If you follow us on social media, you may have seen our music video for mechanical blues artist and one man band, ‘Funke and the Two Tone Baby’ (AKA Dan Turnbull). Dan and I had worked together once before on another video for a track called ‘Battles’ back in 2013. This was a fun little choreographed one-shot Steadicam video that featured a troupe of about 50 drummers. It was well received and fun to make, but I couldn’t help but feel it failed to show off his skill as a performer.

The Follow Up

3 years later, I spoke to Dan and offered him a second video. This time we’d record an ‘as live’ track, which is to say it’s a live session audio recording, but the visual element is actually made up of various angles set up over several takes. As this one had no budget, we used only our in-house kit, which included two Sony FS7 cameras and a selection of Canon and Samyang EF lenses.  We then used the best audio take for the edit, which was kindly recorded and mixed by Ross Mulhare at R James Audio, and used it as a foundation on which to build the visual element – as if we were editing from a studio track.

Recording a Live Music Video

The only problem with doing a live track this way when there’s no drummer, is that your artist’s timing can be off between takes. We couldn’t use a click track (a sort of metronome that the artist can follow to keep in time) because we’d hear it in the recording. To get around this, Dan pre-recorded the very first bar of his guitar introduction during the first take, and stored it to memory on one of his pedals, so that he could call it up again for every take.   This way his timing was always spot on.

Approaching The Edit

That’s not to say it was easy to edit. At the time of filming, the song was unreleased and so fresh in Dan’s mind that he was making new decisions and changes to the track right there on set, live on camera. So there are actually elements in the audio recording that appeared in take 4, for example, that weren’t there in take 2. In the edit, I had to make sure I wasn’t seeing Dan playing a note that didn’t appear in the chosen audio track.

The Venue

The venue was a bar/restaurant in Reading called ‘RYND’, now sadly defunct. It was a beautiful venue with exposed brickwork, neon lights and those warm tungsten bulbs with the funky filaments hanging from the ceiling. A hipster’s dream. We had to do very little to dress the set, so it was just a case of lighting the subject nicely. As we got plenty of colour from existing lights/signs in the venue, we only used two lamps – a 650w Arri Fresnel with a chimera soft box as a key light, and a diffused 350w Arri Fresnel up high as a back light to bring Dan away from the backdrop. We had just about 4 hours to pull the whole thing off before customers started appearing, and we just about did it with time to spare. There were about 13 takes in total if you include little pick up/filler shots here and there.
For the camera nerds out there, the video was shot in 4K, S-log 3 and exposed to a Rec709 monitor LUT. Shooting in Log 3 gave us a lot more dynamic range than I could have hoped for in such a moody setting. I’m constantly impressed by the amount of latitude these cameras are giving us for the price!

For Dan’s account of the day, visit his blog here.