Filming the band on location at Savoir Faire Studios in Norwich
We’ve always loved the creative challenge and freedom of making music videos, so we were excited when Norwich based rock band The Everlaine got in touch earlier this year to commission us to produce a new video for their latest single ‘I Am A Fighter’. Looking forward to the opportunity of creating something a little different from some of our recent commercial projects, we got straight to work developing a number of creative briefs for the band.
Music video budgets are often far smaller than those of commercial briefs, so always require a degree of ingenuity in order to maximise the impact of every penny. Despite the lower budget, we approached the project as we would any other, diving into pre-production and taking time to learn about the band, the song and most importantly their aims and goals for the video. Given how important the visuals are for any music video, we also took careful note of some stylistic references the band provided, and using this information presented the band with a few different creative routes that could be pursued with the budget available.
After careful consideration, we decided the best route would be to create a stylised performance based piece, which would allow the band to showcase their ability, whilst also maximising the amount of budget available for production and post production to allow us to create a high quality piece of work. The key to these kind of videos is finding a suitable location, and after conducting site recces of a number of different filming spaces across Norfolk, we settled upon Savior Faire Studios in Norwich, as we’d decided to go with a black and white look shot against an infinite white background.
We then set about designing the visuals of the video in more depth, and began watching a wide variety of media to gain some inspiration. We wanted to create something a little different from the other black and white performance videos we’d watched during pre-production to ensure the video stood out. Most of the reference videos we watched often featured very high contrast black and white photography. After watching a few adverts which were lit in a softer, low contrast black and white style, allowing the image to have a more tonality with shades of black and grey, we decided to pursue that look, and set about planning the lighting layout for the studio.
All told we used 24,000 watts of light to create our desired look. Two 5K lights and two 2K lights were used to cross light the back wall, creating an infinite white background with a small amount of light falloff at the edges, adding an element of tonality and contrast to an otherwise flat area.
Three 2K lights were then positioned behind the band, shooting straight into camera, providing a main backlight that placed the band partially in silhouette, and helped create a more visually engaging look by causing lens flares as the camera moved around the band. The flare and halation was increased and the harshness of the lights shooting straight into camera mitigated by shooting with an 1/8 Black Promist filter in the matte box, which also helped to raise the black levels slightly, further adding to the low contrast look we were aiming to create.
Creative Director Tom and the band watch through one of the takes during filming
Finally, two 2K lights were bounced into the moveable ceiling in the studio, which acted as a soft ambient fill light to ensure the band members weren’t totally silhouetted by the backlight. Here our C300 MKII’s 15 stops of Dynamic range and the huge amount of malleability of the files in post production helped ensure there was tonal detail still visible. A piece of black material was draped on the floor in front of the band, acting as negative fill to prevent too much light bouncing up from the white floor and giving the band members too much fill light from below. Finally, the entire set was hazed to further diffuse the light, create a sense of depth and to add some atmosphere to increase visibility of the backlights.
The entire video was shot handheld, using the rather hilarious looking Easirig, which you can see Director/DOP Tom wearing in the behind the scenes photos. Aside from making anyone wearing it look like a cross between a Ghostbuster and an angler fish, it helps support the weight of the camera rig and move the strain from the operator’s neck and shoulders onto their hips and feet. A vital tool given how many takes of the song we needed to do over the course of the 8 hour shooting day. The Easirig also helps give a natural feeling energy and movement to the camera.
The individual shots of Ellen, the lead singer were accomplished very simply by shooting against a black background, and lighting her from one side with two 2Ks put through a 4×8 frame of diffusion, and placing a large black polyboard on her fill side side to act as a large amount of negative fill, ensuring a very high key to fill ratio, and helping to create a very striking look.
We opted to shoot the entirety of the video in 4K, and these close up shots in particular really show off amazing detail and clarity possible when shooting with four times the resolution of 1080p.
After a successful shoot, it was time to begin post production. Using our newly acquired GTech GSpeed Studio XL 24 TB Raid 5 Array (try saying that quickly 5 times…) we were able to edit multiple streams of the native 4K files quickly, and put together a rough cut to show the band. After some tweaks, it was then time to further finesse the look of the video in the colour grade.
We sent the timeline to Da Vinci Resolve to grade, using a custom C300 MKII black and white LUT as the starting point for the grading process, before continuing the grade in more depth, matching luminance levels across the entire video, helping roll off highlights more subtly and selectively raising and lowering the levels of lighting on the band members’ faces in particular to ensure the look was consistent throughout the entire video. We then round tripped the graded files back to Adobe Premiere, before adding the final polish and then delivering both 1080p and UHD masters to the band for use across a variety of streaming platforms. The video is available to view in its native 4K on YouTube and Vimeo depending on the speed of your internet connection.
We’re all really proud of the end result, and had a great time working on the project. We hope you’ve found this look behind the scenes useful, and stay tuned as we’ll be doing some more in depth breakdowns of some recent shoots in the near future.
Behind the Scenes photographs courtesy of Joseph Casey Photography