David Knight - 14th Sept 2020

Colin Read employs technical ingenuity to chronicle a man's descent to the brink of madness for Doves.

In the Broken Eyes video it's the same room, the same camera move (more or less) being replayed again and again. Each time a fraught domestic situation gets worse. It's a lockdown nightmare, basically.

But can this selfish, self-destructive individual pull himself together before it's too late? 

COLIN READ:

I tried to find a way to depict the progression of one person losing their grip on their loved one, their sanity, and their life.

"I was a fan of Doves in the early 2000s, so it was amazing to be able to contribute to their comeback release. Calling back to that era, I wanted to make a video that would have felt at home back in the glory days, when I was watching MTV on tube TVs.

"The song itself felt to me like the disintegration of a relationship; time slipping by, and yearning for what’s lost. So I tried to find a way to depict the progression of one person losing their grip on their loved one, their sanity, and their life. I landed on the looping room concept; it let me clearly show changes in our man’s environment, personal appearance, and mind state. Then, I just had to figure out how to do it with our resources…which ended up taking a lot of math!

"We shot the whole video in one room on a dolly track that turned 90 degrees, so that the camera entered, did a quarter turn, and exited through a door on an adjacent wall. We made our camera angles, speeds, and dolly arc identical as we passed through each doorway, so that when stitched together on the door frames, the room impossibly looped back in on itself.

"In order to make the looping effect work, I had to precisely time out the entire video in advance, down to the frame. I ended up making a basic 3D previs of the whole video, to help me figure out the timing and speeds that would make each scene feel most satisfying.

In order to make the looping effect work, I had to precisely time out the entire video in advance.

"And then I had to make a click track for the dolly grip. If we were to do this the 'right way', we’d have used motion control… Of course, we didn’t have the budget for that, so we had to control the dolly speed by hand.

"I broke down each “scene” of the video into its own click track alongside the animated previs, with a countdown from the entrance to the exit. Then on set, we put strike marks down on the floor that corresponded to each countdown, and attached a laser pointer to the dolly that pinpointed the camera’s mark along our timed path. Thus our dolly drip, the amazing Danny Green, could time his speed to exactly match the beats we needed to hit. (After this, Danny’s new nickname is “Motion Control.”) Along with that, any panning and tilting that happened within each scene needed to be levelled out exactly back to our starting shot by the time we left the room, so Logan Triplett (my good friend and DP) had to nail it all by hand.

"I also pre-recorded myself giving specific instructions over the click track, for scenes when the camera needed to slow down, stop, speed up, tilt, pan, boom up, etc…all at specific times to hit our marks. This way, I let the timings get programmed into everyone’s minds without needing to be barking out camera direction on set, and freed myself up to direct the cast.

"Some sequences took special planning in the prep time. We shot some scenes at double speed, and some in low frame rates, so we needed to then slow down or speed up the dolly moves so that their resulting on-camera tracking movement stayed continuous. And then for the upside-down scenes, we had to raise the camera to the equivalent level it had been from the floor, with the inverse angles.

"And if this wasn’t enough, we wanted to shoot it on film! Beyond just the aesthetics that matched our scenes’ time period, I knew that the imperfections of film would actually really help our technique and effect. Since things wouldn’t be quite so sharp and exact as if we’d shot digital, it gave me just a little bit of leeway when stitching things together; it hid any imperfections a bit, so that the effect sold better.

"Huge thanks to the entire cast and crew, who somehow got this all in the can in just one pre-light and one shoot day. Luke Carr, the production designer, managed to completely change the feel of our room seven times, and Logan along with gaffer Dave McCabe allowed us to fly through the same number of distinct, different lighting setups. And more thanks to our lead Andy Talen, who sacrificed his beautiful hair for us!"

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorColin Read
ProducerFrancesco Rizzo
Executive ProducerRik Green
Production ManagerDon Shapira
Director of PhotographyLogan Triplett
Focus PullerRachel Batashvili
2nd ACEmma Penrose
GafferDave McCabe
Art DirectorLuke Carr
WardrobeAbbey Oliver
Hair & Make-upJennifer King
EditorColin Read
ColouristJoseph Bicknell
Grading companyCompany 3
Post ProducerAlexandra Lubrano
VFXColin Read
Director's RepresentationHands London
CommissionerPaul Mckee @ Loose Joints
LabelEMI Records
Other creditsEP Production Service: Luigi Rossi Casting Director: Kate Antognini Production Coordinator: Leon Derriey Key Grip: Danny Green BBE: Brad Burke BBG: John Guillen Set Decorator: Linnea Crabtree Production Assistants: Tyrone Gibson, Elizabeth Ribeiro And Alex Korpi Set Medic: Edva Pace Film Processing Lab: Kodak Scanning Lab: Metro Post NYC Marketing Manager: Joshua Mainnie Management: Dave Role

David Knight - 14th Sept 2020

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