Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thrash Devestation in Chicago

In August, I was commissioned by the good people at Earache Records to direct a music video for their up and coming Chicago thrashers "Diamond Plate." The concept was nothing crazy. In fact it was perhaps the most familiar format of music video - the live video.

Now, I've seen my share of concert videos and most of them are just 'meh.' It doesn't bug me that they usually aren't that well shot. Raw and messy footage can be cool, especially for metal videos. No, to me the most criminal fuck up is sluggish editing - or no editing at all! Call me crazy, but I just think the feel of a live video should match the feel of the music. To do that, you need plenty of coverage and a crowd full of maniacs. I got just that.

There were 4 camera ops total including myself - all using different gear (format clusterfuck, doh!). The band hooked me up with two of the shooters - Scott and Leah. They had just shot a making of video for the band's record, "Generation Why?" The other shooter, Collin, I found through the grapevine of my alma mater, Northwestern University. I told everyone not to shy away from camera movement, nor to strive for any kind of visual "cleanliness." This was a dirty rock and roll party and I had every intention of portraying it that way.

I filmed most of the basic master shot and vocalist coverage with a hacked Panny Gh1, using 50mm and 24mm lenses. Other cam ops had a 5d mark ii, a 1d mark iv, and an hvx200. All different kinds of looks, demonstrating the full range of strengths and weaknesses between the cameras. The 1d mark iv was the overall winner of the night, without a shred of grain on ANY shot, and the least amount of rolling shutter BS compared to the 5d and gh1. Any video whiz can plainly see in the footage - rolling shutter plagued this shoot. Not that I really care that the strobes look weird. It's an effect I guess - which objectively speaking is neither good nor bad. It's just there. And there. And there. And there. (yea, can't wait for global shutters)

While the shooting went well, this is a video that was born in the edit. For the afternoon part of the day, we ran through the song five times. So that's five takes times four cameras + four cameras covering the entire 60-70 minute set later that night + other random B-roll. Grand total? Seven hours. FOR A FOUR MINUTE VIDEO. Between epic stage theatrics and one of the rowdiest crowds I have ever seen for any band ever, I had nearly an hour of gnarly selects to work with. I recorded sound from the board too, so I even had the live audio at my disposal. I put it into the edit in select parts to really sell that energy you can only find in concert.

Overall, I think the video turned out great. Like all classic thrash, it's fast and raw. Cool thing of note: stage diving, which is explicitly forbidden at Reggie's was kinda / sorta permitted for ONE take. So, every stage dive in this video was captured in the first run through of the song. The stage was a rapid-fire launching pad for spastic fools. The band and I were totally stoked. "Reggie" was not enthused.

Director / Editor - Davidson Vorhes
Shooters: Davidson Vorhes, Collin Davis, Leah Howard, Scott Palmer
Band: Konrad Kupiec, Jon Macak, Jim Nicademus, Mario Cianci