It’s been a while since we did a music video so when we were approached to handle the production of a high end promo for the lead single from the new EP, “Sealed Within the Walls” by Leeds’ acclaimed Metal masters Canaya, there was no way we were going to say no! We’re fans of the band and we don’t shy away from a challenge, the challenge in this instance being the late notice, the meagre resources available and a location with limited aesthetics and space, the latter proving to actually not be too much of a problem as the concept I had was based not around the location, but the band themselves.
In many of today’s music videos, I get the feeling that location comes first, in this instance, we didn’t have access to an aeroplane hangar, mental asylum or spaceship so we always knew this was going to be a performance video, that in itself raises the issue of how not to fall into the cliche of having a band lip sync to a backing track, dialling down their performance and meandering through an awkward four minutes of trying to look cool. We don’t like that. We don’t like “dialling down” anything which is pure and real.
Knowing the song and the band as I do, it was obvious to me to focus on what the band’s sound is all about, intensity, anger, aggression and power, I wanted them to if anything, dial up their performance, the track was blasted through the PA at deafening volume, the instruments were plugged in, the drums were hammered to within an inch of their lives and vocals were spat with the venom they deserve. The primary direction I gave the band was that we would be getting in close and to be conscious that in every take, I wanted the same level of intensity and most importantly, if you mess up, I don’t care, if you go out of focus, I don’t care, just give me energy and make me believe it!
It’s fair to say that Simon, Andy, Owen and Chris absolutely beasted their way through the six hours of constant takes like the pros they are and they really delivered on every level, so before I go into the look of the video, here it is!
We have worked with the band before but this was our first chance to shoot a video for them so I was very keen to make it stand out stylistically. Canaya’s previous video for their single Dios Muerto made effective use of a bright space with lots of light, I wanted to balance things out by putting the band in a claustrophobic, almost pitch black world with very little colour, making use of mainly closeup and extreme closeup shots with quick, choppy cuts, not allowing the viewer to feel comfortable, I wanted the video to reach out of the screen and grab the viewer by the throat, never letting go until the very end, reflecting the constant, almost steam train-like forward motion of the song.
I also put a lot of importance on Simon making direct eye contact with the audience, I wanted him to deliver all that anger directly down the lens and into the face of the viewer and as usual, he did the business, a photogenic and charismatic front-man always helps a video.
We shot the video on a Canon 7D, Canon 60D and GoPro 3 Black Edition, mostly handheld with a couple of takes with the 7D on a tripod and a slider and the GoPro mounted on instruments and the mic. Lenses used were the Canon EF 15-85, Canon 50mm 1.8, Tokina 11-16 and Canon 30mm, with lighting from two Aperture Amaran AL-528s panel LED lights, a Yongnuo 160 LED light and a smaller 60 LED spotlight.
Primary grading was done as usual, on DaVinci Resolve, the 2:35:1 aspect ratio added with a simple “letterbox” (again to reinforce the sense of claustrophobia) and some extra stuff in the look build I like to keep to myself. The idea was to shoot in a couple of different lighting set ups, from almost total blackness with only the outlines of Simon’s head and shoulders visible, to a more filled out look, primarily to jolt the viewer out of the darkness, if only briefly before plunging you back in and I think it’s quite effective. There were three main colour palettes I used for the slightly different looks, blue, a sickly green and deep black. The look I wanted to achieve was the polar opposite of what many music videos are nowadays, highly saturated, ultra glossy and a bit clinical, to go to the opposite end of the spectrum I went for dirty, grainy and rough with a slightly warmed desaturated tone, I wasn’t concerned about losing critical focus amongst the action either, the idea was to make it seem like you are right in there with them and a full pelt Metal band is not about being clean and synthetic, the three focus points on the video were energy, energy and energy.
Shooting dark stuff with a DSLR is always a hefty challenge but I think we pulled it off, how about you? I hope you enjoy the video, your comments are always welcome!