Just an old-fashioned music video–sans modern transitions, etc.
In all fairness, I have used some of the modern transitions when appropriate, but I am generally not a fan of the current craze–or any fad for that matter.
But that’s not really the point of this post.
In actual fact, this music video isn’t finished yet. There’s another location shoot to do, but that won’t be until summer’s end, so for the benefit of the singer, we’ve decided to release it as-is and update it later.
The point of this post really is that I used quite a number of plug-ins for this. Probably more than in any other video I’ve produced.
John Belew’s ‘Lens Filter’ pack contains a number of very useful filters, but the one he’s got in there that I don’t think anyone else has is a ‘fog filter’. Strange that it’s so rare. In the early days of Hollywood it was pretty common and used mostly for shooting close-ups of the female stars. To get the effect the cameraman would use vaseline on the lens or stretch a stocking over it. Eventually, Tiffen made a series of fog filters which I used myself on occasion. In this video it is kind of obvious what the fog filter effect is.
For grading I used a combination of Color Finale and the FCPX color board. I often use them together.
One of my most useful tools is Core Melt’s Vignette Shape Mask which you can get free from that link. It’s a powerhouse vignette tool that has infinitely variable parameters. In this video I used it to partially mask some of the background shots so that the slow dissolve transitions to the singer wouldn’t be as jarring.
Everything else was done from within FCPX.
It was shot with a Sony PXW X70 in 4K and output to 1080.
The performance was shot with 2 cameras (Sony X70 and Sony RX10ii) over 3 different takes to obtain the different angles.
Holly (the singer) did an almost flawless lip-synch to her studio recording every time.
The edit was done as a multi-cam edit in FCPX.
Looking forward to completing it early September after a sunset shoot on the rocky coast of southern England.
Comment on Lighting and Grade
Someone asked if I could comment on the lighting in the comments.
Well, it was simple, but also interesting for me this time. By simple, it was an upstage key (flexi LED panel snooted with black foil) and a more or less opposing backlight (also a flexi-LED) set to create that soft rim on the side of her face. Truthfully that backlight could have been a stop less bright. It was all rather slap-dash. The fill was simply ambient bounce from the room. No supplementary fill needed.
By ‘interesting’, I mean this: I knew it was a white room and I knew I wanted to go for low-key lighting (two things that don’t normally go together well). Fortunately I could shutter the windows and knew that I’ve have to flag the hell out of the key and backlight. In each case I used back foil to create a ‘snoot’ that restricted the light to a very narrow band. Of course that still gives off enough bounce to illuminate the white walls. So in post I just took the mids way down on the FCPX colour board. Nothing fancy. Didn’t affect the highlights and was adequate to considerably darken the white walls which had been reduced to mid-tones due to the flagging off the light sources in the room.
The other thing that was a bit of fun was creating the ‘day-for-night’ look on the exteriors. Again, nothing really fancy, but normally I don’t have any reason to do that (doing corporate videos), so it was fun. I used the FCPX day-for-night effect as a start and adjusted it’s parameters. I then supplemented the effect with Color Finale with which I increased the saturation of and reduced the luminance of the blues.
Incidentally, those exteriors were shot on the RX10ii which I was using for the first time on a production. Bit of a no-no because I never really fully tested it in video mode. Maddeningly I could not get it into total manual in the very brief period of time we had at dusk. As a result, I was getting exposure correction that I didn’t want and, since I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, I was trying to trick the meter. Anyway, it was a disaster, but the main point is that most of those shots were OVER-EXPOSED! Even so, I was able to fix it in post to the look that I wanted.
And now, of course, I know how to put the camera into total manual. Nothing like near-disaster to inspiring one to read the manual a little more carefully.
I usually don’t comment on other videographers work, but this
is so good I couldn’t let it go, you are a real pro.
shadows on her face, bright and shadows kinda harsh(ish) , almost “Hollywood” style. It’s great. The transitions are gentle and harmonic. The “walking on the keys” impression is very good, but I’d cut the last second and get to the singer’s close-up a tad sooner. Everything else is perfect. Bravo, and congrats to the singer.
Nice work as always Joe. Really liked the treatment and agree with your choice not ro use all the latest transitions etc just because they seem to be the fashion at the moment.
Would love to see a follow up article on how you placed your lighting and how you combined this with with your work in post to get such a lovely natural look.
Ok, let me update the post. I was going to make a comment on some of that, so you’ve tipped me over the edge. Check in a few minutes.
This is beautiful, Joe! And for all the shooters lugging all the big gear and DSLRs, it’s really cool to see such stunning imagery coming from two relatively small Sonys! Great work, both behind the cameras and in the edit bay!