Thursday, 30 June 2011

Work in progress teaser

I'm making slow progress on the largest painting I've done in about 5 years. It's an acrylic on card commission, and measures roughly 80cms x 40cms (32" x 16").

The photo below is a wee teaser, showcasing the painting and my re-arranged work space (which is temporarily set-up to accommodate work on this painting).

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Making of... "Fear Is On Your Side"

Apart from my animation work, this music video is probably the biggest personal project I've taken on to date.
The entire video consists solely of band practice footage, with no parallel storyline (as you see in the majority of music videos) therefore I had to spend a huge amount of time synching/editing all my recorded footage in order to create the video you see below.

Because the editing process for this project was unlike anything I've done before, I've decided to write more about it for anyone that may be interested...

As you may have read in my previous post about the music video, I had spent about an hour filming the band while they performed the song multiple times (so that I could film different takes and camera angles), and ended up with over 90 pieces of video footage.

After downloading all the footage from both cameras onto my laptop I went through a lengthy process of watching every piece of footage so that I could delete the rubbish/irrelevant pieces while renaming/labeling any pieces that I wanted to keep for possible inclusion in the final music video.

Some of the 90+ pieces of footage renamed for easy identification.

Once all the pieces of footage were suitably renamed and easy to identify, I opened my editing software (Sony Vegas Movie Studio) and set about synchronizing all the different bits of video footage with the band's pre-recorded music track.
Having not really made a music video like this before (with each band member filmed separately and getting edited together later) I was unsure of where - or how - to start editing all the footage. The first few minutes I was almost aimlessly jumbling bits of footage around the timeline hoping I could quickly figure out how best to proceed.
Soon realising that this would be a very time-consuming project, I came to the conclusion that there were no easy shortcuts, and that the best way to proceed was by taking a simple, albeit long, route...

My instinctive approach was to just work my way along the timeline, adding and editing all the relevant pieces of footage as I went. However my aimless jumbling of footage around the timeline (as mentioned earlier) made me realise that it would be far easier to work on footage of just one instrument at a time, rather than working on all four instruments simultaneously. As a result I only ever needed to work with a small percentage of my overall pieces of footage (which is easy to keep track of) and the number of video layers I was working on was also of a lower quantity.

I don't suppose that the order in which I edited each instrument matters much to the final product, but at the time it seemed as though the drums would be the best place to start. The drums had the largest quantity and quality of video footage to choose from, and therefore seemed like the best instrument with which to find my feet and build upon.

Working with the longest pieces of drum footage first, I added these to the timeline on various layers and synched each of them with the dubbed version of the song. Once all the long pieces were added and synched to the song, I began editing them all down into one video layer by snipping and deleting all but the worst pieces of overlapping footage.
This allowed me space on the timeline to reduce the number of video layers I needed to use, and meant I could start adding new smaller pieces of drum footage without worrying about mixing up the existing edit.

Example of longer video pieces at the bottom, and new short pieces above.

The idea of building up all this footage for just one instrument at a time was that I would end up with a full music video of nothing but that instrument: Afterwards I would do the same for the other three instruments, and then all I had to do for the final edit was layer up all four videos and cut away small sections from each to create the conventional editing you see in the finished video. (It was perhaps simpler to do than it is to read or understand!)

After 14 hours of editing the drum track I began work on the vocals because they feature for only a small part of the music video, and I felt that it was important to know how much of the vocal footage was useable before committing to the project any further. (There wouldn't be much point editing the rest of the footage if I'd have to re-shoot much of it).

For the vocals I started a new project in my editing software, so that I could go back and edit the previous drum track if I needed to do so later. But rather than work on a blank timeline I imported a copy of the finished drum track so that I had some sort of reference material that didn't make it feel like I was editing a near-empty video (cos remember that the vocals feature for less than half the song). Once complete I rendered out the footage as a new video file of vocals only, meaning that I now had full-length video files for both the drums and the vocals.

By a late stage in the second day of the project I had started a new project for the bass guitar footage. This consisted of only two full-length pieces of footage and a few smaller pieces, so compared to the drums was a breeze to work through. I saved the bass edit as another full length video file, and was now roughly three quarters of the way through the full project.

On day three I was finally working on footage of the last instrument - guitar. Again footage consisted of only two full-length pieces and a few smaller pieces, yet the guitar solo and many varied camera angles made editing a bit trickier than the bass guitar footage.

