Drought Breaker video shoot

Yesterday was an exciting Silverbeetle milestone day for me. We shot my first music video for my first song ‘Drought Breaker’!

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and had a basic look and feel in mind and no budget 😉 So this was always going to be a DIY project. I’ve got a nice DSLR camera with a nice prime lense which gets some great results, I just need to be creative with one camera and multiple takes to build a ‘multi-camera’ looking video.

I’d have been happy to film myself but framing myself in the lense is very hard trial and error work. I’ve noted a friend of mine in the local area who is always posting beautiful photos of the Yarra Valley. He’s obviously got a good eye so I reached out to him to see if he’d mind assisting me  do the shoot.

Luckily he was keen, and even suggested a shooting location. On top of that he arranged permission to do the shoot AND brought in a videographer friend of his who happened to be doing a shoot that day in the same location. Talk about fate… and a bit of good luck 😉

So this meant it was game on time, I had less than a week to prepare. We moved into our new house at the end of 2015 which meant I’ve not had any real time to play guitar for a good six months or so with all of the duties required to set up a new home. I immediately started getting my fingers moving again and practicing the song. As my guitar is the vocal instrument I really need to nail the miming to the studio take so I matched the performance spot on take after take.

And then there’s the issue of performing and looking good on camera. I’ve not performed live in MANY years so I set up a tripod and recorded myself performing the song. This was a great help to review my performance, see what was lacking and see what looked dumb. I then took the next step and did the same thing but in front of my wife. I asked her to yell out feedback as I went and I got some good tips.  She noted my feet were stuck in the one place and I need to look up more and in general just move.

I did one more round of rehearsal the following night but that was it, I had no more time before the Sunday shoot so I just kept reviewing the videos and making mental notes when possible.

While on my daily commute I surfed YouTube, checking out different music videos for inspiration. I took notes and screen grabs so I could show the guys who were doing the filming so they could see what I had in my mind. It didn’t take long for me to have a lot of notes and ideas down which was great. After a while I thought I should check how long we’re going to have to actually do the shoot. The answer was one hour. Not long at all for a music video but since there’s only one person in the video and the song is 3-4 minutes long we should be able to pull it off… in theory.

I began to think what could I do to streamline the shoot, what shots do I really need. I wanted the song to build and the verses would have a little bit different look to the choruses. So it made sense to shoot Verse 1, 2 and 3 (which is the solo section) in a row, then shoot the three choruses followed by the breakdown section.

Rather than mess around with the iPod on the shoot I thought it’d be a good idea to output the takes in order so we can just let it play and bang out each take. From rehearsing I noticed I needed a few takes to really warm up into the performance so I set up a file with Verse 1 – take 1 then 2 and 3, Verse 2 – take 1 then 2 and 3, Verse 3 – take 1 then 2 and 3. Each had a vocal cue with a short gap then a 2 bar click count in. The gap in between allowed time for the guys to make any adjustments before launching into the next take.

The process worked really well on the day! I gave the guys my thoughts and showed the pictures but said just do what looks good. I also told them not to be afraid of going out of focus etc, in editing this can add some interesting effects. I was surprised how out of focus some music videos are. They did some filming for another project before our shoot so I walked around the premises to find the locations I wanted to shoot and also took some time to shot some random shots of trees, the sky, the road etc that can be used as b-roll in the video. There two sections in the song where I’m not playing so I needed to make sure I had something to put in during these sections.

We set up my camera on a tripod and then we had two hand held cameras going. So three cameras, three takes per section… we have nine cameras now to choose from for editing! All of this in an hour!

We didn’t quite get the warm sunny glow I was hoping for (but it is winter here after all) but the overcast weather worked well for the shoot – if it gets too bright things can blow out a bit. We didn’t use any other lighting or reflectors or anything, just good ol’ mother nature’s light. After doing a quick review of the clips later that night I was very happy with the footage we got. The boys got excited during filming and really moved around getting lots of interesting angles. I’m sure I can piece together something pretty cool!

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