Video production notes : Electric Penelope and Scorpion

Phew. We’ve just finished and uploaded our latest ‘n’ freshest video and as always it is definitely NOT the time (for me) to consider it’s merit. Thats comes later (but I think it’s alright). The video in question is for the delightful ‘Electric Penelope’ and her lovely song ‘Scorpion’. I probably don’t need to say that Electric Penelope is a pseudonym.


A typical video can involve many repeated listens to the song and the sheer necessity of absolute familiarity with the captured footage. And there is only one way of being familiar with the footage – by watching it again, again and again. Then just a bit more so you can close your eyes and skim through it.  Each time making notes, physical or mental, or capturing stills or simply imprinting the visuals on your brain. Then, during the course of cutting it, you somehow keep all the footage in your head so you can say ‘that bit will fit there’ or remembering something previously dismissed, as being perfect for a 3 second bridge. Every video is like starting a new job. You stumble around for a bit, can’t find the meeting rooms, everyone speaks in a peculiar vernacular, No. 32 from the coffee machine is unspeakable and everyone thinks you’re either gay or have a peculiar interest in radishes.

Then, slowly, it becomes clear. You know you should go for a No.32 with whipped milk, you know the quickest way to the meeting rooms and you make friends with the two most important people in the building – The receptionist and the security/car-park dude. It’s the same with video’s – especially those where you are striving for something rather more (and forgive the use of a much overused term) ‘cinematic’ and simply not just cutting to the beat.

Anyway, more on the emotion of cutting later, but here’s a few pre & post production notes for ‘Scorpion’.

Working Footage : Around 32GB of content was captured, so around 80-90 minutes worth or 20:1 ratio between Working:Completed

Cut Ratio : Around 40 cuts so on average 1 cut every 6 seconds – pretty slow!

Individual Clips : Around 60 individual shots were captured, which means there are 8.32098711274139e+81 possible versions of this video (Factorial of 60)

Capture Time : Probably around 8-9 hours in total

Editing Time : Around 12 hours, so each cut in the final video took an average of 18 minutes each. As each edit actually takes 3 seconds, if I was happy with each cut first time out, the video would have taken 2 minutes to edit!

Preparation Time : Probably about 4 hours – listening to the song, writing a shot list and looking at stuff for inspiration

Video Treatment : The idea was to visualise  the character described in the song as two facets of the same personality, but with a thread between them that sort of allowed each of them to acknowledge each other.

Camera’s : Mixture of Canon 5DII SLR and Canon XF100. Lenses for the 5D included 24-70F2.8L and the TS-e24F3.5L (achingly sharp that lens) plus tilt of course!

Lighting : 3 x Dedolights with a few gobo’s and stuff

NLE: Final Cut Pro with colour grading a combination of FCP Color & Magic Bullet. No sharpening on the footage to keep it a bit less video looking.

Other Kit: Mini-Crane from D-SLR, little slider from Glidecam and lovely Sachtler Ace Tripod

Other Stuff: Ms Penelope made her own stunning gold dress, there were no assistants apart from Ms Penelope’s daughter who spun the mirrorball and it was all shot in the gorgeously tasty Cornerhouse Cafe and various chilly bits of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Here it is! Enjoy!


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