divisive themes presented throughout. While “Lemonade” often delves into the poetically abstract, it never loses the viewer to outright obscurity and the pacing keeps things moving through both the light and dark of the album.

If this is the direction Beyoncé is heading for the next stage of her career, we’re all about it.

Here’s to 35 more years. Happy birthday, Queen Bee.