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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: