I recently had the absolute pleasure of shooting a 'one-take' live session with acoustic duo Groove Lounge and took a few behind the scenes shots to give you all an idea of the step by step process.
First of all, here's the final video we're going to breakdown.
STEP 1. THE CONCEPT
Andrew and Kerry prepared a fantastic unbroken 5 minute showreel arrangement of songs from their set and after a brief discussion, it was decided we'd shoot this as a 'oner' (one long unbroken shot) to fit the music they'd prepared.
I'd showed Andrew a few reference videos by a great young cinematographer, Evan Bourcier.
Evan has shot a variety of 'oner' live sessions (amongst other brilliant things) and is always very generous with his knowledge, which he shares through his blog.
As you'll know if you've read my very first blog post, people like Evan, Matt Workman from Cinematography Database and Patrick O'Sullivan from Wandering DP are actually the reason I started the blog - to pass on the lessons I learn on my journey and hopefully help others who are on theirs!
STEP 2. THE SCOUT
We shot at a great little venue called 'Canteen and Cocktails' and what was really helpful was they actually had a virtual tour of their location on their website which was awesome. It meant I could do a lot of the checks I wanted to before even going for the initial scout with the band. Of course, we did a proper scout as well and the staff at Canteen and Cocktails were very accommodating.
From the scout, we knew the sun would be coming in 2 of the corner windows and moving round the side of the building (see breakdown below). The day of the shoot it was a very overcast day and we knew it would stay like that all day (ah, the delights of British weather!) so we didn't need to diffuse the windows at all which saved us quite a bit of time.
STEP 3. THE SHOOT
I haven't got as much behind the scenes footage as I'd like to have but hopefully this will give you some idea as to what we did and why we did it.
Once we'd best positioned the talent, the most important thing to do was figure out which elements we couldn't control and set our base exposure level to match that. In this case, it was the big windows behind them. I knew we wanted to be working at f2.2 as, although it would be difficult to pull focus, I really wanted to keep concentration on the talent with some nice bokeh of the lights in the background. However, working at that f stop would've just blown out the windows so I used an ND filter to make up the difference and shot the test shot below (acting as my own stand in!).
As you can see, the background is exactly what I was wanting but the talent isn't, so now it's time to make them pop!
Lighting a one take music video...
Knowing that I'd be moving the camera to various angles within one take meant not only lighting the scene carefully to avoid and none practical lights being in shot but also to avoid casting any shadow from me operating on the talent or scene.
The motivation for our key light was the two big windows on the right hand side of the overhead diagram. I used an Aputure Lightstorm 1C 5600K with 1/2 white diffusion over to soften the light and dimmed it to 75% to act as a key on both Kerry and Andy. Naturally, it also provided an eye light for Kerry too.
They'd asked for the video to avoid being too contrasty or moody as it needed to appeal to primarily wedding clientele. I therefore wanted there to be plenty of fill light but for it to be softer and a lot more subtle than the direct key. To achieve this, I bounced a Pixa Pro 100D Mark i LED at 5600K into the white wall/ceiling, which diffused the light nicely. There was also a red neon sign on the wall so I move the fill light round to catch a little of that and bounce it back into them. It was very subtle but give their faces a touch more colour which looked great!
To separate the talent from the background, I used 3 x Lite Panel Croma set to 3200K to mimic the orange glow of the bulbs behind them. Due to the space we were using being a balcony area, I couldn't rig the lights behind them so instead attached two on the right side of Andy and one to the left of Kerry. I chose to put two on Andy's side as that's where the majority of the practical bulbs were so it helped sell the effect better.
Overall... I think the final video came out really well and Groove Lounge and their agents were both delighted with it. The band are very talented, they were brilliant to work with and deserve every bit of work they get from these session!
IF YOU'RE A SINGER OR IN A BAND, OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS... WHY NOT GET IN TOUCH AND SEE WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU?
GET IN TOUCH NOW...
DIR // Pete Allinson
DOP // Pete Allinson
Prod // Fear of Film Productions
Music by // Groove Lounge
Canon 50mm 1.4 @ f2.2
Filmcity Shoulder Rig
Rode Video Mic Pro (reference)
SE 2000 Condenser
Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 Interface
MAudio AV40 monitors
Check out their cover of 'Fill Me In' below...