Editing your music video as a multi-cam sequence, even without multiple cameras, will accelerate your workflow.

A few years ago, I was hired to film a low-budget music video for a local band with a three-week deadline. I had only about $500 left for production, after expenses. That didn’t leave much room for error — or additional equipment. Since modern music videos are essentially short films, this was going to be a difficult project.

The concept of the music video was to return to the musicians later in life after the band had broken up. These stories would unfold as the lead singer recovered the band’s lost items out in the wilderness, symbolizing reunion. This resulted in a challenging edit. We had shot way too much. Fully edited, each storyline was too long for a four-minute video:

  • Lead singer finding the buried instruments: 3:50.
  • Guitarist quitting his job and finding love: 3:36.
  • Bassist moving on from his breakup and finding band photo: 3:59.
  • Drummer watching old adventures of himself and his ex-girlfriend, which glitches out to an old music video: 3:01.

I had four layers in Premiere Pro — one for each band member. The primary layer was for the lead singer. Trying to cut down and show specific moments of each band member was becoming a burden, and it was consuming precious time. I had an idea — an unconventional one — but it worked great. Use a multi-cam edit.

The Multi-Cam Edit

Typically, music videos, especially performance videos, rely on a multi-camera setup. This saves time and allows the editor to match specific movements between the band members that a single-camera setup can’t capture.  More or less every prosumer-level NLE supports multi-cam editing. If you have not edited a multi-camera sequence before, here is a basic summary of how it works:

  • A preview window plays all synced media.
  • You play the sequence and select the video clip you want in the preview window.
  • This initiates a cut in the timeline clip, and marks this clip as active until you click another.

This setup is ideal for a music video that captures a live performance, when you have several cameras situated around the performers. But what about a narrative music video?

I decided to convert my four layers into a multi-cam sequence and edit that way. Of course, they weren’t multi-camera shots, nor were they the same duration, but it allowed me to see which narrative thread worked best at which moment in the timeline. Like a switchboard editor, I was able to alternate between stories. This felt like a much more organic way of editing this video, and I was able to complete the project much sooner.

Getting Ready

There are a few essential steps you need to take before you convert your multi-narrative music video into a single multi-cam edit sequence.

  • Fully assemble each thread for every character of the music video.
  • If some sequences are shorter than the others, add a solid color block to that specific timeline to make up the time.
  • Render each narrative track out with the music in place; this helps the syncing process when conforming the shots to a multi-camera sequence.

If you’d like to know more about multi-cam editing before you dive in, PremiumBeat has published the following articles with detailed video tutorials:

Do you have tips for working with a multi-cam sequence? Let us know in the comments?