If you like your music videos light of tone and populated by dancing girls gyrating through candy coloured tones, then you'll probably want to skip Ross Anderson's extreme make over promo for SBTRKT's Trials of the Past. In fact, even if you do prefer films of a darker tone, I'd say this one's not for the faint of heart or something you want to pop on in the office and certainly not in the company of anyone you wouldn't take into an R-rated movie. If you're feeling brave, have a watch after the jump:
In order to win the commission for the promo -- which was original put out in the form of a competition run by UK music development agency Generator and the Northern Film & Media film project -- Anderson shot the first half of the video for free, using the Canon 550d (T2i) he already owned, with Magic Lantern, John Hope's Cinema Picture Profile and various, mostly vintage, lenses. Once the budget was secured, it made little sense to re-shoot as the footage and workflow held up so production continued with the 550D.
If you'd like to get under the hood (sorry couldn't resist!) of the FX shots in the promo take a look at these breakdown videos:
As well as creating some pretty ambitious effects sequences, Anderson achieved the gritty, cinematic look through grading and the use of a vintage 35mm pack from Cinegrain. He also used After Effects to track dust plates to the footage as well as incorporating rain plates shot against black screens into the stylised image.
When working with DSLR's I tend to light flat but precise - the footage is always intended to be graded to a more punchy 'look'. I find that way I get a lot closer to the image I want without sacrificing too much dynamic range in the mid-range and skin tone areas - so the film was never intended to look the way that I shot (I always wanted it to look dark and brooding)...
I guess some people will be happy with the colours straight from the camera, I however, find grading the most satisfying part of the process. It's when the final touch of the mood is created - it's a fairly long process of pulling the palettes to where I wanted them to be (a process begun in wardrobe, set, etc of restricting colours, complimenting colours, etc). I guess it's all subjective but I would certainly say the graded version is the more 'cinematic' version... It was a fairytale music video after all - not a reality tv show.
You can see a side by side comparison of the ungraded image and the ultimate look Anderson achieved in the video below:
Directly off the back of Trials of the Past Anderson was picked up by J6 Films for their roster of directors, supporting the argument for making a splash by pushing things to their extremes. What do you think of the graded 550D footage? Does the promo work as film in its own right, aside from its effectiveness as a calling card piece?