Mistakes to avoid when producing a dance or exercise DVD

14 thoughts on “Mistakes to avoid when producing a dance or exercise DVD”

  1. Brilliant! Yes to all of these!
    On the marketing side, I would also say “Don't hide your light under a bushel”…in other words, once you've followed all the other tips here, you're going to have an awesome, unique, professionally produced DVD. Now tell people about it! Sell it! Share your brilliance with the world…we want to see it.

  2. This is exactly the stuff I complain about! Chaptering is huge. I think WDNY has made leaps and bounds in regards to this. When teaching a choreography/combination make SURE to have a practice session WITH the music. This is essential to learning AND it has to be chaptered so we can keep repeating it. I have some great videos that have all of the above listed except they are not chaptered for practice. I end up not using them because they are too much of a hassle.

    In today's digital age I would think we should be able to buy the exact music they use in their videos via a link. If it's edited on the DVD sell us that edit. Editing is way to complicated to add to a bellydance instructional video. I would think the artist would love getting sales this way. Note to consumers: You may want to contact the company if you can't find a song that is used. One that I had I could not find anywhere so I e-mailed them. Turns out they did the music just for the video and sent me the file for free. They did not advertise that they would do so but it turned out that anyone that asked they gave.

    I prefer for there to be a performance included so I can see if I like the dancers technique. Although I can say I have some videos where I don't care for their technique but learned a great deal from their instruction. It's a fine line though.

    I would like to point out in performance videos giving credit to the musicians is super important! Those of us buying these videos are the same people buying the CDs. I did write a letter to a certain big company for not doing this properly and pointed out to them that it is illegal to not do so.

    Thank you for writing this and writing it well.

  3. I'd like to add sound, some DVDs have very bad sound quality, like echoing, or where it sounds plain weird. Another thing that is very annoying is when there is a performance video in the DVD and there are a lot of close ups, so we can't see what the rest of the body is doing. Often a problem in performance DVDs but also in instructional DVDs where they have a choreography performed in the end.

  4. This is really good advice. A couple of thoughts:

    1) Selling a cut version of the music (legally, at least) is difficult and expensive.
    You have to license the rights to the recording and the composition, then keep careful records and pay royalties on them indefinitely. In most cases, that's not worth the hassle. So the only times I'd recommend doing a choreography to a cut song are when you have very broad permission. (i.e., if you own the copyrights, or if you license it through a royalty-free library.)

    2) There is a really easy solution to mirroring: just flip the footage in your editing software.
    Even iMovie and Windows Movie Maker can do this. The downside is that you have to flip *all* the footage, so if you ever turn your back on the camera, you'll have to do opposite cues then. (And don't wear anything with words – that's a dead give-away.)

  5. Nadira,

    Yes — the cut version is a problem. I think the better idea is to do a choreo for a song as is, or a choreo that can be mostly repeated, or repeated in parts, and then show how. But I've seen one producer offer customers the cut version if they can prove to her that they legally bought the original.

    Thanks for the flipping tip! Just facing a mirror solves this too, though I must confess I prefer to see the instructor head-on.

  6. Vicki,

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I prefer just being able to buy the thing online too. But there is some *really* good music that's still only available on CD. Still, the producer should then choose a CD that's distributed internationally. American DVDs are sold here in Europe, so it's annoying if people can't get the music.

  7. Amulya,

    Yes! The performance video is not a music video! It's part of the instruction, and should be filmed as such. I repeat for posterity: discipline your cameraman!

  8. Technically, that's still illegal. My personal/moral opinion is that it fits the *spirit* of copyright law, but since it's against the *letter* of the law, you can still get in big trouble for that. So my advice to producers is to not go down that road. [With the caveat that I'm not a lawyer, just someone who has done a lot of reading on copyright. So that's personal advice, not legal advice. 🙂 ]

    I can think of one exception to the no-cutting rule: I don't mind if the choreography covers the first few minutes of a longer song, as long as the choreography ends at a “mini-ending” in the music. For example, Alf Leyla Wa Leyla has several places that could be a satisfying ending. (Most recordings of that song don't include the full overture.) As long as there's a full, silent pause at that point in the song, cutting off the end is really easy.

  9. Also, the teacher should know her material well — maybe having taught it a couple of times live — and it probably helps to imagine “students” following the instructions behind the camera(s). Especially for intermediate/advanced material. For instance, it's rarely necessary to say “lift your left arm” because you can see that movement very clearly even on smaller TV screens. More useful instruction and verbal cues could be something like “reach up and pause, and keep your chest up!” while doing the combo/choreo. The video and the audio usually don't need to tell the same thing twice (at least not after the breakdown).

    Maybe you got my point? I guess teaching in front of a camera is a “choreography” of its own. 😉

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