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Art Meets Tech

Dec 14, 2010 12:00 PM, By Chad Carlberg, director, Production Blue

Directing iTunes Video Pick of the Week, Guster's "Do You Love Me?"


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The band: guitar Adam Gardner, drummer Brian Rosenworcel, singer Ryan Miller

The band: guitar Adam Gardner, drummer Brian Rosenworcel, singer Ryan Miller

Because I'm a visual artist turned director, striking a balance between technical precision and artfulness has remained a career-long obsession. The clients who choose our company, Production Blue, value a core capacity to deliver both. But when recently directing the video for indie pop band Guster's latest single, "Do You Love Me?," which we co-produced with Bait & Tackle, my own creativity and the Production Blue team's technical abilities were tried to their utmost.

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With only three days of preproduction following Universal Republic's green light, the workload was immense. Aside from securing a shoot location, assembling a crew, and building and dressing a set, our concept for the video was very new, and we were not certain that the idea would work from a technical standpoint.

Guster's initial interest was piqued by a music video test I directed with photographer Liam King and artist Jon Sarkin, the man now responsible for Guster's album art and tour merchandise. But that piece was a stop-motion animated painting, and Guster wanted to include Jon Sarkin in their video to find a way to integrate the band with the art and the artist. It seemed impossible. If our goal was to create a music video in which an artist paints a scene on top of the band and set, we would need lots of time. Sarkin works very slowly. He paints on a smaller scale, and is entirely spontaneous and impulsive. So I considered ways to use technology to make the challenge of time work for us. I quickly decided that the band would need to perform the video in ultraslow motion, giving the artist enough time to paint the evolving scene. Sped back up, the band would appear to play in realtime and the art would unfold at 10 times speed—at least that was the hope.

Preproduction

We had little time to run tests with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a camera that neither technical director Emile Doucette nor I had much experience with. We chose the 5D because we planned to combine both video and stop motion within the same frame and could do so without changing cameras. The first test showed that we were onto something good, even outside of our original aim of getting more time for the artist to work. The awkward, jerky effect of attempting to recreate human movement in slow-motion is very watchable—so watchable, in fact, that co-director Sten Bowen and I decided that while it would be easier to perform at one-fourth speed, 800 percent slowdown would produce the kind of unexpected artifacts that we found most interesting. But with our scenes unblocked and our lighting setup still incomplete, it was impossible for us to determine final camera settings before the start of the shoot.

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