Tag Archives: seattle

“Classic” by Pacific Ballroom Dance

As part of the not-for-profit Dance Short Films project, I recently spent two hours with the Youth Premier team at Pacific Ballroom Dance and we filmed one of their formation routines that was originally set for stage. These kids are a blast to work with, as are their talented directors, John & Lara Graham (also choreographers of this piece).

Stylistically, I originally wanted to shoot and present the whole thing in one take, so we filmed it four times as one-take clips. They were fun to watch, and really showed off the excellence and consistency of the dancers, but I also felt that the energy level was higher when I cut between locations, and that it felt like a more presentable product with a few cuts in the middle. You can watch one of the single-take versions here:

Anyone who is familiar with my dance work will notice that this was filmed in a very different style, compared to the more story-based films I generally direct. With this piece, I wanted to highlight the formations, rather than close-ups of individual dancers. It was a stylistic choice, partially to respond to a current trend of showing a lot of close-ups of dancers but not showing the movement of the whole body. When 16 dancers are involved, the group formation movements are also as important as the movement of any individual dancer, and the formations become a dancing body in and of itself. I didn’t want to hide the movement of the body of dancers as a collective whole, so I felt that a simple, more pure presentation of the art of formation dance was the direction I wanted to take for this piece.

This was shot in raw (CinemaDNG) on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, which was mounted on a DJI Ronin-M 3-axis brushless gimbal stabilizer. I monitored the picture using a SmallHD SDI AC-7 display, and we played music back using a DJTech 50 portable PA speaker that I’ve been using for music videos for the last few years.

I processed the color in DaVinci Resolve 12 and edited in Adobe Premiere. I chose not to use any digital stabilization of the picture, just because I liked the relatively raw feel of the long continuous takes.

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“NPR” by Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – Puppet Rap!

If you ever have an opportunity to make a rap video starring custom puppets, I hope you take that opportunity.

Background

When Can’t Stop Won’t Stop released their LP “Wildebeest” in 2013, I pinged the group about doing a music video for a song on the album. They were 100% interested, and the plan was to film something when I was next in Los Angeles. Over the next two years it felt that my work in L.A. either didn’t line up with times when they were in town or I didn’t have time to tag on an extra project while down in California.

Eventually a window aligned when the group was sort of available at the same time that I was sort of available, but during that week, none of the vocalists would be in the same city – they were scattered all over the USA. My first though: make an animated music video! My second thought: use puppets! The band was down with the idea, so I began putting out feelers for excellent puppeteers.

My brother Morgan helped me find Randall McNair of Widgets, Inc., who is basically a reincarnation of Jim Henson. He and his wife Lucy proved to be amazing people to work with. They brought a lot of creative juice to the mix and were total professionals in every way. They have a fair amount of film experience, as well as tons of live theater experience, and they were patient with the rest of us while we worked through the learning curve of filming puppets in action.

Shooting the “NPR” video today and tomorrow with the homie @garrettgibbons – Is my nose really that green tho?! A photo posted by CANT STOP WONT STOP (@cswsmusic) on

 

Production

We began filming in Utah, near where Randall and Lucy live (they had just come back from a few weeks working on a show in Alaska). Filming was relatively straightforward once I started figuring out how to film a puppet in action. The train footage was hilarious to film because people kept walking through the aisle, and they had to step over Randy and Lucy, who were laying in the aisle with their arms raised between the seats to operate the puppets. One security guard just casually stepped over them without batting an eyelid. I guess they see far weirder things on those trains.

We filmed the first verse in front of David Eff’s pink truck that sells frozen bananas, and put out a call to fans to invite them to come and dance it up. Here’s a behind-the-scenes video clip of Randy and Lucy in action, obviously rapping along with nearly every word from the song:

My favorite setup was the recording studio (June Audio Recording Studios in Provo, Utah), which was a shot I had previsualized early in the creative process, and was thrilled to see the footage turn out almost exactly as I had originally envisioned. Normally, during the development process things change and evolve, and the process is a journey that leads somewhere I hadn’t initially planned. When this happens, though, and the strong initial vision is brought to fruition without mitigation, it feels great.

The Mercedes SLK 500 was a blast to work with, as well. David Eff found this car and its owner at a local car show a few weeks before production began. He wasn’t entirely sure what he was committing to, but there’s something special about being able to turn to an elderly gentleman and say, “Sir, can we have this puppet drive your car?”

