Here is another intriguing and inspiring project based on the one / single-take / shot strategy. This time it’s a music video featuring Grammy winner Macy Gray. Directed by Guido Fabris and shot by Lucas Preti on Sony Alpha 7sIII with Ronin S and ARRI Skypanels. Read his tips and tricks on how to perform your next clip in one take.
It looks like the one / single-take / shot is the hot movie trend right now. Last week we wrote about the 6-minute one-shot film shot with the ARRI Mini LF and the FUJINON Premista 19-45mm lens. This time around, we’re writing about much more affordable gear used to shoot a music video featuring Grammy-winning Macy Gray. The video was directed by Guido Fabris and shot by DP Lucas preti using the Sony Alpha 7sIII with Ronin-S and ARRI SkyPanels.
I shot this in one take using prosumer gear (Sony Alpha 7sIII and DJI Ronin) instead of the industry standard due to the fact that I had to do it myself with autofocus.
The biggest challenge for me was not the movement of the camera, but avoiding casting shadows on the talent and on the ground
YMCinéma Magazine: What prompted you to choose the strategy of taking a single song for a 4 minute clip?
DP Lucas Preti: The director, Guido Fabris, had the idea to shoot the entire clip in one long take, an “Oner”. He wanted to create an atmosphere “behind the scenes” and allow the audience to see the stage, the lights and the team. It was also interesting how the idea broke the 4th wall but in a very subtle way.
Always do the “Ninja walk” with the ronin
YMCinéma Magazine: Why did you choose this specific equipment?
DP Lucas Preti: From that concept, I decided to go for a small setup, something that almost looked like someone holding a phone and walking around the artist as he performed. To do this, I had to choose a smaller camera, with a sensor that gave us a “digital feel” while still maintaining good color retention. The camera then had to be mounted on a gimbal and operated according to the director’s specific instructions and adapting in real time to the artist’s movements, which were not always exactly the same take after take. To make the process more fluid, I decided to operate, this approach also reduced the communication time with the director’s contributions. Another very important aspect of choosing the camera was the autofocus features: we needed something that was nimble, lightweight, and capable of achieving the best autofocus system. We opted for the Sony Alpha 7sIII. AF Eye-tracking is really great and it doesn’t “seek” or breathe looking for something to focus on, it’s a very organic autofocus feel. For the gimbal, we used my trusted Ronin S, amazing battery life and strong enough to hold the camera with the wireless transmitter on top. Apart from the camera, what made the difference was the use of several ARRI S60 Skypanels, with the RBG controlled via DMX, we were able to change the mood of the scene in the different parts of the song.
Sony Autofocus rocks, ARRI Skypanels quality / RBG function always amazes me and sometimes a smaller camera is just a better solution than a full scale digital camera
YMCinéma Magazine: How many rehearsals did you do before the actual shoot?
DP Lucas Preti: We started working on the dynamics of the camera movements a few days before the shoot but we couldn’t really rehearse until the day of the shoot when the artist would have been available on set. We set up and tested all day and in the evening figured out where to place the camera during the different parts of the song. Then, during the actual recording, we probably did 10 to 12 takes. The biggest challenge for me was not the movement of the camera, but avoiding casting shadows on the talent and on the ground.
Then, during the actual recording, we probably did 10 to 12 takes.
YMCinéma Magazine: Please elaborate on tips and tricks for a unique long take regarding music videos.
DP Lucas Preti: What makes this video special (and delicate at the same time) for me is actually that the light changes seamlessly throughout the song. This element was a big part of the whole choreography and I think it adds a lot to that “dreamy” effect produced by the clip. What I learned from this project is: Sony Autofocus rocks, ARRI Skypanels quality / RBG function always amazes me and sometimes a smaller camera is just a better solution than a full scale digital camera. The only real advice I can share is this: make sure you list and understand the director’s vision and always do the ‘Ninja Walk’ with the ronin, lol. Many thanks to Noah Berlow for Immortal Cinema for taking me on board this project and to Macy’s and the California Jet Club for the patience to take over!
Watch the music video in one shot below:
Here are the products mentioned in the article and the links to buy them from authorized resellers.
- Sony Alpha a7 III mirrorless digital camera (body only)
- DJI Ronin-S
- ARRI SkyPanel S60-C Softlight LED with manual yoke