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Friday, 25 November 2011

Filming session 3: Southampton's dying light with ribbon girl

Shoot: Southampton

Date:16th November 2011

Crew: Myself (cameraman, Producer/Director) and George (Assistant)

Cast: Lydia (Ribbon Girl)

Equipment: Steadicam, Tripod. Canon 600D. Battery pack. 16GB SD card.

Wednesday: 2:35
I needed to establish the girl who follows the ribbon within an equally if not greater urban setting to the one the boy starts in to get that replicated journey of traveling from the city into the countryside.
Southampton seemed like a great place to film due to its high tower blocks and gritty council estates and a concrete landscape that can't quite be found in the surrounding city's of Bournemouth, Salisbury and Portsmouth.
George, who needed to get a few shots for his own media project had agreed to give us a lift up on that day and having fitted it in with Lydia's free period in the afternoon I was hoping to catch the best of the late afternoon low light.

Driving up to Southampton I had an idea of the location I wanted to film at but because of its central location near the railway station I had worries about being able to capture Lydia, isolated within the environment without having members of the public constantly coming into the background of shots. George needed a rundown tower block to film at and because that sort of a location also suited me, we ended up sourceing a location for filming within a southampton University halls of residency.

In some ways the location was perfect, a large shabby tower block with no one within the immediate vicinity. However this landscape only covered a small area with a green sports field to one side and a large victorian house on the other. This meant that although i would be able to get a few shots, i was going to struggle to get enough in different places at the location to create a sense of a journey similar to the Boy's.

Although i had storyboarded shot ideas of the girl's journey, I knew that it would be quite hard applying them without knowing the geography of the location until the day of the shoot. I managed to replicate the opening shot of the girl following the ribbon that I had planned. The white of the wall against the red of the ribbon seemed to work well and I used a door handle to attach the end of the ribbon onto. I experimented with the use of focus in the shot with the camera on the steadicam. What seemed to work best was having a short depth of field with the tracking closeup of the red ribbon against the white wall moving past it and framing the girl coming from the otherside in a medium wide shot out of focus.
I was in two minds as to the best white balance setting to use for the shoot, part of me wanted to set it to Auto or cloudy as this gave the images the most true colours but at the same time I wanted the colouring to marry with that of the boy following the ribbon. It felt imperative to portray both of their journeys happening at the same time, going from sunrise to sunset. Therefore I was also drawn to use the same 'tungsten white' white balance setting i'd used for the shoot in Verwood. I tried both when filming the opening shot. However shooting against the white of the wall it became obvious that the colouring was far too cold when using the tungsten white balance setting to the point of being visibly blue.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Three Types Of Music Videos

Within the cinematographic expression of music videos can be found three distinct structural forms of the medium. In order to produce a piece of filmmaking that was instantly identifiable as a music video i would need to gain a full comprehensive understanding of the many archetypes and hegemonic codes in relation to the different musical genres and their video counterparts. By looking at the three obvious types of music video that have been established, i would be better equipped to identify and deconstruct music videos viewed during future research and have a greater awareness of the general form and structure of the medium.

Performance Based

  • Early form of music videos (use elvis as example)
  • Now associated with rock bands/pop bands
  • give girls aloud as an example of its evolution.

Narrative Based

  • Early example (Beatles?)
  • Creation of MTV caused a greater demand for interesting and innovative filmmaking (give take on me for an example)

Concept Based

  • Abstract ideas- a medium for filmmakers to play with (spike jones, keith cunningham)
  • Basic ideas can be explored Ok Go treadmill.
  • Dance music often concept based/ alternative music.


  • Many music videos now mix narrative with performance, narrative with concept or even concept with performance

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Album Covers

As part of my auxillary task i am required to produce 2 of the following 3 things:

  • An A4 music magazine advertisement for the release of a new single.
  • A website for the band.
  • A digipack for the single.
The first task I chose was to produce a digipack as i thought this would be a good way of thinking about a collective image for the music and the band.

I started to research other artists' album covers from the same genre of music. My album needed to reflect the conventions of the alternative/art indie music scene.

With the strong haunting vocals over the top of the track I started by doing research into albums from female singer/songwriters in the alternative pop genre whose music was similar.

Bat for Lashes- The art work is very fantastical, the artist is framed in the middle of the shot in costume with a mythological theme present. The costume intergrates her into this mythological world.The different aspects to the background are layered on with the candles and trees almost merging into the water coloured painted blue scenery.

