I’ve been working with the Bookshop Band for more than four years, as they have progressed from playing in one bookshop (Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights) to concert halls and bookshops all over the country. They have written so many songs now that this year they are releasing one album per month for ten months! Below is one of my favourite recent songs, “Thirteen Chairs” which I filmed for them at the Micheal Tippett Centre in Bath. For concerts I use multiple cameras – a wide to set the scene and provide safety, and one or two more depending on having places to put them which have a good view. Clearly I can’t operate all of those so it’s just the close up camera which I man, trying for intimate shots of the musicians. I use my own audio recorders for quick turn around but at a gig like this the band were making their own recording so I was able to use that for later videos (such as this one).
Jamie Sampson, who I’d worked with on a short documentary and on feature “One – the movie”, asked me to DP a music video for London based Sea Stacks’ new single, “Glassy-eyed”. He sent me the treatment and I said yes straight away – it looked like a big undertaking but would make a great video. It took us three days to shoot, with a mix of practical effects – pyro technician (for spark caps, flame paste and flash paper), bags of leaves, bags of ‘soot’, and gallons of water – with lots of green screen for CGI (additional leaves and soot, mould on everything, stretching table).
We shot it on my C300 with my Cinema prime lenses, all lit by my LED panels and fresnels (except the green screen which we lit with Kino Flo green tubes).
Music video I filmed for the wonderful “The Bookshop Band”. We shot it in various bookshops around Bath on one day, with some additional footage filmed by Ben during the band’s UK tour.
This version of the song was recorded to support “Books are my Bag”, supporting bookshops all over the UK and Ireland.
Filmed on Canon C300, 5D Mark III and 7D. I lit the recording session (at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights) with various LED light panels and fresnels; all other locations are just available light.
Daisy Chapman, a lovely singer/songwriter from Bristol, has a new album out, “Shameless Winter” and on Saturday she played a gig at The Bristol Folk House to officially launch the album. Daisy hired me to video the gig, on the recommendation of two of her string players (Lizz Lipscombe and Sue Lord, both of whom I have photographed and video at various times over the last couple years). This was a wonderful opportunity – I’ve been a fan of hers since I heard her a year ago, supporting Jane Taylor at her Christmas gig (which I also videoed), and I already had the album, which I had pre-ordered.
The gig was a sell-out and great fun. I used three cameras, one of which belongs to Daisy – I bet you can’t tell which it is ;) Audio came from the mixing desk as there wasn’t anywhere for me to set up mics; the audio was also being professionally recorded and future videos will use that audio as it will have a better mix.
As Daisy was about to go touring in Germany again, she asked me to get one song edited ASAP so she could upload it before she left. So on Sunday morning I put together edits for two songs and this is the one she chose for immediate use.
Sam was working at Womad when she spotted the steam-powered carousel belonging to Carters Steam Fair (carterssteamfair.co.uk/). When she asked if we could shoot a music video on it they very graciously said yes, so she called me and asked if I could do that the next day (when I was going to Womad anyway). This did mean there was no time to plan but what an opportunity! This was all shot hand held, some of it with me riding backwards on a horse (not easy as there’s nothing to hold on to!).
The only definite idea I had (from listening to the song beforehand) was to overlap some video to match the overlapped vocals. I shot as much as I could (we rode the carousel in the morning, afternoon and evening) in the hope I would have enough material to work with.
I mainly used my 5D Mark II but I did some shots with my 7D at 50fps so I could use it for slow motion. We used my iPhone for playback (with just one headphone so it wouldn’t show in the shots) – I couldn’t hear this over the carousel music so sync had to be done entirely by eye.
I edited it roughly in Premiere CS5, then chose bits I thought would work with overlapping video and worked on those in After Effects (mainly for masking).
Gear: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, 24-105mm f/4 IS L, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L
After my recent video of Beth Porter and the Availables, I was asked to video a gig by another band she is in – The Bookshop Band, so called because it was created to play at evening events in Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, an independent bookshop in Bath. This band consists of Ben Please on guitar, Poppy Pitt on harmonium, Bethany Porter on cello, and they all sing. The bookshop events over the last year were on the theme of “travels from your armchair”, so the band wrote songs relevant to the country/region of each event. This song is about a Brazilian character called Saci Perere who gets the blame whenever anything goes wrong.
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights will be hosting another series of events this year, on the theme of Books Behaving Badly – check their site for more details.
You can buy the band’s CD in the bookshop or direct from the band’s website. This track (in fact, this recording) will be on the inaugural “The Bath Burp Magazine” CD, available in various shops and gigs around Bath shortly.
I was hoping to shoot rehearsals, using two cameras, but we ran out of time – the tickets sold out so fast that extra seats had to be added, and a second performance right after the first one! I did get some photos and a few closeup shots. I still wanted two angles if possible so I shot the first gig on my long zoom (from another room!) and the second gig with my wide-angle from the opposite side. Amazingly, the band played so consistently that the two recordings were almost exactly in sync!
So, I shot the whole video on my 5D Mark II, long shots on the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L, wide on the 24mm f/1.4 II L. Due to utter lack of space I could only use a monopod to support the camera.
Lights: apart from a few practicals (e.g. the standard lamp behind the band) the room lights were off. I used my Datavision LED600 light as the key – it was perfect for this as it’s small (about an inch thick), doesn’t get hot, is dimmable (it was turned way down to keep the feeling ‘intimate’), can run off a v-lock battery (which avoided cables) and, at about 12inches x 12inches, fairly soft. However, the light is a bit green so I had to deal with that in post (it comes with a magenta filter which I should have used).
Audio was recorded on my Zoom H4n, on a shelf at the back of the room. We had another Zoom and direct recordings from the mixer but my Zoom performed beautifully yet again so we just used that.