Behind the Scenes of the Music Video “Thoughtful” for Chiggity Chuck
*WARNING: MUSIC VIDEO CONTAINS MATURE LANGUAGE*
Make Your Momentum & Project “Thoughtful”
Chuck first came to me wanting to do a music video that not only showcased his rap and music ability but also to create a video to promote his clothing company, Make Your Momentum, and his program Project Thoughtful. Make Your Momentum is a lifestyle brand pushing and encouraging a positive message and Project Thoughtful and the song “Thoughtful” are the kickoff for a program that helps someones dreams come true. Check out Project Thoughtful to learn more.
The track length of “Thoughtful” is longer than average, just over 5 mins, a challenging length to keep a viewers attention. Instead of going towards the more typical fast cutting style with lot’s of different angles and footage, I wanted to create a more immersive experience that locks you into the story, lyrics and visuals. To do this I decided that I wanted to film only center framed shots to keep the viewers eyes locked in place and enhance the connection to the artist.
I also wanted to experiment and push some new camera technology to see how it would affect the overall vision of the video along with attempting to create a camera shot that was unique and immersive.
Here is the gear I used:
For the shoot I used the 8K RED Epic-W camera mainly to experiment with its high resolution capabilities and to take advantage of its auto-focus paired with wifi and the RED camera control app, FoolControl. My idea was that with the 8K resolution I would have the ability to jump cut and push into the shot and re-frame a few shots if need be. The camera was paired with Sigma’s 18-35 f1.8 Art lens and mounted on an EF mount which gave us electronic focus control.
Kessler Motion Control Slider
I wanted to move the camera on a Z axis for a push/pull camera move along with it to be slow moving and very subtle. I used the Kessler 2nd Shooter Motion Control Slider to create a 60 second push/pull camera move. The move was triggered at the start of the song and ran in a loop every 60 seconds for a total of 5 moves. The challenge here was keeping focus on the subject as the camera moved over this short distance for a full 60 seconds. To do this manually would have been near impossible for a human to do smoothly. Thankfully we had Fool Control.
FoolControl Red Camera App
FoolControl is an amazing app that lets a user have complete control over the camera functions of RED’s wifi enabled cameras. The main part of the app I was interested in for this video was the focus control where you can virtually create focus points on a focus wheel on your ipad to control the focus of the camera. The cool part is that you can set the speed between the rack focus points, from 1 second, to 60 seconds. The max 60 second rack focus setting was going to work perfectly in time with my camera move.
A 60 Second Rack Focus
Here is how each scene was shot. The slider was setup in front of the subject about 4 feet away. The slider was started at the same position every time so that each part of every scene would be similar in position and focal length. The focus points would be set on the FoolControl app for close and far focus points along with setting the key frame points on the slider. The lens was set to a shallow F2.0 aperture. Once the camera was in position at the front of the tracks we would roll camera, queue music playback, start the slider move, and start the rack focus. When the slider would end it’s first 60 second pull move, it would automatically begin the push move which is when I would reverse the rack focus move on the FoolControl app by simply touching the first focal point. We repeated this 5 times for 5 mins for every scene and every take of the video.
A David Lynch Style Location
We lucked out with a really unique location that we were able to use for every scene of the video. An artist studio and tattoo parlor known as Valor Tattoo served for what reminded me of a Twin Peaks, David Lynch style decor. Tons of cool artwork, skulls and animal heads were everywhere, set against a historic brick building and walls. Huge thanks goes out to Valor Tattoo for providing such a unique location.
Because the shots were all similar camera moves and knowing that I wanted to be able to choose to cut to any shot whenever I wanted I setup the timeline in a multi-cam setup in Premiere Pro. The best takes for each scene were synced to the music and I ended up with seven, 8K camera source files all playing simultaneously. I was amazingly able to playback all 7 sources of 8K footage at 1/16 resolution without creating proxies, just enough for me to get my cuts down and then fine tune after a rendered preview. Final video was a 4K version for YouTube, Vimeo and the web.
Huge thanks to my crew for helping me accomplish this challenging shoot. Big thanks to my gaffer and lighting wizard Tyler Bourns and Bourns Productions who helped to make these scenes truly come to life and for providing grip, lighting and camera support. Thanks to my lovely wife Shannon Balazs for grip and behind the scenes photos and Don Gustavson for grip assistance as well. Huge thanks to Valor Tattoo for allowing us to use the location.