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First Blog Post! Music Video Shoot for "Marina and the Kats" with a Wheelchair.

Framing Marina on the Camera Monitor

First of all, welcome to Reel Arts Media's first ever blog post! I figured it was about time to start documenting at least a small portion of the thought process going on behind the scenes of my video productions. So here goes:

Today I'll write about a music video I filmed last year for the Austrian band "Marina and the Kats". They have been referred to in Austria as "The smallest Big Band on the planet", and I guess that sums it up nicely since they consist of only three members (Marina Zettl on the snare drums and vocals, Jörg Haberl plays the bass, and Thomas Mauerhofer on the guitar).

Thomas called me in December explaining that their producer Favela Gold wanted to direct a music video in Vienna for their new single "dirty", and were in search of a cinematographer / cameraman to film the video. Favela's vision was to have the video shot in one take, inside a mechanic shop, and with the camera always moving and panning around Marina. We weren't interested in going in the steadycam or flycam route. After all, the name of the song is "dirty", so even though we did want some smoothness to the shot, we still wanted to have a bit of "grit" when it came to the camera movement and overall feel of the video.

Setting up the C100 Mark II

Obviously holding the camera in my hands and walking around was out of the question since there would be too much camera shake. And no matter how "smooth" I try to walk with the camera on a shoulder rig, one can still notice the steps taken while walking around. So there was my dilemma: we wanted movement, great! Something smooth but rugged, OK! No steadycam, but also not handeld, nor any walking involved. How the hell am I supposed to pull this off?

Well that's the great thing about limitations, had we had every resource available to us, we'd probably lay some dolly tracks on the floor and combine it with a crane. I'm sure it would've looked and felt great, but that wasn't the case. And as independent film and video makers with limited budget and resources, we have to rely on our creativity to pull off video productions at times. So I suggested what any other creative cameraman would suggest: Let's get our hands on a wheelchair, put a board on top of it so I can sit up high, I'll strap the camera on my shoulder rig, while the director pushes me around...done! ;)

Wheelchair dolly in motion

Was it a perfect solution? No. Did it do the job? We definitely think so. The wheelchair gave us the somewhat smooth, constant and free motion we were looking for. And by having the camera on a rig it gave the movement a bit of roughness to it since shoulders aren't necessarily the best option to absorb impact, but just enough to give us what we were looking for.

I used the Canon C100 Mark II with the Canon 24-105mm F/4 L series lens, so keeping Marina in focus during all the moving around wasn't a problem since the camera has the built in Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus technology. As long as we kept Marina in the middle of the frame, she remained in focus, one less thing to worry about on set!

Wheelchair and shoulder rig in action

I didn't edit this video piece, Thomas was responsible for editing and color grading. I shot in Canon C-Log, with the Atomos Ninja Star connected via HDMI to the camera in order to capture the footage in Apple Prores HQ to a C-Fast card. Naturally C-Log is a very flat and soft image, needing lots of color grading and sharpening love in the editing suite. From what Thomas told me, they didn't add any sharpening to the video since they actually did want and prefer a very soft/old look and feel to the music video (which one can definitely see while watching). We didn't bring any additional lights and only used the normal tungsten lights available at the shop.

All in all it was a very fun and rewarding experience, too often during my video productions here in Austria I have to wear many hats and take over lots of responsibilities (cameraman, director, editor, producer etc.). So it's nice sometimes to not have to be the all-round videographer and just focus on being the cameraman and providing the best cinematography I can offer under the circumstances.

Check out the final video we produced below, it's a great song! Also make sure to follow Marina and the Kats on their social media pages by visiting their website here.

Posted by: Vitor Goncalves

Vitor Goncalves

Vitor is a filmmaker, cameraman and editor based in Vienna, Austria. He is the owner of Reel Arts Media.


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