Run ‘n Gun Music Video

Abi Moore

Well, normally one wouldn’t promote this sort of thing. After all, it takes quite some time and planning to do a music video…

But, as Abi Moore remarked, ‘if you want something done fast, ask a busy person”.

I’m not always this busy, but in the week before a trip planned to the US, I found myself with 3 scheduled shoots and one edit that absolutely had to be done before I left.

Then Abi messaged me urgently.

She needed a music video by the end of the month (when I would be gone).

She had sent me the song. A very nice song, though a sad Christmas song as it were.

I asked for the lyrics, got them, glanced it over and said, ” Come on over tomorrow. We’ll shoot you singing the whole song whilst driving a few times and then some more at our neighbor’s Steinway piano, a few additional shots in town, throw something together and see if we need anything else to polish it off.

So we did just that one evening.

For the night scenes I used the Sony HXR NX30. All hand-held, of course, though I utilised a bean bag on the car’s dash for most of the car shots.

For the piano scenes I used the NX30 and the X70; X70 on a tripod and the NX30 handheld.

And, for the first time ever, I found it necessary to add stars to a shot using an FCPX generator and FCPX color controls and shape masks to take down the white sky to a darker gray.

Also, for the first time ever, I added snow to a shot, using the Pixelfilmstudios plug-in. Two layers of snow–the foreground layer to which I added yellow as if lit by the foreground yellow light from the doorway. That was surprisingly easy.

Who says you can’t produce a music video in a couple of days cheap as chips?

You’ll be the first to see it as I’m only publishing it here.

(Best to watch in full HD, as it’s a rather sad–and therefore somewhat dark Christmas story.)

 

A Good Corporate Video Sample

corporate video

The Lone Shooter: One day shoot, 2 day edit

I think this is a great example of a corporate video combining many of the chapters of Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide including:

  1. Message
  2. Using local talent
  3. Interviews
  4. B roll
  5. Music

The Message

The message is clear by the content of the narrative (which was distilled from about 40 minutes of interview), but also by choice of B roll. Yes, the use of relevant B roll shots is standard in editing this type of interview, but additionally there are shots in there one might not realise are important–unless you are in this business and know what you are looking for. And for those potential business clients, they will have seen what they are looking for: the top tier German machines in use at the plant. That’s why you see their names prominently in some of the shots.

Local Talent

As to local talent, in this case we used the co-managing directors who are brothers.

To my surprise, it was the younger brother (who appears first) who was the most put off by the camera. In fact, in looking at the footage I noticed his head appeared to be physically straining away from the camera as if to get as far away from it as possible. Correspondingly, there was a lot more to edit in his interview (pauses, ums, ahs, stumbles, etc.), all of which is hidden under the B roll. The end message of the video, however is carried entirely by him. And there’s a reason for that: He was asked the magic interview question at the end. I pointed out that they had a very successful and growing business in a niche market and that they had been at it for a very long time, growing all along the way. “So”, I asked him, “What makes you get up in the morning? What is your passion for this business?” (or words to that effect). His response is entirely uncut. I let it roll even despite a few long pauses because it was so obvious that he was completely sincere. And his message was in perfect alignment with the message of the video in its whole.  Who wouldn’t then want to do business with this guy?

B roll

It might appear, in some cases, that the B roll was shot after the interview to fit so nicely with a few bits that were being said, but no. It was all shot first. But I shot so much that I was able to fit shots very nicely to what was being said as if I had shot it afterwards or to a script.

Music

I must have spend an hour and 1/2 looking for a suitable piece of music for this video. Thanks to the search parameters of Audio Jungle (and now Audio Blocks) which allowed me to search for a pretty exact length, I was able to preview dozens of potential fits. Then I found this one. To my absolute amazement, I laid it down and didn’t have to do a thing to it. No editing. No adjusting. It’s entirely uncut. It fits the beginning and end titles, and, if you listen carefully, it even does several things along the way that would convince you that it was scored specifically for this video.

I liked this music so much that when I was editing a promo video for my sculptor wife I had it in the back of my head to see if it would work. Turns out the same thing happened. It just dropped right in as if it was written for that video too. That’s one magical piece of music.

Other Notes

It was a one day shoot and two day edit.

For those interested, it was shot on the Sony PXW X70 in AVCHD mode.

The interview lighting was done with 2 LED Flexlites which I reviewed in this blog. The ‘kick’ you see on the side of their faces would appear to be from the background windows, but was actually created by one of the Flexlites dialed way down. The frontal fill was another Flexlite opposite the backlight. Fill was simply ambient light in the room with the intensity of the key light being set to achieve a 2 1/2:1 contrast ratio with the ambient fill.

Edited on FCPX. Color balanced with Color Finale.

