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Shooting Silhouettes For The ‘Room To Breathe’ Music Video

Upon the US promo for You Me At Six’s ‘Cavalier Youth’ campaign, I was tasked with creating a music video, without the music video (elaborate) stress, timeline or mega-budget. Surrounded by hard-drives of the last tour’s with Paramore, Thirty Seconds To Mars + a USA Headliner… I wrote a treatment, actually combining a lot of previous post-production ideas I had. Simple really: a silhouetted black & white band performance, revealing. An intersection of close-up portraits with wide-angle stadiums; fast, energetic performance with slow-motion stage reaction.

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Treatment Excerpt

By this time team YMAS trust me so there are few revisions. We shot it a week later in a small studio in London; the band’s only day off in-between press and the next tour, I allocated a couple of hours per band member.

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Sony F5, 2x FS700, 1x FS100 (backup). Canon EF Lenses.

We shot it on F5, alongside 2x FS700 picking up tighter details/backup (weirder!) shots.

With limited time (& not wanting to push the band for 10+ take’s..) we shot with multiple cameras to save time. Everyone actually all commented how easy it was time-wise!

Lighting was simple – a couple of Kino’s to blow out the background, and a couple of smaller Kino’s for a little fill on one side.. Drums were a little tricky to fit properly in the space, but the individual guitars/vocals were easy.

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The rails system is an old JAG35 unit I have – to be honest it’s not very good! But for quick push in & out’s on this it suited fine.

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I would much rather be shooting on this thing! We split takes per band member between a few from me on the F5 picking up our hero angles, then a couple of takes on both FS700’s operated by Jon & Giles, so I could watch the monitors and check we had everything covered.

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We test (& shot) some tiltshift but none of it made it into the final cut. That’s what back-up cameras are for!

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I’ve worked lots with Giles & Jon before, so our crew structure is quite flexible – often we will swap cameras, and I welcome any creative criticism on the setup. Keeping things open with a trusted crew often leads to brighter/better ideas, rather than a tradition ‘closed’ crew on a film set.

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Throughout the shoot my DIT & Assistant Editor Ross cut some test shots to so we could review how the camera movements (particularly when both the silhouette and the live footage both had lots of action) intercut together.

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For me as a Music Video Director – one of the most important aspects is what a view will learn from the video; in this case the piece was aimed primarily at the US market, where the band have much less traction than the UK. The key things I wanted to convey were:
1) They are a performance-focused rock band.
2) The scales of live shows & audience participation.
3) Introduce each member (individually) with tighter portrait shots.

Understanding the end result – particularly the post-prodution, but ultimately the end goal of the piece is absolutely key before and during the show, so that as Director I can keep absolute

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Giles is my number #1 AC/Focus Puller… it helps that I’m short and he’s tall!

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I really love the F5 – it’s size is a little impractical for the tour work I’m used to, but the footage is really really great. In the edit I favoured it much more over the FS700. The Fujinon 18-80 helped though… lovely glass – great for a edit-focused job like this where I can quickly punch in & out, knowing the edit will switch quickly between members, allowing me to get more shots that are likely to be used for variety, than I would on a prime lens.

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Thanks to my wonderful crew Giles Smith, Jon Stone, Alex Cribbs, Ross Neil, Georgina Conway, Andy Clements, Ben Jackson. All photos by Ryan Chang

Turns out this is by far the most successful video we shot… edging over 3.5 m views! [June 2015]