Friday, August 5, 2011

Going For Gold (Why Silver Isn't Enough)

Written By: Alan Lee

   So often i see people with big goals, lots of potential and big dreams, only to see them settle for less.  I don't know about you, but this annoys the **** out of me!  Why should i care?  Well because i just cant fathom why someone would settle for less than the best.  Ok...lets break down some scenarios I've come across, and maybe then we can try to figure out what the real problem is.

SCENARIO 1:  The Album Cover (with artist picture)
  So you want pictures?  Cool.  Headshots? Full Body? Album Cover?  Great!  So all you need to do is run out and stand somewhere that looks cool (cause you can always Photoshop the background), snap snap and you're done right? Wrong!  Lets break it down....

*Courtesy Reverbnation.com
This guy VERSE released his album cover.  Lets look at what he did right.

  1. Artist Name
  2. Album background matches the Album Title
  3. Colors Match
Now, lets break it down.
  1. Artist picture is not color corrected to make him seem like hes in the same place as the background (a simple contrast fix)
  2. Artist outline is not smooth and consistent
  3. Artist is not looking like a 'winner'
  4. Artists picture is slightly transparent
  So what can i assume from looking at this?  
  • The artists picture was not taken with this album in mind
  • The artist was lazy
  • The Artist does not value his own music.
  He could've easily found a camera, or cell phone camera (even those now have a high pxl output) and taken a picture specifically for the cover.  Then he could've stepped it up, and called a local gym or boxing gym and gotten permission to take some shots there (i've done this). He could've spent a bit more time on making the photo look consistent or found someone who could, usually for free by placing an add in the "Creative" part of Craigslist.  
   Those few steps, would've taken this cover from being a "typical NON-Major Artist" to a "Wow this person is serious about his career, maybe i should be serious about him too" artist. 

SCENARIO 2:  The Music Video
  Ok, so with people getting record deals from being on YouTube happening so often these days, you're sure you need a music video.  That's a fair assumption.  Well, while we're assuming, lets assume that you have a quality recorded song, recorded at industry standard quality.  Let's assume that the song you're recording a video for (if you have an album) is the song you're pushing to be the main single off the album.  So you've picked the song, you're ready to shoot right?  All you need is someone to hold the camera, edit it together on Windows Movie Maker and post it on YouTube that night!  Sounds like a plan...right?  Wrong.  Sounds like a waste.  Lets break it down...

Ok, so im guessing whatever camera you're using is at least HD, so then now you need location right? So you're not a hood rapper, so you're obvious choice is a Nightclub...Because that hasnt been done before right? Ok, so regardless of originality in location, you're get a Director, and crew, Some girls and guys who are anxious to "be stars" and you're set.  But what about make-up? Proper lighting? Storyline? Background acting?  Does your video seem real or staged?  Lets look at another example: 

Choze -Tell Me What's Your Name


Ok, so what did he do right?
  1. He mentions a club in the song and VIP and both are in the video
  2. He talks about a girl he wants to get to know, and in the video there is a girl he wants
  3. There is external lighting used to film the video.
  4. Everyone's clothes are clean and look authentic and realistic to each persons style.
And where he went wrong
  1. If there was make-up for film done, its horrible. Lots of forehead shine, uneven skin tones
  2. the extras dont look like they know what to do.  No one is acting natural
  3. different angles of the same scene have people in different places, not following continuity
  4. the club looks packed in the BRoll footage, yet empty in the close ups
  5. Inconsistant lighting and color correction
  6. He wants to know her name, but never approached her.
  7. For a song about a girl, the girl is barely shown and at the end he gets her too easy
  8. no explination of where that outdoors place is
  9. why are there fireworks behind buildings
The list could go on, but all these things could've been avoided if a little bit of attention were paid to details, OR if the artist cared more about his career than just putting out a video and had chosen a better director and crew.  
   So what happens when you think you did everything right and it turns out bad?  Well here's a secret....ready?.....DONT RELEASE THE PROJECT!  So what if you paid for it!  So what if you spent alot of time on it!  This is your career and are you willing to throw it away just to say "I have a video"?  

Ok, so i think i've gotten my point across, and with that here is a low budget, video that shows what little budget can do with the correct vision and direction:
OH MAN - FREESTYLE 
Empixx International Platinum awards for Video Of The Year & Best Cinematography & Editing in a Video

And here is what can be done with a small budget, and alot of attention to detail and correct vision and direction:

YES GIRL - MR. INTERNATIONAL
"MMPAA BEST VIDEO 2009" Award & "MMPAA BEST DIRECTOR 2009

So, with all that being said...stop putting out garbage, and start caring about your career.  Because if you don't show you care, no one else will either.