Hurtling: Memory Cassette

I love the new Hurtling album “Future From Here”.   You can buy it from Bandcamp or from the Onomatopoeia website:  http://www.onophonic.com/

I was very pleased to be asked to work with the band on a video for “Memory Cassette”.

 

Pre

Prior to working on a video, I tend to listen to the track over and over and see what presents itself.

This often means I start with a very literal interpretation and work backwards from there.

The chorus motif of “I can see the future from here”/”I can read the future from here”/”I can write the future from here” left me with the idea of a Time Travelling Jen viewing future events from a distance and ultimately changing them.

My very favourite way to work is to meet up in a café or pub with the artist and bounce ideas around.  I met up with Jen a couple of weeks before the shoot to do just that.  Jen, Elaine and I had a cracking afternoon shooting the breeze/shit to this end.

An early discussion about using a van in the video developed into the idea of a kind of temporal stake-out where Time Travelling Jen is watching events unfold over a period of months.  We see an avid fan initially meet the band.  In the next scene, the fan has joined the band and in the next, Jen has been usurped altogether.  Jen travels back to the beginning to intercept the fan before she ever meets the band and normality is restored.  So that’s the story.

The whole point of a music video is to make the audience engage with the song.  I have a rule about my videos always including a good chunk of performance of the song.  I also only shoot videos with the artist in them.  The reason for both rules is the same – all the videos I’ve ever loved follow those rules.  I like narrative, but videos that rely entirely on narrative rarely seem to connect you properly with the song and the band.  So we were going to have some lip syncing and ideally some band footage.

I had a very specific visual impression for the middle eight section.  I wanted to visually reflect the intimacy and vulnerability of the vocal and lyric.   I wanted Jen in close-up, with high key lighting, a narrow depth of field, shot against a white background.

 

The shoot

Apart from having several cameras stolen halfway through the shoot, and witnessing a mugging right next to us, it all went smooth as silk.  Luckily, we had more-or-less story boarded the whole thing, so these unsettling events didn’t deter us.

Quite geeky bit follows.

The band footage was shot first.  The performance was just a couple of takes.  It was shot using an LED ring light and an off-axis battery powered LED light to pick Jon out on the drums.  We used a Panasonic GH5 and a Canon 15mm F/2.8 fisheye lens with the MetaBones SpeedBooster XL (0.64x).  The GH5 was plugged into an Atomos Ninja Inferno V.  We recorded in 4K 60FPS and used the Like709 picture profile.  I have the VLog option but prefer the ease of use of shooting in Like709.  We could have shot in 10-bit, but opted for 8-bit as this gave us redundant copies of the footage on the GH5’s internal cards.  If you shoot 4K 60FPS in 10-bit with the GH5/Atomos you can only record data onto the SSD in the Atomos – nothing is recorded to the internal cards.   I didn’t need 10-bit colour for the source material, but I did need redundancy.

The different angles are crops from that 4K frame.

I wanted a different look for the middle eight – mainly a very narrow depth of field.  I really like the look of the 1080P that comes out of the Canon EOS R.  It’s a much-maligned camera but the output has a lovely look.  The footage was recorded in 10-bit CLog on the Atomos.  CLog seems very easy to work with compared to the other Log formats I have tried.  We used the EF/RF mount adaptor with the Canon EF 85 F/1.2 II L (my favourite lens of all time).  It was shot at F/2 or thereabouts.

We used the same single ring light and a reflector for the white background; Simon and Jon did an excellent job as background stands.  The shot looks much more expensive than it is.

We had planned to use some other cameras for the narrative bits.  Sue and I had done some tests the week before, using the Insta360 ONE X for some fake motion controlled stuff, which probably would have looked pretty nifty.  These cameras were in the bag that was stolen.  So we had to change approach.

We shot all the narrative stuff on the GH5 with the 12-60/2.8-4.0 Leica DG lens.  It’s a semi-posh kit lens with optical stabilisation.  Half was shot on a tripod and half was shot hand-held using the GH5’s amazing in body image stabilisation.  I do own a Glide Gear Stabilizer Vest but haven’t really used it since getting the GH5.  Thank God.

Throughout, the band and superfan/usurper Hestor [who is to Hurtling videos as John Ratzenberger is to Pixar movies] gave great performances.  Special credit goes to Jen who did brilliantly throughout.  She didn’t even blink when I told her we needed her naked shoulders in shot.

 

The Edit/Post

I am, if nothing else, very quick (obsessive) at editing and had a rough edit within a day or so of shooting.  I was so pleased that I was able to squeeze all the narrative into the video without sacrificing the performance elements.  It’s all Premiere with a few bits of After Effects thrown in.

The look is mostly provided by Red Giant Looks.  For the time travel bits there is a blurry elliptical edge to give it a dreamy quality.

Extremely geeky bit ahead.

The very earliest edit didn’t include the phone showing the time passing and the story needed a bit more clarification.  Mrs Jones suggested I include the time-passing trope of the pages of a calendar falling away.  I tweaked this into the idea of the date changing on the phone screen.  This is where I had to put my IT hat on and do some scripting to get After Effects to present a calendar where each frame represents two minutes of time passing.  The video I created shows a fake iPhone screen showing time and date passing for three months, with each frame being two minutes apart.  That makes it about twenty minutes long.  I then sped it up so we saw the right amount of time passing.  If you stop the video at any point you will see a valid date and time.  It’s not just random numbers.

 

Here’s the After Effects script, which worked with a 30FPS composition to get the time right for the frameDuration parameter:

====TIME

//getHours()
//getMinutes()

function padZero(n){
if (n < 10) return "0" + n
else return "" + n
}

var showtime = new Date(2019,8,21,10,30)
var timer2 =(time/thisComp.frameDuration)/720;
showtime.setDate(timer2 +1);
(showtime.getHours()) + ":" + padZero((showtime.getMinutes()))

===========DATE

month = new Array(3);
month[0] = "Jan";
month[1] = "Feb";
month[2] = "Mar";
month[3] = "Apr";
month[4] = "May";
month[5] = "Jun";
month[6] = "Jul";
month[7] = "Aug";
month[8] = "Sep";
month[9] = "Oct";
month[10] = "Nov";
month[11] = "Dec";

day = new Array(3);
day[0] = "Sun";
day[1] = "Mon";
day[2] = "Tue";
day[3] = "Wed";
day[4] = "Thu";
day[5] = "Fri";
day[6] = "Sat";

var d = new Date(2019,9,15)
var timer = time/thisComp.frameDuration;
d.setDate((timer/720)-9);
day[(d.getDay())] + " " + (d.getDate()) + " " + month[(d.getMonth())]

Posted on October 21, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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