Royalty-free music

Because copyright infringement has been a hot topic recently, I feel that this post should be helpful.

When you’re making a film, short, or commercial, a lot of times you’ll need to add music in to enhance the experience. However, for those of us without access to someone who creates their own music, this can be difficult to do. And because most of the music out there is copyrighted, it costs an excessive amount to acquire the licenses, it pushes the project outside of the budget range.

I have two websites that you can use as resources to acquire music for your project. Their cost is much smaller than it would be to create your own, or to license the most recent top 40 hit.

The First is Freeplay Music. It has a laundry list of different genres and situations that are available to download. And if it is something that you want to use, there are different pricing structures depending on your needs.

The Second is Audio Jungle. This site has everything from background audio to sound effects. Most tracks are extremely affordable. As with most sites, there is also a pricing structure based on how you will be using the sound files.

And there you have it: places to acquire audio for your productions. Use them often!

Edit: Don’t forget Music Revolution! Details in first comment. My favorite feature is being able to select music based on the influences that you want. In other words, if you want to use Guns ‘N Roses, but Axl Rose is asking for more than your budget, they have some more affordable options.

How To Make A Viral Video

Viral videos are a huge buzzword in several industries, particularly when you start to overlap video and business. Everybody wants their video to be the next huge viral video. But nobody seems to exactly know how.

First, let’s examine what a viral video really is. Most will say that it is a video that has tens of millions of views. That’s perfectly fine, but as a definition, it falls flat. Is a video of two kittens talking viral? While popular (and proving my theory that the internet is made of cats) it is not exceptionally useful. There is no message. It doesn’t have any substance. It is not anything that advertisers can use.

I propose that a better definition is this: A Viral Video is a video that obtains significantly more views than expected in a given timeframe. What does this mean? It means that if you expect to get a thousand views in a month, and suddenly you get ten million, your video is viral. There is no defined number of exactly how many views constitute a viral status. It is like Sorites Paradox: exactly how many grains of sand are in a heap? How many views make your video viral? While there’s no answer for this question, a better way to describe a viral video is:

When a video is shared by many people, then re-shared by those contacts, and repeated ad infinitum, then the views exponentially multiply, akin to a virus.

However, there are other things to consider when making a video to go viral. Sheer popularity is not the only measurable thing. There are thousands of videos on YouTube that have been viewed millions of times, but only a few of those are worthwhile. There are tons of cat videos that have achieved viral status, but there are also many useful or informative videos. If you’re getting across a message or an advertisement, you have to incorporate good techniques to make it worth your time and energy.

What exactly do you have to do? The video should look good. Everything should be in focus. Subjects should be well lit. Sound quality should be excellent. The video should not drag on and on. In short, it should look professional. But these are just the makings of a good video. What’s different about a viral video?

Viral videos are three things, above all else: creative, entertaining, and unique. The visual aesthetics have to look better than the other videos that populate YouTube. The video should be entertaining enough to catch the viewers attention to make them want to watch and share it with others. And, it has to be unique enough to not copy other videos that seasoned YouTube watchers may have already seen. Above all, you have to make sure the video tells a good short story. Like I have explained before in several other blogs, story is key; without it, you just have some fluff. Write a short script and get responses from everyone you can. Preferably, get feedback from the right demographic. Generally, humor will make a good short even better. One thing that several viral videos have in common is that they are incredibly short. Most are under 45 seconds. Cut it down to size without sacrificing quality.

Do Not Forget: You’re trying to make a video with a message. If you’re halfway through shooting and you realize that the message has somehow been lost, go back to square one and try again. One other thing that you should do is make sure that your video tells the message you intended. Although they say that bad advertising is better than no advertising at all, good advertising multiplied across many viewers will be astounding.

Okay, your video is complete; it looks good, it’s funny, and applicable to your audience. Now what? Now comes the hard part. You now have to get as many people to watch your video as possible.

How can you make as many people watch this awesome video as possible? Well, if you’ve done the previous part right, you should have a good amount of content that will help you reach your target market. If you’re aiming for a certain demographic, make sure that this video interests them. When you’re still in the scripting phase, ask people in your target demographic for feedback.

Once you’ve ensured that this video will reach them, now you just have to spread it around. Everywhere. Post it on YouTube, Dailymotion and other video hosting sites. Then share it through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon, and as many other social media sharing sites that you can. Ask all your friends, family, coworkers, and any social media contacts to do the same, and then have those people re-post it everywhere. Hopefully if you’ve done well, and you know enough people, and you’re a bit lucky, you’ll be able to get a video with heaps of views.

I’m going to make it a personal goal of mine to make a video intentionally go viral. I will post updates as it happens.

Special thanks to Candies Liu for letting me pick her brain. Check her out.

Max Headroom

I’ve recently finished watching Max Headroom for the first time. No, I never saw it when it was in syndication, I was 1 year old.

I’ll admit, this show is not well-acted and the plots are always really absurd, but somehow I still like it. I guess it’s some of the cyberpunk sci-fi elements that are shown everywhere.

I also think it’s cool that they have predicted a few things that we now use today (The setting was 2005). Such as In-vitro fertilization, using credit primarily instead of cash, censorship and information piracy, and TV addiction. Pretty interesting stuff.

Sadly, the show only has 14 episodes. I just wish that there were more shows out there like it.

Film Tip #5

Arrange your crew early!

This is a problem I had while shooting Revolution. The movie was for one of my classes, due about a week before graduation. I had it written, cast, and even had a decent location. And then I went to Vegas.

I was spending a week in Vegas courtesy of HBO and a documentary called Bailout 2011, and in doing so, I had neglected to obtain crew for any assistance with camera work or even holding the boom mic. Thankfully, I was able to con my father and my girlfriend into helping. I ended up directing, shooting, and editing the entire movie in one weekend. I guess my practice doing film racing paid off. At least I didn’t have to act too.

When you’re assembling your cast, make sure you get your crew too. Or be understaffed.

Film Tip #4

Label your stuff.

This is especially important when you’re not the only one using your stuff, or when you’re not the only one with stingers and gaff tape. (Except BLUE gaff tape. Nobody wants that.)

I have a really bad habit of leaving stuff around. I bring somewhere around 20-30 bits of gear, and somehow one small thing that I wasn’t paying attention to was left at the scene of the shoot. Luckily, I’ve been able to recover it without any repercussions.

Best Practice: get some cheap address labels and put all your info on them. Then, stick them everywhere. If you’re being cheap, white gaff tape will work. Just don’t forget to label the tape.

Film Tip #3

Get the right colored tape.

Here’s a fun story. So, I was going to the local film supply store the day before a shoot. I had a few items to pick up, but among them was black gaffer’s tape.

I go in the store, in a rush as usual, and grab some tape. Later that night on set I realize I accidentally grabbed this:

Stupid Dark Blue Tape.

When I should have got this:

Good All-Purpose Awesome black gaffer's tape.


When you’re working with a completely black background, things like that stand out. And because I have always needed black tape, and never dark blue, I am still stuck with the same roll. I guess the best lesson is don’t be in a hurry when buying color-specific tape.