Video: Comin’ In Hot

I made a music video.  Not my first one.   I’ve done the Fox Music holiday videos, one for my friend Paula’s band Lonnie Starlet and one for Eleanor Dubinsky for a song Dave wrote called “Love Is”.   The Fox videos are getting to be bigger and bigger productions every year and they are a lot of work but I wouldn’t say they were “music videos” per se.  They’re meant to be a calling card for the music department at Fox.   To highlight everyone in the department, have fun and spread the love to the world.  The Lonnie Starlet and Eleanor videos were shot in a couple of hours and done on the fly.  No pre-planning, or plan!

The music video for Sawyer Auger was definitely different than all of the others.   I’ve always wanted to do some sort of stop motion video but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it.   I saw Christopher Rehage’s The Longest Way and wanted to do something like that.   Up close portraits with photos, not video.   I wanted to highlight Los Angeles and the song.  I went through the lyrics and planned out what I wanted to see for each line, different styles for different sections (like slow mo for the bridge), etc, etc.   I made a list of all the potential locations.

We ended up going on 6 shoots.   Two all days shoots and four partial.   But I also went out and drove up Pacific Coast Highway a few times with my GoPro strapped to the dashboard to get the road shots.  Everything else was shot on my Canon 5D MkIII using a tripod and reflector.

Day 1 was Santa Monica beach and Palisades Park.  I had the whole day mapped out for Day 2.  LAX to Malibu to Beverly Hils, to Hollywood.  We were going to go Downtown but hit a wall and re-set for the next day.  Day 3 was Downtown LA all day long.   Crazy.

I was hoping to be done with just those shoot days but after I assembled the photos (after a LOT of organizing) I realized I needed more shots.   I could have used a whole day but then just did another hour.

After more editing I realized I still needed MORE shots.   Another couple of hours including going to the beach again.

The editing process was more about pre-production.  Organizing the shots into groups and then cropping every shot to fit the dimensions of the video and lining up head and shoulders so every frame would match.  I did all of this in Adobe Lightroom.   The Lay Image option in the Loop Overlay was essential.  I chose an image that had the closest crop (despite all of the efforts to make each setup match it was ultimately all over the place) and made a transparent image of just head and shoulders that was overlayed over each imaged used to line up all of the other shots.

Once everything was organized, cropped and tweaked it was just a matter of importing into Adobe Premiere Pro and making each group of photos a composition and using those as building blocks.

The hardest part of the editing process for me was timing.  Getting everything to land on a beat.  Markers were great for that but it was still a challenge.   Ultimately I wanted to double time everything in the chorus but that was poo poo’d and I went with what I had.

I did end up shooting some video – which I had preplanned in my prep.  Shot at 60 fps and using Twixtor to blend the frames they were pretty good.  I think I could have used an iPhone on some of the shots and had equal or better results.   The slo mo portion of the bridge portion of the song was fun.  Basically we sped up the song to double time and shot that then played it back at half time and the image matched what was being sung/played.   So fun!  I’d like to do more of that.

The lip synch photos were challenging.  I didn’t end up using most of what I shot. It was just too hard to match what was being sung to what was on the screen.  Oh well.

Overall I am happy with the quality of the photos.  Unfortunately, some were taken without a reflector and would have benefitted greatly if we had it with us (long story).  But some of them are amazing quality and I can’t believe I actually took those photos!

I am also happy with the end results of the video.   We used 4200 images in the whole thing.  That’s a lot of photography.   Hope you like it.

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