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Ultimate Guide to Making Cinematography for Music Video

Larry Jordan
Larry Jordan Originally published Apr 11, 23, updated Dec 05, 23

To visually represent the story in the music video, cinematography shots are helpful. It'll obviously and pleasing and eye-catchy effect in your video. These major requirements for making that cinematography can be covered as the following:

  1. Light a subject
  2. Create atmosphere
  3. Light a set
  4. Camera techniques
  5. Aspect ratio
  6. Framing
  7. Camera movement

Before, we go deeper to the details on how to make a cinematography for music, let us know first about the cinematography for music video. Everything is represented in this article, from the camera movement to the setting of the lights in the studio. You will also learn about aspect ratio and framing while making shots from the DSLR.

In this article
  1. What Is Cinematography?
  2. Light a subject
  3. Create Atmosphere
  4. Light a Set
  5. Camera techniques
  6. Aspect ratio
  7. Framing
  8. Camera Movement

What Is Cinematography?

Cinematography covers all aspects of how a movie or music video is made, including choosing the lighting for the scene. The type of camera equipment to use, how to frame your photographs, and how to decide on camera movement are also included in this. Let's move toward the next lines to get the cool cinematography on display.

Light a subject

Although you may assume that cinematography is just concerned with the usage of the camera, lighting plays an equally important role. While planning your photographs, you should think about how the scene is lit and how your subject is illuminated.

lighting a subject

The cinematographer should consider the hard and soft lights for perfect illustrations during shooting. These are depicted with the following requirements!

Hard light and soft light

The cinematographers mainly focus on the hard and soft lights during filmmaking. The hard lights give a softer look to the subject. They are pointing to the light sources which are closer to the subject in the video. It makes the photographs and shots harsher and more dramatic.

hard light on the subject

The soft light is trying to wrap around the subject. It gives diffused shadows and soft edges to the character of the music video.

soft light on the subject
Note: To get better results of the soft look, you need to add diffusion to lower the intensity.

Create Atmosphere

You need a haze machine to create the atmosphere and give the environment true vibes. The haze machine gives a foggy appearance in every shoot and scene.

haze machine
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Light a Set

To give proper lights in the set is illustrated with the help of an example as shown below!


In this music video of the 3lau's, the main prop used is a bus, which is presented in the middle of the set and lit very well. The bus is rounded by many tungsten lights, which give a resemblance to those street lights. They are set up automatically in such a way that this stimulates the real movement of the bus on the road.

lighting a set

The three projectors are set to give the street footage at the back scene to add more realism.

The three lights are set in the queue by the production team to get the memory of the protagonist. In the setup, soft lights are also added on top of all the upper windows of the bus to give blue interior light to the bus.

Camera Techniques

The cameras used during filming play a major role in giving the cinematographic shots. All the techniques shown below are applied to the DSLRs and even the smartphones you use for filming.

Prime lenses

The foremost and most helpful lenses in filming are called prime lenses, which have fixed focal lengths. There is no Johns to zoom out and zoom-in in prime lenses.

For filming, we need to choose the right level of zoom, which the DP does by picking the right lens for the footage.

prime lens of the camera

In the close-up scenes, there is a requirement for a wider field of view which also depends on the aspect ratio of shooting.

Aspect Ratio

In filmy view, the most appropriate aspect ratio is 2.35, which is also a cinematic ratio. There is also another ratio of 16:9, which is a wider ratio. While 2.35 gives a more narrow perspective as compared to the prior one.

Note: The narrow ratio is helpful in showing the relationships between the subjects.
aspect ratio of the filming

Whenever we use a microscope, we are dealing with the aspect ratio and narrowing down to the required point where we want to look, and this is all about framing, which is discussed as shown below!


Framing is a way used to illustrate the concepts such as the rule of thirds and leading lines. To give customized headroom to the subject, the framing is used from the top of the head and the top of the frame.

Camera Movement

The camera movement actually shows the real story presented in the music video. The camera movements used for filming are mainly the pedestal, truck, pan, tilt, and roll.

camera movements

Whenever the protagonist looks out the bus's window, the camera operator will use the "Dolly" and "Trucking" movements.

Trucking Movement

The trucking movement of the camera is done in left-to-right motion in the filming. This is used for emotional purposes and whenever the subject is in a pull-out shot.

Dolly Movement

The dolly movement of the camera is done by moving towards or away from the subject. This often gives a sense of importance to the character.

Final Words

The above article gives the exact preferences of the "Tokyo" song by which you learned a lot of techniques for your future use. By following the above rules and tips, you'll obviously come up with a viral music video.

Larry Jordan
Larry Jordan Dec 05, 23
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