Case Study: Making of an iPhone 6 Music Video

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"I had lots of people going out of their way to tell me how beautiful it was, let alone how well it encapsulated the whole record.” - Teen Daze

In this article I am going to share the details behind a project I worked on recently with Jamison from Teen Daze. I am going to open up the details of our creative process, how we pulled off a beautiful video on a small budget, and more importantly how it's not the specific tools you use, it's how you use them. 

A Still from the video. Shot on my iPhone

Jamison was in the process of releasing his latest album Morning World when he contacted me about what it would take to make an album trailer. We had talked previously about collaborating on something, and it felt great to find something that we might be able to pull off.

We opened up the discussion initially talking about the goals and the feel of what he was hoping the album trailer could encompass. In this scenario Jamison had a fixed budget to work with from the label and that was what we had to work with. It wasn't a big enough project to go out and shoot a tone of new content for, so I started to think creatively of how I could use some material I had already been shooting.

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The Project Came At The Perfect Time

For the entire month before Jamison reached out, I had been shooting a timelapse everyday with my iPhone. As I went through life I would just set it up and capture these quick and beautiful shots. When we were brainstorming a concept for the piece it dawned on me that I could utilize all of the timelapses I had already been working hard to shoot.

Shooting it on an iPhone wasn't supposed to be a gimmick

We genuinely believe in this case that the footage I had shot with my phone was the best to use with the constraints we were working with.

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The entire video was shot with the above setup.

In my initial brainstorming with Jamison we uncovered that he wanted the piece to have an element of landscape transformations. This made timelapse a fantastic medium to use in order to reach these goals. Commissioning the shooting of an entire timelapse piece requires a significant investment due to the amount of time involved with such a piece. In this situation I considered all the shooting time that went into the timelapses as pro-bono, and the budget of the project was used to cover post production.

Building a Smooth flowing timelapse piece takes intentionality.

My goal was to have this piece feel like a natural journey. An experience that the viewer can go on paired with the beautiful music. This natural flow doesn't happen on accident. In this instance the ordering and timing of everything actually went through many revisions until it flowed just right.

I refined the piece over 16 different iterations until it was perfect
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http://www.leftcoast.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Image0000077.jpg

The Technical Details

The key to getting the best out of the iPhones camera is actually to avoid the native time-lapse function altogether. It is crucial to use an app that takes a sequence of pictures at the highest quality the camera is capable. The app I used was called Lapse-It Pro. I would shoot sequences of about 300 images in the app and then transfer them over to my computer to be processed. It is important for whatever app you use, to make sure that for each sequence you lock the exposure for that shot. This way you don't get any flickering changes in the shot throughout.

Once the folders of images were on my computer, I would import them into premiere selected as an image sequence. I edited this piece for 1080p output so a lot of the shots were able to be downscaled allowing for small pans and zooms in post.

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http://www.leftcoast.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/IMG_04861.jpg

Real world results

At the end of the day, non of this technical stuff maters if we did not reach the original goals of the project. I waited several months after the release of this video before writing this article. I wanted to have real world results and touch back with Jamison after the release to see if the video was a success. Here are some of the questions that I asked him.

Would you say that the album trailer was a success?

"Definitely. I had lots of people going out of their way to tell me how beautiful it was, let alone how well it encapsulated the whole record/project."

What was it like collaborating with Levi on this project?

"Levi has been a friend of mine for a long time, and though that can sometimes get in the way of a good working relationship, this project ran incredibly smoothly. In only a few short conversations, we were able to get on the same page about exactly what we both wanted the trailer to look like."

At what point do you let go of control trust the artist you are collaborating with bring the project to life?

"I'm definitely aware of my limitations when it comes to visual arts, and so I'm quick to hand the control over to a more experienced professional. I try to make sure I can vocalize exactly what it is I'm looking for, while still understanding that the collaborator have their own vision as well. Striking a balance between those two is pretty important."

You can order Jamisons new album here
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http://www.leftcoast.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/IMG_0494.jpg

The Most Important Take Aways

It is vital to the health and quality of the final video for there to be a creative process that is outlined from the start. There are lots of different steps and stages along the way, it's important to keep the project moving along and the working relationship healthy, especially between friends. As the professional the final results are my responsibility. This doesn't mean that I just do my own thing and be stubborn, it means that I create a space of listening to the clients goals in the beginning. Once I have listened thoroughly and have gained an understanding, that's when a plan of attack is implemented. 

Tools Don't Matter

At the end of the day I am not paid based off the tools I use. I am paid because I am able to professionally execute on a creative process.

There are people out there who believe that videos should be cheap and easy because the tools are so accessible.

Yes, I am so passionate that the tools are available more than ever before. But an accessible tool does not make up for a poor creative process. One thing I am really passionate about as a creative professional is having a proven process to creating story telling content of the highest possible impact. I don't settle for lower quality, I don't settle for mediocre, I only take on projects that I know have the potential to be my next best work.

How to Move Forward

If you are just starting out, be encouraged. You most likely have a tool in your pocket that you can make something beautiful out of. The main way to get better and create more professional work, is to do just that, create. Create create create. Practice. Trial and error. These are the most essential steps, not which camera you have in you back pack.

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http://www.leftcoast.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/IMG_6775.jpg

I wrote another article here on my timelapse film Beautiful British Columbia. I shot this film using only a 500$ dslr. I strongly suggest checking out out that post as well.

Levi Allen
Levi Allen