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Fireworks: The Process of Making a Music Video... Part 11

Let the edit begin!
This is proving more challenging than I first thought.
After Jack Quick at LomoLab worked out a few issues, the footage from Day 1 is looking really great. In order to get rid of the choppy, jumpy nature of the first pass, we came up with the idea of disregarding the half-frames, losing 1 of every four frames in the end. The new workflow is working and the footage is much smoother now, so Big Thanks to Jack.
There was a roll of 160VC that was a couple of stops underexposed. The semi-automated process at LomoLab just couldn’t find the frames. I ended up re-rendering the MP4 from the film scans myself, using (of all things) Canon’s DPP RAW converter software. It has a trimming function that made this tedious process a bit more streamlined. There were a few other rolls that I re-rendered to get rid of jumps when the camera would skip a frame or two.
The first attempt with this was a couple of macro shots of the costume. I had taped a +10 diptor to the LomoKino lens and ho…

Fireworks: The Process of Making a Music Video... Part 10

Day 5:
41 Rolls shot today.
On our last day we ventured out to The Lighthouse. The walk was great. The location was amazing. It was a great way to end the shoot.
The sky was bright blue and nearly cloudless. The remaining rolls of Portra 400 would more than likely have been overwhelmed with a 3-stop overexposure if not for the Polarizer filter that I taped on the front of the LomoKino. 1 2/3 stop worth of light that I didn’t have to worry about.
I grabbed a couple of wide shots while Kyle and Lesley-Anne got ready. The barnacle covered volcanic rock is going to look amazing on film. The small patches of grass and little purple flowers that carved out an existence in the little hollows of the rock added some unexpected color to the scene.
The Sun gave us a nearly perfect side light. Kyle sat on a set of concrete steps in front of the lighthouse. The names of several kids who’d made the journey before us littered the wall behind him. Brilliant.
We opted for a nonlinear shot sequence instead…

Fireworks: The Process of Making a Music Video... Part 9

Day 4:
Shot 30 rolls of Portra 160. Today.
A bit cold, a bit windy and a bit awesome! We began the day at a rocky outcrop overlooking Scalpsie Bay. This particular vocal piece was the crest of the song. The shot started low and progressed up the hill, past Kyle to the wide vista behind him.

Lesley-Anne set up her "office" with the computer, speakers and camera log a short ways down the hill. She's been great, pulling triple-duty as Production Coordinator, 2nd Assistant Camera and Chauffeur.  She's been indispensable. This shoot wouldn't have been possible without her.
Kyle was a trooper, barefoot for the first 2/3 of the morning, freezing and covered in fluttering feathers. He pulled it off brilliantly.  
As he and Lesley-Anne packed up our kit,  I cranked out a few more wide shots for the open.

We warmed back up in the car on the way to The Musiker CafĂ©’.  By the end of lunch Kyle was able to feel his toes again.
After lunch we went back to Scalpsie. The seldom seen…

Fireworks: The Process of Making a Music Video... Part 8

Day 3.

Cut short by rain.

We started the day with a B-Roll shot of this huge amazing tree in the middle of this empty field. (I say empty, but for the herd of grazing cattle who were kindly keeping completely out of the shot) The tree is surrounded by a stone circle and an old wooden fence. The grey clouds and misty rain made for an amazing shot. The wind was moving the bare branches of the tree slightly, so I cranked the LomoKino as slowly as I could and then varied the speed to slow down the movement of the branches slightly.


Onto The Lighthouse?

The trek to the Lighthouse is no mean feat on the best of days. It's about an hour along the coastal cliffside trail. The wind and spitting rain would make the walk (let alone the shooting of an important vocal piece) difficult, if not dangerous. We decided that we would go back to the house to see if this weather would pass and make a decision later.

On the way back to the house, we stopped at Kerrycroy to grab a shot of the storm surg…

Fireworks: The Process of Making a Music Video... Part 7

Day 2 was a real treat.
We shot the first vocal synch segment and several B-Roll shots.
We started at the Cement House. While Kyle was getting ready, I took some wide vistas and establishing shots. The 2-Perf Super 35mm format really makes these wide shots much more stunning.
The first shot in the vocal sequence had Kyle, sitting on a rocky outcrop on the extreme right, the Cement House in the background and a huge rusty old winch in the foreground on the extreme left. As the shots progressed I moved Kyle across the frame, ending up on the extreme right. The results will be very dreamy as each shot dissolves into the next.
I’ve been asking a lot of the Portra 400. It’s latitude for underexposure is legendary, but I’m asking it for 2 stops over exposure in some instances. Negative Filmic emulsions have always handled highlights better than any digital format ever could. I’ve always put a tremendous amount of faith in Kodak films and have only seldom been disappointed. That and the esthet…

