I’d met Threaded when we filmed a Big Comfy Session with them back in 2016. I remembered them being lovely people as well as being seriously talented muso’s, so I was made up to get the chance to make some videos with them earlier this year.
The first video was for ‘Sooner Tomorrow’ and I think it’s one of my favourite videos that I’ve shot so far. When Rosie from the trio originally got in touch (via messenger of course which is how I get all my work!), she discussed just wanting to a relatively straightforward ‘performance’ video as opposed to making something with a narrative. Being an instrumental track (or ‘tune’ as the folkies say), I wanted to make sure the video was interesting enough to hold someone’s attention from start to finish.
As it turned out, I’m super happy with it. There are a few reasons why I really like the video and most of them are nothing to do with me!
Firstly it’s a great track, which always helps; it’s always easier to make a good video if the soundtrack is strong. Secondly Ning-ning, Jamie and Rosie’s performance is great. Thirdly, I love the light in the video.
We filmed the video at Green Street Arts in Birmingham. I hadn’t seen the venue until the day we turned up to film, so as is usual for any shoot the first thing to do is work out how and where to film. Looking at the main area of the studio, the ambient light was filling the room from glass windows in the industrial ceiling, all pointing in one direction down the length of the room. I also noticed that that the studio had a whole bunch of freestanding boards that were pained white on one side, probably used for creating a partition or displaying art, I’m not sure. You can see some of these boards in the video behind the band; they’re facing the other way, the other side of them is painted white.
I decided to position the trio with their backs to the light coming from the window so they’d be back lit. I then dragged a bunch of the freestanding white boards over to form a ‘wall’ of white bounce boards directly in the front of the trio, so they were effectively performing to a white wall. The viewer doesn’t know that there’s a wall directly behind the camera (well, you didn’t until I just told you!) and the advantage for me was that by bouncing all the ambient light back onto the artists it created this huge soft light source directly in front of them. Coupled with the back light, this soft light creates the look of the video.
The only issue was that after the first take the trio said it felt a bit weird performing to the white wall! We discussed it and they decided to adjust the approach so that they’d be performing the song to each other. That decision unlocked the video; it created this great vibe that runs throughout the whole performance as they bounced (see what I did there?!) off each other’s energy.
While we’re talking about how we used the space, it’s worth talking about the background. Obviously there’s a lot of of stuff in the background; it wasn’t practical to move it all. My only other option would have been to spin around and film the trio against the white wall. I decided however that the depth of the background and the various stuff that was there actually created interest and texture so I decided to just roll with it.
We did however spend quite a bit of time removing anything that jarred visually, typically because of it’s colour or because it was reflecting light too much and attracting interest. We spent quite a lot of time moving stuff; I even stopped the first take mid-way because I realised there was still a pink plastic box somewhere in the background. I always find it’s worth taking the time to sort the set out and where you spot anything that isn’t working, move it. On the day it can feel like you’re using up valuable time doing this, but I always thank myself in post.
From there the only other thing worth mentioning is that there’s quite a lot of camera movement in the video which was all just done using the gimbal. Being able to track past the trio almost two dimensionally, as well as film down the line in order to create perspective just mixes it up a bit and keeps it moving visually. Getting the cuts right on a track that’s performed in 7/8 is a bit challenging, especially for a non-musician, but I’ve done a couple now so I’m getting used to it!
So that was it. A great little video that I’m really chuffed with having been a part of making, plus I got to hang out with Threaded who are lovely and great fun 🙂 You can check the final video out below: