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'Freefall' Action Music Video w VFX Breakdowns


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Hello all! Just completed a music video for the track 'Freefall' by Koishii & Hush. I was approached to make an action scene, no band performance at all, which was a challenge. There could be no dialogue and it had to be interesting for the length of the track. 


I wrote a detailed treatment about a female thief coerced into sneaking an organ into a fortified hospital, which the band approved. Casting the thief would be tricky; the character I wanted to create was not a tough-as-nails-seen-everything-badass. I wanted a sense of humor, not a female Steven Seagal. So I needed someone first and foremost who could act, but who was also athletic enough to handle the role. Thank god for Amber Marie Bollinger. 


Amber was in an absurdist comedy webseries I stumbled across a while back called Hollywood Is Hard, and she was hilar. I looked up another couple roles and reels she was in, and she more than had chops to handle the acting required of the role. And to boot, she was a collegiate track and field competitor, which knowing as many stunt people as I do (married to one), is one of the gateway drugs to becoming a stunt performer. Odds are she could handle the athleticism of the role.


I cold contacted Amber and she was game to play. We met up with my stunt coordinator James Hutchison and my wife (who happened to be the right height to double Amber) and ran her through some basic fight training, which she picked up impossibly fast. We did maybe six or seven fight training/rehearsal sessions before the shoot.


The shoot was three full nights and two half nights. I had the parking garage at work locked down on weekends, which was a godsend (I still owe the building manager a case of booze). Even so, we needed to fly through setups, I want to say 25-30 a night, and with more than half of them being fights/stunts, with a skeleton crew. For lighting, we kept it natural, augmenting a bit here and there, throwing a backlight or scrape when needed. We used a lightweight homemade LED system I built that was battery powered, which allowed us to work quickly. 


We shot on the a7s with Nikkor glass. I chose the a7s mainly for its lowlight; I couldn't afford to light a whole underground parking lot. I also wanted a high shutter speed AND the ability to shoot slowmo, and in that low light, only the a7s made sense.


Given the time constraints, I'm happy with what we got. And while I love good cinematography, nothing is more important than performance, and Amber and the stunt crew killed it. Hat tip to Mark Musashi and Darren Bailey (knife guy) who had the longest of the fights and made a meal out of their performances. But the biggest asset was Amber, who aside from pulling off all her choreo (and that car vault!) kept the cast and crew laughing throughout.


Post was a whole other story. The edit took less than a week, but the effects took about eight months. Reason? I never had done 3D work before and I certainly had no budget to hire anyone. So I taught myself how to use Blender 3D. Why Blender? It's free and there is a huge community of users and tutorials to help learn it. Took maybe two weeks to get literate enough to know what kind of questions to ask. From there it was tutorials and trial and error. The learning curve was a bit steep, but by month two I stopped yelling at the screen. I think had there been a real deadline, I probably wouldn't have even had a gunfight, but since I didn't I did.


So that's the long and short of it. Any questions, I'll be around.


The Music Video:




VFX Breakdowns:





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EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Lot of FX work, really love it.

"I never had done 3D work before and I certainly had no budget to hire anyone."

I feel like you, Blender is my pending subject and I want to do a video for Christmas about a comic superhero with a lot of FX and green screen.

Could you post some links to the best tutorials or examples of Blender?

Thank you very much!

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Thanks Santiago!

As far as diving into Blender, I recommend this youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuGWRbFrq3bZkOEpQ02Xpww His videos are short (sometimes too short) but they are very clear, and he covers A LOT of topics. Start with this playlist: Blender 2.6 Tutorials for New Users Beyond these tutorials, just search for intro to Blender type vids on YouTube. 

And while there are constantly new versions of blender every few months (they are on Blender v2.7.5 now), you can safely follow any beginner tutorial that uses Blender 2.6 and up. For the intermediate level videos, try to stick closer to videos about Blender 2.7.x.

Also recommend the website blenderguru.com. His tutorials are on the more intermediate/advanced levels, but they are very good.

I will be honest, Blender can be frustrating to learn at first, so be patient. Like I said, it took me two weeks just to feel comfortable using the program!

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