I am pleased to announce the official release of my newest music video: “Insomnia” by The Procussions! Last year, I had the pleasure of releasing a music video with Mr. J. Medeiros called “Pale Blue Dot”. When he and his good friend Stro Elliot (who produced the song “Pale Blue Dot” as well as numerous other Mr. J. tracks, songs for Phonte, Deux Process, and more!) decided to reform their group The Procussions, they asked me to come on board for a video again. It just so happened that the song they chose for me was one of my favorites off their new album! Here is what we came up with! Click play, and then check out their links below!
Directed by Jason Frerking
Released October 21, 2013
Okay, finally a proper timelapse! I’ve used a number of cameras in my career. I’ve rented and borrowed equipment according to what was needed for a shoot. When I made the transition to DSLR, I decided not to shell out incredible amounts of money on a body and focus on getting good glass and other things I would need to make the transition. The Canon T4i came out at that very time. After weighing the pros and cons of a more “entry-level” camera vs. a more “professional” one, I opted to rely on my skill rather than hope that the extra features I would pay for in the higher end would magically add production value. I am a firm believer that it isn’t about the equipment at all as much as it is your vision and figuring out how to achieve it with what you have. That said, there was a lot of buzz about a firmware for Canon cameras called Magic Lantern that overrides Canon’s stock firmware (actually working hand in hand with it) to access settings and features that the camera is capable of, but Canon has decided to lock out. For the past year, nearly every Canon DSLR camera has had a version of Magic Lantern come out for it. Until just a few weeks ago, the T4i still didn’t have anything remotely stable. A lot has to do with the touch screen that wasn’t on previous models. Magic Lantern is still in Alpha stages for the T4i (650d outside of the U.S.), but there are already great advancements in the nightly builds!
That brings me to this timelapse. One of the features I was most excited to try out was the intervalometer. To purchase an external one would cost me a good chunk of change for something I don’t really need. Basically, the intervalometer allows you to set your camera to take pictures at whatever interval you choose for however long you choose. You then take the stills that it shoots and play them each as a frame in a video sequence to create a timelapse. The easy way to do this in video is to just film for an hour or two and speed up the footage. You get nice, smooth video, but your image is restricted to a 1080 size (1920×1080 pixels). With shooting stills on my T4i, for example, each image is 18 megapixels (5184×3456). That means a lot more detail is in the image which I can move crop, resize, and move around in my 1080 video.
After weeks of cloudless skies, I finally spotted an amazing cloud formation on a drive and quickly raced home to set up my camera and test out Magic Lantern’s intervalometer. I set it to take one photo ever 5 seconds and left it for just over 2 hours. The result was 1,450 still images which, when played back at 24 frames a second, came out to the 1 minute video above. If you’d like to check out a single frame of my timelapse without cropping or color correction, CLICK HERE (*WARNING: LARGE FILE*). Of course, the final version is above. Just a really cool bunch of clouds coming and going on a sunny August afternoon in Southern California. Enjoy!!!
In an attempt to blog more, I thought I’d give you a little extra behind the scenes look at some of my projects. “Pale Blue Dot” has definitely been a favorite of mine (can you tell?) and is picking up steam in the festival circuit as well. We released the video March 21st of 2012 after filming it in December of 2011. Initially, I was offered two other songs (“This is Not A Home” from Saudade and “Old Man Perez”) to direct before finally ending up on “Pale Blue Dot.” I had gone as far as writing a full treatment for “Old Man Perez” and scouting the location out. We were good to go until The Find Magazine had settled on releasing PBD as a limited edition blue vinyl. Then it was back to the drawing board. The problem was, I was in love with the location. When I first heard PBD, I chose “…Perez” over it because I thought PBD sounded too futuristic and special effects-oriented. That’s how it appeared in my mind. That was, until I found these locations. (Where we filmed and how I found it is a loooong story and one I like to keep off the internet. Ask me in person.)
Mr. J. had expressed an interest in the locations after I shot him over some photos, and gave me a couple vague ideas of a man in an astronaut or hazmat suit. I really liked the thought of an astronaut crashing onto an abandoned planet that just happened to be earth in the near future. I even had an alternate scene in mind for the choruses where a child would be playing in a 50’s era kitchen with a rocket ship, dreaming of becoming an spaceman. The problem was, authentic astronaut suits just did not fit in our budget. When we had decided on the alternate costume, I had to come up with a brand new story that would incorporate the suit and the location.
The hard part in all of this was that I was working my 9-5 AND taking care of a 6-month old little girl. When J. would shoot me an email, it would take me a day or two to even respond. I’m sure on his end, it seemed like I was slipping. My hope was to storyboard the whole project and send it to him as soon as possible. In the meantime, he was getting anxious. Deadlines were approaching, and seasons were changing. He began to send me ideas that were very different from my concept. I knew I had to get him the storyboards quickly. I started out hand-drawing them, but once I realized I am great at drawing inanimate objects but terrible at people, I switched to an iPad app. OF COURSE the app I was using was having all sorts of problems. It wouldn’t export once I was done. I had to individually copy and paste every single picture from the iPad onto a template on my computer and type in directions for each shot. Ten minutes before it was ready, Mr. J. sends me his lengthiest email with ideas yet. One involved a horse, one a Speedo. As soon as I was done, I shot it over to him hoping for the best. Long story semi-shorter, he really liked it and was excited for it. We prepped for about a month and shot on a couple freezing December mornings.
I guess why I wanted to share this is that, normally, I don’t storyboard. I have ideas in my head. I sometimes write a shot sheet down, but I don’t take the time to actually draw the shots out. With a music video, there’s not always a set structure. Once you get things filmed, a lot of times, you can rearrange events or even do jump cuts to the same exact shot without throwing the viewer off. We did that in “Pale Blue Dot” in the second verse because it is a huge crescendo in the song, but the rest of the video is very much a narrative story. I think that’s why the storyboards worked so well. I was able to shoot every single angle and know that I didn’t need filler. One or two takes of the narrative content was all that was needed. (The second verse, on the other hand, had over 35 takes filmed from about 8 or 9 angles.) It made it quick and easy to get a lot in a short amount of time. In the end, I sent Mr. J. Medeiros a first cut of the video and saw this on Twitter only a few minutes later:
I don’t know if I could have sold him on the idea without the storyboards, and I doubt I would have been able to visually accomplish everything we did without them. As a little bonus, I’ve included a link to the ACTUAL STORYBOARDS I sent him that day so that you can download (sorry, kind of a big file and a few typos) and follow along with the video HERE. You may see a few distinctions between the boards and the finished product, most of which was decided while filming. For the most part, I think you’ll find the two translated VERY well from page to screen. Needless to say, I’m definitely employing the technique a lot more on projects to come. Enjoy!