recently announced that music artist Anees’ latest music video for his “Sunny Day” track was shot using the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro digital film cameras. The project was also edited and graded in DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, color grading, visual effects, and audio post production software.
Director Mike O’Brien teamed with cinematographer Tony Zawahri, gaffer Darin Conrad, and VFX artists Tim Maskaant and Nick Shaheen to visualize a story following Anees and his love interest as they both look forward to their next meeting. While simple in concept, O’Brien wanted to bring a twist to the story.
“We thought, what if we deploy a fairy like miniature version of Anees (his extended awareness) to secretly follow around the love interest (Priscilla Lam),” said O’Brien. “This gave us a fun and creative vehicle to further develop the story into what it is today. Also, by utilizing visual effects, we were able to amplify the magic that we were looking to create.”
Shot in and around the director’s home town of Mariposa, California, O’Brien intended to capture the natural beauty of the area. “From the wardrobe to the production design, Tony and I were very mindful of maintaining earthy tones as well as symmetrical framing,” added O’Brien. “Browns, yellows, greens, and hints of blue were our go to colors. Static wides were our favorite frames to shoot; there was so much happening in the production design that we felt any movement of the camera would take the viewer away from the beauty of the scene.”
For production, Zawahri and O’Brien relied on the URSA Mini Pro 12K and the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro. “We used the 12K for 98 percent of the video and the 6K Pro for the other 2 percent,” said Zawahri. “The 6K Pro was an excellent small package tool for specialty shots like the inside of the basket, bike tire and lawn mower blade. Blackmagic's Generation 5 Color Science on both cameras allowed for easy matching in post.”
For O’Brien, the cameras were a familiar tool. “I’ve always loved the motion cadence of Blackmagic cameras since they originally debuted in 2012,” he said. “It’s extremely soothing watching any footage shot on these cameras. There is magic in the sauce for sure!”
Zawahri chose to shoot Constant Bitrate 5:1 in 4K using Blackmagic RAW to enhance flexibility in post production. “The flexibility of Blackmagic RAW in post is nice to have if you're runnin' and gunnin’ like we were,” said O’Brien. “The goal is of course to nail it in camera, but it's nice to have that option to tweak white balance, tint, and more if needed.”
With ample VFX shots, the team used the URSA Mini Pro 12K’s flexibility, and its variable resolution, to help ensure a quality image. “We did shoot 8K for our green screen shots to give the VFX artist more resolution to work with.
“The challenge was making sure we lit the green screen properly for ‘Mini Anees’ to appear believable in the world,” said Zawahri. We purposely filmed plates on day one of production so we could gauge the correct lighting for day two’s green screen shots. I remember being so surprised when we brought those first looks in for keying. It looked so real! I feel the latitude and color science of Blackmagic RAW definitely helped us get the cleanest key while maintaining skin tones even with that ugly green bounce.”
O’Brien edited the project in DaVinci Resolve Studio as well. “I’ve always appreciated the streamlined functionality of Blackmagic Design products, from production to post,” said O’Brien. “Blackmagic RAW plays back like butter.”
The final grade went to colorist Shiny Syko, whom O’Brien found on Instagram. “Shiny lives in a small village in India, and I’m over here in California,” continued O’Brien. “I reached out with the hopes he might be interested in bringing his unique aesthetic to the video, and luckily he did! With me in California, Shiny in India, and one of our visual effects artists, Tim Maaskant, in the Netherlands, it was a truly global production.”
The combination of great artistry, equipment and software he trusted, and a great musician brought the entire project together for O’Brien. “I achieved everything I set out to create, that we all set out to create,” added O’Brien. “The URSA Mini 12K, the Pocket 6K Pro and DaVinci Resolve were absolute gems!”
To see more work from O’Brien and the team visit obfilms.art