Robot Wrangling

Tetris performed live by Lark

Lark are

  • Jack Quigley (Guitar/vocals)
  • Daniel Tedford (mandolin/Violin/vocals)
  • Claire Ransome (Violin)

Not in this video

  • Fabian Giacomelli (100% Italian Bass)
  • Dan Major (Drums/vocals)

Director | Camera | Editor | Colour | Audio

  • Bruce Moyle

Second Camera & Assistant

  • James Pemberton

Produced by Joffre Street Productions

About the Music Video

Myself and the Intern (James Pemberton) went to Melbourne in July to document the opening of the latest Manabar ( Yug one of the owners of the Manabar knew that there would be a line to get in which would move slowly due to the venue having a licence of 50 people at any one time. Being smart, Yug asked street performers and other vendors to come entertain the crowd while they wait their turn in Manabar.

One of the acts that entertained and delighted the crowd was Lark. A gypsy band that recently started performing video game covers. The audience loved them and I really loved the sound they produced for such a small outfit. So I offered to shoot a quick music video with them in the back alley of the bar. 

The Song

While Lark generally perform Nintendo covers, I ask for something older and less likely to get a lawsuit (Nintendo are notorious for protecting their music). So the classic Tetris theme was chosen. 

The Audio

As this was a rush job and had to use only the tools at hand, I recorded the song in the back alley in the quietest position possible (the lowest background noise). I got Lark to stand in one place and perform in-front of my Zoom H4n with minimal movement. This would be the track that would be mastered later for the clip.

The Video

Since we had no playback the performers needed to try memorise the beat and the exact order of the song they preformed for the original recording. This is not how music videos are done as sync is nearly impossible but we had to do this with the tools we had in hand.

The cameras we used are the Canon 7D with 30mm f1.4 and Canon 550D with 50mm f1.4.

Firstly we did a wide with the 7D. The next play through both myself and James shot using both cameras with the idea of sticking to different musicians. The did this twice hoping that we got enough coverage (it’s a bit uneven unfortunately). Once that was done we did pickups of feet dancing and jumps/landings.

It was a fast hour and Lark I think where well and truly sick of Tetris by the end of it.

The Post (Audio)

The recording was mastered and noise reduced using Isotope RX. I removed the background hum from AC units, foot taps of the performers and one bung note at the end of the song. First time really getting into the app and I see why it is the go to tool in remastering and dialogue editors. Truly amazing, I cannot express how brilliant this software is.

The Post (Video)

The video took a bit more effort. I started editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 as I wanted to learn the software (I am a Final Cut Pro man) and quickly realised that I wasn’t happy with my approach with it. The workflow seemed extremely slow and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I transcoded to ProRes LT and moved back to Final Cut Pro 7. Then real life jobs happened at the edit fell to the background for a few weeks and I was constantly thinking about shooting more footage to tell a story within the video. In the end I op’ed to just straight cut the video as I didn’t have the time to shoot extras and in reality I would prefer to do another clip with them much more planned out and produced. 

Once I got back to the edit and in FCP7 it was a much faster job. I got the basics done and tried to match up the footage to the music as best I could. Normally in a music video the performers have playback of the song there are filming so they can be in sync. Not possible with this and I just trusted that they where close enough. So somethings fit, others don’t but hopefully most people don’t notice it.

The next issue I came up with is colour timing. I did something silly during the break of editing, I upgraded to OSX Lion. While I love the new OS, it breaks somethings in my workflow, especially Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Suite which used in FCP7. So I looked at using Apple Color but realised that I didn’t have a good enough monitor to work with the app (I was editing on my Macbook Pro 15”). I bit the bullet and exported the edit as an XML and moved back to Premiere as MB Looks & Colorista II still worked there.

The next part was grading the footage using Colorista so that the cuts worked together colour wise. The next part was to use Looks to make it look pretty. I wanted to give the footage a contrast look with bright colours (like Tetris blocks) being more emphasised and the white background defused to give it a soft look. I think it came up fairly well but also required tweaking to the edit as the contrast jump between shots became much more blatant.

Lastly while I know after effects enough to get into trouble, I op’ed to do a basic title at the beginning using a still. Off to Photoshop to make up the titles after downloading a Tetris font. Compile and render out and Bob’s your uncle (or aunty).

Lessons Learnt

Don’t expect a master piece when things are done in under an hour unplanned. I constantly wanted to do more, but resigned to the fact that I really need to do something in the future (if Lark are willing) which is much more planned out.

Adobe Premiere CS5 is good but has some weird rendering issues and will take more time to get a workflow that is fast. It took 5 goes to get a render out that wasn’t glitchy which was very annoying.

Don’t upgrade to a new OS halfway though an edit if it could change your workflow up.

If an opportunity presents itself, take it. This was a happy accident from going to Melbourne and a good piece to put in my folio even if it’s not perfect. I won’t have met these guys if I didn’t jump on a plane.

Isotope RX is the bomb and is now an addition to my digital toolbag.

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