Over the past few months I’ve been working on some new material that I’m really proud of, but was struggling over how exactly I wanted to release it. Originally, I had just been using the tracks as stems (individual tracks of drums, bass, synth, vocals, etc.) in my Ableton live performance sets and was slacking on actually committing the tracks to the timeline. I just couldn’t fit them into being a track that stood alone on its own, but found that when combined with others I could make a much more expressive sound.
A few months back I made a 25 beats in 25 minutes video sampler that got a great response from my fans, friends, and peers. This had me thinking of making a follow up video for these new tracks, but I wanted to add something the other video didn’t have, something to make it more of a music video for myself.
As many of you know I shoot a ton of video for my production company and the ad agency I work for. This mainly consists of live music and corporate video, nothing I could really use for myself. Although, I have been collecting some clips as basic stock photography, I wanted to shoot something new and fresh. Low and behold an opportunity arose for me to travel to New York City at the beginning of April. A city I had regretfully never seen before, and a true American icon, chock full of creative video opportunities.
So, I began constructing an idea about what to do when I was there. Since the plan was born in a week, and knowing only a handful of people in the city, I knew I would have some time to wander around the island and pull out my camera.
My first song in the mix samples the classic Dinah Washington tune “What a Difference a Day Makes”. This had my brain creating a script showing all of the changes that would take place in my day from Austin to NYC. After some initial concepts I realized I could only tie myself to that idea so much before having no help and a big city full of obstacles that would inevitably hamper it. I scrapped the idea and said whatever looks good and is available to film I will just do that and leave my editing skills to make it flow.
I had some grand visions of beautiful closeups and sweeping central park scenes, but I also had a huge backpack full of my gear for the weekend (I wanted to leave it to the wind so I traveled all in one bag) and fitting in a tripod with it all wasn’t feasible. So, the decision was made to shoot handheld with a prime lens, that way I wouldn’t have to worry about zooming. My Panasonic GH2 has an auto focus 20mm prime lens, making it ideal for run and gun video that is actually useable.
NYC, Here I Come
I arrived in New York around 2pm and began filming right away. I had plans to meet a friend in Manhattan and went straight to Grand Central Station to check it out knowing I would get an opportunity to shoot some crisp time lapse footage. It was a good decision as Easter weekend had the train station packed and bodies were scrambling everywhere.
New York is a mess of activity and the camera just loves it. Throughout the video I showcase this by speeding up the footage and letting you see the mass hustle. NYC is also so vertical that I couldn’t help but point the camera to the sky. And of course you have your subway and Times Square footage. I just couldn’t help myself! The other pieces are a little more unique as I made sure to not be overly cliché with my selections. After wandering around the city for two days I had plenty of footage to work with and came home to record the live performance aspect.
I tweaked the final parts of the new tracks on the plane and was ready to record soon as I touched down in Austin. The live recording process is not exactly easy either, as I have to set up the camera to be close enough to the MacBook with a short audio connection cable. I then run a splitter off the MacBook headphone out to be able to listen in headphones, and the camera gets the direct audio out – saving me time in post matching room audio to the separate audio recording.
Then comes the compression of the footage (Apple ProRes444 HQ codec), loading of footage into Final Cut Pro 7, selecting the best cuts, arranging cuts, color correction, final tweaks to edit, save, export, and finally compression for delivery to the web.
All in all with the initial creation of the songs, arranged for live performance, a trip to NYC, shooting the footage, post production, and now finally promotion I have easily invested over 50 true work hours in this project. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did making it.