Archive for category Music Video

Tie a String – The Music Video

Here it is:

Tie a String – The Music Video

This has been months in the works. I recorded the song starting in December last year, then finalized it this spring. Then I know I was talking to my video partner, Don, about a list of shots for this video in June.

In October, the venue opened up. We set a “background” filming date, and no one showed up. Well, I think 2 people did, but not the tons we were expecting. So, then, with trepidation, we set the shooting date for the principles, November 2.

And people showed up! Thank goodness for professional people and professional actors. As referenced in the earlier blog post, that shoot was quite magical. People were immediately “in the groove”, and were comfortable.

I wanted to set the tone, and welcome people and create a good environment, but so much of that happened without me affecting it at all.

When you work with good people, you are already starting on a higher plane, for quality.

So, we shot video. I knew ahead of time what shots to set up and get. But, so much of this, directing, you have the parameters in your head, but then you can shoot on the fly, quickly and evaluate dozens of decisions on a moment’s notice. It is a focus and concentration unlike any other. And you’d better be right, because if you lose the shot, you only have yourself to blame.

And if an actor, or group of actors are quite brilliant, or amazing or delightful, but if you have the cinematography wrong in ANY way, it doesn’t matter, because the shot won’t work.

So, my plan was…shoot with 2 cameras, and if I had one wrong, then maybe the 2nd would get the footage. We were shooting HD under flourescent lights. So, I am concerned about losing footage due to  flicker (electricity in the US runs at 60 cycles per second. When you shoot with a digital camera such as our filming this project at 30 fps (frames per second), if the timing falls just right, those microseconds can coincide, and it compromises the video. So my plan was to start and stop the cameras, often, to get a many usable shots as possible.)

And we did. Usually, when I direct. I get the shot I need, and move on. If the first take works, I use it. If I know it’s messed up, then I order a retake. But, usually, I KNOW what’s in the camera, therefore, the editing is very straightforward, and you have very few choices to make.

So, for this music video….the music is maybe 2 minutes and 20 seconds, probably 3 1/2 minutes with all the bumper intro and outro shots….I downloaded footage, and had 45 minutes from one camera and 40 minutes from the other. Yep….talk about overkill. Some of what was there was duplicated. And some was the same scene, from a different angle (quite useful, as the actors didn’t have to memorize lines and replicate themselves.)

So…some of what we shot and edited was from one take, and some was interspersing other takes in. Some was mos (without sound), some incorporated sound from the shooting day. Editing was quite challenging.

My whole goal with this project, taking on something this large…was to be able to say, “We produce and direct videos. Here is our work. Here’s what we can do!”

AND –I wanted to create a piece of entertainment to make people’s toes tap and make them smile. (Hopefully we succeeded.)

For years, when I’d tell people I was a musician, they’d look at me, and go “where’s the music?” But, without the recorded audio, you’re just kinda standing there. So, having the recorded audio, especially on  youtube, where everyone can see it…that’s huge.

Then, there were the books. You can tell people you write, but until they hold an actual book in their hands, they really don’t believe you. So, the books are there.

So, now, this is a viable example of us as video producers/directors. It’s there. It’s here.

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Leading actress!

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We had fun! Can ya tell? 🙂

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Director!

Director! Craft services. Producer. Dancer. Casting. Cinematographer.

Today we wore a lot of hats.

So…the back story: we have had this music video we want to produce, to promote one of our songs. I’ve been dreaming up this video for perhaps three months. Then three weeks ago…Joe Baker of Joe B’s in Caldwell, Kansas, graciously allowed us to shoot a music video in his place of business.

So, two weeks ago, we decided to shoot background, coverage, dancers, etc. And NO ONE showed up! Them thar’s the breaks–especially in the movie bidness.

But, then I’m worried: when we get the principals in on the 2nd shooting day, will we have enough people/footage/coverage to shoot? Will people actually show up? Can we pull this off?

Well, the answer to that question is: YES! We damn well pulled it off, and had such a blast doing it.

So, you go  from two weeks ago down in the dumps, to today…which was probably the most fun I’ve had on a filming set. Total 180*. And let me tell ya…it’s more fun on this side.

For starters, the thing that makes the most difference is the people you work with.

We had the best group of actors you could ever want to work with.

The companySee…look how much fun we’re having. We laughed all through the shoot. I love it when people are fun and easy-going and have a good time and are easy to get along with!

