Video content is the name of the game in 2017, but creating it can be exhausting, time-intensive, and financially draining. Making full-budget music videos is simply not affordable for anyone but the highest-earning indie performers.
People are always looking for new, low-cost ways to create content, but sometimes falling back on a tried and true method can work just as well. Lyric videos are a great way to make shareable content with a small budget and a small time investment.
On freelancer websites like Fiverr, you can get great looking lyric videos made for anywhere from $100 – $400. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. The $100 videos will be very basic, using stock backgrounds and lyrics. The $400 videos will have more production value – effects, nice visuals, custom themes, etc.
If you’re interested in paying for a lyric video, that’s totally fair, as it is quite affordable. Just look around the web for a while and find somebody that makes videos that you like. YouTube is a great place to find talented media creators.
That said, lyric videos are not hard to make (if you’re making a basic one), and you can do it with free software. It just takes some time! If you get good at it, it could even become an extra revenue stream; Making lyrics videos for others.
Keep in mind that if you’re new to video software and editing, it will take some time to learn your way around the programs and functions. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll get, and there are a ton of free YouTube tutorials out there if you get stuck.
Most of the professional lyric videos you’ll see are made with Final Cut Pro, Motion, or After Effects. These programs require fairly steep learning curves (people go to school for years to learn how to use them), and are quite expensive.
For our purposes, you can use iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. These programs are very much made for the beginner, but they’re also free. So, that’s a major win!
What Programs Are Best for Lyrics Videos
We’ll take you through a few options, both free and paid, for video editing software. Let’s start with the free ones.
Best Free Software
Check these out if you’re on a budget.
If GarageBand is Logic Pro lite, then iMovie is Final Cut lite. It has many of the same features, but is less overwhelming and is designed for beginners. It’s free and it comes with all Macs.
iMovie has a respectable amount of effects and templates that can allow you to make good-looking videos. It can also publish directly to YouTube, which is convenient.
Windows Movie Maker
Windows Movie Maker has been around for a long time and is definitely usable as video editing software. Unfortunately, it is significantly worse than the Mac alternative (iMovie). Movie Maker tends to create videos that have a certain look due to its limited functions and effects.
If you really know your way around it, Movie Maker can work just fine for a simple lyric video.
Hit Film Express
While Hit Film is generally geared towards special effects for actual movies, it can also be used to make lyric videos. It’s a little more complicated than the other two free options, but it can certainly work.
The Express version of the software is free, but if you want full functionality, it comes with a $300 price tag.
Best Paid Software
Final Cut Pro X
Final Cut is the paid version of iMovie, but the difference is night and day. You can literally make professional movies on Final Cut. It has all the functionality of any professional video editing software available.
If you’re looking for the industry standard, After Effects is it. Movies are made every day using After Effects and it is thus a bit overwhelming for most beginners. That said, if you really like making videos, this is good software to get familiar with.
Note that many of the paid options offer free trials. If you’re curious, try one out for a while. Maybe you’ll be a natural!
Here are a few basic tips to get you started. These are things that everyone from the newest beginner to seasoned pro should do when making a lyric video:
- Set the aspect ratio to 16:9. These are the proportions that YouTube favors. If your video does not meet these proportions, it will still play, but YouTube will compensate for it by putting black bars on the sides of the video. If you cannot set the aspect ratio with your software, simply make the video background black to hide this from viewers.
- Import the highest quality version of the song possible. It’s always best to use high quality .wav files anytime you’re making a video, as the song won’t be compressed or altered in any way. The higher the quality of the audio when going into YouTube, the better if will sound coming out.
- Decide on a theme. If you’ve captured some footage – even on your iPhone or a GoPro – use it and base the theme around it. Or, if you’re using stock footage, try to keep it all within a central idea.
- Focus on a color scheme. Don’t switch up the color of the text all the time, and always make sure the text is visible – it’s a lyric video after all! If you’re using stock pictures, try using filters and saturation to make them all similar. Try fading them or making them all black and white.
- Use a readable font size and font. If you have a font that you use regularly with your brand, use that. Depending on the vibe of the video and the song, you can use a sketched looking font or a standard looking one, as long as it’s readable.
- Keep the pace of the song in mind. If it’s a slow song, use slow pans and cuts. If it’s fast, you’ll need to cut in more content and switch the titles faster.
Where to Find Free Stock Footage
There are magical places on the internet where you can find a bunch of free footage that you can use in your videos. Everything from shots of fields to archival footage. Here are a few great free sites:
- Mazwai.com: no email required, tons of public domain footage.
