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How I screwed up the shoot of our music video, and how I fixed it.


funkyou86
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This is a typical filmmaking story: no time, have to hurry up and of course no budget ? This is a story about the shoot of our music video and about the mistakes, which you should avoid. 

 

  • The band: 3 people + me (also the director of the shoot)
  • The crew: 1 DP, 3 assistants
  • The lights: 5500K thungsten studio lights + Small Aputure Amaran portable LED light
  • The camera: Lumix GH4, Mitakon Lens turbo
  • Lenses: Soligor 1.33x anamorphic adapter, Pentax SMC 50mm f1.7, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8, Canon EFS 18-55mm, Canon 85mm f1.8, 
  • Gear: Shoulder rig, Fotga DP500II follow focus, manfrotto 550 tripod + fluid head, 2m home made camera slider

 

The pre production started one month before the shoot. I did everything myself: I wrote the script, made the storyboard, wrote the shotlist, etc. I tought that I am fully prepared, but I wasn’t since the whole video was shot at night with a very limited ligthning setup. I did not have the time to try out what are the best settings for the GH4, but will get back to this later.

A month before the shoot I sold my AGFA 1.5x anamorphot, which was a very-very big mistake. I missed two great anamorphic lens deals on ebay so 5 days before the shoot I was without anamorphic gear which was one of the keys to the videos feel. Just few days before the shoot, an EOSHD forum member offered me a 1.33x Soligor and I took it. It arrived 2 days before the shoot, so I quickly checked the fastest aperture I can use, than I had to realize: there is no way I can shoot every scene with anamorphic lens attachment. 

I have my GH4 for 6 months now, before it I was shooting on 5D MKII & t3i. When I got the Lumix I automatically set my PP to James Millers (i really like his work and trusted his settings). After shooting on several live events it performed great, it was easy to color correct and the image was pleasing. Too bad I didn’t read Noam Kroll’s article on GH4 PP settings before the MV shoot. I screwed up, and I did the worst thing that a videographer can do: I trusted my cameras LCD screen, not my knowledge and instinct. I was reminding myself, but we just simply did not have the time to figure out the best settings. Never trust your camera’s screen (but you already know that).

The location was nice a huge house with a garden. The first 1,5 hour went to packing and setting the stuff up, than 3 hours was the filming of the band with a very easy 2 light setup + 2m dolly. We thought that it would be great if the band is sitting while playing, but to make sure we’ve got everything, we shot the band in a standing position as well. And we did good, I ended up using just that one shot, because the sitting did not work as expexted.

When we moved outside I switched the anamorphot for a Pentax SMC 50mm f1.7, I shot it wide open, than I cropped the footage. I think I was shooting at base, 400 ISO. On the screen it looked okay, in fact blacks were crashed and the image was underexposed, which caused me a lot of noise. This is why an external monitor is handy.

The story part was filmed in 3 hours. There were 15scenes/34 perfect shots I had to make, the first 5 shots already took one hour of filming. We were getting really stressed that we can’t finish the shoot that evening. This stress caused a lot of trouble, we did not had the time to figure out the best lightning, we forgot to double check the camera’s settings so I filmed the half of the evening with wrong shutter speed which caused me a lot of flicker, bad ISO settings, and we didn’t even had the time to check the filmed clip to verify if the focus was pulled badly or not. 

During the post production I found out that some of the scenes are really blury, so I decided to go back, ask the actress once again, and reshoot some of the scenes. But I did not have my crew then, and I sold my soligor meanwhile, so a small Aputure LED was my main light, and i used a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 lens to reproduce the soligors 24mm anamorphic feel. I feel sorry that I did not tried to shoot it with a 2x anamorphic lens, that would give it better depth and flavour.

This all caused me a lot of trouble in post production. After cutting the video I had to spend a lot of time in after effects to remove the flicker. Grading was like hell, the picture was absolutely orange, we forgot to set the white balance, so I tried to grade it with Resolve, but the XML does not went through properly because there were too many interpreted footage (from 60 to 24fps), etc. Than I tried to make it happen with speedgrade but after messing with the clips I stayed with Lumetri colors. Every clip is graded with lumetri, well it took me around 10 days to adjust each clips settings, and it’s still far from perfect. Than came another issue: the noise. I tried to reduce it with denoiser, which helped me a lot, but it made my premiere really, really slow.

 

Anyway, here’s the result, it's not perfect but I did my best to make something watchable from it :)

 

And here’s a cut to show the difference between unprocessed and post-processed footage.

 

What do you think guys? Cheers!

Alex

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