It is with extreme pleasure that I present to you “Holdin’ Me”, a new music video I directed for Darin Bennett and The Requiem‘s just released EP, Midnight Storybook. There is a lot to say abut what went in to making this video, but first, watch it so you know what I’m talking about. I’d recommend going to Youtube and watching it in its full 1080p glory.
All done? I hope you liked it! If you couldn’t tell, a LOT of work went in to this thing. We shot in late January in the Mojave desert, the main camera was a RED Epic, with Canon 5DMII and T2i HDSLR and GoPro HD Hero cameras for some of the b-roll. We had the Epic mounted on a 3 axis, gyro stabilized head from Filmotechnic, which was remotely operated from the back of the SUV you see in the video. This head was mounted on a low rig off the back of the pickup truck, giving us a full 360degree view of the action. Our main lens was an Optimo 15-40, which we were constantly zooming in and out on, especially at the beginning and end of the video- we used every millimeter of that lens.
It might not be clear the first time you see it, but there is one window of this video that never cuts- it’s one long continuous shot. Check it out, prove me wrong- go on, watch it again. Did you figure it out? It’s the window that starts out on the bottom left. The other windows are showing alternate takes and the footage from our other cameras, and at times it’s showing a different part of that main take. We rehearsed this shot over and over as the sun got closer to magic hour, and then once the light was perfect we shot several full speed runs, most of which you see in the final video. Once the sun gave out on us, we hopped out of the vehicles and shot a little bit of handheld band performance, high-fived, and went home. Well actually, we packed for hours and hours and then walked around in the dark looking for gear we thought we had lost in the desert. Turns out it were not lost, just misplaced.
When we got back to Los Angeles, the edit began… and what an edit it was! Mike Merkwan cut all of the different sources together in Final Cut 7 (I would love to see FCX handle something like this!), cropping and placing the clips into rough compositions. It was a brain teaser to figure out exactly how to edit in this style, but thankfully Mike has a lot of experience with multi-window edits, and I’ve got a little experience myself. This edit took shape over several weeks, finding and refining the compositions and the timing of all of the elements. It was a little hard to be absolutely positive that what we were doing in the edit would translate to the final, but we were feeling pretty confident that it would by the time we laid it all out.
Once Mike had pushed the edit as far as Final Cut could handle, I pulled it in to After Effects using the now free and always incredible Automatic Duck plugin. All of our scale, crop, and positions from Final Cut came in perfectly, which probably saved me several days of work. AE is much better for animating layers that FCP, so we had intentionally saved that work for after the edit was done, but once I started this part of the process I realized that it was going to be a lot harder than just adding some keyframes. The edit had been composed of static windows with hard cuts from one composition to another, but now all that needed to be completely re-imagined and re-worked so that they smoothly animated from one to the other. If the edit was a puzzle, this was a lobotomy. It took a lot of long days and nights to get everything working properly, and then a lot more time to make it look good.
Once the windows were all doing what they needed to, the final puzzle began- how to get this massive nest of layers and subcomps color corrected. Doing it in AE was an option, but I’m not a colorist and the color correction tools in there are honestly the worst in the business. I got in touch with a colorist friend, showed him the current render, and he agreed to color it for us provided I could figure out how to get it to him. After a bunch of head scratching, I rendered out the source for each window (there are 5 total) and Phil colored those. It wasn’t completely ideal for him, and rendering it back out for me was a bit challenging, but in the end we got it all back into the final comp and rendered.
This was an exhausting project at every single step along the way, with an incredible amount of complexity to manage. The cast and crew worked so hard to make this possible, and everyone working on it in post performed miracles to make it happen. We are all incredibly proud of this video, and we are glad you took the time to check it out. On to the next one!