Fireworks: The Process of Making a Music Video... Part 6

A couple of days before Kyle arrived; we had been talking over Skype about changing the song for the video. He felt that “Fireworks” was more representative of the album as a whole. This really wasn’t a problem, since the video had no narrative element. His costume had been created by a local costume designer and ready to be picked up the next day.
--- Monday Shoot T Minus 1:
My prep has been done. Lists were made and gear gathered.
Kyle got into Glasgow today with no problems. He showed us the costume. It looks amazing, consisting of several pieces of fabric, feathers, tassels and dangly bits. It’s brilliantly coloured and will look amazing on film.
We talked a bit about the scheduling. We think that 2 locations per day will be a nice easy pace. Kyle has broken the song down into 113 pieces. It’s a few more tracks than the previous song, but about half the song is instrumental, so we don’t have to worry about syncing as many vocals and therefore won’t have to use as much film. That being …

Seeds: The process of making a music video Part 5...

Returning from a weeklong time-lapse shoot in Edinburgh to find the film shipment had arrived. Excellent.
I was wondering how that might turn out. Morco didn’t have as much stock as they thought they would. I thought I might have to scrounge the whole of the UK to come up with 150 rolls, but as it happens, Silverprint in London (my new best friends) had a ridiculous amount of Kodak stock to sell. I grabbed 100 rolls of Portra 400 and 50 rolls of Portra 160. (The unpredictable nature of the weather here had made me reconsider the idea of shooting all 400. There is a chance of being in full, raging sun with a couple of our locations, so I opted to be safe and cover myself with a bit of 160.) As long as I stick to a single stock per location, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Jack Quick from LomoLab, UK, has been most helpful in determining the post options that are best for the project. It turns out that their semi-automated process will produce a bigger, beefier file size and is also a bit …

Seeds: The process of making a music video Part 4...

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.” – Hunter S. Thompson

This new performance based video is much more technically challenging.

How do I have a synch sound performance piece from a camera whose frame rate is far from constant?
Kyle and I decided that synch would be less of an issue as long as it was mostly there. With the dreamy look of the camera as the film’s centrepiece we could forgive “perfect” synch for the overall look.

I’m getting excited about the challenge.

The next decision is about Film stock. The overall look of the film has to be natural looking and in colour. Kodak films have always seemed to me to be warmer toned and people friendly, whereas Fuji tend to be more on the cool end of the spectrum and a bit more contrasty.

Because of the varying exposure from frame to frame and the 100% outdoor locations, I need a stock that has wide latitude and a certain amount of forgiveness in regards to over and underexposure. That would be Kodak’s Portra 400.

How much film? 1 roll p…

Seeds: The process of making a music video Part 3...

Testing the LomoKino was a fun little excersize to figure out what the camera was capable of. The first roll was a bit of a disaster in post. The colour was way off and each frame had to be corrected by hand. The shakiness of the movie was due my own inability to perfectly select the individual frames. The camera test was basically a success. It revealed a hitch in the process though. Around 150 frames per roll meant that I would have to individually scan each one. The colour could be taken care of in the scanner menu under "Color Restoration". This worked for the other rolls.

Wet-scanning on the Epson Perfection V750 Pro has always been a time consuming process, but this was a bit more than I bargained for. By the end of the 4-roll test, I’d become a bit better at selecting the frames, but there’s still a bit of a shudder in the final films. This could be taken care of in post, however, by motion tracking stable objects in the frame. This would also be ridiculously time con…

Seeds: The process of making a music video Part 2...

I really enjoyed working with Kyle on his last album. The Echo Bloom project, Jamboree was one of the most fulfilling creative endeavours I’ve ever undertaken. Kyle is a great collaborator and at the same time willing to let me make creative leaps in my art to create amazing images. I’m excited to be able to shoot the first music video from his new album BLUE. The song is called Seeds. It’s about a couples’ longing to be together after death. It’s haunting and beautiful.

The original idea was using marionettes to act out the story of a man asking his wife to fill his pockets with seeds on the event of his death and bury him in the forest so that he would become one with the tree that will grow from him. He tells his wife to do the same, when her life comes to an end.

I planned to have Kyle come to the Isle of Bute to shoot the film. The stunning natural and dramatic settings would create the perfect backdrop.

Using a local puppeteer to make and use the marionettes was a natural fit. (Th…

Seeds: The process of making a music video Part 1...

The inspiration for this project came to me as I was falling asleep, wondering what I could do for Echo Bloom's upcoming music video. Making these projects different and interesting is always a challenge. I decided to approach this (as is typical for me) from a technical angle first. How could I shoot this to make it different?

Film, would, of course, be my first choice. Super-8 is always fun, and after some research, I found some resources in the UK to make this possible.

DSLR would be a non-starter for me simply because of the over abundance of material already out there. I thought that video in general wouldn’t work for the creation of an interesting look that I would want to create “out of the camera”, versus baking in a filtered “film-look” in post.

Super-8, initially, seemed like a great fit. It would be cost effective and easy to manage. The film, processing, and transfer could all be from The Widescreen Center in London. The Super-8 version of the music video would cost…