Music To My Ears…

A bit of a different shoot for us this time – a wedding venue, full orchestra and a very, very, cold summers evening!


The bulk of this job was undeniably in the pre-production stage. Our gem of a Production Assistant, Ellen, found the most beautiful location on top of the Saddleworth Hills, at a cute little hotel and wedding venue. Her researcher skills also managed to secure a local community orchestra (shout out to Sale Chamber Orchestra) and one very enthusiastic actor.

Since the shoot was so heavily reliant on the music, it was important for the orchestra to have learnt the whole thing before the shoot, and what a brilliant job they did too. We’d had a bespoke piece of music created by a very talented young composer, that has really captured the essence of the video as well as the aesthetic the client wanted to produce

Aj-Bell-Video-Production-manchester-london-orchestra-music-advertShoot day

Of course, the typical English weather ensured we were granted with near-artic temperatures mid July. Thankfully however, it didn’t rain, and for a shoot outside, it’s all we could have hoped for and more – definitely seeing as expensive instruments were involved!

After the initial set up, we went on to spend the following couple of hours capturing the opening shots of our gardener/composer, mixing them up with both 50fps and 25fps. We found the majority of the close-ups were better-captured using 50fps as it would go on to add plenty of drama and suspense to the video, which is just what we were aiming for. The perfect, natural lighting that we were graced with at the beginning of the shoot, coupled with that incredible scenic backdrop, meant that we needed limited artificial lighting (bonus!!).

Aj-Bell-Video-Production-manchester-london-orchestra-music-advertOnce we’d completed the solo shots of the actor, it was time to get the orchestra involved. In order to honour each note with a representative movement, we needed to shoot the individual sections, one at a time. We began with the percussion, who open the piece of music, then built in the other instruments section by section, respective of the building crescendo.

When we’d finished filming what we needed in daylight, the cast and crew all headed inside for some well deserved grub, and to warm the old bones, until the sun had set and it was on to the next stage. Unlike the daylight shots, the night shoot required an extensive lighting set up, with numerous diffusers, coloured gels and some experimental flickering of lights, so that we were able to create the weird and wonderful dream–like sequence. The crescendos in the music really helped both the orchestra and actor get into character, as well as building an electrifying atmosphere on screen.


Our editor was giddy with excitement to get started on this project, purely because it was going to be a challenge! It involved tirelessly matching up the shots of the musicians playing a particular note with the correct note being played in the score, as well as getting the shots to fit with the beat of the music. Because this isn’t comparative to a normal music video, where it is the dialogue that has to sync, it gave the editor the extended task of ensuring that every note being heard, is mirrored by the note being played on screen. For a non-musical editor, this was definitely a fiddly one!!


It was also a great one to play around with the colour grade. Because of the nature of the narrative, it meant that the viewer is questioning whether the orchestra is actually there or if it’s all in the gardener’s head. The colour grade massively helps differentiate the two parts of the narrative and confused the viewer even more, which is what we wanted ☺

There’s a lot of jump cuts and ramping in this one guys so enjoy…

AJ Bell Investival, 2016

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