A curious tale: Videos & stills ft. a piano in the woods

By on July 17, 2013

Earlier this month I had a curious challenge from Andrew Kesler and Aline Homzy – To shoot a music video and cover artwork in a single day. Despite having cinematographer Joel Kesler there to co-direct the music video, getting all the pieces together in a single afternoon was quite difficult of a task!

Arranging fashion shoots in 24 hours or even getting challenged to complete and edit a creative shoot in 4 hours are things that I am relatively comfortable doing… but adding video into the mix made things a whole lot more challenging!

Before diving into the things I learnt from this shoot, check out the music video & BTSV:

Music Video:

Behind the Scenes:

Lessons Learnt:

Storyboards and schedules matter

In photo, schedules are pretty flexible most of the time. If a shot takes a little bit longer to accomplish, you can usually scrap up bits of time here and there from a second shot or simply switch to a simpler shot. In video though, you have a cohesive story to toss together and the ticking clock actually means that the lighting is changing constantly and the entire shot list gets gradually pushed farther and farther behind… stressful!

Optimize your time by shooting both video and photo simultaneously!

So how does one do that? Well, in the first shot ft. Aline and Andrew playing at the waterfront, Joel kept busy shooting closeup beauty shots of the fingers, piano, facial expressions and violin while I got my lights set up around the set.

You’ll notice that you see this exact setup replicated in the music video (minus the lighting and dragon that was hand painted btw!)

Bts action vonwong

If you can, avoid trying to do both in the same day

I can undeniably state that doing both on two separate dates would have made the shoot a lot more relaxing and we would have probably done a better job on each individually. Despite the similarity in equipment (all visuals were shot on a D800E or D800) the need to capture photos disrupts the video workflow.

That being said, there is a distinct cost savings from needing to produce two days in a row and working with emerging artists, compromises need to be made!

Have two separate crews – Photo & Video

If for whatever reason the previous is impossible, making sure you have a separate and video crew can help optimize workflows. Separate sets can be prepared independently. Granted, there will be a lot more down time for each group, but having the lighting ready to go and simply needing to pop models in and out will make things go a lot more efficiently.

Moving a piano around is hard work!

I guess somewhat obvious but getting that piano from A to B was a pain in the butt. If ever you bring a piano into the woods, get some nice carrying straps! :P

The lighting setup:

Since I know you guys always like to hear about how shots are set up, here are the two lighting setups that were done for the shoot. Sorry for the icons, I haven’t found a program that makes proper Elinchrom modifiers for icons XD

DSC 1039 Edit

Shot with a Nikon D800E | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G | ISO 100, 1/125th, f10The main fill came in from the extra-large octobox equipped with an Elinchrom RX Speed to help overpower the overcast day. On the opposite side, we had an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra in a 100cm deep octa to help bring just a bit of light back on Aline with a final bare strobe just to give a little bit of backlight suspended over the water.

Diagram mediumDSC 1169 Edit

Shot with a Nikon D800E | 24-70mm f/2.8 | ISO 125, 1/200th, f5Lighting for this setup was a little bit flatter than I would have liked. We used a simple two light setup to light the foreground with a large reflective umbrella focusing on the two figures in the foreground, while the huge octobox was focused more on the two figures in the rear. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough extension cables to add more lights in and the speedlights were necessary to light up the trees behind our models. The reason why I didn’t drag the shutter out a little bit more was that I find forests get very distracting when they’re too “transparent” but by dropping the ambient we could control the look of the forest. THe two speed lights gel’ed orange in the background were plenty to add just a little kick of light to the background trees and add depth to the image.Curiosity2 by VonWong

Final words:

The second shot was actually a lot more challenging to create than the first from a character-positioning stand point. I knew that we wanted to capture a square format to fit a CD cover format and that the characters had to not only be placed naturally but they had to follow the laws of composition. You’ll notice that if you apply a golden spiral to the image, it actually nicely follows a curve beginning from Aline on the left… swooping down to Andrew before ending up on top to Neil! This took a great deal of patience but eventually it worked itself out.

So that’s about it folks for this week! Feel free to leave any questions in the comments and if you liked the music definitely check out the work of the artists!!

► Buy on Bandcamp: http://homzykeslerduo.bandcamp.com/

► Buy on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dragon-suite/id668093976

► Check out our official website: http://homzykeslerduo.com/

► Learn more about the “Dragon Suite” album: http://tinyurl.com/korlt9e

This is the official music video for “Curiosity”, the fifth movement of the Dragon Suite of piano-violin duets, written and performed by the Homzy/Kesler Duo.

Credits

  • Filmed and Directed by
    Von Wong (vonwong.com) and Joel Kesler (joelkesler.com)
  • Starring Diana Studenberg, Nevin Dunn, Andrew Kesler, Aline Homzy
  • Costumes provided by Aeternis.net
  • Hair – Vera Leung
  • Makeup – Diana Studenberg
  • Production Assistants – Deidre Casey, Basia Kowalska, Nicholas Telesca
  • Story – Deidre Casey, Von Wong, Andrew Kesler, Aline Homzy
  • Editor – Joel Kesler
  • Music Composed and Performed by Homzy/Kesler Duo
  • Music Recording and Mixed by Nathan Carter Moore
  • Mastered by Jeff Elliot

Announcements:

  • Win a print from this weeks blog post sponsored by theprintspace! Check out Facebook for more information (11 AM release!)
  • Just got the most amazing tripod ever from 3 legged thing. Check it out.
  • I’m hunting for an intern, are you interested? Read more here
  • Upcoming workshops in Vancouver, Dallas and Malaysia… stay updated here

Special Gear used:

  • Nikon D800E: B&H | Amazon
  • Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G| B&H
  • Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 | B&H

Bag:

Lighting Gear sponsored by VISTEK:

Video Gear used:

See what else is in my camera bag when I travel!

  • Tim Tronckoe

    Lovely results!
    Did you use the adapter ring for the Ranger Quadras with the softboxes?
    I haven’t really tried mounting a softbox that big to the bare light without the adapter. Would love to know if it doesn’t become too heavy for the Ranger.

  • Francine

    Great work for all involved!!

  • Donald Mick

    Great video. Great work. Thanks for posting.