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Olympia 'Smoke Signals' by Alex Smith

David Knight - 8th Apr 2016

Alex Smith, director of some fine music videos in the Noughties - not least, but probably most famously, for Coldplay's Yellow – returns with this marvellous work for Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Olympia, brilliantly recreating the look of a Blondie video from 1979, then twisting the aesthetic with a visual device from a later era. 

This is Alex's second video for Olympia, and like the first it was shot on vintage tube-based Sony video cameras he's acquired since he moved to Australia. So with the video look being completely authentic - shot by Alex himself – the continuous repetition of her performance (including baton-twirling and guitar-playing) on the screen, created by old-fashioned, labour-intensive means, makes for a slightly disconcerting, weird and wonderful experience for the viewer. Like finding an old lost classic...  


"It was a real labour of love for me. Last year, I found an ad in Gumtree, a church was getting rid of it’s analogue video gear that it used for community TV broadcasts. So I pretty much bought a small 1980’s TV studio. I felt a bit like Weird Al Yankovich in UHF. I used them to make a video for Olympia last year

"Olivia (who is Olympia) asked me to work on another video this year, so Smoke Signals came about. She gave me complete freedom to do what I wanted. It was just weirdly lucky that she happened to be amazing at baton twirling. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who can do that, but I suppose you never know until you ask.

"It was all shot on a tube based Sony broadcast camera from the early Eighties. We put down about twenty-five meters of track, and our grip walked it repeatedly over two days. He must have walked over 17km. It’s one of the most basic of special effects. I tried to make sure Olivia was brightly lit and not wearing too much black, and then keyed out the blacks so she could be super-imposed over the previous take. Fin Design post production over here kindly helped me put it together, which really sped up the process.

"I really enjoy the hands-on approach, being able to see the seams of how it’s put together. I love the way tube cameras respond to light."

David Knight - 8th Apr 2016


  • Director's notes
  • Performance

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Alex Smith
Alex Smith


Director of Photography
Alex Smith


Robyn Winwood-Smith
Hair & Make-up
Amy Sartorel


Leah Howard


Post production company
Fin Post Production


Director's Representation
Revolver Sydney


EMI Australia

David Knight - 8th Apr 2016

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