Then our leads:

Nikki and DonThis is the lead actress from Oklahoma City, and Don Krejsek who serves as lead actor, assistant director and co-producer.

We started in the middle of the afternoon, which is bad for lighting, but you gotta go with what works. And I didn’t want people to be having to drive home late in the dark. So, we filmed out on the sidewalk, and of course, there are cars and trucks going by, and making noise.

Evidentally some men on horseback went by too, but i never saw them. When I’m directing, and soooo focused, an alien ship could land next door and I wouldn’t notice. So, everyone else saw the horses but me.

So, we shoot footage with dialog, then we did a lot of dancing scenes, and cut funny cut-in scenes. Then the ending scene was a riot, but I’ll save that for the actual video and not give a spoiler now.

So, people, most of whom were meeting for the first time, today, kept talking about “riding horseback”. i thought they were joking. But, when we called “It’s a wrap”, people headed out the back door, and actually went horseback riding! Not planned. Not part of the shooting day.  I mean…how often do you go to a movie shoot, and finish shooting for the day and get to ride horses?

Now…that’s when I should have had the camera going! Talk about fun.

But we made a lot of new friends, and people with whom I’d be honored to work again in the future.

Next up: process and evaluate the video footage, and cut the music video. Then I’ll post it online, and I’ll notify you all when it’s ready.

Now, that it’s over, I came home and just about melted in my easy chair. To go from total failure on this project two weeks ago, to today, when it worked! It WORKED! Wow!

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The emotional trauma of failure

Well, I have spent most of the day holed up, wishing I was a mouse, and I could crawl in my little hole and cover the door and hide.

It’s been about three years, in a creative realm, where i’ve had something affect me with this much trauma.

We were to shoot background for a music video yesterday. The project went splat! Not enough people showed to accomplish the project. The 3 or 4 who did show…I felt so terrible for having wasted their time. I sat there for three hours, hoping people would show, so we could shoot video, but wow…with the passing of time, I grew more and more agitated. I am an actor by trade, and producing/directing is very much about utilizing your acting skills, even if you are behind the camera. But, there is a point when the agitation and worry become so prevalent, you can’t “act” thru it. I have no idea if I became sooo smoldering and full of tension that no one wanted to be around me, but (by the end) it sure seemed like people were leaving me alone.

I know I wasn’t yelling or misbehaving. But still…while everyone else was goofing around and joking and telling stories, that mask of “fragile” smile I was wearing, grew brittle.

I had worried that this might happen. I knew it was possible.  I should have been mentally prepared for it, and the way I’d react to it. But, it has rocked me sideways.

How do you define failure? That day’s shooting was a failure. But it doesn’t mean the project is a failure. How do you recover from this and salvage the project? [And…when you feel so low, how do you keep from feeling that you, personally, are a failure? It’s hard to separate the human from the work. Just because I failed at a project, doesn’t mean I am a failure. Telling myself that is one thing…but wow….you all know what this feels like!]

All producers, of all types of genres go thru this–when the shoot doesn’t go as planned, and you have to replan and regroup.

It made me think of the story I had read where William H. Macy talks about an experience making Boogie Nights.

If you are in this game, you’re gonna screw up. You’re gonna fail. Not all the time, and (hopefully) not often, but it’s gonna happen.

Intellectually, I know this. But, when it happens…when you bomb! I need to figure out how to shake this off. The last thing that was this traumatic to me, in the realm of show business, was a failed audition as a singer/dancer in Branson. That was about three years ago…so I’ve been lucky that things in the meantime have been much smoother.

I’ve auditioned lots of places, (just as I’ve produced video and live shows), but sometimes, when least expected, something gets under your skin and just whammies you!

Then you’ve got to find a way to crawl out of your turtle shell and try again.

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Video producing – Day by Day

Like this:

I have a song recorded. I want a live action music video–with dancers, extras, dance hall. Fun shoot, right?

I have a venue in mind, but need to get permission from the owner. He has let us film there before, and seemed enthused about possible future video production events. Still…I hesitate to ask, because I have asked enough places, and people, surprisingly….say NO a lot more than they say YES.

So, I ran into the owner last Saturday, and he was enthused, and happy and said Yes. And he said, “If you shoot this next weekend, we can get a lot of extras in here.”

So, is it possible to turn this around that quickly? I’ve been planning the video for 3 months. I know in July, I talked to my partner about it, and gave him a list of shots that I wanted to do. So, this idea has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now.