The album cover for Florence and the machine is similar with a decorated photo of the artist absorbed in scenery taking the main focus of the cover. The artists name is also at the top but on a black border. I like the literal reference to the title 'lungs' within the image as well. Your focus is drawn to it as well with the central writing of the album name. This is different ot bats for lashes were it is intergrated into background.

Obviously there is a wide range of different looks of album covers even within this genre but what seems key and was a recurring theme, is having the prescence of the artist in it. After all you are not only trying to sell the album but also the artist, for a listener to build a relationship to the music the identity of the artist must be presented.

 The colour palette used in these albums are all fairly narrow and fits into the non-glossy look associated with the alternative genre.The aim seems to be to create something artistic as opposed to showy. Little Boots is closest of these artists to mainstream pop and this is reflected in the cover for her album hands. The album covers which appealed most to me were the ones that had a more DIY look to them. Lykke Li's paper collage or Ladyhawke's water colour sketch. The visibility of materials being applied appealed to me and the idea of using different textures was something that I wanted to intergrate into my digipack.

Anna Calvi's Digipack for her debut album
Anna Calvi (Digipack)
I really liked the use of the necklace to act as a font for the writing throughout. Not only spelling out the name of the artist but the track listings as well. Taking this idea I wondered if the red ribbon, central to my music video could be used in much a similar way to the necklace. The danger of this might be ribbon overload though as our digipacks potentially have to be for an album as opposed to just the single of the music video track. The ribbon imagery is part of the visual identity of the music video and that one track, it is unusual for that identity to completely dominate the artwork for the whole album.
I looked for examples of where artists had taken inspiration from one of their music videos for the imagery on their album cover.

The White Stripes are a band who understand the importance of image identity. They have a certain colour palette that has become unique to them. The strong red and black are colours that are recurrent in any visual products the band put out. However this is motif is not simply connected to one song or music video, it is a recurrent factor and would be hard to compare to my idea behind re-using the ribbon.

Moving closer to the idea of imagery/motifs being used in both album artwork and music video it seemed the concept albums were the best examples of using this.


Arcade Fire-The Suburbs

Released last year this concept album is inspired by the band's upbringing in the suburbs of Houston and according to frontman Win Butler  “is neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it's a letter from the suburbs.” A Short film called 'Scenes from the Suburbs' directed by Spike Jonze accompanied the album. 

Coldplay-Viva La Vida or Death and all his friend

Although it would be hard to argue that this was a concept album and not just grandeur and pretension from a fairly average mainstream band. The album cover is taken from Eugène Delacroix's painting La Liberté guidant le people and this iconic image gives the album a theme of resistance and revolution. The video for the song of the album title used a blurry, warped version of the painting as a backdrop to bands performance. 


The problem with following the concept album model as a point of validation for using my ribbon as central to my album artwork as well as my video is that it takes in the bigger themes of setting in place and time that encapsulates the whole of the mise en scene. Whereas my idea of using the red ribbon as a way to tell the narrative of a love story is something that seems conclusive to that one track alone.

I was also having problems finding examples of the D.I.Y style of album cover that I thought could work for the ribbon idea.  Part of me thought that the sense of 'home made' art would be something that appealed to artists of alternative music in that hipster way of everything having to look bohemian and un-polished but it seemed that the general wave of focus was more on presenting imagery as opposed to texture.
Having filmed the band in vintage style clothing
that evoked pre-war glamour I liked the idea of
incorporating that look into the digipack.
The sepia toned colours and old fashioned film
reel quality to this album by Beirut 

I like the DIY layering of the titles and photos of the artists onto the red background
and i imagine much the same with framed photos of the band and ribbon.
My initial plan was to show the album cover with the band on the cover framed individually in profile at different angles separated but linked by a trail of ribbon that goes through each picture frame but also spells out the name of the band and album.

I like the idea of the digipack potentially trying to be
 disguised as something else. Here the characteristic
crocodile skin textured background helps in presenting
the album as a board game.

This is the closest i could find to band members being framed in separate positions
 on an album cover. Although it's a bit plain, the white bordering around each photo with
it appearing like a film strip is quite effective at giving not only a sense of the energy
of their music but also the space to identify the dynamic between them as a band.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Shoot 2: Christchurch: Filming with The Jazz Age Band

Shoot 2: Christchurch

Equipment List: Canon 600D with lens and battery, SD Cards (16 and 32Gb). Black electric guitar with strap and plectrum. Ipod with portable speakers. Drum with home made straps. Drumsticks, Microphone. 3 pieces of red ribbon. Tripod. Steadicam. 25metre track and Dolly.

