One of the nice aspects of working with musicians is that they always introduce me to other musicians – in this case Ben Please of “The Bookshop Band” recommended me to Sam Sweeney of folk trio “Leveret” and I got to film three songs for them while they were recording their new album at Real World Studios on Box.
They had already been recording and were set up in a circle in the Wood Room so I had to work with that and find a way to light and film them. In addition they would be playing ‘live’, i.e. the music on the videos is what they were playing not a previously recorded track. Luckily I have plenty of LED panels and fresnels so I could light each player separately and I used five cameras (one on each player, one from above and one hand held so I could pick out details of instruments and faces). I made minor changes to the lighting for each song so that the three videos wouldn’t look identical. We filmed for about 4 hours to get all three songs covered as it took a two or three takes to get each song right.
I did a multi-camera edit for each video then applied a different colour grade to each to help make them individual.
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).
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