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80's music video: how video clips were made.


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It is astounding by today's standard that many early 80's video clips were shot in just a few hours. These were not for just small bands, but even popular or large groups had a film clip in the can by lunch. It is astounding, that is, until you see the finished product. While some highly innovative video clips were made at the time, many were content with the basics. Using the wonders of clip art (thank God this wasn't around in the 80's), here is how many music videos were filmed. For a more detailed list of bands that used this technique, see The white room: early 80's film clips.

Take a room and make everything white.
OK, in this example it is hard to see our white set on the white background, so we'll throw in a border which we can pretend is a TV set.
Also note that it was very rare to have a perfect white background: camera contrasts and brightness were turned right up to bleech out colours (or the camera operators had do idea how to use video), but you could still see a faint shadow where the back drop met the floor. For a really poor attempt see The Knack's My Sharona in The white room: early 80's film clips
Grab any kind of crap to put into the set. As props involved carrying things and there was no one around to do it, then the stage could be littered with anything from light towers, musical instrument cases and a personal favourite - instrument leads. Since the band would be miming, instrument leads were always a dead give away that someone on the set decided either they wanted an "authentic look" or that the set was just too bland.
Add your band members, throw in a close up and you are done. Don't be too concerned about what everyone is wearing or if they are sweating. To liven things up, get your lead singer to forget about microphones and let him do a whacky dance.
click to enlarge (15KB) STEP 4
Was it too hard to carry all the equipment? Don't worry about it - just follow M's example in the video "Pop Muzic".
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