Filming Paul Brandt’s “I Was There” Music Video – Part 3 of 4 – Real Characters

Posted by ryanjackson on Nov 17, 2011 in music video, photos, video

This is Part 3 of my experience filming the Paul Brandt “I Was There” Music Video.

You can also view Part 4 – Action and EditingPart 3 – Real Characters,  Part 2 – Video Gear and the 7P’s, and Part 1 – Nashville

My vision for the music video was to have video portraits or “vortraits” of people that embody the spirit of hockey combined with hockey “moments” that would trigger people’s emotions.

As a photojournalist with the Edmonton Journal I wanted to stay true to my roots as a journalist and make sure that all the characters in the film were real people and not actors pretending to be hockey fans.

We put a call for nominations in the Edmonton Journal and got about 100 responses. We contacted the best 20 and with the amazing help of project organizer Taryn Melnyk we created a shooting schedule that would allow us to film as many characters as possible in one month.

Here are some of my favourite behind the scenes photos from filming in Calgary, Edmonton and Spruce Grove. All of the portraits are actually video frame grabs from the Panasonic GH2. Untouched and uncoloured except for the first one.

Zamboni driver Jeff Huebner poses for a photo at Signal Hill Outdoor Arena in Calgary, Alta. on November 17, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

Zamboni driver Jeff Huebner poses for a photo for Ryan Jackson at Signal Hill Outdoor Arena in Calgary, Alta. on November 17, 2011

I had a notebook with me at all times and sketched out my shots.

In the fury of shooting it is easy to miss shots to be sure to write them down!

The Journal's Amanda Ash holds on to the back of an Olympia Ice Resurfacer while driver Jeff Huebner does laps around the rink at Signal Hill Outdoor Arena in Calgary, Alta.. while filming the official music video for country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" on November 16, 2011.

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films Donald Boykiw while he floods the hockey rink at Willowridge Community Centre in Calgary, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" on November 17, 2011.

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films Donald Boykiw while he floods the hockey rink at Willowridge Community Centre in Calgary, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" on November 17, 2011.

The Journal's Amanda Ash, left, and Ryan Jackson setup lights before filming hockey player Carolyn Boykiw, 16 for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" at at Willowridge Community Centre in Calgary, Alta. on November 17, 2011.

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films Carolyn Boykiw, 16 for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" at at Willowridge Community Centre in Calgary, Alta. on November 17, 2011.

Carolyn Boykiw, 16, poses for a photo at the Willowridge Community Centre in Calgary, Alta. on November 17, 2011

The Journal's Ryan Jackson, left, and Amanda Ash film Tim Schneider with his two sons Craig, 8, and Matthew, 5, in their back yard rink for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 14, 2011.

Tim Schneider with his two sons Craig, 8, and Matthew, 5, pose for a photo with their back yard rink in Edmonton, Alta. on November 14, 2011. Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

Thumbs up for snow! This was the first night we actually got snow! Good timing.

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films Dean McCarthy with his son Nathan in their back alley in Edmonton, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 21, 2011.

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films six-year-old Nathan McCarthy with his table hockey set in his home in Edmonton, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 21, 2011.

Nathan McCarthy, 6, poses for a photo in his home in Edmonton, Alta. on November 21, 2011

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films sledge hockey players at the Donnan Arena for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 22, 2011.

My shot list for sledge hockey.

The Journal's Amanda Ash flexes her muscles after moving over five hundred pounds of camera gear before filming sledge hockey with Ryan Jackson for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" at the Donnan Arena in Edmonton on November 22, 2011.

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films a sledge hockey player at the Donnan Arena for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 22, 2011.

 

A rare photo of Amanda and I together! Since we only had a crew of two people I was usually behind the lens.

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films old timer hockey player John DeGraaf at the Knights of Columbus Sports Complex in Edmonton, Alta. on November 23, 2011 for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 23, 2011.

Old timer hockey player Jack Evans poses for a photo at the Knights of Columbus Sports Complex in Edmonton, Alta. on November 23, 2011

The Journal's Amanda Ash interviews old timer hockey player Jack Evans at the Knights of Columbus Sports Complex in Edmonton, Alta. on November 23, 2011 for her Spirit of Hockey Audio Project. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

Spruce Grove Saints fan Marlene Spidla, 69, at Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove, Alta. on November 30, 2011

The Journal's Ryan Jackson films Spruce Grove Saints fan Marlene Spidla, 69, at Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove, Alta. on November 30, 2011. Jackson used a hacked Panasonic GH2 camera with a Canon 300mm lens. Using a 7.4x crop mode Jackson was able to get the equivalent of a 2220mm lens and film Spidla from across the arena for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 30, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

 

A mosaic of portraits from Paul Brant's "I Was There" Music video by Ryan Jackson, edmontonjournal.com

Finally. Speaking of Characters. Journal reporter Amanda Ash interviewed all of the characters in the music video and you can hear what hockey means to them and how they embody the spirit of hockey. The Faces of "I Was There" <-- REALLY COOL!

