Catchup Post

Wow it’s been a week since I last posted…

I’ve been busy with planning a new music video amongst other things. This music video project has an interesting angle that convinced me to take it on; I’ve had a number of meetings from development to pre-production with the Producer, Richard Glover, and I’m pretty excited about the potential for it. If things go well we’ll be filming the biggest crowd for a hip hop video that I’ve had a chance to be involved in so that should be a spot of fun… We’re looking at shooting the video in early July with final release in early August.

I’ve also been working on the constitution for the next iteration of the PlayMaker Game Developers Association. We’re looking to establish the Association and take things to the next level with the support of other members of the wider community. We’re very lucky that David McLaughlin has provided great legal advice, support and input from day one and at this week’s Auckland Game Works Meetup he’ll be speaking and answering any issues raised by the community as we nail down the final details around the structure of the Association. There’s some more exciting news about this but I can’t say much til it happens!

I collaborated with Director Ashley Pitman on the last video I edited for The Hypnotics and after our final edit session we stayed up into the wee hours watching our favourite music videos and comparing notes. Ashley’s got a great eye and has been Facebooking me a bunch of video links that I aim to post over the next while with some thoughts. For now, I found this video and shared it with Ashley recently – it was shot on a 7D, a great little camera, and we both loved the ‘story’ and rich green colour.



Hypnotic R&B Vibes

We’ve finished the video for “Amour”, a song by South Auckland R&B group, The Hypnotics.

My role was offline edit and post production grading. It was an enjoyable experience – especially getting to know a bit more about the group and their support network, which included long-time friends and members of the crew. Noma and Rita (the admin team for The Hypnotics and for Anonymouz Workz, the production company for producer / musician Anonymouz) threw a video launch party in Onehunga on Wednesday night where singer Jess put on some tasty nibbles and we got to see the video on a large projector screen in all its finished glory. Noma, Rita and The Hypnotics in general like to keep a real family vibe to the proceedings which makes a nice change from some industry events and ensures a relaxing atmosphere.

One minor annoyance about the night was a purely technical one – and whilst not my fault, still something to do with me. The problem was the occasional stutter in the playback of the video – I took my laptop along (Sony Vaio) to play the vid in HD through the Infocus x1 projector (the laptop the team planned to use wasn’t up to the HD playback). I tested the playback before I left home and it was smooth as silk. However, plugging into the projector saw the resolution of my screen pushed down from 1600×900 to something sad like 1024×768; my guess is that the slight lag about 2/3rds of the way into the video was caused by the laptop having to ‘scale’ the video down to the res the projector was putting out. At least the audio sync caught up in short order…

The edit itself went well all up – the most productive part was when Anonymouz, Jess and Ashley (Pitman – co-director and writer) sat in on the final draft for 6 hours and we spat out the finished edit together (with a few pizzas in the mix). I know some directors/editors create the final video without any input from the artists and present it to them as a completed product but I really enjoy the process of involving the artist, when they want to be involved, and getting their insight on what works for them and what doesn’t. I find I learn a lot in the process too and each time I’ve taken something significant away that’s cropped up in how I treat the next video I work on.

Follow The Hypnotics on Facebook and check out Anonymouz, producer wunderkind at

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Dope Myoozik

Dope D.O.D. hail from the Netherlands and bring a fresh take on hip hop that matches pulsing electronica beats to euro-inflected street rap.

Their videos are a big part of their appeal for me, showcasing the grimy and gritty with a polished cinematic visual aesthetic. I like the way the videos are tweaked by effects that twitch and stutter like a visual representation of the electronic backbone of the music.

Their bio makes for an interesting read – they have a visual arts team comprised of four artists who handle the photography, videos and paintings. After seeing the video below and being taken by the marriage of dubstep and street rap I went poking around the interwebs and was impressed by the cohesive brand they present to the world via their strong visual style. It’s a great idea to have a dedicated art team – hopefully they will all evolve together in new and interesting ways.

Their debut album “Branded” is due September this year (2011) and I’ll be keeping an eye and ear out to see whether there’s enough depth to the group and their music to herald a new wave in euro hip hop.

Thanks Ashley for the heads up!

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Puddy Babypants

Those talented boffins at Mukpuddy Animation have put together the perfect little video for a track by Caspar Babypants called “Mister Rabbit”. (I always wanted to use the word “boffins” and now I really regret it…)

Caspar Babypants is a side project for the talented lead singer and songwriter of PUSA, Presidents of the USA, Chris Ballew.

The song is as catchy as any PUSA song; Chris Ballew reworks many children’s classics like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Mary had a little lamb” and makes them sound fresh and engaging all over again.

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Editing a music video – the balancing act

One of the interesting things about editing a music video, I find, is that there’s a real balancing act to manage the expectations of the artist(s) against those of the technical crew. This is even more apparent when working on relatively low budget productions.

The artist, of course, wants to look their best – and ideally that’s everyone’s goal for the video, as a music video’s primary purpose is to promote the artist and their music. The technical crew want their work to look the best – the shots they’ve taken, the way they’ve lit the set and every aspect of production that showcases their abilities. Their needs are also important as they are usually (at least in New Zealand) contributing their time and effort for a greatly reduced rate based on the understanding that they will use the resultant product as a calling card for their services.

