Heat has been in rather short supply recently and while I’m determined not to complain about it, the memory of it, given it’s been so long ago, needed to be refreshed. Remember T-shirts? Remember the ability to go outside without sweaters, coats, scarves and hats? Remember beer gardens? Anyway, here’s Berwick-upon-Tweed on a glorious spring/summer morning about three years ago – the kind of morning when there is a hum in the air…The imperceptible sound of stone, grass and metal heating up as the sun rises.
OK. So it was cold – probably just hovering above freezing most of the day in a rather beautiful meadow just outside Melrose in the Scottish Borders. I mention the cold, not from the point of view of saying how hard it was / thus how tough everyone was, but more from the point of view that for low/no budget music videos where the intention is to create something with the highest possible production quality – natural ‘hazards’ such as the weather are actually quite a big deal.
Without assistants, space heaters or an on-site airstream trailer, the cold can be deabillitating to the film-maker and talent alike. Luckily, in this case we had the use of a large indoor space complete with ferocious log-burner. It saved the day and all thanks to incredible help from the owners of the location – Roulotte Retreat. Anyway, enough of the cold – something rather nice came together in this video and I think it was the confluence of three things : 1) The song 2) The performance 3) The location – everything was perfectly pitched. Also, I think it’s probably fair to say that a whole lot more thinking time went into this video. That’s not to say any previous video’s have have been compromised in this respect, but that a different approach was taken this time. The song was listened to for around 90 minutes every day. At four minutes long that’s 22 times a day…For a month, so over 600 times…The location was visited beforehand (an absolute luxury!), scenes were imagined and plans were struck. Here are the production notes:
Working Footage : Around 25GB of content, so around 60 minutes of footage in total, or around a 15:1 ratio between Working and Completed. If we were still working on tape, that would be considered to be a good ratio in economic terms.
Cut Ratio : 39 cuts! Again, really slow! On average around 1 cut every six seconds – by comparison, your average R ‘n’ B video is about 2.5 cuts / second
Clips : Erm…About 10 complete syncs of the song + 4 partial syncs + 15 narrative/detail shots. Which probably means something like 8.841761993739701e+30 possible combinations. Of course all but 3 of those would be complete garbage.
Capture Time : We shot for six hours and got sixty minutes of footage. So for one hour of footage, there were five hours of set-up and faffing around.
Editing Time : Ah, well. This is where it gets interesting. Editing time was super quick. Aside from rendering in FCP and eating bran flakes, I reckon total editing time from cataloguing to completion was five hours.
Preparation Time : Excluding listening to the song – 12 hours easy. But that resulted in quite a short filming time and significantly shorter editing time.
Video Treatment : It’s a spare/sparse song of sadness, regret but also some subtle hidden strength. The scenery reflected that, while the final segment was intended to show that even though the singer of the song was the wounded party, actually, who was really going to come out of it a more reduced person? A break once healed is always stronger. Also it’s a C&W / Pop song – not something I’m too familiar with, hence Tasha sent some reference videos to look at. Ok! So it’s Taylor Swift in the Scottish Borders!
Camera’s : All Canon 5DII apart from a tiny bit of the fireside stuff. Lenses for the 5D included the 70-200mmL-is, TS-e24L (all time fave) and the 28-70L. Attempted to do some pull focus by hand – not great, but I think it just about came off. Why no XF100 footage? Well, 5D stuff although it’s not easy to get, has a certain, lovely look…
Camera Picture Profile : Cinestyle (free from TechniColor) super-flat, great for post-production grading.
Workflow : All raw footage converted to ProRes LT @ 1080. Delivered to YouTube as 720P H264 / Max bitrate = 5000Kbs. Why not 1080P? Erm, well, at 1080 the video file is 3.45Gb – no way am I uploading that! At 720 and 5000K nitrate, it’s 173Mb.
Lighting : All natural/ambient apart from one Dedolight used on the fireside scene and inside the roulotte.
NLE : Final Cut Pro 7 and graded in FCP + a subtle bit of Magic Bullet looks. As usual, no sharpening. I’ve tried FCPX but it still kinda freaks me out a bit.
Other Kit : Fab new HD slider from GlideCam, Sachtler Ace Tripod and my ancient Manfrotto stills tripod.
What else : Clothes and make-up by Colleen Henderson-Heywood & a great performance by Tasha
Anyway, enough of that nonsense: Here it is – enjoy!