Professional Experience #4 – PKB present; Duplex

For this professional experience opportunity, I will be working for the PKB (Pot Kettle Black) production group, making a promotional and a music video for an upcoming musical duo known as ‘Duplex’.

Opportunity: PKB Productions present; Duplex

Dates: Wednesday 1st February – Friday 25th May

Day 1 – Monday 26th March

Today was all about getting the main part of the promotional video shot that we are making for Duplex. They are a new and upcoming music duo from the Midlands and the duo consists of Jasraj Sahota and Columb Finn. The opportunity to be a part of this came up from a friend of mine, Govie Singh. He asked me to get involved as he says he needs a reliable person on his team, and I was appreciative that he thought of me for this role. We had an early start in the Universities music facilities. We used this as a background set with the drums and keyboard as it gave a bit more to the scenery and it was a good accompaniment to the subject we were filming.

The shoot started at at 10:00 and it took about 25 minutes to set the room up how we wanted. The first problem we encountered was the lighting. The room has it’s own spotlighting, but it didn’t really “warm” the video up much and it looked dull on screen. The real problem arose though when we added dedo light, it cast way too many shadows and it just looked really poor. To combat this, we had to cover the spot lights above and just use the dedo’s as much as possible. The shoot was basic, and it was asking both artists various questions about their music and the industry. There was roughly 40 questions, and it was a mixture of close-ups and joint shots. This is where the next problem arose, after 10 minutes filming, we took a quick look back at the footage and during the audio, there was a very high pitch tone. This wasn’t heard during filming by our sound tech and after several attempts at sourcing the issue, it turned out to by the connection on the rifle mic being loose. To counter this I had to hold the mic with the xlr cable at an awkward angle by lieing on the floor, not ideal, but it worked.

The shoot was wrapped up quite quickly and we discussed what shots we wanted to get tomorrow when we film inside the duo’s studio.

Today should of gone a lot smoother then it did. There was a lot of messing around with the lights and audio which I didn’t really envision. It shows that you need to make sure your equipment is working 100 % before going on a shoot. Overall the team worked well and efficiently and the Duplex duo were very willing and open on the shoot. I am looking forward to the next few shoots and the journey that we would be embarking on together in the future and I am pleased with the work produced so far.

Day 2 – Tuesday 27th March

Today was based in the Fidget Studios in Coventry, ran by a chap called Barry Diston. This was the first time that we had seen the location and we knew we had to improvise on the spot. It didn’t start well, the address we were given was completely the wrong place and after a few phone calls, we finally found our way to the location. It was a lot smaller then expected and there was no room to fit any lighting equipment in the room along with the crew and cast. It was a good job really as our producer forgot to book any lights out for today’s shoot. We had to use the room’s own lighting (of which there wasn’t much) and it made the visuals quite grainy. We tried to adjust the camera’s settings as much as possible but it was to no avail, and the footage did look a bit washed out. Our only hope to recover this footage is during post-production.

After spending lots of time trying to sort out the lighting and camera, we didn’t start physically recording for a couple of hours. Once we started, we got lots of footage of the duo singing and Barry working away on the lots of equipment at his disposal whilst making the track. All throughout the process I was noting down what was happening and was thinking of ways we could incorporate it in the promotional video. It’s always good to look ahead, but it’s even more important to keep your concentration levels high. We also got Barry explaining some of the work that he does and what he was doing during today’s session.

Today’s was Duplex’s first live recording of their new single. All the footage shot today will be for cut-aways during the promotional video so that the viewer has something different to concentrate on. We are also looking to use some of the footage taken in the recording room during the music video, as long as it mixes ok with what we record in London in a few weeks.

We finished filming late in the day, but the footage we got was good. It would of been much better if it was just better quality.

I had to leave earlier on this shoot but was kept up to date on what was happening, and after suggesting various shots, I was told they were included in the final few recordings.

Looking back it was a good days worth of filming and it went a lot smoother then yesterday’s shoot. Obviously going to the wrong place to begin with didn’t start the day of on the highest regard so it’s important to have the logistics planned well in advance. The location itself wasn’t the best because of the size of it, but what was inside was great and only adds to the viewing experience. We didn’t plan effectively enough in advance for this shoot in my opinion. It was highly improvised and I didn’t really think Duplex knew what they wanted us to film on the shoot. I heard that one of the guys also sprung a surprise on the crew at the end of the shoot asking to record another interview, but there just wasn’t enough time to record this. This show’s that you have to be flexible in certain situations.

Day 3 – Thursday 29th March

Today was the final day of editing the promotional video together. It’s been an intense few days constantly working on this project, but it’s worked quite well because it has gave us time to concentrate on it completely. Yesterday we got a rough cut of the video put together and today was all about tightening it up and adding what we needed, including grading the footage as best as possible.

The main issue we had yesterday was getting the footage to look good together, and we tried many ways to get the sequence to flow, but it did not look right. We wanted to have the video to be one continuous speech but when we cut scenes in-between both days footage, we had several continuity errors so we had to change it. Gov thought of a new idea of having a  sequence for each question so it breaks the video up, makes it choppy and more interesting, an idea I didn’t like that much but it was perhaps the only thing we could do. Now, the audio was very plain and monotone, just listening to Jasraj and Columb, so to add a bit of interest to the audi track we have added a bit of light music. I put forward that we could use one of Duplex’s tracks which we have put forward to the group and are just waiting for their go ahead.  That way we could cut back to them singing during the promotional video when the audio matches it.

