6 Steps to Prep for a Successful Live Video Shoot


We love performing live. Being on stage is what drew us to a career in music! Since we were three years old, we have loved singing and playing for an audience, whether it was in our family’s living room, on an outdoor festival stage, or in the case of our new song “Right Side of the Dirt” with Tyller Gummersall, in the middle of a farmer’s field!


A live music video is the closest representation of a live show, and the process of filming a performance is both exciting and nerve-wracking! After filming many live videos over the years, we have learned the steps to take in order to have success on set. So here they are... our six steps to prepare for a successful live video shoot!


1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TEAM


Picking the right team for a video shoot is one of the most important parts of the project. We feel so lucky to have met so many incredible artistic and creative people on our musical journey. They elevate what we do with their amazing talents - directing, filming, photography, design, and more!


The director of our “Right Side of the Dirt” live video, Tim Sutherland also worked with us on our Wise Woman music video shoot. We loved his camera work so much, so we asked him if he wanted to do a live video with us, and we were so happy that he came on board. Filming an entire song in one take means no editing and no fixes for both the videographer and the musicians… we are all performing live! Tim did an incredible job – he had listened to the song many times and his filming is so musical. He had memorized the timing of the performance so that he focused in on Tyller’s face for the high notes and panned to Julie’s fiddle solo at just the right moment.

Jessica Steddom did all of the photography at the shoot. We have loved working with her for many projects, including Wise Woman – The Show, our Wise Woman music video shoot, and multiple photo shoots in the recording studio. Not only is she amazing at photography, but she is also a kind, chill and fun person. She helps to create a positive, relaxed vibe.


The vibe on a live video shoot is such an important thing – how do the people you’re working with make you feel as the performer? Do they bring calm and encouraging energy to the set? These are the types of people we choose to work with. Our team for this video was small but spectacular!

2. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!


We practice a song for a live video shoot over and over… until we are bored. Lol. You want to know the song backwards and forwards and be able to play it on autopilot, because once you get to the video shoot there are so many other variables in addition to the music. For example, at our RSOTD shoot, we were focused on the weather, trying to get a good take when the wind and the lighting were just right. We were also standing on uneven ground, so it took some balance to stand tall and not fall over in our high heeled shoes! When you get to your video shoot, you want to have practiced your song so much that you don’t even have to think about the notes or the fingerings or the lyrics… you can just be focused on creating a great visual and musical performance.

3. PREP YOUR LOOK


Picking your look for a video is so much more than just an outfit – it’s everything from your shoes, to your dress, to your pants and shirt, to your accessories, to your hairstyle and makeup, to your guitar strap! If you’re in a group, you want to make sure that all of these pieces coordinate. For this video shoot, we had so much fun styling our look. We rented Julie’s dress from The Showroom in Nashville (an amazing female-owned business that rents out red carpet looks from ball gowns to fringe dresses!) Carli’s dress was actually one that Julie already had in her closet (thanks Amazon - click here to check it out!).

When it came to outfit planning between our homes in Tennessee and Tyller’s in Colorado, Tyller was such a good sport - texting us all his outfit options and letting us gals have input on his look to make sure we all coordinated! He brought five different wild rags (his stylish cowboy neckties) to choose from on the day of the shoot, and Carli also ordered a special ganjo strap to tie in the color of Julie’s dress and the earthy tones of the farm. It’s amazing how much details like these can add to the overall look of a video!


4. TEST YOUR AUDIO


A couple days before the video shoot, Tyller and Carli came over to Julie’s house, and the three of us spent a couple hours testing the audio and all of the mic options that we had available. We were lucky with this project because Tyller is a music producer with a lot of experience recording. If you are putting together an indie video, and you don’t have a sound engineer in the budget, it’s great to experiment ahead of time with whatever recording options you have.


It’s amazing what a difference the choice of a mic and mic placement can make. We used an H4N as the recording interface (it works on batteries!) and an AKG C1000S Microphone because it had the best sound when the three of us stood in a semi-circle, and it wasn’t too bulky so it didn’t cover our faces on camera. CLICK HERE to see all of our top picks on Amazon for music gear and more!

It is so important to get all of the audio details sorted out before the day of your video shoot. It’s also great to test the audio in a room or location that is as close as possible to where your live video will be filmed. If you can’t be at the exact location of your video shoot, try to mimic the location as close as possible. For us, we knew that we would be outside in the middle of a field, so we set up on Julie’s back patio and tested our audio under the patio lights and the night stars!



5. MAKE A CHECKLIST


One of the most important things we have learned from years of video shoots is to always, always, always have a checklist. You want to write down every single thing that you will need on the day of your video shoot, because it is SO easy to forget important details when you are feeling a little nervous on the day of the shoot. A checklist helps to build confidence for a great performance because you know that you are not forgetting anything you need to look and play your best! (Pro tip – pack your car the night before if possible!)


On our checklist, we include the necessities...

  • Outfits (we list everything down to the undergarments!)

  • Instruments (don’t forget extra strings!)

  • Musical gear

AND... we include things that will help to make the video shoot more comfortable and enjoyable. For “Right Side of the Dirt”, we filmed in the middle of a farmer’s field and had to ride a Gator to get to the location. So our checklist also included:

  • Snacks

  • Water

  • Blankets to stay warm in-between takes when the wind picked up

  • A full length mirror

  • Hairspray

  • Makeup bag (pressed powder and lipstick for touch-ups between takes!)

  • A small folding table to hold everything off of the dirt!


6. BE IN THE MOMENT


When video shoot day finally arrives, after all your hard work, practice and preparation… it's so important to be present when creating your live video! We practice positive self talk on set, and we aim to create positive energy with our entire team so that we can all enjoy the process. Filming a live music video is SO COOL, and you don’t want to let that moment go by without enjoying it!

The rule we make for ourselves at live video shoots is this: we are not allowed to stop in the middle of a take. A live video is meant to be LIVE! So if you make a small mistake, chances are it is not as big as you think it is in the moment. Our rule is to always keep going, because it might end up turning into a magical performance.

With the exception of completely forgetting the lyrics or breaking a string, you never want to stop just because you think you hit a wrong note or made a weird facial expression. Play each take to the end, and enjoy being in the moment just as you would if you were on stage performing a concert for a live audience.


For RSOTD, we were in the most gorgeous location for this video – on a friend’s farm just outside of Nashville in Fairview, TN (thanks Dan and Mary!) The sun was going down, the crickets were singing along, and we got to enjoy making music with our awesome, talented friend Tyller Gummersall. It’s a day that we will never forget… we all had so much fun and we truly enjoyed the entire process.


We hope you enjoy it! Watch the live video for #RIGHTSIDEOFTHEDIRT:


Watch the behind-the-scenes video:

Photography by Jessica Steddom

Live video by Tim Sutherland

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