GEAR & TECHNIQUES FRAMES PER SECOND
are moving all over the place, and you have to make sure a ponytail
hasn’t shifted from this shoulder to that shoulder.”
Jared Bailey, international spokesperson at Benefit Cosmetics, gave
the team the assignment and also wrote the lyrics for the song sung in
the video. The budget for the shoot was tight, so Kohler and Griffiths
decided to produce the shoot themselves and put money toward
costumes and rehearsal time. “We had to be judicious about where we
put the money to get the most impact visually,” says Kohler, who adds
that everyone on the crew performed extra tasks. “Coming from still
photography, we’re used to working with intimate crews where we
know everyone’s name, but there were times when we’d say, ‘If only we
had two more people.’”
On the advice of a friend, they contacted choreographer Lawson,
who has co-choreographed shows for Madonna, and played her
the video’s song. In addition to choreographing the video, she
recommended a dance studio to use for casting calls and rehearsals,
which was far less expensive than a photo studio, and helped cast the
video. The directors had planned to hire models who can also dance,
“and Megan said, ‘Oh no you don’t,’” Griffiths says.
By the end of the rehearsals, the scenes were blocked and the
dancing was “pretty polished by the time we got to the set,” says
Kohler. As they have done with stop-motion work, they made detailed
storyboards for the Benefit video. These, as well as production
designer Sara Kugelmass’s renderings of her set designs, were
approved by the client before shooting began.
Kohler and Griffiths chose to shoot the video at Source Film Studio
in Hollywood, a green-screen studio that had HMI lights mounted
overhead. The overhead lights—roughly 40 1K HMIs in large softboxes
that could be controlled and positioned using an iPad—made changing
lights easy and avoided the need for light stands that could have
interfered with the movement of their cameras. Kugelmass painted the
walls pink and white and brought in cosmetics counters, mirrors, and
other props to transform the studio.
During filming, they shot with three Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIs: one
set on a jib, one on a dolly, and one handheld. The jib allowed them
to hoist the camera for high angles on the dancers, while the dolly
provided lateral movement with slightly more control. “It’s easier to
focus with the dolly, because the jib is going up and down and left to
right, so the focus puller had his work cut out for him with the jib,”
Griffiths says. “The dolly is a little more precise. The jib is a chainsaw;
the dolly is a knife.” The dolly also helped them get low angles when,
for example, “you want to make the dancers look tall,” Kohler says.
In filming the dance sequences, their impulse was to shoot wide
to show all the movement. But to get close-ups of someone singing or
zoom in on eyebrows, they relied primarily on the handheld camera.
“It’s nice to have that cut-away” during the editing process, says
Griffiths. “If you only have two cameras, it gets tiresome.”
Client Bailey was on the set throughout the shoot and was able to
check, but Griffiths notes that they kept shooting at a fast clip to get
everything done within the 12-hour day. Once the shoot wrapped, the
post-production was handled in New York, with Griffiths and Kohler
checking revisions remotely as they were made. During post, foreign-
language translations of all the signs on the set and held by models were
swapped into the video, and color was corrected.
The video has been used online and in retail stores. A “directors’
cut” version as well as a behind-the-scenes video, both edited by Wade
Davis, are on the Angela & Ithyle website.
The photographer/directors are delighted both with the results and
with what they learned from the experience. “We are in love with
shooting dancers. They are so positive and really playful,” says Kohler.
“Now we want to collaborate with dancers all the time.”
In live action, “continuity is huge,” says
Kohler. “People are moving all over the place,
and you have to make sure a ponytail hasn’t
shifted from this shoulder to that shoulder.”
ABOVE: Still images from the behind-the-scenes video that Angela & Ithyle made
during the shoot, which took place in a green-screen studio equipped with
overhead lighting. Controlled by an iPad, the HMI lights in the studio made setting
up multiple light stands unnecessary.