Saturday  night, went out to my partner’s house and we had a big production meeting. Made a lot of decisions: legal issues regarding release forms; lead actress; what to shoot/not shoot regarding logos and possible signage on the wall; geography of shots; possible shots; ways to make things ‘funnier’. Make the actual decision: can we pull this together in a week?  So, all in all that meeting was quite productive.

Sunday, I worked on advertising, blogging, poster and release forms–mostly all computer work.

Monday, had a few production phone calls, mainly trying to line out the lead actress. We had 2 possibles, and good choices, but both had conflicts. Compose and choreograph line dance.

Tuesday, I was resigned to not shooting this weekend, when someone suggested we divide the shoot. Get the crowd and extras and dance hall scenes Saturday, and shoot with the lead actress in a few weeks, when she’s available. It took awhile to work my head thru all the shots, of how to fake this out, and make it work, but a lot of it is do-able. So, we make the decision to go for it.  Tuesday night, go to the venue and shoot test footage–mostly concerning angles, light, background, floor, floor noise, conflicts with logos and signage. Run into people we know and start asking them to come to the shoot. “It’ll be a fun fast shoot, and the whole goal of the video is to make your toes tap and make you smile!” Choose leading man wardrobe. Consider options on how to program the camera. Update webpage with info about the shoot. Invite a personal friend to come.

Wednesday, confer with lead actress and choose lead actress wardrobe. Confer with partner regarding computer issues and paperwork issues. Hang posters, inviting people to come out and attend.

Thursday, confer with partner about the actual division of time, within the shooting time. “We start with this shot, from the angle, positioning extras here and here. We make this announcement; we want them to have fun, and be easy going, and hey…did you talk to so and so?” Begin to compose shot list.  Confer with partner about who he has invited. Invite another personal friend to come.

Friday, compose set list for the dance sequence. This music is not used in the video itself, but will be played in order to get dance footage.

Every single day, work on equipment list. Begin to put equipment in the car. Plan my “character” that I’ll utilize as director. Even if I’m not a principal on camera–directing is still quite a “performance”. I need to figure out what “tone” to hit. I need to “entertain”. I need to set the mood and set the tone and get people to have fun. I need to not be soooo serious and focused, or at least appear that way. I’ll still be sooo focused, because that’s what it takes when you direct. There are hundreds of decisions to be made–on the fly, and you’ve got to be at the top of your mental capacity. But…when working with people, motivating, wanting them to have fun, so we can capture that on camera…someone has to set the tone.

Little things: buy new pens. The last package of pens I opened–none of them were good. (Pens purchased- check!) What shoes do I wear? If I go dance, I want boots. But, on a wood floor, I need to wear rubber soled shoes, as the director, so I’m making less noise. (wear running shoes – take boots just in case) Do I need a microphone, or can I project my voice loudly enough? (Yes, I’m loud enough without extra amplification) Boom box or do I take in a sound system? (boom box)  Make a duplicate CD, in case one malfunctions on the day.  (check!)

Still to be done: check over cameras. Make final decision on camera input settings. Will need to download the test footage, and what with working full time on the day job every day this week…haven’t had time for that task yet. Check CDs to make sure they play. Compose sequence of verbal steps for the crew (picture up, Camera A set; B set; roll Camera A; Roll Camera B; Playback; action!) ( you need to call things in the same order every time). Decide which shots are using MOS and which shots use actual camera sound.

….and tons more details that are on my “to do” list, or already “done”.

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Preproduction means a lot of phone calls

So, I have all these projects in my head, right? And the hard part is finding the energy to execute them.

Sometimes, a situation comes along, and you jump in, feet first, and kinda figure out all the rest later.

So, boom! Let’s dive off a cliff and find out where we’re going to land.

I’ve been wanting to shoot a live action music video for one of our songs. The song is recorded. And the video work I’ve done in the past year (stills and static shots without actors) has been fun, and interesting….but I want to kick things to the next level. I’ve dealt with crowds and directed (and coordinated) people before. So, that’s not new. But, still it’s a bit of a novelty.

An opportunity opened up this past Saturday for us to shoot a video this coming weekend. Yep, one whole week to prepare. That’s Not A Lot Of Time!

But…can we do it? i went out to my partner’s place Saturday night and we had a production meeting for a couple of hours. I’ve actually been planning this shoot for 3 months and figuring out what I want the actors to do, etc.

