If you’ve ever thought about shooting a music video this might help. Recently my partner – in life and music – and I decided to perform some of our old and new songs live as a two piece for our Youtube channel. You can see the Champagne Tree live set here. We performed the songs lockdown style on a sofa in our living room with a green screen hung behind it. It showcases not only our music but some equipment I’ve reviewed recently on this site and Youtube Channel. I thought you might be interested in how it was done. 

There are a couple of reasons we decided to do this. Firstly we kind of miss performing live although not all the before and after stuff that involves. Secondly I’d bought a little valve amp I wanted to record instead of using the software amp models I generally use for recording. In fact I did use those for a couple of the songs. But for the most part the electric guitar is going into the Blackstar HT5 with a little delay and compression from a Boss GT100 in manual mode. Anyway – here’s the full set up.  

My partner Mo played either acoustic guitar or keyboards and sang. She also foot tapped a tambourine. I played acoustic guitar on one song Wisdom where it’s the only instrument. In that case the guitar was recorded with an AKG P120 condenser mic. All the other acoustic parts were played on a Nashville strung guitar fitted with a Fishman pickup which was D.I’d. The keyboard was playing software instruments via USB/midi. Vocals were via a Shure SM58.

Shooting A Music Video At Home 

Shooting A Music Video At Home 

All of the mic’s and D.I’s were routed to either a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 or a Volt 276 interface. Those connected to Logic Pro X on a Macbook Pro M1. We had a little monitoring routed to the living room Hi-fi from the interfaces so we could hear the keyboards. As we were playing at pretty low volume we could hear enough of the guitars and vocals without fold back. A little compression was added to the vocals and acoustic guitars via the Volt interface as we played. More compression was added post recording as was delay and reverb mainly on vocals.

On the video side of things we recorded with a Canon EOS 7d DSLR set up to shoot over the coffee table in front of us with the laptop and interfaces on it. The camera was controlled from the laptop and Logic Pro was started from the keyboard or from an Iphone App. This meant that I could start both recording at pretty much the same time to make syncing up easier in the edit. After starting camera and DAW I’d clap loudly again to help with syncing in post. When we got a take we were happy with we downloaded it from the camera and saved it and the Logic audio take to a dedicated folder. 

Post Production Process 

The next part of the process was to import each video into it’s corresponding Logic Pro X recording. I had hoped that the camera audio tracks might be useable as a kind of ambient sound. In the end I used them only for syncing up to the Logic tracks then deleted them. I added some compression and effects in logic then exported the videos – now with good quality sound – to a new folder. 

Finally the videos were imported to Final Cut Pro for topping and tailing and to have the green screen content and some other video effects added. This was a mix of royalty free/fair use footage, images  and animations and our own video clips. 

Hassles In Shooting A Music Video

There were a few. First and foremost was lack of space. Although quite a good sized room when filled with cables, mic stands and more bloody cables! It became quite a tight space to move around in. This resulted in quite a grumpy Dave! We are currently having our attic converted so will have much more space in future.

Memory cards and batteries. Recording video and audio takes a lot out of both. No big deal for the laptop which was on mains power but the camera needed the battery changed fairly often. Despite having a 64gb memory card it filled quickly so had to be cleared often too. With my camera – an older model – you can’t actually see the video you have just recorded on the laptop screen until its has been downloaded which takes a little time. Inevitably when taking the camera on an off its tripod you need to re-frame it constantly. 

It’s all useful learning curve stuff though. We can blame ourselves for a lot of the above as we took many more takes than we thought we needed to get it right. We haven’t played live in years and have been spoiled by modern recording methods where song parts are rarely recorded in one take. Back in the day we rehearsed all week and played gigs. We are rusty! 

Some Lessons learned.

As above – Practice makes perfect (and saves a lot of time, frustration and hissy fits) 

Losing takes through poor note keeping /file naming really sucks. 

Because the camera memory only holds so much and you can’t see what’s just been filmed till later it made sense to record multiple takes and pick the best one later. If you don’t keep an accurate track of this its easy to get things mixed up or lost.    

Overall shooting a music video was a fun and rewarding process. There are probably better ways to do it and better equipment to use. It would be way easier just to record the entire thing on a phone (but the sound would be shit)  Whatever you use I can offer a few peices of advice in addition to the above. 

Keep the cables to a minimum or at least as out of your way as you can. Picking your way around cables connected to computers, cameras, amps, mics, instruments and laptops is a nightmare in a tight space. When you’re the camera guy, sound guy and one of the performers at the same time it’s maddening. 

Remember to look at the camera NOT the laptop or monitor screen in front of you. No matter how many years I do this I still forget that. You can minimise this by placing the monitor as close to the camera as possible – or as I do – by wearing shades.  


I'm Dave Menzies a digital entrepreneur, photographer and guitarist. I live on the Argyll coast of Scotland. My partner and I write, record and produce our own music and videos in our home studio. I love to help individuals discover the lifestyle freedom offered by the digital world and guitarists to develop their own style.