The Making Of Passion Pit's "Take A Walk" Takes Us On A Helicam Ride
For Passion Pit’s “Take A Walk” music video, the debut track off their upcoming album Gossamer, we teamed the band up with UK-based director David Wilson. The 26-year-old filmmaker has already made a name for himself creating quirky and unusual music videos and animations, working with artists like Metronomy and David Guetta.
No two of Wilson’s videos are ever the same, ranging in visual style and tone, but one thing that’s constant is his apparent thirst for experimentation, as each one explores an entirely new aesthetic and technical approach. We knew that he’d come up with something truly unique for Passion Pit’s track, and Wilson didn’t disappoint.
Since the song is very personal, Passion Pit’s frontman Michael Angelakos didn’t want a literal video. Instead, Wilson chose to focus on the motion of the song, the swinging crescendo of the music, and came up with the visual metaphor of a bouncy ball bouncing through the city and countryside. The video is shot through the ball’s point of view, and to achieve that springing sensation of flight, Wilson ended up enlisting the help of the helicam company SnapRoll Media. They attached a RED Epic camera to a helicam and, with practice, were able to make the aircraft bounce—no easy feat!—to create the stunning, vertigo-inducing shots in the video. (Incidentally, Snaproll’s filmmaking drones are also popular with Creator Curt Morgan of the extreme sports filmmaking company, Brain Farm. Read more about the helicam technology in our interview with Morgan.)
A helicam in flight on the set of Passion Pit’s “Take A Walk” video shoot.
Today, we’re taking you behind the scenes on the set of the “Take A Walk” shoot to see the helicam technology in action and hear Wilson and Angelakos explain how this far-flung video concept came together. You can watch the Making Of video above and the full music video here.
This past Monday, David Wilson hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where he fielded questions about his career, directorial approach, and previous and upcoming projects. We’ve included our favorite questions and responses below but you can read the full interview here.
How much do you listen to the artist’s music before making the video? Do you feel it’s important to know it well before making a video for it? [via hyperspeed14]
Oh, absolutely! I need to know it inside out. I will spend weeks listening to the track on end, often on repeat. I develop an animatic (a storyboard timed with the music) in order to develop my shots in advance of filming. I am always responding to the music. Even with a more narrative piece like the David Guetta “Titanium” video, it’s integral that the rise and fall of the drama fits with the musical accompaniment.
Do you have a certain process to mapping out visuals for a music video? How much collaboration is involved between you and the artists? [via PearlsDream]
There are two ways of mapping out the visuals for a project. The first is when you’re writing the script; I’ll pull together reference images and film clips to describe the look and the tone of the piece, and, when that’s accompanied with the script, it should paint a pretty good idea of how the film will feel to watch. The second is storyboarding and doing animatics and tests. I do animatics for every music video I’ve created, because I want to ideally get as close to fully realising the finished film before I set foot on set. Very often you only get one or maybe two days to fulfill your four-minute short film. You can’t waste a shot! And it also really helps when communicating with your assistant director and crew, and when things start to get crazy on set you can keep a clear head.
In terms of how much collaboration there is between myself and the artist, it really differs on every project. Usually, if the artist’s sold on the treatment, they let you get on with it, and the main creative decisions you need to collaborate on before the edit is the styling of the artist if they’re in their video. However, everyone has a say on the edit. Unless it’s something like the Japanese Popstars promo, where it was “This is it! Take it or leave it!”. I guess, with the majority of my projects being pretty diverse, there hasn’t been a set rule as each project naturally allows for a certain amount of collaboration.
Would you say you’ve developed a style of your own? From what I’ve seen, each video of yours is entirely different—you seem to flex yourself and your style to fit the music you’re working with. So, what would you say you bring to each production that is uniquely yours? [via Hobmcd]
It’s interesting. People ask me a lot about style. I am very keen to flex myself in varying directions. I want to experiment and push myself; it’s a very challenging, but rewarding, way to work. However, it hasn’t been the easiest career choice because people like to pigeon hole, and it’s lead to quite a lot of stop-starts in my career. For example, it was nearly eight months between Japanese Popstars and Metronomy “The Bay”, ‘cus people kept asking me to do animated videos. It was therefore crucial that I created low budget work (for example, Keaton Henson “Charon”), which showed I could work in live action, in order to bridge gaps and ’un-pigeon-hole’ myself. I guess what I bring to a production that’s uniquely mine is myself. Everyone’s extremely different in this industry, but the people I draw most inspiration from are the people that diversify. Dougal Wilson is a prime example of this.
As a director, how do you think movie making has evolved with new technologies? And how do you use 3D? What technology are you looking forward to working with in the future? [via Shahneze]
The best way movie making has progressed from a purely technological point of view is what you can do with the camera and where you can put it; which angles can you achieve that you couldn’t before; how long can a single shot last (that rescue scene in Children of Men springs to mind). However, what’s the most exciting is seeing something unexpected. In my mind, that’s why seeing something like the time-splicing effects in the Matrix for the first time, and NEVER having seen anything like it before was 100x more impressive than seeing Avatar in 3D; even if you hadn’t seen 3D before. It just didn’t slap you ‘round the face like The Matrix did because it wasn’t that good a piece of filmmaking. What really makes a difference is the director using the technology, not the technology itself. I guess that means it’s less about what technology I’m looking forward to working with in the future, and more figuring out how technology can help me translate what’s in my head. 3D just isn’t an enticing enough option to explore at the moment. It takes a long time and can dramatically drain resources. From talking to music video directors that have shot with it recently, or done it in post, I’m yet to be convinced it’s worth it… for music videos anyway.
What do you think of interactive music videos, like browser-based ones? Do you see these becoming more popular and replacing the conventional music video? [via Piney23]
I think they’re super exciting. They have potential to expand a viewing experience in a really interesting direction. However, I doubt they will replace the conventional music video. Like how TV never replaced Radio. It’ll be a complementary addition.