Never fear! Our puppet rap video has a Benz and gold chains. A photo posted by Garrett Gibbons (@garrettgibbons) on

We filmed the green screen footage in a park, using one pink bike that I bought from a thrift store for $5 the morning we filmed it. I wanted to harness the cheesy chroma key composite feel of early-90s Sesame Street, and I feel like it turned out just right.

All in all, this project was a blast to work on. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop have a huge amount of energy; I hope to be able to work with them and the McNairs in the future! Enjoy the video!

NPR music video

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“Sharper Tool; Bigger Weapon” – The RA Scion redux

Last Fall, Seattle Hip-hop artist RA Scion worked with a Brooklyn-based producer named Rodney Hazard and gave us all an album that defied expectations and elevated Hip-hop music. “The Sickle and The Sword” generated a ton of well-deserved buzz, but was quickly cut off due to some legal confusion and drama on behalf of the producer. The producer demanded that the album not be sold or distributed, and the album was cut off short.

Not so easily defeated, RA Scion and his team began searching for a new producer to bring to life the vocal tracks that had been abandoned by Hazard’s beats. Vox Mod‘s work caught RA’s attention, and “Sharper Tool; Bigger Weapon” was born.

Here are links to the album:

I’ve spent the last week listening to the new album. The old version was one of my favorite albums to come out of Seattle, and I’ve been apprehensive about what the new sound and the new take on this beloved material might be. Not knowing what to expect, I abandoned expectations and dove in.

The surprising news to me is that the essence of the first album has generally been transferred to the new album. Despite the fact that Vox Mod apparently hasn’t heard the old album at all (or at least he hadn’t when The Stranger interviewed him), the album achieves a similar vibe that is conscious, mystic, intelligent, uplifting, challenging, and incredibly clever.

Here’s a track listing that compares the new track titles to the old:

#The Sickle and The SwordSharper Tool; Bigger Weapon
1Ex Oriente LuxPassage to Transience
2Constant (feat. Daniel Blue)Fixed (feat. Daniel Blue)
3In VenerationOpalescent Jetsam
4BackwoodsPlush Portal Stylings
5The Prospector's AppraisalIntrospector
6On Saturnalia Eve (feat. Blake Lewis)Venus in Transit (feat. Blake Lewis)
7MyrrhLaurel & Wine
8Hoof x HornHolly & Oak (Again & Again)
9BloodletterInterceptor
10Woodwalker (feat. Mark Shirtz)Finding Forbearance (feat. Mark Shirtz)
11Hungry Like (feat. Rodney Hazard)Patina Green (feat. GMK and Royce the Choice)
12Black FridayRun One Through
13OurSpace (feat. Romaro Franceswa)Interstellar Parish (feat. Romaro Franceswa)
14Seven Gen. (feat. Greg Cypher)Res Publica (feat. Greg Cypher)

I’m blown away at the contribution that Vox Mod gave to this project. Songs that didn’t quite land with me before, like “Hoof x Horn,” have evolved into some of my favorite tracks. “Holly & Oak (Again & Again)” replaces “Hoof x Horn” and brings far more to the table than the first version was able to bring. Vox Mod’s irresistible beat on that track turn head-nodders into dancers. The track flows and soars and drives through you, building and teasing and rewarding the listener.

Other songs feel so different from the original that I had to go back and listen to the Rodney Hazard versions just to make sure that I was remembering it right. Hazard’s “Seven Gen.” was a positive song but it never really resonated with me. At the Fall 2013 album release party, I was blown away at the energy of the live version and wondered why the recorded version was such a different experience. Its replacement, “Res Publica,” takes the song from a solid song to a classic. As it comes across in its place as the final track on the album, it feels like RA Scion has taken a trip to the future, through deep space, and is now coming back to Seattle with the same pragmatic intelligence that made Common Market so popular. One of my favorite tracks out of all of his work, “Res Publica” feels like coming home to the 21st-century answer to “Tobacco Road.”

RA Scion and Vox Mod

In some cases, I miss beloved tracks from the first album – “Woodwalker” and “On Saturnalia Eve” were two of my favorites. The tracks that replaced them, though they have identical vocal tracks by RA and Blake Lewis (Mark Shirtz recorded new lyrics), have very different feels. They are solid songs, they’re enjoyable to listen to, but I miss my old favorites. It’s bound to happen, and I’m just grateful that I was able to get a download of “The Sickle and The Sword” when I still could.