Costumes provided: Two pairs of braces, beige Mac coat. Embellished white hat.

Cast and Crew: Myself: Cameraman/Director/Producer. Band members: Emma Trim, George Atwill, Will Garden. Roger Finn: Driver and Assistant Producer/Director

Today was the biggest shoot i'd have to do in terms of logistics and equipment needed. Having made last minute decisions about costumes the night before I was concerned that whether with so many variables in play i would forget something vital that prevented us doing the shoot. I tried to take heart from Pete Frasers example of students who were forced to improvise on the day of filming due to difficulties implementing original idea for shoot and promised myself that no matter what, i'd come away with some good, usable footage. The only real moment of panic and stress came at the beginning when picking up actors for the band. I had George's postcode but not the number of his house or his mobile and so at 5 past 6 in the morning i find myself in the car driving slowly up and down his road desperately searching for any signs of his whereabouts. Luckily i had his home number and resorted to call it and we were away.
This image begins to show just how many different elements
i was dealing with. In this situation filming becomes something
of a balancing act. You need to make sure all your equipment is
there and in working order, that everyone has the correct costumes
and any props that are needed. While at the same time you want to
devote some time to your actors to make sure they are happy and
confident about what they are doing. A good performance can only
be captured if that good performance is there.
I don't think I truly believed that i'd ever be able to convince 3 teenagers into giving up their sunday morning and waking up at such a horrendous hour but at 6:30 we were all in the car heading for Christchurch.

It had been extremely useful doing the rechie the previous evening as it meant I could begin work immediately and take control in an efficient manner. I had discussed with my dad a strategy on  how best to be time efficient when working with the heavy duty equipment of the track and dolly. I knew i would have limited time filming as I had another commitment i needed to keep at 10am that morning and also from my experience from the previous shoot,  we only had approximately 2 and a half hours of battery life. While he loosened the straps holding the track onto the roof, i briefed my actors on what i needed from them in terms of performance and sorted out costumes and distributed instruments.

I'd discussed the positions where i wanted to set up the dolly on curved or straight track with my dad at the rechie and so after marking the spot where i wanted to capture the first dolly shot. I let him unpack the curved and straight track while i set up the band on the band stand. I draped each piece of ribbon trailing from one of the instruments or the microphone over the edge of the bandstand, hooking it around the pillars to frame it in the background of the shot. I got the band to stand towards the back of the bandstand facing the steps up to it because the ribbon would have been too taught otherwise. I didn't want to restrict the movements of my performers, particularly Emma, too much and having looser ribbon meant it could be catched by the breeze and add to the atmosphere and colours on display for the band performance. I felt it was important to make sure the ribbon, as running motif, featured prominently within the bands performance so that like in the Sleater Kinney video for Jumpers it is the details in the aesthetics of the background that link the band to the narrative.
A piece of track that the dolly went on. With so much equipment
scattered around the place I had to be careful when shooting
to avoid it coming into shot. This was a problem particularly
when i shot the band traveling with the bandstand in
the background and unfortunately one or two of those that were
filmed in wide shot were ruined by this.

For opening shot of the band I wanted to use a disguised jump cut with the trail of ribbon followed from the mid shot of Tom's character in doorway right into a trail that becomes the lead for George's guitar. In hindsight for a sequence which i knew would be technically challenging i should have really given it more thought and preparation. At Tom's house i'd used a skateboard as a way of cutting between locations but I was unable to bring the same skateboard to this shoot partly because of logistical reasons and partly because at the time i couldn't see past the point of how out of place this object would look next to the band stand. Like before I used the steadicam to track the ribbon and was reasonably pleased with the results, i liked the end framing of the guitar neck in and out of focus. Though looking back at both clips in the edit suite there were problems with one shot tracking the ribbon forwards and the other one tracking it backwards. It will obviously require an extra effect such as a fade to white to properly make it work. My concern with this is that it will feel too against the tone of the quiet build up of the opening of song. I did a similar shot for the drummer but tried to successfully capture the moment the singing comes in by catching the moment with the camera swinging round from mid shot of drum to close up of singer, after several takes I was reasonably satisfied i'd got what i wanted.

