Friday, 17 August 2012

Video Killed The Radio Star

The video sequences for the 'Singing Loins' forthcoming music video, 'Monsters Ashore' were shot on a hot Summer day in June. We'd researched and recce'd several locations along the river Medway in Kent where shipwrecks lay (a surprising number in total) but settled on a spot near a decaying barge at Motney Hill, Rainham. Preparing a visual shot list, shooting schedule and scratch tracks in advance, in addition to two previous recces, proved invaluable time-savers and allowed us the luxury of several takes for each sequence. Advanced planning also ensured that we had the maximum time available at the riverside location as the tide provided a limited window of opportunity before the murky waters of the Medway would reclaim the land around us.

We began the shoot just before noon using a Canon 550D in brilliant sunshine. The fine weather however caused us some lighting headaches as the intense sunlight overhead cast shadows downward, deepening eye sockets and facial lines, whilst increasing the risk of over exposure. To minimise these issues, reflectors were used to bounce light back onto the subjects and polarisation lens filters were fitted to help reduce bleaching  and increase contrast. (ND lens filters are also useful tools in these types of lighting situation.)

Reflector boards were used to bounce light back onto subjects

The macro lens gave tight depth of field and nice portrait shots

We got some superb shots from the Canon, which gives a great filmic quality to the image and offers greater versatility over many pro video cameras due to the finite control over aperture, speed and available lenses. For example, an EFS 60mm macro lens not only gave us incredibly tight depth-of-field in extreme close-up, but also readily provided some great portraiture with sharp foreground focus, yet a pleasing background blur. Shooting in high resolution also left some scope for 'faux' camera work in Adobe After Effects in post, for example, fake glide track pans, which also adds to the filmic feel of the production. Adobe After Effects will also be used to colour correct and give the final footage a consistent wash of muted tones, in keeping with the 'old Victorian' feel we want to maintain throughout. The final edit will be made in Adobe Premiere.

Another prerequisite for the production of any music video is the scratch track. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that musicians provide the final master of their track for you to work with if possible. Even a monitor mix (a final pre-mastered version) can alter significantly enough for lip sync to falter in places. Also, a more convincing performance is achieved if musicians really sing and play acoustically (don't let them mime, this can be read on screen, even with the soundtrack in place.) Plan for eyelines also. Looking direct to camera may be appropriate for a lead singer, but provides a strange, automaton feel if all other band members adopt a similar gaze.

The lads pack up and ship out after a long day filming

So we had a fun and productive, if not blisteringly hot afternoon on the shoreline of the Medway. Many thanks to Patrick and Dan for their support and skills, and to the Loins for their patience! (Images courtesy  Emma Windsor, Dan Wylie and John Forrester.)  


  1. Fascinating--Looking fwd to seeing this! (How'd you get a non-rainy day in England this summer?)

  2. A very good question indeed! Just rather lucky I think!!! ;)