Looking back through the sequence, we thought of adding maybe some graphics and are waiting on the Duplex and PKB logos to add to the video, possibly as a watermark.

We didn’t get the final cut of the video made in time today, we had too many changes to make and will have to return to it in the future.

My thoughts on the video is that we could of perhaps used more footage from different places. It only cuts between 2 different locations and it is rather boring. Sunil and myself suggested we could possibly film the pair at a gig they will be doing in a few weeks and cutting to that, especially when they talk about themselves performing live. Overall I’m really happy with what I have done on these shoots. I’ve learnt more about using the JVC camera’s, potential shots and cinematography and actually producing. Throughout working this process, with people I have ever met before, I feel it’s improving my communication and management skills whilst also boosting my confidence massively.

Below is the very rough cut that we put together. We can’t show the video publicly yet.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/41833477]

 

Day 4 – Saturday 28th April

Today was our 3rd shoot for the music video we are making for Duplex. Unfortunately, I wasn’t available for the rest of the shoots in London and today’s shoot was a bit closer to home in Coventry.

Most of the footage was shot in a garage. The idea of the video is that it shows the difference between the rich and poor lives. The scenes in London were for the rich life, where-as in Coventry, they were the poor side of life by working in a poor job, and living poorly.

Today started by getting on location at 11am. Because all the London scenes had all ready been shot, we just needed the remaining pick ups of Columb.

This was the schedule for today;

  • 12:00  – Intro
  • 13:00 – Columb’s first verse – in front of the car bonnet (service)
  • 14:30– Break
  • 15:00 – Columb’s second verse – workers lunch
  • 16:30 – Columb’s last verse – car clean
  • 18:00 – Stock Footage
  • 19:00 – Finish

The introduction on today’s shoot was already planned by Govie Singh, and therefore it only took an hour to complete. It always work better when the scenes have already been planned out and makes the job of filming a lot easier.

On the first verse scene, we had Columb performing a car service. It took a while to perfect what was being shown, and it became quite tedious but I was able to keep everybody on track by taking a Assistant-director role during this period. It did take a long time to get running and we thought the timing through the day would improve but it didn’t. We then took a break at 14:30 and we looked over the footage which looked OK at this stage.

The next stage was perhaps the most difficult. We had to follow Columb from the car to the lunch room which was 1 part rapping whilst moving and 1 part rapping whilst sitting down. This meant the timing had to be spot on and it took a while to get it bang on, but eventually we did.

The day was getting shorter and we were taking too long. We just tried to get every shot possible today and then come back tomorrow to get the rest of the pickups. We packed our equipment away and I left Govie to capture the footage.

Looking back at today, It was very stressful. It’s important to keep calm during sticky situations and just relax. I also found that not having a viewing monitor made it harder. As we were working with a DSLR camera, we only had the small viewing screen on the camera itself to rely upon, where as we should of hooked up the camera to an external monitor.

Day 5 – Thursday 3rd May

So with all our footage recorded, it’s now time to start editing the music video together. I have never edited a music video together before, and I already knew it was going to be a tough task. The main problem was getting the video to sync up with the order well, and then what cut aways we wanted to use in different parts of the video.

Govie introduced me to Jak who was helping us with the edit. Jak has recently shot and edited a couple of music videos and we brought him in on the project for his experience. It was going to be vital.

To start today’s editing sequence off, we logged all the footage in the morning and came up with a systematic way to view all the clips. We then went through each clip individually, identifying its strengths and weaknesses. It took a while to do this, but it made the job easier when we came to match the video and piece it together later in the day. We set ourselves a target of getting a rough cut together, a tall order in a days work but we were determined to do it. We started piecing the intro together, mixing the various shots to make it flow and to our surprise it worked really well. However, we did then hit our first problem which was the lighting in various shots looked off. We decided to continue editing the sequence together, and focus on grading the footage later. We found ourselves constantly changing clips throughout the process.

Govie had a list of shots that he definitely wanted to use so we pieced them together and synced it with the track as much as possible. It was vital then we had something to work with, rather then trying to go gun ho on the process.

We didn’t hit any snags during the chorus’s and 2 verse’s of the song and things went smoothly. However it was a bit tricky synching the audio up  during the latter stages, especially from when Columb walks  and then he sits down. Time was quickly running out and we had three quarters of the video finished. By this time, I had started to work on the graphics that we wanted to use in the video. They weren’t that simple to do. We want to have to do a dream transition from the rap part of the song to the chorus which is to symbolise the rich and high life. In all honesty, it looked poor and very un-professional so i decided to get in contact with a couple of graphic artists who may be able to assist.

Todays experience was both tiring and rewarding. The video was coming along really well, and apart from a few snags, it went along smoothly. It was great to have somebody who has made music video’s before and it helped the process move along a lot quicker then I thought it would of. I have learnt that I need to be more patient and plan ahead, as I would of personally just tried to piece the sequence together rather then go through each clip individually.

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