Saturday, January 7, 2012

Making A Music Promo for 'Dance A La Plage'

On 4th Jan i was hired to direct a music promo for 'Dance A La Plage', a band from Banbury. Unlike a lot of music videos, i hadn't heard the track beforehand and all i had was some YouTube links sent to be by the band to give me an idea of what they wanted.

They had come up with the treatment/concept themselves... all i had to do was simplify it, shoot it and edit it. This blog is going to be in two halves... this first one about the shoot and the second about the edit.

The band wanted the video to be in two halves... a story section which features the band speed dating and a performance section where the band play at a club in front of an excited crowd.

They had already found a location which could be used for both sections.. it's a bar which holds gigs anyway, but also has a really cool vibe and some great quirky furniture, ideal for the speed dating bar.

I arrived with my standard kit for this kind of shoot as well as my new DiT station. My current kit includes the Sony FS100 on a rail system with Follow-Focus, MatteBox and the Atomos Ninja Pro Res Recorder. I've also added some custom bits like a speaker system to check takes back with on-set audio and an arm to hold the Ninja in place and allow it to move and rotate... it's basically half a magic arm mounted on rail mount.

My FS100 Rig with Atomos Ninja
The DiT Station is a flightcase that holds my MacBook Pro, the Ninja's Dock, a 500GB Firewire 800 drive for backing up to and all the chargers for the many Sony batteries. It just means i can open it up, plug it in and i'm ready to check footage, back up and do quick test edits without looking for somewhere to set up and scratching around for cables on set.

The DiT Station, my lens bag and some mini par lights.
The first set up of the day was the speed dating scene. We tried a couple of different table arrangements before we settled for the one that looked best on camera. It's always good to remember that this isn't reality... it doesn't matter how odd it looks in real life, it looks good on camera, you never have to let the viewer see how odd it really is... so try moving people closer together than is natural...change the angles of chairs and don't worry too much about how it feels.. just make it look good on camera.

I had to keep the lighting simple, and thanks to the great Super35 sensor and my F1.8 Zeiss 50mm prime lens, that wasn't a problem. I used a par-can shining through a big diffuser for a front light and 2 mini-pars with diffusers for the faces of the two stars of the scene. There were some big windows just out of shot, so i had some daylight too as well as the lights in the venue itself... so white balancing was quite tricky.  I used Frank Glencairn's G-Log A picture profile on the FS100 as i love the scope this gives me for the grade in post... the only issue with it is that it's sometimes tricky to see what you're shooting.. you need to really check that you're not clipping the highs.

The first set-up for the speed dating scene. Dan wrestles with the diffuser on the Par-Can.
We ended up moving the tables into two rows which looked much better and we then began shooting. First of all it was all speed dating stuff... no music. The blokes all changed seats for each different take and we made sure everyone had a drink... the story was that a particular girl is who the singer is after, but she likes another bloke who is there... It ends badly, but there's some humour in there too.

After the speed dating scene, we shot the bit where people come in and sign in... we also got some posters printed advertising both the speed dating night and the gig...  might be useful in the edit.

We also decided to shoot a scene where the singer sings the whole song across the table to 'Matilda' the girl in question... This we did to camera as well as in profile. Just as we were wrapping up this scene we came up with the idea to pan across the table from the singer to the girl and back again, but to swap the singer for the bloke the girl preferred in between pans and then to end up with the singer looking down the table towards the camera. It was a real off-the-cuff idea, but i think it's going to be a very important part of the video.

The first speed dating set up...

The 2nd and final speed dating set up...

Checking the shot on the Ninja. I started with a static shot and then went handheld.

Lastly, we shot the performance aspect. This involved setting up the band on the stage in the venue which i decided to make time-lapse of....(you never know... it might come in handy)... we then waited for 'rent-a-crowd' to turn up. (the band put a shout-out on facebook)

A 28mm prime with a Vivanco Wide Angler adapter on the end... i used this for the time-lapse.

Great lighting and furniture in 'Also Known As' in Banbury... our location

Eventually, the crowd turned up and i had to shoot the performance. As we didn't have enough people to really fill the venue, me and Dan (the 1st AD) re-arranged the crowd to take up only the parts of the venue the camera could see at any one time. This meant lots of takes... one take of each of the band in close up, several takes over the heads of the crowd towards the band...several takes of the crowd from the drummer's position on the stage...several takes on the stage with the band (and it was a tiny that wasn't easy).

I ended the day's shooting with a shot of the couple walking out of the venue hand in hand...  4 quick takes until i got the one i wanted.

The band setting up on the tiny stage. The small size helped with the intimate and crowded feel for the gig section
Next time i'll talk about the edit...(once i've done it) and also i'll post the finished video itself.

Huge thanks to Mark at 'Also Known As', to Nat for being a great 'Matilda' and to Dan for shouting at the extras and sorting me out with cups of coffee and bacon sarnies... not to mention a very long drive home.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to seeing the finished product...