The DP (Director of Photography) wants you, as an editor, to use only the shots with the best photography – the best lighting on the subject, the most interesting angle and ‘how’d they do that’ camera move. The artist wants only the shots that show their good side; those that catch their most natural moments of showmanship, not the ones where they’ve pulled a strange look to camera or performed an awkward move during the discomfort of trying to get “in the moment” at a public location with a crowded set and a tinny ghetto blaster providing playback(!). These issues may well be mitigated by larger budgets but with the scope of productions in New Zealand we are forced to deal with them on a regular basis.

The obvious issue that arises is when the needs of the two parties clash – the perfect shot that shows the DPs best-lit work contains a less-than-flattering angle of the artist, or the artist’s most natural looking moment of rock-star-cool happens as they pull back from their mark and go slightly soft focus… And when you’ve had to cram a three day shoot into one day there aren’t a lot of options.

Speaking of conflict between actor and crew, here’s the famous Klaus Kinski in one his many tirades at a crew member. The balancing act of managing volatile temperaments under pressure conditions is a whooole other post for another time…

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There’s no easy answer for this. My personal choice 95% of the time is to go with the best look for the artist over any technical issues – but I’ve also made the call at the 11th hour to completely reedit a significant chunk of a video because the DP was really unhappy with the shots used. In that case, the artist had made his own stipulations around any changes made to the cut he’d seen (i.e. we weren’t allowed to make any!) but thankfully, when it came down to it, he didn’t mind – I think mostly because he was unavailable at the time we had to make the edit and he only saw it much later so time had probably dulled his memory somewhat. I made the choice to edit, even so late in the piece, because my relationship with the DP was important to me and the shots used were important to him.

I don’t know if anyone else outside of NZ faces these issues but I know it’s something you have to get used to, working here. It keeps the tension high and makes for a significant personal win when everyone is pleased with the results! (fingers crossed for the current project!)

KeepAnEyeOut: Crescendo Mafia

I love NZ music.

With tinges of Kings of Leon and sweet harmony smatterings a la Crowded House, Crescendo Mafia are a power trio that sound as good acoustic as they do in full rock mode (check them out live on Balcony TV). There’s something vaguely Del Amitri about them too – I think it’s the sweetly interwoven harmonies and the sophisticated pop sensibilities that leak through in the bass lines and chord choices.

Big things are surely coming for them and I had an interesting chat with a friend tonight that has me optimistic about possibilities in the future!

Oi! Speaking of “NZ music”… two of the band members – vocalist/guitarist Matt Vankan and drummer Luke Vankan – are brothers hailing from Sydney, Australia; bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Eddie Gaiger is an NZ Idol Top 10er from Coromandel, NZ. It’s about time we stole some Aussie talent after all the artists they keep stealing from us! ;)

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Howdy y’all! I’ve been busy on version 2.0 of DJCXL’s dot com – and it’s finally gone live!

We’ve still got a bit to do but we’ll be rolling with regular video content and free mixes over the next short while. I guess this is as good a time as any to link to the new video by CXL’s boy – J Williams – who is signed to CXL’s label, Illegal Musik. Enjoy it yo!

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Got to be Antiform

Since I’m on the subject of New Zealand music (or soon will be ; ), I thought I’d take the opportunity to pimp a workmate’s band (not that they need it): the stonkin’ breakbeat electronica wizards Antiform.

This track – featuring Tiki Taane of Salmonella Dub fame – is a balls out, breakbeat, rock-fest with warm and dirty analogue synths and a moving bass line of phat proportions.

If I’d had Musicalis Eclectica back when Josh gave us the “sneak preview” of this video I could’ve been one of those elite “insider” blogs and lorded my advance knowledge over you all as if anybody cared what I had to say <— see? that’s my effort at doing it after the fact xD. Nevertheless, the track rocked and blew my head off when I first heard it: it’s electronica breakbeat with a very rock heart that appealed directly to my Prodigy and Chemical Brothers tastebuds.

Antiform are playing a gig at Zen and Fu on Saturday the 6th of September; I’ll be there, lighting up the dance floor with my awkward old guy moves – hopefully I’ll see some of you there!

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Lenny Kravitz via electronica duo, The Presets

I’ve been waiting for Sydney-based electronica act The Presets to release a video for the excellent track “A New Sky” from their latest album but they’re dragging their feet about it.

So here’s an apparently hard to find track – a Presets remix of Lenny Kravitz’s “Breathe” from the Absolut Kravitz compilation. I love the silhouette video and the Presets house-y style is a good fit for the song.

Oi! Swedish vodka brand Absolut, whose marketing campaign is responsible for Absolut Tracks, the source of the Kravitz remixes, has one of the most distinctive and long running ad campaigns ever (you know the one – the ubiquitous bottle with the words Absolut something-or-other at the bottom); South African art director Geoff Hayes says he came up with the original idea for the campaign whilst luxuriating in the bath.

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