I apologize for the last of posts recently, as the last couple of weeks have been very hectic! I just wrapped up production on a couple of commercial/corporate spots, directed three music videos and ran my Digital Cinema Bootcamp this past weekend – amongst other things. I have some really great material that I’m going to be sharing with you guys over the next week or so, and wanted to kick things off today by highlighting a recent no-budget music video that I shot on the Lumix GH4…
A couple months back, I was in Toronto for a visit and decided to shoot a music video for some friends in the indie-rock band ‘Midday Swim’. They’ve been putting out some really great music and I was looking for a small project to sink my teeth into while I was in the city, so we teamed up and pulled some resources together to make it happen. Take a look at the video below:
Since there was no budget at all (except for renting a couple of zeiss prime lenses since I didn’t have my full kit with me), we had to craft the idea around our resources to make the most out of the time we had. We hadn’t actually laid out the video idea until a day or two before the shoot, and ultimately decided to keep things simple and focus on two main locations – a small photo studio (with a gray cyc) and a ravine area. The concept of the video was to contrast a dull and drab office setting with a more vibrant exterior environment. Although it was a cloudy fall day when we were shooting the exteriors, we were able to liven it up a bit by bringing in some colored powder during the chorus and having the band throw it at each other in slow motion.
Since the tempo of the song wasn’t extremely fast, we were able to over crank in camera (by shooting at 48fps) and had the song cued up to 200% of the original speed. That way, when the 48fps material was slowed down in post to 50% speed, it sync’d up perfectly with the original song. This is a technique that is often used in music videos to achieve a slow motion effect, while still maintaining sync with the singer/band members. For a lot of music videos, this approach can work really well, but in some cases it just isn’t possible. I shot another music video last week, which was a significantly larger production – but even still we weren’t able to over crank in camera since the song was already very fast and there would have been no way that the singer and dancers would have been able to keep up with the sped up version.
As far as post production went, I cut this in FCP X – but didn’t use a multi-cam timeline. There were so many takes and we had shot lots of bits and pieces that had to be manually placed in the timeline anyways, so it was faster for me to manually sync everything by hand. I went through every last take (that we were actually going to use) and laid out the timeline like this:
By stacking the layers like this, I was able to just razor blade all of my layers at once and delete everything BUT the clip in the stack that I wanted to use. It was a tedious process, but I actually liked working this way as it forced me to make more precise and well thought out decisions as opposed to a multi-cam setup, which may have led to looser and less intentional edit points. When it came time for color, I flattened down my entire timeline onto a single ‘track’ and exported an XML file for DaVinci Resolve. I always recommend flattening down your layers so that you avoid any translation issues with DaVinci, and you are working with the cleanest possible file.
As for the color work itself – I wanted to give the office scenes a more drab, desaturated and flat look, while pushing up the warmth and saturation on the exteriors. Unfortunately the GH4 didn’t perform as well as I would have hoped at 48fps with regards to capturing fine detail in the trees outside (not to mention it was getting noisy, even at 800 ISO). So if I were to go back and re-do those shots, I would consider shooting at a different frame rate to ensure that I wasn’t losing too much detail.
My finishing process involved three steps. First, I added a texture (which was actually just a still image taken of a piece of white paper) to all of the office scenes. I overlayed it on all of the interiors to add to the boring and dry look of that environment. Then, I added some lens flares to start sneaking some color into the interior sequence, while also helping to blend the transition into the exterior shots. And finally I ran the entire project through Film Convert (as one single clip) to help blend everything together a bit better.
To me, this was a perfect example of where the GH4 shines. Small productions that have more specific requirements (whether it be high frame rates, 4K, etc.) can count on the GH4 to deliver results that far exceed what you would expect from a camera that costs under $2K. That said, you always want to be aware of it’s limitations so that you can get the best results possible.
ALSO: I’m going to be releasing a very in-depth and lengthy interview in the next few days, shot with a friend & colleague of mine as we drove around Los Angeles being recorded by a custom 3 camera car rig, so check back soon!
For more on “Midday Swim’ visit www.middayswim.com