Finding the best method to use the steadicam
proved to be a trial and error process. Although resting it
 on the shoulder or holding it vertically might arguably allow
for more stable shots, the method i used when capturing the band in
dynamic mid shots and close ups allowed for better manoeuvrability.
This is evident in some of the lovely sweeping shots i took.
I came into this shoot knowing that my priority was to first capture enough footage of the band performing on the bandstand that effectively i could edit the video not showing the band traveling through space like the two characters at all. I felt i had to be realistic about what was achievable in the time frame and cover myself in case an extra shoot at Allum Chime was not possible. Worked through the system I'd spoken to my dad about. With the ipod playing on loop i would film the band in mid shots and close ups using tripod as well as more dynamic shots using the steadicam while my dad set up the next track and dolly shot.I would then capture that before moving on. As the sun came up the lighting got better and better and i found my idea of filming the band from behind on a curved dolly worked really nicely with the sunlight casting the performers in and out of shadow in a way that evoked the dynamic passion and surge of atmosphere i wanted behind the performance. One of the problems with curved track was that the framing of the shot would always end up looking odd. When getting lower angle shot I placed the camera on a pillow on the dolly to reduce and vibrations and tried to combat this problem by sliding dolly to the centre of the track and adjusting the positioning of the camera to get the framing central. When i placed the tripod on the dolly i attempted to keep the point of focus the same by getting someone to push dolly while i turned the camera using the tripod handle. The danger with this was that my movement of turning the tripod handle would ruin the smoothness of the shot but i think the results looked fairly accomplished and effortless.

The steadicam proved versatile in not just capturing
dynamic movement shots but also allowed for quickly
capturing well held low angle shots.
Shooting from behind the bandstand to harness
the light shining onto the band.
I was aware of trying to make the effort to find interesting shots or camera angles to shoot the band from as i didn't want a too conventionalised performance video style of shots, mid shot of drummer, close up of guitar etc. Harnessing interesting features around you is always a good way to be inventive and i got quite a nice low shot of just the bands feet out of focus in the background and the drip of water in a puddle on the steps in the foreground.

I was surprised at the speed in which we captured footage both with and without the dolly and i decided i would capture the band walking away from the bandstand. I still wanted to give the illusion that their trail of ribbon was never ending and got them to tie the ends on to the edge of the bandstand and walk towards the camera (which was on a dolly) while they were framed in a three shot, their ribbon trailing behind them. Looking back at the shoot i think that one of my greatest mistakes might turn out to be asking Emma to not acknowledge the camera. In some ways this conforms to the conventions of indie music videos of not pandering to the audience but at the same time i think having that disconnection might mean some of the emotional weight of the performance will be lost. What often works so well in female artists tracks such as Florence is when the performance is given exclusively to the viewer, the power of this cannot be underestimated.
With the sun above the estuary, light shimmering off the water the quality of the lighting pushed me into making an improvised decision to not film the band walking down several different streets around christchurch and then at a separate shoot at Allum chime but to keep things simple and have them just walk up to the waters edge and look out.
Actors eh? what are they good for..
At the end of a long morning filming, i wouldn't
have managed to capture the amount of good footage
i did without their incredible focus and discipline.
Withe the battery running on its last bar i continued to film them traveling to this location less than a 100metres from band stand in a hurry. However i felt that within that last half hour of filming i overstepped the line between efficiency and uncalculating urgency and this shows in the footage. A few of the shots are ruined by amateurish errors such as the moving reflection of myself in window and Roger packing up the dolly in the background for one of the shots. I also resorted into my editing head as a filmaker holding shots for nowhere near long enough and being sloppy with the framing. Despite I still managed to get some brilliant, superbly lit footage which should cover me in the edit.

Although it was a squeeze at the end I think i can classify today's filming as a success as we hopefully caught all the footage we need of the band, though i still want to keep filming at Allum Chime as viable option.

I think my main concerns with the sequences now are not whether we have enough material to cover the video but whether lip syncing will undo me. I didn't have tight structure for what shots would be used for which lines as i felt it to restrictive a way of filmmaking while holding the same shot for the full length of the song seemed counter intuitive when we were on such a tight time schedule. The wide shots and close ups of instruments should help with this though and knowing that half of the video footage will be covered by the narrative eased my worries a little.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Filming Day 1: Adventures in Verwood with Ribbon Boy

Shoot 1: Verwood

Equipment: Steadicam, Tripod, Canon 600D. 32Gb SD card, 16 Gb SD  Card

Props: Letters, 25metres of red ribbon.