- Videohive.net: offers monthly video clips from professionals around the world. Over 300,000 clips available.
- Free-hd-footage.com: HD footage from American filmmakers, broken up into categories.
- Videos.Pexels.com: very popular, free stock footage with Creative Commons license. You can edit and change the footage as you please.
- Your iPhone! Take videos at shows, in the van, in the studio, etc. You never know when it could come in handy!
Where To Find Free Stock Pictures
You can also find free stock photos that aren’t cheesy on the web. These are great for videos, but they’re also useful for filling out gaps in your website and making posters.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Unsplash.com: organized by tags, these pictures are super high-res and free. I find all them to be super nice looking.
- Negative Space: new pictures every week, high-res, well organized.
- Kaboompics: bright photos of everyday life.
- Stokpic: all by one photographer, these photos all have a cohesive feel to them, and are great for just about anything.
- Get pictures taken at shows! It’s worth paying a photographer for a bunch of high-def pics for use in videos and on your social media!
Step By Step With iMovie
If you’re using iMovie, here are the steps you’ll take to get set up and start working on your video. I don’t know exactly what you have in mind for your video, so I can’t be too specific, but this should be enough to get you started:
- Open up iMovie. Click on File and select Create Movie. Name it whatever you want, and set the aspect ratio to 16:9.
- Import all of your media. Import the highest quality version of the song you can find, and import all of the pictures and video you’ll want to use. All of these will go into the clip list in the top left hand corner. It’s helpful to have everything set up and organized in a folder already.
- Start by dragging the song in. Then, start dragging your background media over top of it. It usually makes sense to start with your background first, as the background will determine font color/size.
- Double click on each clip and click Adjust. Here, you can adjust the length of clips. It’s fun to make the cuts sync up with the beats of the song.
- In iMovie, there is an automatic pan/zoom affect. To get rid of this, choose Crop, and then Fit. Unless you like it (which I do), then leave it!
- Select a font style by selecting Content Library in the bottom left hand screen, then click on titles. Insert titles where there are lyrics. Then you can edit font size and color.
- Change where the titles appear by dragging them around until they match the lyrics.
- Play the song through a couple times to make sure everything matches up.
- When you’re satisfied, click Share, and File from the menu. You’ll need to name your file. Save it as an MP4, WMV, or MOV and send it to the interwebs!
Step By Step With Movie Maker
Generally, the steps required with Movie Maker are the same. However, because it’s on a Windows OS, there are some slight differences.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Open Windows Movie Maker. If you don’t have it, download it from the Microsoft website. Don’t download it from a second-party site, as you run the risk of downloading a virus.
- In Movie Maker, you need to add all the images/videos first. Figure out how long your song is, and then start adding in pictures and videos as you see fit. Click the Home tab, and click Add Videos and Photos. Go to your folder and select the media you want.
- To add music, click the Home tab, and click Add Music. From the window that pops up, select your song from the list. There should be a green bar that represents the song over top of your photos and videos.
- You can add text by clicking the Home tab and clicking Caption. Then, you’ll type words right onto the screen. You can adjust the text duration (how long it appears for) once you’re done typing.
- Add lyrics by playing the video, and stopping every time the singer sings a new line. Edit the color and font to your liking, as well as where the text is placed on the screen.
- When you’re satisfied, click Save As. Save it as a MP4, MOV, WMV, or MPEG4 and upload away!
The Best YouTube Tutorials
There’s only so much you can learn by reading an article. You need to give this a shot for yourself. You’ll learn the most via trial and error. That said, if you get stuck, there are a ton of great YouTube tutorials that will help you work out common problems. Here are some of my favorites.
This is one of the best overviews I’ve ever seen of iMovie.
Here is a tutorial specifically geared towards making lyrics videos.
Movie Make Tutorials:
This is a good general overview of Movie Maker, updated for 2017.
And this is a tutorial geared towards making lyric videos!
It Gets Better With Practice!
As with anything, your lyric videos can only get better with time and practice. You’ll start to explore different effects, filters, zooms, and audio effects, and maybe even upgrade to a better video editing program down the line.
But don’t sweat it if you don’t have the best setup in the world. It’s better to have some content as opposed to no content, and many artists are affected by the perfection diseases so they never get started let alone get anything published. Don’t let that be you. Instead, look at it as an experiment and a learning process. Start publishing now and you’ll keep getting better in time.