18 April 2018
It was a pleasant afternoon in Silverton, Pretoria, as I arrived at Bernie’s Joint, a scrapyard/pub located near one of the main roads cutting through this industrial part of town. After a month of pre-production, the day has finally arrived. Today we shoot “Turn Of The Century”. The first single off The Black Cat Bones’ highly anticipated new album, “Here Is A Knife”..
Filming in Silverton, it only seemed fitting as this is the birthplace of one of South Africa’s biggest Rock bands, The Black Cat Bones. A band known for their energetic live acts as well as ground-breaking bluesy-rock albums. As I pulled up my car, I was greeted by Chris, André, Kobus, and Gareth. The energy levels were high as we quickly went through the general running order of the day.
Once the formalities were done, the band, joined by Kobus van Rooyen, proceeded to help me unpack my bakkie loaded with the gear I prepared for the shoot. As we walked through the rows of scrap metal and old vintage cars, I couldn’t wait to set up the camera and start filming. Every possible angle had a great shot waiting to be captured on camera. The spirits were high and the ideas were bouncing off our heads, as we all got together and prepared the set.
André gave me a quick tour around the location and once we had a bit of an idea of what we needed to shoot, we started preparing the drum kit for the first scene of the video - a rooftop of an old bus. Kobus van Rooyen, a close friend of the band and stage manager for festivals like Oppikoppi joined us on set and did a lot of the heavy lifting. Marina Maré, an old friend from my photography college days, joined us on set to capture some behind the scenes images.
Once we were done with the preparation for the music video, we decided to do a quick EPK as well as an acoustic performance of “The World’s In The Halos” inside the old bus.
We were a tiny crew involved in the shoot. Basically, Kobus, Marina, myself and the band were involved in creating three videos that day and we only had up until 22h00 to finish the music video. Terry Melic, a good friend and fellow colleague of mine, was kind enough to lend his Sony A7s II for the shoot. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to capture some of the low light scenery and cinematic slow-motion contained in this music video. The camera handled exceptionally well under the circumstances. However, that being said, I did have to hire a battery pack for the A7s II as the usual batteries included last around 30-40 minutes when shooting at 1080p @ 120fps.
The entire video was shot in Full HD @ 120fps and 25fps, with the backtrack sped up around 2x during filming. This decision was taken to produce a more cinematic result of the instruments and vocals being synced at high speed while still retaining the slow-motion look and feel. The entire video was shot using Cine4 Gamma on the A7s which made grading a dream (even though it was only 8-bit). In terms of lenses, I opted for Canon’s DSLR lenses attached by means of the Metabones V adaptor, in particular, we used the 16-35mm f2.8 Mark II, 50mm f1.8 and 100mm f2.8 Macro. All of this was viewed through a Lilliput monitor connected to the A7s II.
THE MUSIC VIDEO
The whole music video was the epitome of run & gun. André approached me with the idea initially of shooting in a scrapyard, and to create a Mad-Max look and feel to the video. The basic concept being the band members building up their own society at the turn of the century in a post-apocalyptic world. The video needed to be gritty, dirty and raw. We shot several takes of each member’s performance piece, both at 120fps and 25fps. The major drawback of shooting at 120fps was that the Sony A7s II did not record sound, which made syncing a bit of a challenge in post. After we shot individual takes of the full-length song, we proceeded to shoot close-up cutaways of each member and of the surroundings. During the shoot, the owners of Bernie’s pulled their camping chairs closer, watched the process go down and were kind enough to provide us with some food and an ice cold beer once we wrapped for the evening.
After we finished filming, the usual process of importing, sorting and labeling each and every take took place. Once that was done, the fun started. It was a matter of getting the right cuts at the right time to create the maximum visual impact to the song.
I’ve always been inspired by Rock music videos of the 1990’s and early 2000’s era and we wanted to create a video similar to that. You know, the ones you always saw on Super Rock on a Thursday evening around midnight. I would always record my favorite ones and study them relentlessly. Music videos like Korn’s Here To Stay, Limp Bizkit’s Boiler, Tool’s Parabola, and Nine Inch Nails’ Closer were used as inspiration during the creation of this video.
Finally, the video was cut together in Adobe Premiere with the VFX added in Adobe After Effects and graded in Premiere and Da Vinci Resolve using custom LUTs.
During the process, I invited the band to my office a few times to view different stages of the music video and give them a chance to offer feedback during the process. This was instrumental in creating the final product you see now.
The video was launched later in the year at the Independent Bioscope Theater in the heart of Johannesburg to a small audience of friends, family, and journalists.
In the end, the video was a great success and made me realize just how possible it is to shoot a music video without the means of a massive production crew. Everyone on set got involved and worked hard to create the video and it paid off in the end.
View the EPK and making of “Turn Of The Century” below.
Watch the Official Music Video