Flakjakt “Cascades” With Director Marty Martin
Well, Hi again!
After searching for some inspiring mobile device videos, this Flakjakt “Cascades” video along with another one we will be featuring soon, totally made me a happy camper. I got real excited when I first saw this video on YouTube that literally I played it at least five times whilst looking for the contact info for the artist and the director. I just had to figure out a way to get this out to ya’ll. I figured folks would have already seen it and it passed in their minds, OR (and I was more on this idea) this would be a great opportunity to show ya’ll that there are videos out there, quality videos mind you, that can peak videographers out of our mobile device community to produce work as outstanding as this here video. BY THE WAY, I gotta say, I’ve played this more than 5 times already…and I’ve got the clapping down to a T! It’s that addictive. I love this song!
So, we’ve been talking at Juxt HQ about how the mobile device technology will help in the development of photographers and other 2D artists. Also we’ve been saying how mobile artists will come from not only art and techie industries, but also the casual user base. So, we wanted to show the world what the possibilities are and also share the stories of the folks who are inspiring; from the 10 year old from Toronto (Shoutout to Charlie) to the amazing mobile photographer mom who finds a way to balance taking care of her family to producing some great quality art(Shoutout Belinda G).
Well, enter Marty Martin. Director for this video, professional, who will discuss with us some of his thoughts and thought processes with this music video. Now this is his only iPhone only production and I hope he does more in the future BUT do check out his stuff both artistic and professional. It will blow your mind. (I especially recommend the Lebron James trailer, Winter in March short, and the Guinea-Bissau trailer) I must also add, being from Seattle, this sure does make me proud! Big thanks Marty and Steve for this opportunity and for putting out an amazing music video…all shot on the iPhone!
Tell us a bit about the Cascades project.
When I decided to do the Cascades video I was in a bit of a crossroads. I had just finished my first personal video in years outside of paid client work and it had really inspired me to want to take more creative control over my career. Several days before the iPhone 4 launched I was working with my lighting technician on a video, when I discovered he was a musician. Something I had never learned over the 4 years we had worked together. When I listened to his music an idea hit me that could make for a good challenge and some exposure for myself and my friend Steve’s music: make the first iPhone 4 HD music video. We had 2 days to prep, and really didn’t have much of a game plan other than Steve had to compose something on the fly and I had to find visual elements to tie with his story.
I have always maintained that when it comes to art and music it isn’t about the quality of the instrument but rather the person using it. I have certainly gained a reputation over the years for being able to use little resources for big results, so using the iPhone 4 simply seemed like an interesting challenge. And with nothing on the line but a day of shooting and another of editing, we didn’t have much to lose.
Can you tell us the technical aspects of the filming? Also if you can go into the thoughts of how you saw the video coming about and how close did the final outcome get to the vision you had originally?
From a technical perspective my perspective on things had to be narrowed drastically. I’m so use to maintaining a technical and creative balance between a number of elements that constantly change when it comes to camera equipment: aperture, focal range, lighting, etc… Because there is very little ability to control any of these things with an iPhone you basically have to apply your broad knowledge in a much more streamlined manner, which at times requires workarounds. And given that I only had less than a day to prep the iPhone, this was even more challenging.
I looked at this as more of an opportunity than a limitation, however, and embraced a much more still “framed” kind of look, and thankfully we got lucky with a cloudy day which tamed a lot of the harsh lighting issues we could have experienced. So lighting was resolved CHECK. No ability to rack focus CHECK. No ability to move the camera quickly CHECK. That left me with finding interesting framing and a variety of locations that embraced the vibe of the music. When you move forward with such conditions and don’t question them, it actually makes the shooting process quite liberating.
By the end of it all, I really felt that we nailed exactly what I had set out to do on pretty much every level.
What did the musicians think of the final outcome?
Steve (Flakjakt) was thrilled. Hardly anyone had heard his music before this video. He was in my edit room for the marathon edit, which is no easy task if you’ve ever edited with me. I don’t just cut things together. I spend a lot of painstaking time testing ideas, reworking colors, and finessing minute details no one will ever notice. But we really had a great time sitting together and tossing ideas around. He’s a great guy who simply was thrilled to be part of something that was a team effort inspired by his own material.
What do you see are the pros and cons of using the iPhone for this project? What would you like to see as far as advances for the iPhone to make it a tool you would use more often?
There are more negatives to shooting with an iPhone over any other camera under most circumstances. But in this case the limitations were seen as “givens”, so there were neither pros nor cons when it came to this video. It just worked and served its purpose admirably. Some advances have already been made since shooting with the original iPhone 4. Sharper image, better colors, better lighting control… And of course there are lens adapters, which I was actually really tempted to shoot with for another video. But ultimately the basic flaws are those that any cinematographer or photographer cares about: more control over focus, more focal range, no worrying about wobbly rolling shutter, and accurate lighting (especially when it comes to highlights). If the number (5) wasn’t my unlucky number, I might be tempted to shoot an ambitious video with the iPhone5 when it comes out! Haha.
You said you also do photography with your mobile. How do you feel about mobile artistry now and in the future?
I have incredibly mixed feelings when it comes to mobile photography. On one hand I have seen (and shot) some amazing photography with the iPhone 4. But I also come from a background of shooting on old SLR’s where you didn’t have autofocus or auto-anything. I always apply my “manual” knowledge to anything I shoot. This makes me feel a bit like cheating when I can get a good picture out of an iPhone. I also dislike how available technology has become. On one hand it gives more people the ability to try things they couldn’t afford before, but on the other hand it allows a lot of people who aren’t necessarily talented to saturate the digital photography world with photos that look good because of a plethora of “filter” apps out there. I feel a bit for those who I consider truly talented artists who actually understand the fundamentals of photography and/or have an instinct for how to capture life in a still frame.
What would constitute you doing another iPhone video project?
Like I said earlier, it’s a technical hurdle that hasn’t been jumped over yet. There are some fundamental issues that need to bridge the gap between pro cameras and the mobile cameras. Otherwise if I shot something now it would be more of a gimmick than anything else, which doesn’t interest me in the least.
What would you suggest to folks who are thinking of doing a video project of this caliber on a mobile device?
Yes, but only if they understand how to use a SLR first.
Shoutouts. Credits. Who do you want to thank for such an awesome project!
Thanks to Steve/Flakjakt first and foremost. What an awesome friend and singer. Also to Kelli Taylor, my assistant, who is on every shoot with me. And lastly my little bro Jesus Calles who has now gone off and started his own photography business right out of high school.
Song was written in 2 days, video shot in 1.3 days and edited in 2 days.
In a fun weeklong experiment, my friend Marty and I collaborated on this video for an original song I wrote specifically for the iPhone 4 shoot. The overall goal was to produce a music video you can get down with – first and foremost – regardless of what camera we were shooting with. I think the end result turned out fantasmic! I hope you do too. – Steve
*** ‘CASCADES’ Now Available on iTunes ***
Juxt thanks you for you words and your art.