April 4, 2013

April - It's a winter wonderland - oh wait - it's spring!

You wouldn't know it from the weather but spring has arrived on the South Shore.  There's a few crocuses popping their heads out of the frozen soil and getting smacked by the weather.  Waking up to a dusting of snow on the 3rd of April is not your humble correspondent's idea of spring.

And speaking of not my idea of spring, we've been shooting some videos over the last little while. Brandon Mercer and Chelsea Comeau are two hardy souls from the Halifax Centre for Arts and Technology and they came down to Lunenburg in March and we shot the footage for a couple of tunes from Wires Rosewood & Roots.  The first part of the shoot was easy - it was indoors chez moi and quite comfortable.  Then we went outside to about as cold a day in March as we could possibly have chosen.

The first piece we shot was Windrush and it was kind of a calm day during the morning.  We wanted to have wind effects and there wasn't much in town so Bob the genius had the idea we could go to Hirtles Beach just down the shore.  If there's wind on the South Shore, you can generally find it at Hirtles and we weren't disappointed.  Brandon's first words were, "This is perfect."  He and Chelsea set up some scenery shots of the waves and the whitecaps and the breakers washing over the rocks on the beach.  Then they said, "OK, Bob, get out the guitar and play."

It took a few minutes to set up the shoot and then I played the song all the way through.  By the time I was finished my hands were so cold I could barely move them so I had to go sit in the car with the heat full on to warm them up. Before long Chelsea and Brandon were in there with me.  Even though they had gloves on it was just as cold for them behind the camera as it was in front of it.  Once we were warmed back up, we went back out and did two more takes.  At this point, the director (Brandon) said, "OK I think we've got enough footage." The cinematographer (Chelsea) agreed and there was a mad dash to pack everything up and load it all back into the car before frostbite set in.

Next up was Waiting For McAfee, part of which we'd shot indoors earlier.  For this piece, we went down to Blue Rocks, a lovely spot just along the shore from Lunenburg.  It's a working fishing village and one or two lobster boats were bobbing in the water at their docks.  All very scenic and picture postcard.  Again, Brandon and Chelsea took a few scenery shots then we clambered down onto the rocks where Brandon said it would look good.  

It may have looked good but the wind was right in the artist's face and blowing right down the open-necked sweater and shirt and I just could not play.  They say you have to suffer for your art but this was too much.  Back we went to the car to warm up again and we drove around for a few minutes, found another spot on the rocks but with a little shelter this time.   Just like at Hirtles, we did the set up/play/car cycle and did two takes.   The director asked, "Have you got one more take in you?"  So being the battle-hardened veteran, I said, "Sure."  

I know my playing was a little untidy to say the least.  It certainly felt like my fingers weren't responding the way they should but Brandon was really excited.  The sun had dipped to the perfect angle and he said it was the best take of the three.    Fortunately, the soundtrack uses the recorded version of the music from the CD, not the live version.

I learned quite a bit about shooting videos that day.  I learned, for example, that my three favourite words are, "That's a wrap."   I also learned that there's a lot of sitting around while the director and cinematographer set up the shot.  At one point after we were all back at the house I commented that we'd spent about 7 hours shooting what would eventually become about 7 minutes of video and the response was, "Yeah, that's about normal." 

So then it was back to Halifax for Brandon and Chelsea to do the post-production work:  editing, marrying the music to the playing, and so on.  It sounds like the visual equivalent to audio mixing which can be a tedious process but they were looking forward to it because for them it's fun.  It was a great time and I really enjoyed working with the two of them.  They're young, enthusiastic and skilled - a pretty good combination.  I'm just about to head into Halifax for a look at the finished work, which I'll be introducing to an eager world over the next while.  Watch this space for details.

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