Cast and Crew: Myself and Tom

So the first days filming all done and wrapped up nicely in box. I some how managed to get through it despite waking up at 5am even though we weren't shooting until 7am I was so worried about oversleeping!   Because I was unable to get permission to film in the petrol station just outside ringwood it meant I had to rethink the opening to the music video. I thought the simplest way to tell the most similar opening to the original idea would be to show a sequence in which the card with the message and ribbon inside would be posted through the letterbox and when he opened it the ribbon would fall to the floor and lead a trail under the door.  This is why I found myself in Verwood at 10 o'clock friday night as i thought in order to capture the early morning light it would be best if i stayed the night at the actor's (Tom Verrept) House.

Housing Estate-Morning 7am-9:45

I decided to film the indoor scenes later as it was better to make good use of the light we had. It was a beautiful crisp morning and we started filming at approximately 7am which was before sun rise. The first shot proved fairly challenging to get, using the steadicam to track the ribbon along the pavement with it proving difficult to get the wide angle framing on top perfect when he opened the door. I hadn't really came up with a solution to the jump cut from trailing one ribbon to the other but we tried placing a skateboard over it to see if that could be an effective way of making the jump cut smooth. Looking back however there is no way the skateboard is going to work as it would be something extra to carry to the christchurch shoot tomorrow and just looks out of place and tacky.

I was pleasantly pleased by the shots i was getting when looking back on the viewfinder, the early morning light makes such a difference and although i had accidentally left the white balance on the indoor setting:Tungsten White, it was a happy accident as the blue, cold quality to the shots not only merged well with the mainly blue costume Tom was wearing but it also captured the cold, metallic quality i wanted from this early ribbon following sequence.

Although we really only needed a few shots of Tom following the ribbon it became quite time consuming as because of the sudden change in location i hadn't had the chance to do proper storyboards. This meant for each location within the housing estate we had to set the ribbon in place and then film for at least ten minutes in order to get the movement with variety of different shots using the steadicam to capture tracking shots both from in front and behind and tripod from various angles. I think it must have been the early start because annoyingly i made some real rookie errors such as leaving the steadicam blatantly in shot. Looking back on the footage its frustrating that i didn't notice but luckily i because i shot so much i know i've got enough to cover myself.

With the sun starting to come up i found the switching the exposure from automatic to manual gave the image a far more cinematic look and when looking through the viewfinder i was really pleased with how the camera was capturing the light. Using manual focus as well also added to quality of image and I found myself playing around with it for a few shots going in and out of focus. We captured one shot where a spiders web was in focus and then it shifts to the background and the guy following ribbon. Also being selective about the area of focus brought out some great results such as having just the hand in focus.

The ribbon didn't prove to be a complete nightmare and i was almost surprised it was workable but I still don't know if puts going to work or look convincing. I guess i'll only really know that in the edit. What i found worked best where close ups and medium shots, although i tried a variety of wide shots it just seemed as soon as you went wide it lost its intensity.

The housing estate was actually a perfect location,  it made it really easy to convey that human inhabited environment. Yet at the same time what was nice about filming so early was that there was no one about and Tom's journey came across as an isolated one which it what i'm looking for. we could also be inventive about where trail of ribbon went-I had Tom jumping over a wall several times to get one shot!- while I began hanging ribbon over signs to make it more prominent and seem like it was getting grander.

I think i might have got a bit carried away when searching for lens flare, having come to the outskirts of the housing estate i preceded to shoot Tom from in front, with the camera facing the sun just as it was becoming quite bright. There's something about having the sun light partially wash out the image and then go get it back by using the shade of Tom's head. However as i still had it on manual exposure most of those shots were ridiculously over exposed and i probably won't be able to use anything more than a quick cut away of it.

As we were walking to go and film in the next door industrial estate Tom led me down a wooded path and with the battery running low, I thought the best use of time would be to film a sequence of Tom following ribbon through the trees just because the light was so perfect at that time. What we captured was gorgeous. I got a few on the tripod and a couple on the steadicam but what worked best was handheld as it was much easier to keep Tom in frame with the light shining in and out of the trees. After this the camera battery ran out and because i hadn't brought a second one we headed back for an hour while we let it recharge.