But, we seem to be making 4 to 6 phone calls a day, updating each other on personnel changes, technical specs, ideas, and everything else under the sun…it takes, when you are decision-making. In other words: producing. The producer of a video projects is responsible for every aspect of production.

So, we went out to the venue tonight and shot test video. The building is bigger than I remembered, and the lighting is in much better shape.

A couple years ago, for my birthday, my Dad got me a lighting rig. How cool is that? I announce that I had decided that I wanted to direct movies, and my Dad buys me a piece of equipment!

Still makes me smile all over. So…with our moviemaking being sooo back burner, I haven’t used the lighting rig yet. (I have filmed quite a bit since then, but most of it is in natural light.)

So it’s in the pickup right now, ready to go.

During the next 3 days, I need to make decisions on what camera settings to use, to best utilize the available space and light. I have 2 pages of hand written notes, if not more, on things to shoot and camera angles  (why, oh why didn’t I take trig? Who knew that’d be a skill I needed down the road?)

Anyway, my head is spinning, but…I LOVE THIS! It’s so amazing when you run into people and tell them what you are doing, and they think it’s cool. (I’m much more used to the opposite reaction, when you tell someone what you do in your creative world, and it’s like you are speaking a foreign language. Or they just stare at you as if you’re nuts.)

Yes…we’re nuts.

If that means we take chances and put ourselves out there, and live life on that edge–that’s where I want to be. Who cares about staying home and living in some pseudo-safe-net, afraid to go out and do what you dream of doing.

We’re out there…….doing

Right or wrong…it ain’t boring, that’s for sure.

So…wish me luck!

Drat…that’s not right.

Tell us to “break a leg”

Will post more updates as this production moves forward.

Cheers!

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Chasing Hats – the music video

photo by Karen Ball

photo by Karen Ball

Chasing Hats – the Music Video

I love this song. I soooo wanted that groove, and we got it.

This Dorian Mode, and gee…what other songs are Dorian mode? Green Onions. I love that song too. It has a Hammond Organ lead (you never find organ leads in a mainstream song). So, when we record Chasing Hats, why not lay down a Hammon Organ lead?

I love the way this came out. It’s different.

Just what I was going for. I’m really struggling to make things sound different in studio. Well, this is different, for sure!

When we were working this, the engineer asked, “Where did you come up with ‘Chasing Hats’?”

I started the story, then backed it up a bit.

My best friend in the world was named RIchard Sutton and he died 6 years ago. But, he was amazing and so supportive of all of this. We were librarians together back in the day. One day, he visited, and I had this hat rack behind the door. He walked in, turned around and said, “I wonder if these are the hats of all your conquests!”

I busted out laughing and said, “RICHARD!!!!”

It was hilarious. But, then the phrase “Chasing hats” became a euphemism for chasing men.

Then…I went to see a movie. I came out of that theatre going, “I can write a screenplay.” So, I wrote the screenplay. The title of that screenplay: Chasing Hats.

I was going to submit it to festivals and competitions (and did). But…hey….it’d be really cool to have a theme song, right?

And the song: ‘Chasing Hats’ was written.

Fast forward a few years, and boom—recording studio is working. So, we lay down a groove.

I have a master track.

When we have a master, I have been releasing a music video. (I will do many, many other forms of release and promotion, but this…at least…gets me started.)

So…what to do on the video? I’m running out of ideas. What if we use hat pictures? When in the world do I have time to set up and shoot that photo session?

Idea!

I will contract with a professional artist/photographer to shoot them for me.

Here’s the way that conversation went: I’m at work and I took a break and made a personal phone call. “Mom, I have an idea. Gee–what if you shot photographs of hats for me, to use for the video for ‘Chasing Hats’? I’ll take anything you send me.”

Famous last words. First of all–she said yes. Then she proceeded to take photographs. And I started rejecting them and critiquing them. Finally, the photo above met my standards! I’m so surprised she is still talking to me, but she seemed to really enjoy the project. So, thank you for the photographs! In spades!

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I believe with all my heart that this creative stuff is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. I was born knowing I was a musician, and when I learned to talk, I started telling people. It seems like a higher power is steering this journey, and I welcome it. I was born for this.

But…sometimes things happen to kinda make you think, and really realize that these aren’t just random events. You can call it fate or Kismet or religion or higher power or spirit or whatever word you want to choose.

But, there are times when something happens that really cements the feeling that this is the purpose of my life.

