The Making of "We Are One"

Mose Giganticus is a constantly evolving entity.  The band has been as small as a solo act, as large as a 5-piece, and has accumulated a list of past touring members 30 strong. These days, we're a duo - Matt and Joe - and we're excited about the release of our new video "We Are One" [watch it here]. We put a lot of work into making this video with the generous help of our photographer Christopher Kayfield and we'd like to give you a little rundown of went into it...

CUSTOM GEAR

Over the past few years, we've had a lot of ideas about interesting ways to mod our gear to incorporate visual elements (i.e. lighting).  Additionally, as a two-piece band, we need to multi-task to be able to perform songs that would traditionally require 3 or more people.

 

Joe is playing a custom baritone guitar by Electrical Guitar Co.  in translucent acrylic with separate outputs for bass and guitar pickups. Each output runs to a dual channel looper pedal before hitting Joe's prodigious effects pedal board, then out to individual bass and guitar amps. With some early help from William Ignolia (Iggy Lights), we've embedded LEDs into a routed channel in the back of Joe's guitar with an additional jack for lighting control input signals. 

 

All of Matt's drums embedded LEDs and batter heads to evenly diffuse the light.  Matt's kit is built around a cage to allow the hi-hat to be mounted on the right side, opening the left side for a keyboard, organ pedal board, and 4-space rack containing a Mac Mini running Ableton Live, a MOTU audio interface, DMX lighting control hardware, and various interconnects. The Ableton plugin DMXIS provides the interface between the software and lighting hardware.

LIVE PERFORMANCE FOOTAGE

 
 

The primary goal of this video has always been to showcase the lighting design of the performance. We covered the Live Room at Joe's recording studio (Red Planet) with black drop cloths and pumped in haze to accentuate the lighting and add to the spacey feel of the song. We started shooting with the wide static shot above, then played through the song another two dozen times while Chris tracked us from every angle he could manage.

NEBULA & FLOATING HEAD FOOTAGE

Though artsy performance-based music videos are fine and dandy on their own, we had some ideas for practical effects we wanted to incorporate. 

 

The nebula scenes are 95% real, live action footage, with a little bit of touch up and speed modification in post. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Joey Shanks (Shanks FX) for his inspiring PBS Video tutorial series on practical video effects! 

 

The "nebulas" are made with mixtures of a variety of interacting substances (vegetable oil, water, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, condensed milk, and more) and food coloring on a large sheet of glass suspended over a black backdrop along with some creative lighting. This part was half trial and error and half numbers game. We created (and destroyed) about 65 nebula scenes to get the few that ended up in the video.

 

The "floating head" shots were inspired by the opening shot from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody video, which itself was inspired by a photo of actress Marlene Dietrich. When we were discussing the mood of the video in pre-production, the vision of a disembodied head floating in blackness immediately came to mind. We used Chris' ring light to blast our faces with light against our black backdrop, then touched things up in post.

 

EDITING & POST-PRODUCTION

 
 

Once we had all the footage, all that was left to do was to spend a few months learning how to use Adobe Premiere from the ground up (with a lot of help from Lynda.com), then poring through a couple hundred video clips to arrange and stitch everything together, learning about color grading, export codecs, etc... About half way through the editing process, our best computer on hand was no longer up to the task of a ballooning video editing project, so we took a detour down the road of building a budget video editing PC (this time with a lot of help from PCPartPicker.com) to finish things up.

It was a long road, but we learned a lot along the way that we will be investing into the next project. Now to settle in for some well earned R&R...

 
 

 

 

Matt Garfield

Philadelphia, PA, USA