Musician DIY: How I Made A Music Video For Free

The Idea

I had an instrumental song, “Electric Guitar Interlude,” that I thought had the potential of being an interesting soundtrack for a video. After all, having a music video is an excellent way to promote your music. Creating such a video, however, can be a daunting challenge for the independent musician – especially for musicians with limited video production experience and cash flow.

In contemplating what to do, I weighed the options. On one hand, I didn’t want to invest in video cameras and equipment. Paying someone to shoot footage was also out of the question. If I wanted to have a video, I would have to do it myself.

The Internet Archive to the Rescue

I decided that I would turn to the web and search out free or public domain video footage. Within seconds, I found the mother lode of public domain and copyright free footage – the Internet Archive. What’s the internet archive? According to their description:

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, collections that exist in digital format…

I can go on about the wonders of the archive, including the vast amount of free music, but that is something I would suggest you spend some time exploring yourself.

Searching for the right footage

My challenge was to find film footage that would fit with my song. I narrowed down my search within the moving picture archive, where I found the “Prelinger” and Ephemera collection of films. These collections offer a huge selection of public domain, moving pictures. The variety of available material is mind boggling! Everything from old educational and industrial films, (including films showing nuclear bomb tests) and some very strange old television commercials are available within these collections. For my video, I found an appropriate match for the “spacey” theme of my song, an old early 1961 educational film called, “Way Stations in Space.”

One quick note – to avoid any future hassles, make sure you double check the “rights” attached with the video footage you want to use. Public Domain is the best. Some of the Creative Commons material, while “free” come with stipulations. Make sure you understand the rights before you proceed with your video.

Creating The Video

Now it was time to get down to actually putting the music video together. I decided on using a free – but sometimes a pain in the ass program, which happened to be on my computer- Windows Movie Maker. I would prefer having a better program to use for video editing. Since I was going for cheap or better yet free, this is the program I decided to use.

After doing a simple download of the movie, my first task was to convert the file into a Windows Media Video (WMV) format. I did a google search and found “Any Video Converter,” a free file converter.The program was simple enough to use and did the job without any hitch. Once I had the video file in the right WMV format, I was ready to import it into Windows Movie Maker. I found a section of the film that seemed to fit my song, cut it down and was ready to put my video together. For this project, I was lucky that I found a film that matched my music and didn’t need much editing. My last task was to create a still frame “Head and Tail” with my information , including my website. I used a simple photo editor that came with my digital camera. I added the still frames to the beginning and end of my video and I was finished. All told, it took me about 6 hours to complete the project.

My Video Header

Subsequently I put the music video up on Youtube and (As of this writing, over 200 people have downloaded “Electric Guitar Interlude” from the archive. So overall, while my video did not become a viral sensation, I consider my endeavor successful. I have had people visit my website as a result of seeing the video. Who knows? If you do things correctly with your video, you might create something that goes viral and gets you noticed on the vast internet!

Here’s the finished version:

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