 

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Filming Paul Brandt’s “I Was There” Music Video – Part 2 of 4 – Video Gear and the 7P’s

Posted by ryanjackson on Nov 9, 2011 in music video, Ryan's Life, video

This is Part 2 of my experience filming the Paul Brandt music video “I Was There”.

You can also view Part 4 – Action and EditingPart 3 – Real Characters,  Part 2 – Video Gear and the 7P’s, and Part 1 – Nashville

I spent about two months on this project. The first month was mainly pre-production, gear selection and testing, script-writing and preparing for the second month when we did most of the principal shooting.

Our first real day of shooting for the music video was Paul Brandt singing the actual song. I had filmed him singing in the recording studio in Nashville but I felt that we really needed him in a hockey rink with a guitar on the ice.  Paul lives in Cochrane so Amanda and I arranged to get him on the ice for a couple hours.

Country music star Paul Brandt poses for the "I Was There" song iTunes album cover for the official theme song of the 2012 World Junior Hockey Tournament at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane, Alta. on November 9, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

When I said “a couple hours” I really meant it!  Paul was extremely busy with his cross-Canada tour about to start so we only had him for two hours!

Amanda and I spent four hours setting up all of the lights, cameras and doing test footage. I had originally envisioned recoding Paul in multiple locations but in the end we only had time for three takes of him standing on the ice and three takes of him sitting.

No pressure!!!!   Did I mention I was using a brand new hacked camera and had only shot one music video before?

I strongly believe in the 7P‘s: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

I had spent a month of non-stop research, writing, testing, planning, scripting and practice to ensure that nothing would go wrong. And thank God I did!

Paul Brandt was such a professional! He’s made nearly two dozen music videos before and knows what he’s doing. When editing the footage, Adam Kidd with Limbo Editing noticed that he tipped his guitar up and did the same moves at the exact same time for each take.

Paul was also just a super nice guy! He stopped to sign autographs and talk to any fans that came by. He didn’t have any kind of ego or image problem …. he didn’t need to! He already knew how to look good!

Back to the planning and preparation:

For the Paul Brandt “I Was There” music video I wanted the video quality to be as high as possible as it would be broadcasted on CMT, TSN and on the giant video screens at Rexall Place in Edmonton and the Saddledome in Calgary.

Shooting test footage of my wife Ashe with our dog Mr. Woofertons. I was deciding between using Canon D-SLRs or recording uncompressed 422 video from my Canon XH-A1. I ended up using a hacked Panasonic GH2 which blew both of them away.

I did a ton of research and also tested a lot of gear before starting the project. I already had a Canon 5D Mark-II and 1D Mark-IV which are fantastic for video but also have some drawbacks.

  • Canon D-SLR drawback #1 was Aliasing and Moire which are strange patterns that appear in objects like fences and nets and also in clothing like hockey jerseys.  Since a music video about hockey would contain plenty of both I knew this would be a problem.
  • Drawback #2 was the rolling shutter of the CMOS sensors on Canon D-SLRs.  Basically D-SLR video looks great until you start moving the camera and then you get what is called a “jello effect” where the video looks weird. One rule with music videos is that the camera is ALWAYS moving.
  • Drawback #3 was just that Canon D-SLR video looks like Canon D-SLR video. There’s nothing wrong with it but it seems like everyone is shooting with 5D Mark-II’s now and I can always tell when avideo is shot with one.

My budget wasn’t large enough to rent a RED camera nor process the video from one.

Then I learned about the Panasonic GH2 which is called “arguably the most aliasing-free, highest-resolution hybrid camera out there

Panasonic GH2 with Canon EOS Lens Adapter

The best part is that a guy named Driftwood has hacked the firmware allowing you to shoot MUCH MUCH MUCH higher quality video.

How does it work?  Basically the GH2 records standard 24 Megabit (Mbit) video out of the box. However the camera is capable of shooting over 170Mbit/sec video and also capturing Intraframe (also known as GOP1) where every frame of video is an individual still image instead of other codecs that only record full still images every few frames and then guess the frames in between.

I read reviews of how the hacked GH2 fared well against the $80,000 Arri Alexa and RED Camera. Not that it’s better than those cameras, but pretty damn amazing compared.

The aliasing-free GH2 solved Problem #1, the Intraframe codec produces much smoother motion which solved Problem #2 and the higher resolution and bitrate solved Problem #3.