Industrial Estate 11:00-1:15

It was very fortuitous that Tom lived in such a suitable area. Filming in the industrial estate might have only been a 2 minute walk from his house but its a totally different setting and would help to get a sense of the journey Tom's character makes. Unfortunately as we were setting up for the first shot the ribbon got in an incredible tangle that took both of us the good part of 20minutes to unwind. When the light is so great and your time is precious its incredibly frustrating when you find yourself held up by these kind of problems.

Filming in the industrial estate proved harder than in the housing area. I found it difficult to capture mechanical, urban expanse that on a saturday morning looked like a wasteland. It looked like it should be very photographic but whenever i tried to capture i wide shot with Tom and the ribbon it just looked amateurish. I have a feeling it might have been due to the fact the sun was almost at full brightness. In the end what worked best was singling out smaller architectural features such as big steel containers and framing Tom against that. I got one nice shot where i took the camera handheld and filmed from the other side of some giant metal collectors capturing him in the gaps between. This slight detachment and awareness of the close proximity of these man made industrial materials juxtaposed against the delicate red ribbon seemed to work alright,

Tom knew of an alleyway that lead down past two of the buildings with a clump of trees at the other end that could look like the entrance to a forest. It seemed perfect and there was box like structure at its entrance that i managed to get on top of and attempted to imitate a crane shot using the steadicam. I started by framing Tom in mid shot, with myself crouched down on box, then sweep the camera up and round standing up and point it down alleyway from high angle.
 This was very tricky to get right and because of lunch commitments i never got the perfect shot. I am aware that i tend to rush everything too much, for example that would of been a great shot that i would of definitely used but i didn't have the patience to properly test it, set it up then have several takes at it. Although i don't need to use that much footage of Tom following the ribbon, i'm aware that i need to film him in many different locations to convincingly convey the concept that he is journeying all day. Its about trying to get the balance between making sure you have enough footage to fill your narrative structure for it to make sense and also taking time to get good quality shots. My brain seems to work as if i'm in the editing suite already, capturing 4 seconds of one shot here 3 seconds there, i need to train myself to hold shots because there's no use having all this footage if you can't use any of it!

Alleyway+Forest 1:45pm- 3:20pm

Went back to alleyway to finish ribbon boy's journey from urban to forest. This time we were on bikes as I was aware of time restraints. I'd decided i wanted to mainly shoot this last sequence handheld or with steadicam over the shoulder or other framings either behind or in front of him. However i thought i'd get at least one more risky shot….

Filming using the steadicam in those running sequences looked effortless once filmed, i particularly liked where i tracked his feet and when i filmed in front from the ribbon's POV.Unfortunately the steadicam which was already wobbly, broke completely when the top came off.

Although i got a few impressive high angle shots none of them looked right for the music video, more suiting the style of an action chase sequence but it might look different in the edit.
I wanted Tom to become more and more frantic in his following of the ribbon and also for his tie and blazer to become looser and more messy. I realised this could cause continuity issues particularly when going back to the house to film the earlier indoor scene but i'd captured a photo of him in his outfit at the beginning of the shoot so we should be able to make it work. However one directorial note i should have  given to Tom would of been to not peak yet. I really needed that to happen in the forest but he was already running like Jason Bourne!

The second hidden jump cut i planned to do involved Tom running out of alleyway towards trees as the camera tracks with him and then behind a block of wood. This was a tricky shot to get right as he didn't have much space to keep running without cutting himself on brambles and i kept getting him stopping. Eventually we got there with the camera going behind wood and then out of focus ready to come into focus behind a tree in another location.

We cycled a little way to get more out to the forest and a place next to a lake Tom knew of. We were so lucky with the timing as it was just reaching golden hour and the light was brilliant when the sun came out from behind the clouds. We found I tree where could track out from however one of the problems we had was that we were confined to track from right to left because of previous jump cut.

It was a real shame the steadicam was broken and for some reason i'd forgotten to take the tripod so ended up filming all handheld. With such uneven forest terrain it proved difficult to get quality when tracking Tom in mid shot despite the sensational light. However i got at least one great, we came up with the idea of cycling on a bike whilst filming ribbon boy run. This worked surprisingly well, with the light reflecting off the trees creating ascot that had that pace and energy to it that i wanted towards the second half of the music video.

