Updated: Dec 17, 2020
The Dreamwalker "Forever Adrift" project
entry no. 24
As a company that's produced several music videos, we find ourselves doing a lot of the same things over and over, yet always trying to keep a project unique or next level. How does this come to be? Where do the best ideas come from? The answer isn't simple, but we believe one thing that nourishes our creative muscles the most is trust from our clients.
The reality is, as artists, we can doubt ourselves, and when a client doesn't trust us, we can really doubt ourselves. Now, this isn't to say every band we work with should automatically trust us. Trust is a two-way street. Trust is earned. This blog is dedicated to a project where trust allowed us to be brave and take a safe bet, ultimately creating a drastically different project.
The Forever Adrift music video at its core is a performance video, but the creative direction and attention to detail make it a standout amongst our catalog of music videos. Using floating shapes as a core piece kept this visual aide exciting and challenging. It's truly unlike anything we do. We love in-camera effects but decided to give greenscreen a shot. Why? Trust.
This music video was round two with the Dreamwalker team and drastically different than the first project. The first project came together smoothly and was an opportunity to educate. With it out of the way, we spent our time making something different. They had a pretty simple request. Make it feel modern, cold, and emphasize our performances.
Honestly, it's scary when bands grant us this much freedom. We're pros at taking ideas from our artists and forming them into a real action plan, but thoroughly crafting an idea is tricky. We have to get involved, emotionally invested, and feel the song. As we dug into Forever Adrift, the baseline was single-member void type performance, but what would make this interesting? That's where the shapes came in.
We thought it would be interesting to physically create the shapes, as well as shoot them for composition on greenscreen. This still felt like an in-camera effect and would be fun to take live-action and mesh it together. So the real hurdle was making them. After a few failed attempts, we realized we needed to outsource the task. Our AC, Taylor, recommended his mother for the job. They built the shapes together and allowed us to focus on other small pieces of the project like shot-list, lens effects, motion planning, and lighting a mass of small shapes and the band.
After building the set pieces and planning out everything, it was time to make it real. Production's most significant challenges were subtly changing the shapes location, distance, and placement for each shot. With this being a void, every time we moved the shapes, we essentially moved in space. This let camera, lighting, and the band remain the same, which paid off with consistency in post-production. In handling this, we pre-gripped the lighting short arms for quickly switching shapes around. The shapes were attached to the fishing line and a hook that we could use in the knuckles of our grip heads. This saves us a lot of time.
Outside of this, the shoot was simple. We kept lighting all at 5600k, and for the band, we used two Kino Flo Select 20's on different Lighting FX's for some action lighting that gave the final edit a pulse and extra energy.
With all the pieces together and the details hashed out, it let us plan a simple project that moved into post-production smoothly, where the real meat of the project happened. Remember how we aren't a VFX company? Well, when that's the case, you have to consider all the learning that goes into something brand new. The project really isn't too wild, but the learning curve created over a 100 hours of post-work. What happened was the project would shape up, and by the end, we would have better results and essentially re-work it until it came out consistent. The work was all worth it in the end. We also have Josiah Moore to thank for a consulting meeting on the project. He helped answer questions around methods and a smarter workflow (it's like teamwork makes a difference or something).
Looking back on this project, it still shocks us. It also inspired us to take more small tasks into After Effects here and there to really polish projects up. I don't see us ever getting too deep into VFX based projects, but every once in awhile, you have to prove you can evolve. It helps when your clients support and trust these bets. We're always thankful for clients like Dreamwalker. Enjoy the film below.
Ross Theisen | Director
Josh Emerick | DP/Editor/VFX
Randy Harmon | Camera Operator
Taylor Tigner | AC
Noah Hines | Production Assistant + BTS Photo
Brandon Manyara | Production Assistant + BTS Video
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