Directing TesseracT – Hexes Music Video

Recently had the task assigned to direct TesseacT‘s new video for the track Hexes. The band had a basic concept for the video, based on a 3D scene that had been created for them called ‘telekensis’ which was two heads watching a orb. I then put across my ideas to create 4 worlds that the heads would watch unfold inside the orb during the film. The band live in different parts of the world so the main task was creating a lip sync format that would be performed by the two singers on the track, Daniel Tompkins and featured artist Martin Grech.

The first world I filmed was to be based in a ‘Space Module’. I wanted a scene that would directly link to the ‘telekensis’ scene. After scouring various locations, Leicester Space Center had a mock up of the inside of a Saturn 5 module that would do the job. On the reke I realised this was a pretty tight space so was important to make it look as big as possible using wide angle lenses. I wanted it to look stark, clinical and claustrophobic. We pumped in lights through a suspended white sheet to give the door a kind of infinity glow. Filming mainly on a jib in 4K enabled me to rotate the shots in post, which was a theme I wanted to blanket across the video to give a disorientating anti-gravity feel. We had only 3 hours for set up and filming, so was important to experiment with the space quickly to find out what felt right not only with lighting, but also Dans performance.

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Next up was Dans water scene, probably the most challenging and ambitious of all the ideas. I wanted to have a body lying half in and out of the water and then to rotate the shot 90 degrees so that it felt like he was standing on a wall of vertical water. At first I thought this could be achieved by simply floating a body on the water, but after a few tests realised that some resistance would be needed to give a energetic performance and for support. I needed something solid that would lye just below the water line, be covered from view from the body and be strong enough to support a body. I made a prototype out of a reinforced ironing board that did the trick. Next was lighting, which I wanted to be back-lit under the water. Pretty tricky finding safe, dim-able powered underwater lights that would do the job. In the end managed to get hold of some from the guy thats just finished working on the latest BBC natural world project. Finding the pool was key, right depth, good temperature (filming for 4 hours in a pool it needs to be at least 30+ degrees) . I love filming in the water, something about it, but it doesn’t go without its own set of challenges. All the cameras had to be acclimatised to stop fogging, water safety, cameras and water are never a good mix and Dan trying to perform on his back, pretty cold in the middle of the night was a big ask.

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The next day we moved onto the abandoned house scene. The idea was to create a room full of memories to reflect some of the meaning and lyrics of the song. I wanted to represent memory threads by wrapping the room in red string creating a kind of web that Dan could perform around, and in the end tear down to add some energy to the scene. I found an abandoned farm that looked great, the only problem was there was no access by road, no power and was literally in the middle of nowhere, only accessible by 4×4. Hadn’t been inhabited since WW1, was full of old farm machinery parts but had a good feel to it. Managed to do a deal with the farmer whereby I filmed some of his cows for him (which I pretty much got trampled doing) in return for the use of the house and his land rover. I set about collecting old music, maps and books from junk shops and jumble sales to dress the scene and managed to buy a ridiculous amount of red wool off a grannie on ebay.

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A couple of days later we filmed Martin in a studio in Bristol. The idea for this one was to have him inside some kind of a bubble, floating in abyss. I managed to hire a orb that are usually used for playing football on water, mainly for corporate events and stag partys. To inflate the thing you had to first get inside the deflated orb and then stick in a high powered air pump. Pretty surreal watching one of these inflate, and trying to keep a orb to stay in the same place whilst someone is inside was pretty tricky. Didn’t help that the studio was on a boat and was gently swaying from time to time. Martin had about 15 mins inside the orb before lack of oxygen and heat exhaustion before we needed to take a break. We also rigged up a monitor for him for playback inside the orb as it was almost soundproof once inside. We needed a few shots from inside the orb from Martins point of view and getting a cameraman and a singer in a fairly small orb and then inflating it was very entertaining to watch.

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Final scene to make was to work on the ‘telekensis’ scene. Working with Andrew from fluke.inc to create a reflective orb, create a background for the scene which the band wanted to be based on a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 space odyssey and to get the right glow and look to the heads. Working in 3D with these types of files is frustrating as the render times are so large, but got there in the end and hopefully gives a different look and perspective to the other scenes.

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Post was fairly long process, tons of footage and tough situations for the artists to perform in, so marrying shots with good lip sync, complicated lighting and composition was integral. Filming mostly in 4K gave great flexibility in most of the visual effects and was so useful for creating rotations, zooms and crops.

Here is the final video:

 

 

Snooker player Steve Davis interviewing psychedelic rock legends Gong

Slightly random shoot the other day, in a disused piece of land that is turned into a urban garden in Spittle fields, London. Snooker great Steve Davis interviewing members from the band Gong. Random yes, though he is their biggest fan apparently. Real pleasure to film these guys having a album listen through and just chatting between themselves without the constraints of strict guidelines. Really interesting, engaging and funny, cant wait to get it into the edit.