In the vast majority of instances, however, I can’t think of anything other than what I’m listening to. The album has a maturity, cohesiveness and sense of purpose that the old one never was quite able to achieve. “Sharper Tool; Bigger Weapon” is a start-to-finish journey that rewards listeners who like to sit down and soak in an entire album, start to finish.

“The Sickle and The Sword” was an ode to the harvest, reaping beats from the earth. It carried the mystery and melancholy of Fall, and was released near the Autumnal Equinox. Now we have “Sharper Tool; Bigger Weapon,” released almost exactly on the Vernal Equinox, which somehow takes the same vocal tracks and infuses them with new life. The album has grown, the Spring is here, and we’re all hoping that this new duo will last a long, long time.

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Garrett Gibbons Demo Reel 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my demo reel. Maybe I was just waiting for the right musical inspiration? This one is long – just over four minutes – but I also made a 90-second sizzle reel for those with less interest or shorter attention spans. Thanks for watching! It’s been an amazing last few years.

Here’s the full-length version, set to “On Saturnalia Eve” by RA Scion (feat. Blake Lewis):

Also, the 90-second version, set to “Woodwalker” by RA Scion (feat. Mark Shirtz):

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Ayron Jones & The Way – Feedin’ From the Devil’s Hands

Here’s the latest music video I’ve directed, “Feedin’ From the Devil’s Hands” by Ayron Jones and The Way. This group was awesome to work with, and I’m also especially grateful for the other Seattle-based musicians and performers (including Sir Mix-a-Lot, Grynch, Davin Stedman from Staxx Brothers and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang) for being involved.

Feedin from the devil's hands Ayron Jones and the way

I highly recommend checking out some of their other work, including this bluesy jam, “Baptized in Muddy Waters,” produced by the excellent Session Seven Media in Seattle. Ayron Jones & the Way will be playing at Bumbershoot 2013, and their full-length album will be released this Fall.

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Walking through Machu Picchu

I was fortunate enough to visit Machu Picchu with my wife last September, where we took photos and filmed video footage for Destination Peru a travel agency and tour service based in nearby Cusco, Peru. You can view some of the photos from Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in this gallery.
Guard Tower Machu Picchu

I filmed a ton of steadicam footage while I was there, walking through the ruins and trails, and I thought that the nearly-raw footage might be useful to future travelers who are trying to get an idea of what the terrain is like and what they can expect. Here is a piece I put together with composer Richard Williams:

Also, here’s the walkthrough of Machu Picchu:

Here’s a walkthrough of the hike from Machu Picchu to the top of Huayna Picchu (the peak that we see so prominently behind the ruins):

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Theoretics – “Lights On” (Official Music Video)

The latest from Theoretics: “Lights On”!

This is Casey Sjogren‘s music video debut as a director, though he’s been making quality content for a few years now. He directed, edited and co-produced this video. Domenic Barbero was our DP and RED Epic camera operator for the indoor footage. I co-produced with Casey, was I the gaffer for the indoor footage, and was the 2nd unit DP for the car footage (both Mark rapping in the car as well as the drivelapse footage of the city at night), which we shot on a 5D mark iii.

This track comes from their second release, “Plenty of Anything,” the same EP that gave us “Go.” Theoretics is a blast to work with, and I hope to continue collaborating with them in years to come.

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Zipline TV Ad

I recently shot a series of 30-second and 15-second television ads for Canopy Tours Northwest, a zipline adventure company on Camano Island, WA. The ads were produced by Bigger Picture, directed by Mike Johnston, and I was the DP and editor. Sound design was also an integral aspect of this campaign, and Mike Johnston’s work with the audio engineers at Clatter & Din turned out great. This was easily the most fun I’ve had on a shoot in a long time.

Canopy Tours Northwest – 30 second spot – TV ad campaign from Garrett Wesley Gibbons on Vimeo.

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Commercial Time-Lapse Photography in Gibraltar

During November and December of 2012, I had the pleasure to film several weeks of construction time-lapse in Gibraltar for SoEnergy International (formerly Energy International). The time-lapse footage was included in the following piece, produced by Roar Media in Miami, FL.

Here’s a version with an added voiceover and project overview:

When a casual viewer sees something like this, they may assume that there was a large crew involved with the production, and that they were able to operate in sterile, controlled environments. In reality, the story behind the time-lapse is far more interesting.
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Garrett Gibbons – Director, Editor, Photographer – Demo Reel 2013

I’ve updated my demo reel! It has a bunch of projects I’ve done since my last reel (plus a few old clips that never made it into any previous reel). Enjoy it and let me know what you think!

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