Interior Verrept's House 3:35-3:45

Its amazing how quickly time goes when your filming and by the time we'd got back from the forest, i had to leave in less than 20 minutes to do a rechie in christchurch for tomorrow's filming. It was very rushed filming the opening scene before the music will come in, i'm slightly concerned that the footage won't be good enough to use the sequence. I got enough shots to cover it and the close up of Tom opening the card was quite nice. I also liked filming the letters coming through the letterbox and the guy coming down the stairs a few seconds later in the same take from the same angle. My problem with filming indoors with little lighting is that it just ends up looking grainy and cheap and i don't necessarily want to have bad grainy footage as the opening first impression the video makes.

Further research into music videos: Lighting

From my initial research i realised that lighting is vital to the not only the look but feel of a music video and must express the mood and tone of the band's music. After looking further into the realms of music videos out there in the alternative music universe i've collated a few examples that have given me inspiration.

Tori Amos is a hugely succesful American singer-songwriter who was at the forefront of alternative rock in the 90's.

In her video for  California Maybe theres a strong sense of drifting and memories as the artist wanders through California. Shots are slowed down or linger on her, delaying the edit.This suitably matches the soft lilting vocals and soothing, sustained strings. The video has a sense of nostalgia and is suitably retro in its look. Super 8 quality to the film has the classic stamp of an 'indie' movie. The handheld nature of a lot of the shots gives an almost home video style.  The use of a lower frame rate, induces a more dream like state.

The colours are vivid yet softened and there is a strong polaroid effect to some the lighting. In presenting a snapshot of her living in this state, the video is in some way isolating despite the intimate nature of the track. Close up shots are rarely shown and held even less. It appears like a collection of postcards. Photographic, remembering, longing.

Comparing this polaroid with an screen capture from the video you can clearly see similarities in lighting, with a strong exposure gradient. Light coming from the centre of the background outwards.

blue filter instantly creates association with California, especially when combined with the iconography of the palm trees. In some ways this is a staple of a pop video, the need to communicate location and setting with immediacy.

Another of her videos,for the song Big Wheel. Whereas the previous video was all about colour and texture. Here it is the exposure setting that is the defining feature.  Again there is the presence of a vintage quality, drawing aesthetic inspiration from the past seems to be a key part of Amos' musical identity with the black and white instantly recognisable as stylish, sophisticated and classic. The video is simple, the focus is not on the landscape but on the artist. It is as if she is making the statement 'look, i'm a serious, mature musician not some starlet trying to give an overly flashy performance'.The editing is defiantly visible, with cuts going deliberately against the beat of the music to make the film process noticeable. The aim seems to be to remove it from mainstream pop and detract from the fact it is quite a conventional performance based music video. The high contrast between black and white makes the video more visually striking it isn't apologetic with high exposure one of its defining features lighting wise. It doesn't conform to the 'male gaze' model of many music videos featuring female artists with the camera focusing on the face as opposed to body parts, she wants to give off that sexy allure in a way that draws attention to character as opposed to boobs and bum.

You could you almost suggest this shot is way over exposed but it gives a vibrance that might otherwise not be there. There is definitely an element of French chic influences here with the elegant piano that adds a layer of sophistication and art. yet with one foot on the stool she's given it a twist, made a statement of defiance almost rebellion.

Sigur Ros - Sæglópur

Sigur ros make incredibly beautiful music that evokes strong imagery for anyone who listens to it so its only right that their music videos are just as beautiful.

The opening shot which lasts for 2 minutes is stunning. The peaceful stillness that is at the heart of the bands music is captured and sustained perfectly in that one shot. The use of slow motion is incredibly effective  as the details in the ripple of on the water and the hair captures gracefulness of movement. The beam of sun lighting the whole shot and casting the figures into silhouette is incredibly cinematic and although the track is quite different to mine i'm aware of the need to really draw on the emotional weight behind the vocals to try to accentuate what you are framing. The previous video used high exposure to good effect, here is a masterclass in how to shoot with low exposure.

The guitar and drum kicks in as she plunges into the water. Again the lighting is perfect, minimal in a way that provokes the dramatic. The swimmer is framed in bubbles of light and there is a translucent quality to the image. 

The editing matches the mood and pace of the music helping to draw you in. Focus becomes a key part of the cinematic quality to it, the narrow depth of field adding to the dream like quality of it.