We were in studio recording this song. I knew my basics: groove, chord progression, piano bass line, tune, singing dynamics, etc. I knew I had decided on a Hammon organ lead line. But I didn’t have it written. I went in there cold, figuring I’d either write the instrumental lead line on the fly–or I’d let it ride a few weeks and come home and write the lead line, then go back and finish it the next session. I was sitting at the keys, and noodling around with it.

But, then something happened. I was sitting there. My hand(s) were on the keyboard. But it wasn’t me playing. It was my body. But that lead line did not come from me. Some other-higher power-took over and created that. It was my hand playing it, but that lead line did not come from me. It was the most amazing, wonderful, profound, experience.

You can believe me or not. Roll your eyes or not. It’s fine. I live my life as fully as I can, and I try to respect the rights of others to live their lives as fully as they can. But, I know that I had this amazing experience, and it’s one more thing to point me in this unknown direction. It tells me to stay the course, and keep going.

i don’t even know what I’m aiming towards. I use the cliché: “I want to be rich and famous!”

I don’t want to be rich for money’s sake. I want to be rich for freedom’s sake. I want to have the freedom to spend my time as I want to spend my time. But..these last few years, and everything that’s happened, I don’t think creative success is the ultimate goal of my life. It’s a step along the way, but it seems like there is something else bigger at the end of this journey.

In the meantime–I stay the course. I keep creating. Each week seems like I’ve lived a month. This week, I’ve shot and edited a live action video and released it, released today’s video, and worked on a very difficult writing project, accomplishing quite a bit.

Today I’m just about horizontal. No energy. I’m splayed back in my easy chair, and decided to pull the photos out and start going over them, and once i was started, I built the video anyway. So, at least that got accomplished. But…man…oh…man…oh…man…I’m bushed!

Is it okay to take a break for a day?

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Mud Dog Hill

IMG_0402 med ir

The premiere of our new music video:

Mud Dog Hill

by

Ballroom Bruisers.

Don and I went out and shot the video last weekend, so I’ve worked this week to try to get it edited. I made myself work in Sony Vegas, which is top notch software, and I keep *not* working in it, because I know the features of the Adobe better. But, I need to make myself learn Vegas, so…once In it, I love it! Great software. And my music  production studies have come in handy, as many of the features of the video software and music software are the same.

This song makes your toe tap. It makes me smile. The video makes me grin all over. I have had this video in mind for months, and I just agonize that there hasn’t been enough time to shoot it. But, finally, we got it done. Don and I will enter this in film festivals, etc. It’s a stepping stone into our next project(s): a web series called Dewey. (I have no idea how we’ll find time to manage to do that, but….somehow, someday, we’ll get-er-done.)

The song is pretty cool. This was actually my first time in a big, real studio. So, it was recorded a few years back. I went in prepared, but still, you leave room for those special moments that crop up, and you have enough wiggle room to “go with it”. At one point, when I was in the vocal booth, the lead engineer looked at Don and said, “She knows exactly what she wants.” i took that as a compliment. I hoped my whole life that I’d be a singer. i hoped all my life to have a good recorded music track. This is the first professional track I’d done, and it came out better than I ever dreamed. I had hoped, that in my professional music career, I’d have at least one track this amazing in terms of quality. Well…we got it the first time out of the gate, and from there, it was onward and upward.

We started off at a higher echelon of quality than I figured I’d ever achieve, by the end of my music career.

But, that’s secondary. The song “hooks” you. It makes you feel good.

Where in the world has the “feel good” vibe gone? Goodness knows no one makes feel good movies anymore. How many feel good songs have you heard lately?

It’s been a couple of years since we produced a video project of our own. On occasion, I take an acting job for another production.

But…if we can just work “our” video projects into the queue….

1 down. 97 to go!

[!Oh…I almost forgot. The thumbnail above…that’s a joke! When Don and I got cast for the first big acting job..not our company, but for another production…it was called “Man with a Moustache“. So, their lead character had a moustache. Don has a moustache. So, they didn’t film Don’s face. When they edited it, they only showed the back of his head.

He got cast as a cop on another production. They didn’t want to get the logo of the uniform in the shot. So, they shot him from the back.

Then, a couple years ago…people actually called us to cast him for an acting gig. It’s not like we submitted for the job. They called him (whew–that’s an amazing feeling when they come looking for us)…and when they filmed it, they shot him… from the back. LOLOLOL]

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