When taking on commissioned work, it’s rare a case when you have complete control over it. With Rituals being one of the only commercial videos I have made to have complete creative freedom over, it was only natural to incorporate aspects that are true co-writer/producer Sam Williams and I.
I’ve been making videos for close to 10 years, and 7 of those years have been out with mates, skating, rolling, chillin’. It’s what ignited my passion in filmmaking, and what I plan to carry with me throughout all my work.
Sam Williams is a good friend of mine, and our decision to collaborate on a music video was nothing more than a chat over a few drinks. Looking at it from this perspective, it was a video made on no budget, with very limited resources.
With both myself and Sam living over a 100 miles away from each other, it was also a task coming up with a shooting schedule. The decision was made early on to use a concept that could benefit from our position. Using a POV technique, it meant we could potentially shoot at the same time, in different locations and wouldn’t be tied down by a presence of a singular protagonist.
There are lots of POV videos out there, and we have to give credit to work of Saman Keshavarz and Justin Gurnari on the Cinnamon Chasers Luv Deluxe video, as well as all of Mike Manzoori’s cinematography. With POV being an established technique, it also meant that there were many online theories of making the best rig for POV shooting.
We considered a full frontal helmet with attached camera, and used this technique for much of our earlier scenes. We ran my monitor via HDMI to direct as we shot, but this quickly highlighted a few problems. With the term guerilla filmmaking being quite fitting to our style and choices of location, a big helmet with a camera strapped round it brought a lot of un-wanted attention when ‘on-set’. Instead we found that simply holding the camera around someone was viable method, and meant we could shoot whilst remaining inconspicuous.
Handheld and DSLR are two terms which don’t usually get on. But due to the width of the lens, the usual micro jitters (found with a non stabilised DSLR) were not apparent, and the handheld look really brought an extra element to the style of the piece.
The whole video was shot on my Canon 7D and Tokina 11-16mm. The original plan was to use a 5D mkII and Canon 14mm f/2.8 II lens, as this provides a wider look and stunning quality.
However the 14mm lens doesn’t use traditional screw on filters (or drop in with the screw adaptor) which were used prodminently throughout the shoot. Not owning a 5D meant that shoots would have been constricted to times where we could rent the kit.
The great thing about this video was the freedom aspect. We could film a scene with no resources at any time, meaning we had flexibility over waiting for the right light and weather. No schedule was the best schedule, and this
was only possible because we could operate with no outside resources.
Going back to the use of filters. I used my LCW mkII fader ND in every outdoor scene. And also used a set of Cokin P graduated filters for various scenes.
Using ND is vital with DSLRs. Even with with a low ISO, at shutter 1/125th aperture f/2.8-5.6, you’ll blow out every scene.
11mm on a cropped sensor has a wide angle of view, meaning there’s a 101 chances of picking moire in every scene. Keeping the lens at nothing narrower than f/5.6 helped reduce distant objects alias, as they weren’t in focus (sharp). A wide aperture of f/2.8 was used on all the scenes with his girlfriend, this was to help draw the attention to her. But obviosuly wasn’t a practical way of shooting all of the time as we didn’t have a dedicated focus puller! Shutter was kept at 1/125th. The usual filmic 1/50th can get a little blurry for handheld stuff like this, where as 1/125th gives a more real feel. This is where the ND filter came in handy, as it meant I had perfect control over the exposure, without compromising the aperture and shutter speeds choices.
The Cokin grads were used where ever I possibly could! You can retain so much sky detail with them, creating a high dynamic look. They’re not practical for every situation though, as there’s not a clean transition between skies and foregorund all the time.