 I am aware of wanting to do a lot in my video both performance and narrative with an eye at fast editing and a variety of locations but this video was a reminder of the value in a more patient approach. You should not be afraid to sustain a shot or moment. There is an unexplained calmness to adds to the intensity of the narrative. Its a simple narrative yet shot with such care that the emotional pull creates something truly atmospheric and moving. What i'm learning more and more with narrative based music videos is its not always about the story you tell but the way you tell it.

rebellion (lies) arcade fire                                                                   Arcade Fire are one of my favourite bands at the moment, there's something about their music that just feels so complete, like all the pieces that should be are there. They are of a similar ilk to the style of track for my music if only on a bigger scale and both tracks have the same sense of strong rhythm pushing it forwards.

 What struck me most about this video was the strong feeling of autumnal weather conveyed purely through the use of lighting. There is definitely a playfulness to the lighting, like autumn leaves on the trees the screen is lit by a wide variations on gold. There is certainly a joyful light rebellious nature underlying the whole song and video.

The soft focus and narrow depth of field reflects some of the sentiments of the song "come on baby in our dreams, we can live our misbehavours". It looks like you gazing at it through a child's eye, fantasy and imagination around every corner.

I like how although a performance video, the band are totally submerged in their environment and that there are different narratives to be read into. It is the marching of the band forward that not only matches the momentum of the song but connotes freedom and appears liberating. As the song builds in momentum the camera shots become less static with more steadicam/handheld. The camera twitches around and goes in and out of focus like an excited child but not in a nauseous way.

The free spirited nature and artistic imagery of the video fits into the ideals of the alternative pop/rock music scene.

Several unusual camera angles are used in the video which just gives it another dimension. In some ways its a return to good wins theory with the element of voyeurism, the audience are reminded they are gazing in on this world, not a part of it.

Electric feel by mgmt-

Although the Arcade Fire's music video had interesting use of colour filtration/grading and unusual adjustments to white balance, MGMT take the dream like quality to another level.

The colour grading and post effects are sensational. Somewhere between an acid trip and a painting from one of the romantics, the colours are incredibly vivid. It conforms to the conventions of psychedelic pop and could be seen as a throwback to the heydays of hallucenagenic drugs and hippie culture in the 60's. It reminds us of the fun you can have with a music video and the power of pure unrestricted imagery.

I feel like i'm coming into this process with a cinematographers eye. For me the audio will take care of itself, its how we use imagery and imagination to saturate the tone of the music that will truly be the ultimate challenge.

Remember. Lighting is Key.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

RECORD labels

Finding a record label that would realistically be suitable for the release of the music from my music video was a delicate procedure.

First I had to consider what genre of music it was. Due to its lo fi sound i'd already identified it as alternative rock/folk and somewhat indie.

Then to get started I considered which bands I felt shared I similar sound, for me this was Arcade Fire.

Arcade Fire are signed to Merge Records an independent record label who's other artist releases include      She & Him and Caribou. Although this felt suitable in terms of the style and ethos of music and its genre, the label is based in North Carolina, America and most of their acts were American. I wanted my band to definitely have a british feel to them and therefore I kept looking.

In the end I chose ATP Recordings.

This felt more appropriate as the label was setup by a london concert promoter and therefore encapsulated the english aspect to the band as well as their 'live' sound. 
Comparing my track with a new release on the record Tennis-Origins the production values and overall band sound drew I lot of parallels.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Using natural Light from Camille Marotte on Vimeo.

Having been inspired by the  sun soaked lighting in Warpaint's video I discovered this other example of good use of natural lighting. There is a beautiful delicacy and complexity here that would be hard to similarly achieve with artificial light. I understand that in order to use the light levels most effectively you must be prepared to adjust aperture, the amount of light you allow into the lens. This video also reminded me that shadow plays just as crucial a role as sun exposure in giving definition to a shot.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Our A2 Music Video Task

For our A2 coursework we have been set the task to produce our very own music video. We were given a list of 23 tracks of varying musical genres to choose from and after hearing them all I made a shortlist of those that set my imagination running the most. The artists of each track were made specifically anonymous so as not to allow their own creative style to influence our artistic vision and image of how best to create a video that reflects or subverts the conventions of music videos of the same genre.

After sifting through a shortlist i'd compiled of the tracks, I selected the track that for me, was the most cinematic in its sound and evoked the strongest individual mood and tone.

Track 15 (mp3)