Making of Four Horsemen - August 20th, 2007

Thought I'd release some info on how I made the Four Horsemen video, maybe it can help others that want to try their hand at producing music videos.

Production

Music was made on a M-Audio KeyStudio (49-key USB keyboard) using M-Audio Session software which came with the keyboard (paid $99 for the package). The video was produced on Pinnacle Studio Plus version 10, including the special effects, which came in the Studio MovieBox Plus package (paid $129) which came with both the mic and green screen fabric I used. Came with a USB device that lets you capture analog (VCR and "non-digital" camcorder footage") as well as a FireWire port for digital video camcorders. Other than that, just need a camcorder to film and a computer that can run the software.

The "cd covers" and 2-D art (like the cane and bling) used were drawn using an outdated version of Macromedia Fireworks from a few years ago (Macromedia is now part of Adobe), but any decent photo editing software should work (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, etc), there's even some free graphics programs like IrfanView, just be sure to set the background/canvas to transparent and to a format (I used PNG32) that Studio (or whatever video editing software you choose) supports in its title editor.

Studio Plus comes with a pretty sweet title editor, so you could just use that if all you need is to splash some text or pictures on the screen.

Special Effects

Green screening or Chroma Key is used for special effects so you can remove the green background and put yourself behind any other footage or pictures you might have, just make sure not to wear anything that's close to the same color as your color key (green, blue or whatever you set it to). Movies with lots of special effects and computer graphics like Star Wars, The Matrix and 300 use a lot of green screen.

I hung the green fabric over my closet, pinned it using tacks, and shined a light the green background to get rid of shadows (poorly lit green screen can cause shadows or creases to show up in your final footage).

Placed the video camera on a tripod (or you could use a table or desk) to keep the camera steady, start recording and you're set to go.

If you got any specific questions on how I did something, just leave a comment on the video and I'll get back to you.

Beats & Music

Music was produced on M-Audio Session 1.0.3, shouldn't be different from most MIDI compatible composing software.

The claps, snare, strings, were all recorded on separate tracks so you could turn up or down the volume for each instrument as you needed (ie. when Biggie or Eminem mentions they can't hear the snare in front of their tracks). Let's you turn up the snare or offbeat without turning up the rest of the track. Session also supports voice recording on a Voice Track in addition to MIDI, so I just spit my rhymes on that. The "Come and See" bit was recorded on a separate voice track to add echoes (Large Room Reverb) to it.

Lyrics & Rapping / Syncing

Recorded a master track first before I did the video. That way if you're filming more than one scene, you can sync up the video to the track. Also let's you sound a lot more professional, the beat and raps will come out more clear rather than through a camcorders mic.

Right before the next scene, I'd split the clip and and move the end half to the overlay video track. Underneath that track you'd have the next video track queued up to the same time and place in the song so when you transition out of the first scene, the next one is right behind it at the same place (which let's me do the peel effects you see in the video.

 

Four Horsemen - Rap Video - August 17th, 2007

Released my first music video ever on YouTube for the On The Rise 2007 Rap Edition contest. The beat is 100% original (no sampling or premade audio, punched the track out on MIDI keys), wrote the lyrics, filmed and edited completely by myself.

Rules for the contest said they could DQ for mentioning: firearms, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex and material deemed offensive by the sponsors at their discretion. Have no clue how strictly they're going to enforce that, but could knock out a lot of the usual bangin' and slangin' tracks.

Haven't had Internet at my place for over a week and a half (some issue with the line under the street), so I have no clue what the other entries look like, had to upload this video from the library late at night on the last day they were taking submissions. Had no Internet and only fuzzy TV, so I spent most of my free time for the past week working on this project.