Tips for Creating Music Video Montages

When I was in high school, a friend and I got more than a little obsessed with making music videos. When I say this, I mean we’d mostly dress up and dance around lip-synching in front of her Macbook, recording ourselves into iMovie. Fast-forward a fews years later, and I’m a working musician, making my own music and starting to think about making some music videos. The first video I started is still being shot, but over the summer another friend and I had an idea to record and film an acoustic cover of a rap song, to serve as a fun contrast to my own music, which is decidedly more on the indie-folk end of the spectrum. Behold my cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Itty Bitty Piggy:” (Disclaimer: there are a few swear words in here. It’s a rap song. Maybe don’t play this when the kids are around…)


My friend Alison Mah and I figured out the concept for the video, and she filmed and edited the clip. She did such a great job of it that she inspired me to try my own hand at video-editing. Alyzee, my fellow Ahimsa Media intern, and I shot a whole bunch of footage with the intention of making a fun tribute video for our teen-friendly character, Shea. As this was a video ostensibly made by a teen with the target audience of other teens, and also because Shea is a fictional character, it was important not to show too much of my face in the footage. This was a challenge, but I think it actually added to the accessibility of the video in the end. Here is the video:


This post is of necessity not going to be a step-by-step guide about how to manually edit videos, as there are myriad video-editing programs out there, and I am by no means an expert on any of them. However I did learn some things in the process that I wish someone had shared with me:

1) Getting timing exactly right the first time IS important. Little gaps, or strange transitions make for awkward interruptions in the video that really are noticeable. Make sure to be as exact as possible about transitions as you go through your footage. You really, really don’t want to go back and fix every transition. Believe me.

2) Play around, both in the shooting and editing process! Lots of my favourite moments in Shea’s video came about by chance or whim. I had actually finished editing the clips together before I discovered that I could play around with contrast and colour in iMovie. I then went through and played with each separate clip’s colour and contrast until I was happy with them. The colours are definitely my favourite part of the video, and give it a whimsical vibe.

3) If you are making a music video montage like we did, look for a song that matches what you want to say in the video, but try not to make it too literal. If the song mentions eagles, and you show a shot of an eagle flying, it might be a little too contrived. Try to be unobtrusively quirky and unexpected in your images, no matter the subject matter. Everyone appreciates a clever image/lyric/music match-up.

4) Make sure to name and tag your video appropriately. The most prevalent part of the name should be to credit the musician. For example, we called Shea’s video “Hannah Georgas – The Beat Stuff tribute,” after the artist and title of the song we made the montage around. The video is yours, but the music is the musician’s. Credit them!

5) Most of all, have fun. If you’re making a video-montage, what better time is there to play around with effects, timing, and images? With modern technology, everyone can be a passable film-maker and graphics editor. Take advantage of it! Explore as you go! Video-editing can be a time consuming process, but it doesn’t have to have to be painful. And in the end, you have a guaranteed crowd-impressing product. (Lots of people don’t realise how easy it is to edit videos…)

Tips for Creating a Personalized YouTube Channel

In July my knowledge of personalizing YouTube Channel pages went up by about 100 percent. Erica assigned Liz and I the task of creating and personalizing YT Channels for Ahimsa characters Shawnee and Shawn Rockett (of the Shaw Rocket Fund), and for Shea, Ahimsa’s teenage character online.

I’d never tried my hand with personalizing YT Channels before and thought it should be easy, just like personalizing one’s desktop background. To my surprise, I found that just learning the ropes of YT Channel personalization takes a significant amount of time and experimentation. After spending many an ungainly hour on the project I thought I must just be YouTube-challenged, and so sought Liz’s help to speed things along. I was relieved to find that Liz – talented as she is with manipulating digital photos – uttered as many expletives as I did while we worked on getting the YT background image just right. Erica calmed us both by assuring us that personalizing the web page takes much longer than you’d think it would, and that after it’s completed, things move much more smoothly. (They do. And it’s such a pleasure to admire the finished product in the end).

I always admire the colours on Shawnee Rockett’s YouTube channel

So to save all of you some time when personalizing your own YT Channels, here are some good-to-know tips:

1.There is no real ideal size for a YT background image, so don’t bother Googling it to see what size picture other YT users are using. This is because as you add more material to the Channel, the page will grow longer but your image will not. You can cope with this setback by choosing a background colour that will soften the line where the text exceeds the picture. The width that Liz and I found worked best for her photos was 1300 pixels.

We chose a deep grey background to blend in with Shawn Rockett’s teal and deep blue channel colours.

2. Depending on the size of the computer screen being used, the sides of the image displayed may be cut off. So while the edges of the image may show up on your screen, they may be lost on smaller monitors. For this reason, don’t pick images that have a lot of the subject on the extreme edges of the screen as they might become invisible to other viewers.

3. This restriction poses the problem of having a very small margin in which to display your subject on the Channel page. Pushing the subject too far towards the centre of the page will make the image disappear behind the wrapper, and moving it too far towards the edges is risky as well (see tip 2). You can increase how much of the background image is visible by making the wrapper totally or partially transparent.  Do this by clicking “advanced options” under the Themes and Colours tab and adjusting the “Wrapper Transparency” option with the drop-down menu given.

We made the outer wrapper 100% transparent and the inner wrapper 40% transparent so that more of the background picture would appear.

4. When you’re picking the colours to go in the fields in “advanced options”, you need not be limited to the 56 colours offered in the YT grid. There are 216 html colour codes you can find online. Enter the codes for the colours you like in the grids to give yourself more  freedom when designing your page. Name and save the combination of colours you decide on in the top left field of “advanced options” so that you can apply this palette with a single click on other YT Channels you might personalize.

5. Now comes the easy part. When you’re done with setting up the background and visuals, you can start favouriting videos, creating playlists and putting in a channel description. To display your playlists, you need to click the “Videos and Playlists” tab and select which playlists you want displayed. You have to do this every time you create a new playlist and want it on your channel page.

Under the “Videos and Playlists” tab, click on “Playlists” and then “Arrange Playlists” to decide  what order you want your playlists shown in.

You can click “Arrange Playlists” to edit the order of your YT playlists

You can also edit your playlists and arrange the order of individual videos by clicking on one of the playlist icons and then clicking “edit my playlist” (this last one took me a while to figure out).

I hope these nitty gritties are useful to any enterprising YT users out there. Good luck creating your personalized YouTube Channel page!