A Behind the Scenes Look at the Making of the “Kaiser” Video

The VMAs are coming up, with this year’s host Sebastian Maniscalco all set to rock the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Monday, August 26. The nominations and the lead up to the awards always bring a lot of interest to the music video itself, and it’s great to give the artists and all the people involved in making a music video the recognition they deserve.

In today’s music industry music videos play a vital role in marketing and production. Even though we are long past the heyday of MTV and its 24-hour videos, people now access music videos on YouTube and various social media sites, where they’re available at your fingertips instantly. This art form serves as a way to connect the music and the artist to the listener, and it provides a window into the song and helps tell the story in a visual way that complements the music.

So how exactly does a band or artist go about the process of creating a music video? We asked Tanner Hendon, bassist for Like Machines, for the inside scoop on the band’s recent video for “Kaiser.”

* At what point in the process does an artist or band start working on a music video?
It really depends on the artist, but typically the video comes after the song and recording or done, or very close to being finished. Since the video is loosely based in the topic of the song in some form or another, it’s good to have the song in place first.

* How long does it typically take to create a video, from start to finish?
It really depends on the concept and how in-depth you’re going. For example, shooting will take longer if you have a number of different shots. Even a shot that will only be on the screen for about three seconds can take hours of preparation and set up time, so if you’re doing various sets, it adds to the time. In my experience, it typically takes us roughly a month to knock out a music video from inception to finished product.

* What does the timeline look like?
It’s important to have the logistics in place before you start shooting. Figure out the concept, the shot list, locations, wardrobe and get your food, gear and crew in place before you start shooting. Once you start shooting, it can take anywhere from a day to a week, depending on the concept. Then allow one to three weeks for editing and coloring.

* The music video for “Kaiser” uses a combination of live action and animation. What were the reasons for mixing it up on this video?
As we were brainstorming ideas, we talked a lot about ways to visualize the concept of war. Of course, we didn’t have a budget to hire hundreds of actors to create an army on-set, but also, we didn’t want to come out and make a statement about any specific military action. Using animation was a good way to convey militaristic images we were looking for while keeping it all somewhat anonymous.

Also, none of us had worked with animation in a music video before. It seemed like it would be something fun to try to broaden our creative experiences.

* What animation studio did you work with and what was the creative process like?
We worked with an artist named Jonathan Stearns with Channel B4 out of Los Angeles. We saw his work and liked his style, so we made contact with him and were really glad he was on board.

We pulled together a bunch of images we liked or that we thought conveyed the message of “Kaiser,” and sent it to the director, along with color choices and a storyline. They were very collaborative, and we talked at length to work through the concept and come up with the storyline for the video together.

* What advice can you give artists who are just starting out and looking to make their first video?
I can tell you from experience, it’s very easy to come up with what you think is a great concept, but it’s so elaborate that it doesn’t fit with reality in terms of your budget, your resources and your time, which can be a bit of a reality check. It’s good to keep in mind what your end goal is and remember the important thing is to connect the dots for the fans to what the song is about. It’s often the first impression fans have to a new artist, and it’s a great way for fans to connect and feel your passion for the music

Most of all, just have fun. It can be a crazy process, but it’s all worth it in the end when you can share your finished product.

Tanner Hendon