First and foremost, thank you to Transylvania Stud for trusting me to experiment. Now, when I say I produced, let me be clear, I filled the role of nearly every possible on-set role you would need and boy was it a lot of work. List of jobs I could check off for this project include:
- Camera Operator
- Lighting Director
- Audio Technician
Special thanks to Jacob Holland for helping out as Key Grip and Production Assistant. Johnny on the spot with procuring that drinking glass from Target!
Now you may say, “Corey, we all do that!” Well, maybe, but until you’re making videos with multiple people, across multiple days, and at multiple locations, you don’t quite grasp the need for all of these different skill sets.
As I continue to diversify my portfolio of video work, I think it’s important to experiment as much as possible. I recently had the opportunity to produce my first music video for an amazing act, Transylvania Stud. I want to outline some things I learned through the process but first, watch the video!
When I first reached out to Andrew from Transylvania Stud, the conversation went like this;
Far from a real video treatment, but definitely a start! When working on building a portfolio, seek out other creative people and see what possible collaborations exits. With this first hurdle out of the way, it was time to start actually planning a real video treatment and then a shoot schedule.
In my mind, I had an idea of what I wanted the video to look and feel like but I needed a point of reference to guide me.
Defining the Look
Transylvania Stud would best be described as a Doom Rock or Stoner Rock act. If that doesn’t resonate with you, think of bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden or Kyuss. With this in mind, I set out to very simply define a look that I felt would easily relate to the feel of the song. I used a very simple PowerPoint file to drop in screenshots and outline early ideas of scenes or themes to keep in mind for the next step in my process.
Story and Shot Schedule
Now that I had an idea of what I wanted the video to look like, I had to actually come up with a story. As I started to play the story out in my head I defaulted to excel to keep me organized. I’m sure there are hundreds of video production apps out there to help with this, but I like the simplicity of a list. This list approach allowed me to look at several things:
- Various shoot locations
- Camera needs
- Talent needs
- Timing of shots to audio
Finally, my excel approach gave me the option to quickly sort my needed shots by location to ensure nothing was missed before wrapping. Transylvania Stud had no idea Excel and Powerpoint would be critical to their music video shoot, haha!
Transylvania Stud Performance Shoot
You’ve probably seen it before but never actually noticed it. You know those music videos where the talent looks like their moving in slow motion but still perfectly in sync with the audio? That’s not nearly as difficult to pull off as you might think. I won’t go into the details here as that’s a good topic for a future YouTube video. Watch the video again starting at the 3:13 mark and notice how Andy on drums is clearly in slow motion but his drumming is in time with the song. However, simple steps would be:
- Double the speed of your audio track you’ll be playing for your talent to mime to.
- Shoot the scene at double the frame rate your project will output to.
- Slow your recorded video down to 50% playback
- Something, something, render
One pro tip I would offer that made it super simple to sync video and audio in post would be this.
Include a test tone and countdown beeps in your audio track that will play during the shoot and ensure that audio is captured in your video files.
I used a simple setup to playback the track from my iPhone headphone jack and split that with a Y adapter. Then I had one line run to our speakers and a second line running into the line in on my Sony FS700. Overall audio quality didn’t matter to me since the final audio track would be the production audio file from Transylvania Stud.
New Camera Techniques
Another cool opportunity that working Transylvania Stud afforded me was the ability to get a little creative with my cameras. I used a Rokinon 35mm Cine Lens, which is 100% manual. One shot I wanted to get was a manual focus shift from a close up of the guitar to a medium shot of the drums. It took two takes to get it just right, but it turned out to be a really cool shot (Rumble effects added in post-production and please excuse the GIF quality).