After three days of synching and editing (equating to roughly 30 working hours), I had complete video files for each of the four instruments: So for the final time I opened yet another new project, and began the final stage of editing.

At this stage I had each instrument video edited in what I regarded as the best way possible, and all four complete video files were now layered up in the timeline ready to cut for the final music video.
This is definitely where the simple yet long working method that I had selected at the beginning of the project began to pay dividends: All I had to do now was use the beat and rhythm of the song to edit the video in small sections, and then choose the best instrument to display for each section while deleting the other videos from it. (The image below demonstrates what I was doing - notice how all the video layers, bar the bottom one, are cut into small sections with few overlaps between them all)...

Screenshot of all four instrument videos layered and cut for the final edit.

Once all the layers were cut into small sections and I was happy with how the full video now played, I considered the project complete, and rendered out the finished music video ready for publication.

Overall I'm pleased with how the project turned out. It was certainly more work than I anticipated, but it was good practice, and I learnt a few more things about the editing software that I bought late last year.

The positives to editing with this method are that:
+ It's relatively easy to keep everything under control;
+ It allows for a mix of synching and editing, rather than a huge amount of tedious synching prior to any fun editing.

The negatives of this method are that:
- You tend to spend loads of time editing nice little sequences for one instrument, forgetting that it's likely to get hidden by the editing of other instruments later on, which ends up being a waste of time.
- Although I say it's easy to keep everything under control, I'd imagine that if you accidently delete a few video or editing files before completing the project and can't retrieve them, then you'd be in big trouble.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Music video: "Fear Is On Your Side"

A couple weeks ago I filmed and edited live-action footage for my latest music video: Fear Is On Your Side by Kill The Commodore, a melodic metal band from Perth.

We filmed loads of footage on two Sony Handycam video cameras during little over an hour in the small practice room of Clearwater Studios, Perth.

The compact size of the darkly-lit room with a large bright window presented some challenges during the filming process, however we managed to overcome these to a good extent.

I always knew it would be difficult to imitate the professional sheen of the music videos that we were using as inspiration (Slipknot's Before I Forget and The Eyes Of A Traitor's Come To My Senses), but considering our equipment and location I'm pretty happy with how the finished video looks.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Andy Murray caricature 2011

As part of my current tennis caricature series, here's Wimbledon home favourite Andy Murray.

The colouring here, in much the same way as the Nadal caricature previously, is very different from my 'normal' caricature painting style - which is all part of my ongoing experimentation.

Nadal was painted in quite a colourful style, vaguely inspired by the illustrations of Edwin Georgi.

Murray on the other hand, I tried to paint in a monotone style patriotically inspired by the blue and white colours of the Scottish saltire. Unfortunately this caricature has simply ended-up looking dull, as if a plain blue tone has been placed over a greyscale image... Perhaps I will re-paint it later with a bolder blue and white style that uses less midtones to see how that looks - that would certainly be more like my original intentions.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wimbledon caricatures

I've been working on a number of projects recently, but until they are ready to unveil here are some caricature experiments inspired by recent tennis tournaments (Roland Garros, Queens, Wimbledon).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Rafael Nadal.

Roger Federer.

Despite having a little tablet pen for about a year now, I've only just got around to properly installing it on my computer and personalising the settings. It doesn't work quite as perfectly as I'd like, but it's nice to experiment with every now and then...
These caricatures started off as quick, loose, pencil sketches that I had planned to paint with watercolours (as I normally do). However I admired the 'unfinished' quality of the first few drawings, so I decided to scan them and try painting digitally to see how they turn out - and I'll return to traditionally finish the original drawings at a later point.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Experimental Promo

On Monday I was filming live-action footage for a short promo about an upcoming collaboration between myself and Edinburgh-based sound engineer Chris Bathgate.

We previously worked together on my 2009 graduation film, Pigment of Imagination, and this second project is the result of several ideas that we have since developed.

Embedded below is the 80-second Experimental Promo made from Monday's footage:

The above video should serve as a bold taster for the kind of work that we are currently developing: It is very abstract (which I'm intrigued with), however the upcoming collaboration will be a bit tamer with some kind of narrative background.

The plan now is to devise a bizarre script and shoot/edit the film before Chris creates a new song specifically for the film.