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Start Making Music Videos—The Easy Way

…yes, now there's an app for that

 

by Craig Anderton

 

In 1999, Sonic Foundry introduced Vegas, which was intended to compete with Pro Tools and had a video window. But a funny thing happened on the way to DAW domination: it didn’t. However the video aspect took off, and by the time Sony acquired Sonic Foundry, Vegas had turned into a respectable video editing platform.

 

Prior to Vegas, I had done video work with two Panasonic tape machines and a video switcher. The process was complicated, expensive, and frankly, a major drag. But Vegas did much more than a tape-based setup, and because it had started life as an audio program, it carried that paradigm through to video editing. It was something I could understand, and before long, I was creating and editing videos for Musicplayer.com, various manufacturers, and of course, Harmony Central trade show reports and instructional videos.

 

But that didn't mean videos were for casual users: just getting a camcorder to communicate reliably with a computer sometimes took an act of God, and video editing makes major demands on computers. However, making my own videos had become possible. Although creating videos sometimes involved more swearing than editing, I was on my way.

 

Concurrently, music and video had become inextricably linked when MTV burst on to our screens on August 1, 1981. Musicians who wanted to "make it" had to be telegenic. If you didn’t have good videos, record companies weren’t interested. And once videos opened the door to popular culture, they stepped through it. With the unstoppable rise of YouTube, music videos have become more important than ever. If you’re a modern musician you pretty much need to be making videos—it’s become a calling card, and with YouTube being the primary means of music distribution, if you want to be heard…you need to be on YouTube. And if you want to be seen, you need a video. (Interestingly, MTV itself—which had veered away from video for a while—is jumping back in.)

 

Unfortunately, though, there are still quite a few barriers to making your own music videos. Yes, we’re past the early days when the cost of gear was prohibitive, and the idea of sharing or community was insane in a dial-up world. But the “holy grail” of music videos—being able to make your own quickly and inexpensively, while also having fun in the process—has always been “just around the corner.” It just hadn't made it around that corner.

 

 

MUSIC VIDEOS DEMOCRATIZED

 

Making it around that corner has finally arrived, but it took an entirely fresh approach, through the eyes of someone who has been with music videos from the beginning. Kevin Godley, who started as a musician with 70s British pop supergroup 10cc, was one of the rarified group of pioneers in the early days of music videos. After writing some of the smartest and coolest songs of the era, several platinum albums later Godley and partner Lol Creme left the band to branch out on their own. They first invented the ahead-of-its-time guitar accessory Gizmotron (now back in production), and from there, entered the fledgling music video business. The pair achieved a breakthrough with the video for Herbie Hancock’s Rockit (nominated for five MTV Video Music Awards), and then went on to direct videos for The Police, Elton John, Yes, Peter Gabriel and many more.

If anyone knows how much fun it can be to make videos, as well as how much they can boost a career, it’s Kevin Godley. Eventually as consumer and prosumer technology matured, he started experimenting with alternatives to the complex systems of yesterday, while dreaming of combining that technology with his fascination for social media.

That dream became much closer to reality when modern smartphones became so advanced that everyone had great video cameras in their pockets, and their quality kept getting better. What lagged behind was the software for recording and editing videos, which has never been particularly musician-friendly.

But…what if it was possible to create an app where the same smart phone with the movie camera could be the same platform for creating videos, easily and efficiently? And could tap into social media networks for sharing and collaboration? As with many technology-based changes the “stars had to be in alignment,” and once the hardware fell into place, Godley worked with the team at Youdio to create software that would fit the hardware—and most importantly, be simple to use.

Now Godley’s most recent production isn’t a video, but an app for making videos. It’s designed specifically for musicians, so it uses the paradigm of multi-track recording to create multi-track videos. It’s designed to be super-easy to use—just set up your phone, iPad, or laptop and hit the record button. Everything is saved to the cloud, so you can collaborate with other people just by pulling up their video in the app and adding your own tracks to it.

 

 

THE HC CONNECTION

 

When we first heard about what Youdio was doing here at Harmony Central, we were intrigued. It seemed to dovetail with our desire to evangelize the joy of making music, and help people make better music. So we thought it would be really cool to help people make better music videos as well. We set up a meeting at NAMM to see if there was some kind of potential for collaboration, and met with the Youdio team.

 

We had been looking to get more involved in video, and Youdio wanted to get more involved in social media. Youdio had the technology, however, it didn’t have a place online where users could form a community, trade tips, share videos, strut their stuff, and really take advantage of what social media has to offer. Again, the stars were in alignment: We have forums, we offered setting one up for Youdio, they wanted it, and so…we set up a Youdio Signature Forum, and here we are.

 

Although still in its infancy, the app already has enthusiastic users, including Stewart Copeland (The Police), Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Brian Hardgroove (Public Enemy), and hundreds of musicians at every level. It’s even been used to audition musicians for bands, as well as by songwriters who need tracks added to their music.

 

The Youdio app is a lot of fun, and it’s easy to check out. It’s a free download for iPad and iPhone from Apple’s App Store, and beta versions for Mac and Windows are available from www.youdioapp.com. While you’re on their site, also check out some of the Youdio introduction videos. The app is quite intuitive, but you can get up and running even faster if you watch the videos.

 

And if you have questions, you can pose them to Kevin Godley as well as Rodney Orpheus, from the band Sisters of Mercy. He’s also logged time at Steinberg and PreSonus, so he knows his audio as well as video, and can offer tips on obtaining the best audio for your video. They're also reviewing some of their favorite videos on HC—which is a good way to see some cool videos, as well as get ideas for your own videos. And of course if you’d like to have your music reviewed as well, grab the app, make a video, and submit it. You never know who will be watching…

 

So not only has recording become more democratized, so has the process of making videos. We’re happy to be involved with Youdio, and hope that we get to see a lot of examples of what the ever-creative HC community can do on Youdio.

 

Catch the fun on Youdio's Community at Harmony Central.

 

______________________________________________ 

 

 Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.

 

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