The only drawbacks of the GH2 were:

  • The sensor was half the size (a 2X crop instead of the 5D’s 1X full-frame sensor) so a 24mm lens would become a 48mm lens. It would also be harder to achieve the narrow depth of field look but would be easier to manually focus since I would have more depth-of-field.
  • The smaller sensor produced more noise at high-ISOs compared to the Canon so I would need more light
  • The extremely high quality 176Mbit/sec produced 1 gigabyte of video per minute and required expensive Sandisk 32GB Extreme SD cards. A 32GB card would only hold about 30 minutes of video therefore I had to buy five of these cards at $150/each. Of course the price dropped right after I bought them!
  • The menus and functions of the GH2 weren’t as friendly as the Canon D-SLRs.
However the GH2 mainly excited me because the hack had only recently come out and it allowed me to capture quality that would make people ask “What did you film that on?”
So I bought two Panasonic GH2‘s and loaded them up with Driftwood’s 176Mbit patch. I bought a 4/3rds mount to Canon EOS adapter off ebay which allowed me to use all my Canon prime and zoom lenses and also control the aperture with a built-in iris.
For the music video I tried to use my prime lenses as much as possible including:
  • Canon 24mm f1.4L
  • Canon 50mm f1.2L
  • Canon 85mm f1.8
  • Canon 300 f2.8L IS
When I needed a zoom lens I popped on my Canon 16-35L which became a handy 32-70mm lens with the 2X crop and my 70-200 f2,8L which was an amazing 140-400mm lens!
I also purchased the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 which came in handy a few times but is WAY overpriced for what it is.

I purchased two Interfit Monstar fluorescent light kits. Each light has three massive 150-w bulbs for an equivalent of 1,800 tungsten watts without the heat.

Unloading all the gear at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane, Alta. to film Paul Brandt singing

I wanted to light almost everything in the music video for maximum quality as well as dramatic effect.

As you can see from my portfolio I love to light my portraits and I also wanted a consistent look all through the video.
I used two Interfit Monstar lights with 48-inch Octoboxes for the main lights. For fill lights I used three 500 LED video lights I got from eBay.

I bad to bring hundreds of feet of power extension cords as there was only one power outlet in the whole arena!

The lighting and camera setup for Paul Brandt singing the song "I Was There" at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane, Alta. on November 9, 2011. Jackson used Panasonic GH2 cameras running the Driftwood 176Mb firmware hack and Canon prime lenses for the entire film.

Other gear I used was:

  • Ikan VX7e 7″ HDMI HD monitor which was a HUGE help for manually focussing as well it has a false-colour exposure guide which helps prevent you from blowing out highlights.
  • A wide matte box which helped block lens flare and also keep snow off of the lens. This item proved surprisingly necessary for filming with video lights.
  • Kessler Pocket Dolly for short camera moves.
  • Cinemover for longer camera moves.
  • Libec tripod and Manfrotto 504HD video head.
  • Cavision rails and shoulder mount
  • Fader Neutral Density Filters. You always want to keep a 1/50th shutter speed with video so an ND filter helps you stop down the light so you can shoot at 1/50th shutter at f1.2 outdoors in the sunlight if you want.
  • Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition 4TB RAID drive to deal with the massive 1GB per minute of video from the hacked GH2 cameras. I had the drive set to RAID1 so my data was backed up 2TB+2TB.
  • 15″ Apple MacBook Pro i7 Quad Core for reviewing footage and converting the GH2 AVCHD footage into ProRes422 HQ. That meant for every minute of video I shot I would get 1GB original + 1GB converted ProRes422HQ video

 

Here is a better look at my Panasonic GH2 with a 4/3rds to EOS lens adapter and an Ikan VX7e monitor on a Kessler Pocket Dolly.

I used the amazing Cinemover slider for my second GH2 camera on a plank of fir wood. I used fir because it doesn't warp. I had the kit lens on the GH2 for this photo but used the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 for the actual shoot.

You can see the mark I made on the ice for paul to stand on. We did multiple takes and needed Paul to be standing in the same spot every time. He was such an experienced professional and did the exact same moves every take.

Journal photographer Ryan Jackson takes still photographs of Paul Brandt for the official iTunes album cover for the song "I Was There" at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane, Alta. on November 9, 2011. Photo by Amanda Ash, edmontonjournal.com

Paul Brandt takes a break from filming the "I Was There" music video to pose for a photo with some fans at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane, Alta. on November 9, 2011.

Amanda Ash packing away the video lights at the end of the day.

We used the Edmonton Journal minivan to lug our gear around. Even with the back seats taken out it was completely full.

Before heading back to Edmonton we stopped for supper and reviewed the raw footage. It was a huge milestone in the project because we had a "base" for the video with Paul singing on a hockey rink.

 

Here is the end result. The next blog post will be about filming the characters.

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