Oh, and did anyone notice I added the sky, clouds and sunbeams to the opening shot? (it was a lousy day in Leicester that day)

The following video was directed and produced by Leapfrog Marketing (Alan Myers – 0116 278 7788) in association with The Video Whisperer.

And just for a bit of fun, here’s the video I did for my wife with the same music:

B Roll, What it is and how it will save your bacon

B roll

First of all, what is it?

For a comprehensive definition and history, here’s the Wiki.

In short, in the early days of linear film editing (and tape editing) of documentaries, interviews or dramatic films, the main scene, master scene or main interview was strung together on one roll of film or tape called the A roll. Wherever that scene was to cut to another shot (a cut away, an insert or simply another scene not from the main scene) the A roll would get a piece of opaque leader and in the corresponding blank spot, the appropriate shot would be synced up on the ‘B roll’, itself separated by opaque leader which corresponded to those parts of the ‘A roll’ that were meant to be seen.

Later it would all be married up. This procedure is what made editing ‘seamless’ (otherwise you’d see constant flashes every time two pieces of film were joined together with editing tape). It also allowed for seamless transitional treatments (such as dissolves, fade to black, etc.)

These days it’s all done on computer—even features shot on film. The film is transferred to video where it is edited and then output back to film. Computer editing programs, of course, are called non-liner editing systems where you can simply drag and drop shots, transitions, effects, etc. with impunity. It’s intrinsically seamless.

Anyway, while B roll retains its original meaning, it has also modernized itself through the magic of Time and Slang.

Today in corporate video work, wedding videos, events we generally mean B roll to be any shot that’s not part of the narrative (such as an interview) or story, such as a scripted film. In film they generally call this ‘coverage’, which means you shoot a bunch of detail shots (the clock on the wall, the leaves blowing on the trees, birds in flight, people walking down the street, etc, ad infinitum) that might come in handy for the editor if he’s in a tight spot. Great film makers with large crews usually plan their films to the nth degree and specify all these things. Even then, smart cameramen shoot more than was asked for even by a detailed script.

In the run and gun category, when you don’t have crew support (assistant directors, script supervisors, etc.) B roll is essential. It will be, in fact, the main pictorial content of your video.

Let’s say you have a 15 minute interview. Or even a 3 minute one (in final edited form).

Who wants to see a talking head for 3 minutes or 15 minutes straight?

More to the point, most interviews of any length have to be edited. How do you cover up the cuts?

B roll.

But the purpose of B roll isn’t just to cover up cuts. Yes, that’s where it can save your bacon when you found yourself forced to do an edit and have absolutely nothing relevant to cover it with. More importantly, B roll should help forward the story of the narrative. It should help forward the overall message of the video. It needs to be relevant to what’s being said.

Let’s say you’re planning a documentary which involves traveling across the United States and stopping in various cities to interview certain people on the same basic set of questions. One thing is for certain. You’re going to interview those people. That’s what you do know. But you’ve never been to these places and have no idea in advance what also should be shot in terms of B roll, so you’re going to ‘wing it’ and hope you’re covered.

Well actually, you already know more than that. You know you’re going to a particular city or town.

Most every city or town has a ‘Welcome to ___’ sign. Shoot it.

Mount your camera on the windshield or handhold it and shoot some traveling shots, highway signs, landmarks and anything of interest as you arrive. You may only wind up using one or two of those shots—or none—, but so what? You’re not doing anything but driving. (let me clarify that: If you’re alone, use a mount. If you’re with someone, have them hold the camera).

Shoot some establishment shots of the town and its landmarks. Long shots, medium shots, close shots, detail shots.

Shoot the bustling downtown–or the vacant one.

Shoot the exterior sign and buildings of the location you’re going to.

You know something else too. You know what the questions are and the subject material to be covered. So shoot stuff in that town that’s relevant to the subjects that will be discussed.

If relevant, shoot the interior of the establishment you’re going to. Not just long shots of interesting rooms, but detail shots of interesting details.

Yea, shoot atmospheric shots of flowers, trees, birds, lakes or whatever is there and may be relevant to what you’re doing.

And if it turns out you need a bird in flight for the Chicago edit and you didn’t shoot one, use the St. Louis bird you shot. Who will know?  It’s called ‘cheating’ and Hollywood has always gotten a kick out of cheating.

If you spend an hour or two on the interview, spend that much or much more on the B roll.

After the interview you may realize you need to shoot something else based on what was discussed.

So shoot that.

You get the idea.

For a video to be interesting, it should not only have interesting narrative or story content, it should also be rich in story-telling pictures (footage). You won’t use a fraction of what you shoot, but you will have so much latitude in editing for having shot it that you will be free to make a great video no matter the headaches you may have endured during the interview itself.

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