I first met Cassie and Maggie at an 8am shoot in the woods of Canso, Nova Scotia. To give you a little more context, it was the weekend of the 20th Annual Stan Rogers Festival, and they had just arrived the night before from a 20+ hour drive spanning states, provinces, and treacherous weather conditions. Fast forward a few months and we're in Saint John, New Brunswick planning a series of video shoots for their upcoming album, "The Willow Collection".
On the night they arrived, we met at a Tim Horton's up the road from my house to chat about ideas for the video shoots. We browsed some photos that I took while scouting locations in Rothesay, and ended up settling on Spyglass Hill for the "Hangman" shoot. The plan was: we would arrive around 5pm, hike up Spyglass Hill, set up the gear, get some close ups, and then grab some wide shots closer to sunset. Sounds good - in theory. The part that I failed to consider was the speed at which the sun goes down. While I have done plenty of sunset shoots in the past, the difference was that they were photo shoots. When you're taking photographs during sunset, although the sun is going down at a fast rate, you are still able to capture a sufficient number of images because each one only takes a few seconds to grab. When you're shooting a music video, each "full take" of the song can last 3-5 minutes (depending on the song). That means you may only get 2-3 full takes of the song, at the most, while shooting a video during sunset. The main problem with this is not only that the intensity of the light is changing, but also the direction, the softness, and the color is changing as well. If you're fine with cutting together a bunch of clips with varying degrees of white balance and intensity, the setting sun isn't going to cause you too much strife. But that is something I prefer not to do. I like to have the white balance as consistent as possible throughout all of my shots. In the case of "Hangman", I admit that there are some changes in the lighting/color temperature that rub my perfectionist side the wrong way. Lesson learned. And to any fellow filmmakers out there: beware of the lighting challenges that come with shooting at sunset, and plan accordingly!
In terms of gear I ran two Sony a7s's, a Canon C100, a Ronin-m gimbal, and a couple of Benro tripods. The built-in ND filters in the C100 are a huge benefit, especially when trying to grab some shallow shots while the sun was still high in the sky. In particular, I love how the C100 performed on the individual close-ups I did of both Cassie and Maggie. Part of this is the C100 and part of it is the fact that I had diffusion fabric between the sun and their faces. The result was beautiful, soft lighting on the faces, with vibrant green and blue bokeh filling up the background.
On the post production side of things I cut the video in Premiere CC and graded it with Premiere's Lumetri panel followed by an adjustment layer of FilmConvert goodness. Essentially, I used Premiere to get each clip looking similar to the others, and then added the adjustment layer for a bit more character and grittiness. I wanted to go for more contrast than I have in some of my other videos, and FilmConvert made it pretty easy to achieve the look I wanted.
Check back soon for some posts on the other videos I shot with Cassie and Maggie. And if you haven't yet heard their new album, "The Willow Collection" - you are only hurting yourself. Stop the madness. Go and buy the album now at: www.cassieandmaggie.com.