Blackmagic Camera, DaVinci Resolve Show Its Teeth in 'Wolf Bite' Music Video
September 11, 2014

Blackmagic Camera, DaVinci Resolve Show Its Teeth in 'Wolf Bite' Music Video

FREMONT, CA – The music visualizer for Owl City’s newest track, “Wolf Bite,” was shot on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera (EF) and color graded on DaVinci Resolve 11.

The video is one of the first projects in the world to be finished on the newest version of DaVinci Resolve.

Following hits like “Fireflies,” “Vanilla Twilight,” and the Carly Rae Jepsen duet “Good Time,” Owl City’s latest track, “Wolf Bite,” comes from the recently released Ultraviolet EP. The video for “Wolf Bite” features people dressed as wolves riding bikes and dancing throughout the streets around New York City. Shot by Director of Photography Tim Buttner and directed by Andrew William Ralph, the video contains dramatic artistic elements, harsh and low lighting and a number of visual effects.

“When I spoke with Andrew leading up to the video shoot, we talked about the look being pretty artistic and open, considering he was going to do some stylized animations over it,” said Buttner. “The first thing he asked was for me to shoot the moon; however, the full moon had just passed. Luckily, I had shot the full moon over the winter in RAW at 24 fps on my Blackmagic Cinema Camera for my own purposes. This gave us a great shot of the moon to start with and set the frame rate for the project.”

The video’s night-time bicycle shots proved to be challenging due to lighting restrictions. To get the footage, Buttner sat with the camera on the back of a moving vehicle with a work light shooting out from underneath him. While recording the time-lapse footage seen in the video, Buttner used the Blackmagic Cinema Camera to capture out of focus lights to be used later in the video as an overlay effect.

“We were happy that the Blackmagic Cinema Camera did very well in low light even at 800 ASA,” said Buttner. “I decided not to go above 800 ASA to ensure little to no noise, and in post I pushed the exposure a bit more by roughly a half stop. A lot of the street lights gave a nice look on the road, but I emphasized that in DaVinci Resolve.”

For the scenes with the dancers, Andrew asked Buttner to find lights that could simulate car headlights for the scene. Buttner quickly found a solution that worked: he used actual car headlights. According to Buttner, they were bright enough and the camera was so good in low light situations that they were able to pull off the shots without any cinema lights.

Buttner also used the Blackmagic Cinema Camera to shoot the footage of a wolf mask with glowing eyes that appears overlaid in certain shots of the video. He shot the mask against a green screen background that he then keyed out so that he could do a glow effect inside the mask’s eyes.

“The quality provided by the Blackmagic Cinema Camera made that job so easy, especially the extra pixels from the 2.5K resolution for masking the shape of the eyes for the glow effect,” said Buttner. “Overall, I love using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera because the footage looks so amazing. It’s so affordable, good in low light and easy to use, but to me the biggest selling point is the 13 stops of dynamic range and the ability to shoot RAW, which allows me to do whatever I need to do in post.”

During the color grade, Buttner used the VisionColor ImpulZ LUTs on a few shots as a base starting point, and then used the Power Windows and color picker in DaVinci Resolve 11 to emphasize various elements.

“DaVinci Resolve 11 allowed us to give the bicycle sequences a distinct look compared to the dancers,” said Buttner. “I was able to emphasize more blue tones in the dancers to contrast to the red and orange tones of the bicycle sequence. And for the bicycle sequence, I was asked to emphasize the wolf’s fur by making it more of a brownish red color, and being able to pick that specific part of the image and use a Power Window to track the head was great.”

Buttner also used Resolve 11’s new media management duplication feature extensively. This allowed Buttner to securely back up and save digital camera files through a clone tool that copies media drives, memory cards and camera packs to multiple destinations simultaneously. In the office, he had two hard drives, so while he worked on one of them he had everything copied to another as a backup. Once the color grade was finished, he exported the files to be edited. Per the client’s request, the finished project was delivered to BitMAX in Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) 23.98 fps in 1920x1080.

“All the color grading was done before editing, which isn’t a normal procedure, but for this project it made the most sense,” said Buttner. “DaVinci Resolve gave us so much control over the RAW images and it made life so easy to be able to use such a powerful tool.”