Skip to main content

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 per scene makes 95 rolls of film. Assuming a shooting ratio of around 2:1 makes 190 rolls of film… When Kyle and I decided that playback could be 18fps,That meant that the song only had to be slowed down 3x, so Kyle would be burning the song, slowed down 300%, bringing the total length would be 8:25, then breaking that down into 7-second chunks preceded by 2 or 3 beeps, which brings us, in the end to 73 individual 7-second scenes. With our 2:1 shooting ratio, that’s 146 rolls of film.

I now have the challenge of coming up with 150 rolls of film. Since Kodak’s bid for Chapter 11, their film has become tougher to find. I called every major supplier in the UK and they all told me the same thing.

          “We don’t have that much and it would be a problem to get it for you.”
          “So you can’t do it?”
          “It would be a bit of a problem, sir.”
          “So you can do it, but won’t?”
          “Finding that much of the Kodak film would be a problem, but we could get you Fuji film instead.”

This was the response from all but one supplier. The guy at Morco Photographic was very positive about being able to get the film, so we’ll see if he was shining me on, or if he has the juice to make it happen.

I received a comp of the song today. It’s a minute longer than the rough cut I heard a couple of weeks ago, but the performance bit is still 2 minutes and 45 seconds

I’ve been thinking of ways to use the limitation of the 2-2.5 second takes to enhance the look of the film. I’ve decided that each performance bit could be set up to be shot as a series of shots to emulate a crane or dolly move. This will show off the dramatic scenery as well as the performance.

The location scouting is going well. I found another way to a high cliff overlooking the Lighthouse on the southern end of the island. It’s a real hike to get there though. It’s about an hour up and down rocky, muddy hills and valleys. To get to the lighthouse itself, is an hour hike along a cliff face. It’ll be really sweet. There might be an easier trail to the lighthouse, but I’ve yet to find it.


There are now several locations to choose from and we’ll be making those decisions soon. I had another conversation with Jack Quick at LomoLab, UK. It turns out that using the slightly cheaper semi-automated process for the Kino film will produce a bigger file size than with the Deluxe process. I’ve been a bit worried about the files sizes of the little movies. I don’t want to do all of this work, and then have a project that can’t be adequately displayed full screen.

I’ll be completing the “synch” test film this week, hopefully. (I’m in Edinburgh working on a weeklong time-lapse project for a client, so I’m hoping that I can get the rolls completed and sent to Jack during the downtime.)