What goes into a music video? Is there a story? Where do you shoot it? What does it need to look like? How many people will be involved? Is the song completely done? These are some of the first questions I ask during my first meeting with a musician client looking for a video. When I sat down with Shade, we went over all of this. We decided to not go with a story and focus on making him the main attraction. This was going to be his first big video so we wanted people to be able to recognize him and show that he's making an effort to produce quality stuff.
We originally wanted to shoot in three locations but we didn't know where. Shade wanted it to look epic and quality so we really needed to make sure our locations met that. One night at my studio I was messing around with my lights and thought, "why not shoot some of his video here?" So I took some sample video of myself and send it to him that evening.
He liked the vibe so we now had one location on lock. The next location I had in mind was a hookah bar. I have a friend who manages one and offered me to shoot there anytime. I thought we could do some cool stuff with smoke, and with Hookahs being an eastern tradition, I thought it would fit well. I checked it out and it just wasn't going to fit the vibe. It was too grimey. I've said it before and I'll say it again SCOUT YOUR LOCATIONS!!! I also went out to Alki and realized it wasn't going to fit the vibe. SCOUT YOUR LOCATIONS!!! Don't think of it as a waste of time, think of it as research for future projects and a way to ensure you create the message you intended. You may luck out a lot but the one time you don't, you would have wished you scouted the spot before hand. Make sure and take your camera with you too. Go at the time you will be shooting. Know how the light will be. Have a back up plan close by.
So now we have one scene. Still lacking two. Then I came up with the idea of using tiki torches to create some flame in a scene (hence the name of the song). Shade was on board but had no clue what it would look like. It was hard for me to communicate my vision but I knew I could pull it off. I started scouting friend's homes with big back yards. I knew we couldn't do anywhere public without permits with all the fire so it had to be at someone's house. Why not use my Dad's place? It's got a decent size backyard and he would be more than happy to provide his place to
Hollywood Bollywood. Now we have two locations. Still thinking we needed a third, we went ahead and started shooting. When we saw the footage from the studio, we quickly started thinking we may be able to do this with only the two locations.
Here are the tools I used for the studio scene: -Three LED lights -Fog machine (my new favorite toy) -Black background cloth via Denny Manufacturing -Camera Motion Research Stabilizer Steady Cam -Manfrotto Tripod with the 701HDV Fluid Head -Cowboy Studio Shoulder Rig
Here's how I set the scene up: *The strobes represent the LED lights and the backdrop reps the photo black material.
My method of shooting changes depending on the music video. This one, I wanted to separate the verses from the chorus so I intentionally just shot the verses on their own. However, I always shoot the whole song several times just in case I need any of that footage to fill things in. I would take about 10 takes with the steadycam then I'd move onto the tripod and make sure I get three different focal lengths (wide, close and real close). Then I'd throw on the shoulder rig and get some shots with that. I'd do the same thing with my 60D at 60FPS in order to get slow motion but without any rapping. I do this because it helps me diversify the cuts. If I cut from one scene to the next and they're almost the same shot, it just looks like I made a mistake. If you start wide and cut to a close up shot, it looks like it was intentional and helps break up the monotony of the same scene.
After importing and organizing the studio footage, I knew we only needed one more scene. That scene had to be good though! So I started brainstorming. The first thing was I needed tiki torches. These were hard to find!!! Not to mention, they only came in bamboo color with red and blue cans which was a big no bueno. This meant I needed to paint the torches (entirely) black. Then, they ended up being a bit too short once stuck into the ground, so I went to Home Depot and grabbed some wood stakes to tape to the base of the torches. Then I had to paint those black as well. Yes I spent a lot of time with these damn torches!
We set up a date to shoot and I made sure everything was in order. The one thing I didn't get to do, was a test run with the torches. Once I had them all set up we waited for darkness. The LED lights come with an orange filter which worked great to mimic the flames color temperature. We started rolling as soon as it got dark. What happens about 30 minutes into the shoot? A damn torch goes out. The whole wick had burned up! Now I'm nervous. Shade even said "you all good bro?" I had to reply "I'm just trying to work fast man!" We lucked out with the rest of them surviving for the night. However, that was something I should have been prepared for! I definitely should have tested one out to see how much burn time we had. Luckily it worked out. I was definitely sweating it though!
With the flame scene I used all the same stuff as the studio scene with the addition of the Cobra Crane Camera Dolly for the shots that come towards and away from him. I focused on the hook and the pre-hook for this scene since I knew the studio scene was going to be for the verses. Again, I shot at least 8 takes of him performing the entire song just in case I needed any pieces to fill in. For the slow motion shots, I just tried to diversify the angles and feel of each shot. I knew I wanted to drop some slow motion cuts in here and there but didn't need anything too long. Once I know I got the shot, I keep shooting for another 10 or so seconds. It's saved me many times when I thought I "had the shot" but didn't. Here's a behind the scenes I shot on my iPhone after getting all set up.
I think that pretty much sums it up but if I missed anything you have questions about, just leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer them.
And now for the feature presentation!
For more music and updates on Shade, go to www.musicofshade.com