Friday, 12 June 2015

The Last Music Video

Waaaaay back in 2012, I filmed this music video for The Last - it seems like a lifetime ago now!

I wanted to speak a bit about the process I took when producing the music video, why it was so delayed... and how that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Keep in mind it's a no budget production, done as a favour to friends.

I spent two evenings filming The Last at guitarist Martin's project house in Nesting, Shetland. He lives just down the road and is planning to completely renovate this amazing old house. However in it's state it made a perfect location for filming a music video.

Boom! Shake The Room: Check out that floorboard bend!

We had a very rough plan to make transitions through the house, telling this story of the song and singer Birdy's ongoing heartache and love of music. I did some informal planning with the band to create more of a story line with other people involved, but eventually came to this simplified idea of a following Birdy through the house.

I kinda wanted it to be a nod to elements in Idlewild's Modern Way of Letting Go video (although I just noticed there are two versions of the video, the one linked is the one I'm talking about, can't find it on YouTube). But obviously on a much smaller budget and production value.

Filming went well but through various reasons I delayed the editing process.

During and after filming it was an incredibly busy time at my day job at Shetland Arts: Mareel, the music, cinema and education venue was just about to open it's doors. After this, things didn't get any quieter with work. And in 2013 I made a huge change in my life by moving from Shetland to Bristol to study. So along with this being a bit of a favour for friends (I got paid by means of an electric drum kit, which is pretty cool) - it wasn't very high on my list of things to do.

The second reason was I knew there was lots of footage to sort through, synch up to the audio and fine tune. Including a particularly tricky transition, which was quite honestly filmed badly by myself. I also knew I didn't have much in the way of a backup so this transition needed to be in the final for it to make sense.

Eventually I forget about this project, until a few weeks ago when I came by the original footage on some hard drives while clearing up. Checking the created on date, I felt pretty shameful.

So I set myself a challenge, I had a few days and nights free to focus on getting the video edited.

I had started a rough edit back in 2012 using After Effects, but it was getting very messy, really not the right editing program for this. So I fired up Premiere for the first time in a few months and got to work on selecting the shots. I really didn't know the true power of Premiere to make the editing process easier.

Tutorial: Managing And Viewing Assets In The Project Panel on Adobe TV

I really enjoyed preparing and processing the shots, it was actually a joy to work with.

Synching up all these different shots to the audio was something I was quite honestly dreading. But I thought; "there must be a way to synch audio to video" and of course there is, I found out about the amazing multi-camera feature which saved me hours, I mean probably days saved really.

Tutorial: I usually use tutorials. Check out the multi-camera tutorial on Adobe TV

We filmed all shots with the audio playing in the background as reference, so I can us the multi-camera to automatically align the audio to all of the shots at once. This is amazing!

Now when editing I had the feature to play through the video and to simply select what camera 'angle' I wanted to use. The multi-cam feature records the camera selection as you play through, in the same way I imagine as controlling live footage for TV or that scene in Wayne's World...

Wayne's World: camera 1, camera 2, camera 1, camera 2...

Is it too geeky to admit that I'm excited by these software features?

Time to wipe
Now there's just that tricky transition where the camera goes behind Birdy's head, the idea being that the band disappear during the transition. This technique is called a body wipe, you'll see it loads in things like CSI. It doesn't have to be a person, in My Name is Earl they do something similar by panning the camera in and out of shadows etc.

Rough edit: Harsh zoom and shift making it quite fake looking
Fine tune: More gradual, lined up and blended in middle
It did take a while to line this shot up to get it just about right without looking to faked, but getting a really rough version done quickly then going back to fine tune was certainly the way to do it.

I could have spent hours more, but I always kept in mind the original footage was filmed with a moving/walking camera, handheld with no stedicam. It was never going to be perfectly cinematic!

The shots and colours aren't perfect, but think it captures something unique, given my basic setup and budget I think it's ok. A rough and ready music video, which does relate to my way of working and style. I know there are always lessons to learn and improvements to make, but for a one man filming and editing team, it could be worse!

Am I being hard on myself for the amount of time it took to edit? In reality sometimes it's really not a bad thing to sit on projects for a while. When there is always going to be a pressure from clients to finish jobs, as I work on my own to very small budgets, things just have to wait. Our culture is that of "I want this now/yesterday" instead of allowing time and space.

Through revisiting this project I realise how this period of time can breathe new life into a project, a more relaxed attitude to projects has inspired motivation and creativity.

Something you might not know: I also designed and screenprinted the EP artwork.

About The Last
Check out the last on Facebook
Buy Halos and Heartaches EP on itunes (£2.49)