Every once in a while, I get an email from ReverbNation letting me know I've achieved a new chart ranking in my local area. Before I got into videography, I was on a course to be a professional singer/songwriter. I still hang loosely to those musical roots and my hometown on ReverbNation and MySpace Music is still listed as Port Townsend, Washington. It's a small hippie community across the Puget Sound from Seattle and I am currently #10 on the local ReverbNation charts.
During college I spent a semester at the Contemporary Music Center on Martha's Vineyard (and I have the ankle tattoo to prove it). During the summer after CMC, I wrote and recorded my fourth full-length album entitled "Back-Seat B-Sides" which included the song Friday Mornings which was a tribute to the shenanigans 25 musicians get up to when they're sequestered on an island for six months. At the end of that summer in 2007, I conscripted a couple friends (Ian Leslie and Chelsea Hampton) to come out with me one afternoon to shoot a music video for Friday Mornings. It remains the featured video on my ReverbNation page so I thought that for this week I would reflect on the memory and the tech.
I don't have access to the original source files but I believe that the camera we used for this project was a Panasonic DMC-FZ7. It recorded video at a whopping 640x480 VGA resolution onto MMC cards (the precursor to the SD card). At the time I didn't even really understand what video resolution was. During high school, I shot little video projects all the time with my friends using our family's Panasonic Hi8 tape-based camcorder but there was no editing to speak of. The best we could do was a simple teleport effect which involved stopping the camera and turning it back on once the subject or object had been removed from the scene. But I digress.
This music video was shot over the course of an afternoon and it was the most complicated video I had done to date. This wasn't the first multi-cam style project I had done but it was on this project that I first formulated the source-to-timeline ratio that I still use for most of my projects today. Since everyone involved had time on their hands we decided that since the song was a little over four minutes, we decided we needed to shoot 20 minutes of solid content. To this day, I still usually aim to shoot enough content that I have five times as much final, usable content than I need for a given project. For synchronization with the music, I wore an earphone (which you can see in a few of the shots) plugged into my trusty Toshiba HDD120 mp3 player.
At the time, I was still trying to figure out exactly what my style or musical genre was going to be. I struggled while at CMC with putting a label of any kind of myself or the music I wrote. I was more or less comfortable with the term "acoustic alternative," probably because the term sounded vague and undefined yet intentional. I wanted the music video to capture a moody, brooding feeling in terms of imagery so a handful of the shots were filmed lying on the train tracks running West past the Messiah College campus towards Shippensburg. At the time, I self-described my style as being "emo-at-heart" and I think a lot of the serious staring into the distance was a fading attempt to still fit into that bizarre niche.
Looking at this video eight years later, though, I have I'm distinctly impressed by the framing and composition. I would have to check but I don't think that either Chelsea or Leslie had much experience shooting video before this but I can honestly say that some of the shots they came up with are damn impressive. I'm not by any means ashamed for this to be one of my early works. The song itself always had a transparent simplicity that I found refreshing and that early combination of sepia and film scratches comes across nicely.
I hope you enjoy it as well.