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Shooting prog rock legend Steve Hillage

Recently filmed an interview with Prog magazine’s  Jerry Ewing and rock legend Steve Hillage. It was a two camera setup and the space that was supplied was the upstairs of a pub. The challenge therefor was to try and transform it somehow into a workable space.

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I used two black portable backdrops and then by blackening out any external light, had myself a studio space. LED lights were used to give a contrasty look that I wanted for both subjects. I shot it on a AS7 and a GH4 using monitors and remotes so I was able to keep an eye and ear on both cameras. Bit of a challenge using dual cameras with one op, but managed to achieved the look I was going for.

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Editing epic Olympic, Rugby World cup and West End footage

Recently completed a trailer for Gary Beestone Ltd, a project and production management company who specialise in theatre and events. The brief was to collect some of the best footage of the events they have been involved in (including The London 2012 Olympic medal ceremonies, Rugby World Cup, Bend it like Beckham west end show, and various other epic events) and turn it into a high impact trailer for use on there website and social media. Great being able to work with such fantastic footage, and was all about trying to get a overview to showing the different aspects of the business and generally getting people excited.

After Effects Abode Video Animation

Recently created a after effects based video explainer for Abode Video. Using a core palette of bold colours and simple yet friendly type and graphic style to create a simple, engaging video for there website to get across the key points of there values. Two day production from start to finish, made for something that had to be simple format that could be quickly executed.

Sound design on ‘Simple Print Studio’

DOP and director Tom Mansfield, shot this beautiful abstract film documenting the process within a screen printing studio in Bristol. They recorded some great foley sound whilst on the shoot, so editing & mixing that in with some dramatic organic wind noise, rotor blades and water noises filled the space out. There are some remarkable shots that almost look like it could be in space, so this was my inspiration for most of the music. Bending analogue synth pads on the Nord Stage and mixing drones on the Yamaha SK-20 organ, to create notes flowing in and out of tune that come together at the end.

Making ‘The Master Craftsman’

Recently finished a short docu-promo for Tron, focusing in on Graham Tricker, the electronic genius that designs and builds them. The aim was to create a 3 min film that gave a brief outline of the history and core values of Tron. I filmed for a day with Graham in London at his home, shooting a interview and general shots of his workshop. Decided to shoot in 4K for extra room in post and found this a useful tool for cutting in for certain sections. Sometimes the extra workflow is worth it, especially shooting interview on your own.
In post, after viewing the rushes, I decided that b&w might work well. Throughout the interview there was so much mention to historical audio, vinyl, even second world war bombers that use the same valves that Tron still uses today – so I thought a monochrome b&w palette might fit. Had already shot some studio lit shots alongside collaborator Neal Grundy that fitted in nicely with photographs and exerts from Grahams book.
When doing the sound design, I wanted it to be simple but have a sense of magic & intrigue, giving some life to the studio shots and building to a slight crescendo. I used mainly glockenspiels, rhodes piano, upright piano and bowed electric guitar mainly.

Tron Atlantic Promo

Finished the sign off on the Tron Atlantic Promo. Take a look!

Client – Tron
Brief – To shoot a creative short promotional film that added drama and reveal to the bespoke product. Working with photographer Neal Grundy we used rotation table, cameras on jibs and sliders, boom mounted lights for movement and reflective glass. Shot in 4K resolution using nikon lenses on GH4. Sound design wise I wanted to do something synth based that built to the final reveal of the product. Using 70’s and 80’s analogue synth sounds and arpeggiators.

Shooting Timelapses with thousands of stills & Jon Hopkins

Recently shot some timelapses for use on Getty Images of London. Consisted of a days shooting around the Waterloo area on the Thames. Tried shooting on the South Bank but got quickly shooed away by an over zealous security man.

The advantage of shooting timelapses with stills are you can get a great resolution (these were shot at 5000px) without using tons of media space. You can then have plenty of pixels to zoom in or out of the images in post, which adds another element to the shots. I also played around with some tilt-shift blurs that give a bit more depth to the images, which is useful when the depth of field is not to your liking. Better to do in camera, but a useful tool all the same.

Here is a short edit of the sequences together. The music is one of my favourite pieces by Jon Hopkins. You can buy it here
I highly recommend. He is one of those artists that has influenced me more than most, this track he recorded with some local fisherman in the Shetland Ilses I believe. Somehow the track really reflects where and who it was recorded with.

Tron Amps

Just spent the day filming Graham from Tron Amps. Really interesting guy, built his bespoke amp business up after being frustrated at the lack of quality in the market. The highlight was seeing & hearing his listening speakers which stand at about 10ft tall in his house, he had to use a fork lift to get them in! Shot the interview in 4K for flexibility and decided to go down the B&W route. Into the edit!

Heres a making of video that me and Neal shot when filming in the studio.