December 9, 2016 at 4:14PM, Edited December 9, 4:14PM


critique welcome: first narrative music video shoot

Hey all, recently made my first narrative music video. Happy with a lot of it, some stuff I'd have redone but i don't think really broke it. We had about 12 hours out of a weekend to shoot this, no budget, and no crew, and my filmmaking partner and i wrote, directed, lensed, and edited it.

Shot on an NX1 throughout NYC. any feedback and critique would be awesome, thanks. (on a basic level, I know i have to majorly step up my lighting game, and I'm gonna start relying on overly wide framing a little less).


Serious continuity error from 0:54 (bloody right hand) to 0:59 (not bloody right hand). The first time I saw this, I thought "that's a lot of blood with no visible wound in the hand". So it looked like an error. It's not only 1:08 that the real wound becomes obvious, and it still takes some time to process that the blood on the hand is from the head, not its own source. I don't think it helps your cause to mislead the viewer in this way.

Not a big fan of the flat grade for this particular application, but that's secondary to the problem with the bloodied hand.

December 11, 2016 at 10:58AM


Hey Michael! Thanks for the feedback.

On the flat grade, I go back and forth-- we originally graded it with really deep blacks and high contrast, and it felt too crushed and murky. We presented both options to the band and they definitely preferred the flat, so that was kinda the route for it. But I see your point. Here's a WIP version of the higher contrast grade-- obvs not final so its sloppy (different aspect ratio too).

On the hand-- not to say its not an issue, but I dont know if I quite agree it's a cut and dry continuity error-- it's simply showing the back of the hand as opposed to the front; the blood was only on the palm. I know there wouldn't be an issue with the blood being absent, as both those shots were actually from the same continuous take. That said, if it comes across that way, that's worth noting on my end for the future-- could also have been helped with simply just going heavier on the blood, too, to make it clearer.

As for the disorientation for the source of blood, it was 100% intentional-- we didn't want the injury to be clear until that pan-up shot of her walking, even though we show it in the silhouette briefly.

That said- intent doesn't matter if it didn't come across right, so thanks for pointing this out. Will have to figure out a better approach next time.

thanks again for the feedback!

Donald Borenstein

December 12, 2016 at 2:44PM

Donald, I thought a little about your response, and would add these two thoughts. In the clip where we see the hand opening the door, if we could see the hand leaving some blood behind, that would be cool. It could be that the hand grabs the handle, briefly lets go (showing the blood) then it recommits to the handle and opens the door.

Regarding the flat vs. contrasty grade, one reason I thought the flat grade wasn't doing it is because the music has some distinctly "colored" intervals. I'm a fan of microtonal/xenharmonic music, and some of the singer's notes sounded like they definitely landed outside the normal 12-tone equal temperament scale. That's cool. I'd love to see a color treatment that is similarly non-conventional, but definitely not flat.

December 13, 2016 at 4:45PM


those are both really cool points-- wish I'd considered keying the music a little more to the color scheme; I think we got a little bogged down in the narrative and forgot about the song in some respects.

and that's a really good idea with the handle grab and the blood, and just the general idea of making sure those kinds of props and cues interact with the environment more-- thanks for the tip on that.

Thank you so much again for all this really awesome feedback-- it's super helpful for next time.

Donald Borenstein

December 14, 2016 at 9:24AM, Edited December 14, 9:24AM

Personal taste, I wasn't interested in the 1st or final third of this video - from a narrative perspective. The story chunk in the middle was interesting, showing the ice cream guy trying to profit off of the weird wood block girl. That vaudeville angle for the modern beggar was legitimately funny and kind of clever.

About the flat color grade (or, lack of?). Not the first to say this, but it's obvious. I don't know if it was intentional or just a lack of effort, but whatever the intention just know that by choosing an incredibly flat look, you're not making your video stand out from a mass of similarly low-budget videos that choose an ungraded look. It's beginning to look like a hallmark of amateur editing even if your choice was motivated. That's just the perception it will create among industry professionals, right or wrong.

Who are the guys with the bat? It doesn't make sense to me and is really jarring. On top of that, there's an odd cut at 3:20 from blurry guys with bat to blurry guys with bat. It looks like a jump cut and the clip that follows doesn't do anything to advance the story at all. I would work on focusing next time.

Overall, for a no-budget effort, it's an entertaining piece with some room for improvement.

December 15, 2016 at 9:29AM


Hey Michael, thanks for the feedback. The guys with the bat definitely does feel a little jarring upon reflection-- theyre supposed to be unexplained, but it doesnt play.

For the color grade: we originally graded a high contrast, punchy version, but the band wanted a low contrast look-- so we worked with them to find one we thought worked well. For me personally, most of my work I grade is usually pretty high contrast and with deep shadows, so it was a change to do this light grade--- and I agree, I don't think i'd do it again.

Donald Borenstein

December 15, 2016 at 12:42PM

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