Matt Komo | A behind the scenes look at his cinematic editing techniques
Most people know of Matt Komo from his iconic personal YouTube and Instagram channels, but many don’t know he is also a sought-after content creator behind the camera for some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and many global brands. He has worked with the likes of MTV, The Chainsmokers, Steve Aoki, Martin Garrix, and with innovative companies like MVMT and GoPro. Komo’s been a long-time user of Lens Distortions® effects and most recently used our glass overlays and sound design libraries prominently in his film from Sequoia National Park. Read on for some backstory on this project and an in-depth look at some of Komo’s editing techniques. In the tutorials below, he shares some very clever use cases for visual effects and a full breakdown of how he did the sound design in his Sequoia project.
“It’s the delicate blend of planning vs impromptu filmmaking that makes a travel film.”
You travel all over the world for projects. What inspired a trip so close to home? I love traveling and have been to quite a few places but some of my most memorable experiences have been from road trips. You go into them with no expectations and a general plan, then you let life unfold itself and you document it. We definitely got lost a few times exploring around, haha, but that’s what makes these trips so fun.
Can you tell us a bit more about your pre-production process? Every film starts with an idea, a story you want to tell. A shot list is always made with the end edit in mind. Because the flow of the film needs to be seamless it’s extremely important to not only get shots that connect with one another but also progress the story forward. With that being said, there is also an element of improvising. Its the delicate blend of planning vs impromptu filmmaking that makes a travel film.
What gear did you use on the Sequoia Nation Park road trip? We had a decently light setup for the shoot. Our main camera was a Sony A7riii with a few different lenses; a 16-35mm 2.8. a 35mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4, and a 50mm 1.4. For the vlogging sections I used a Sony RX100 MK V and the drone shots were captured with a Phantom 4 Pro. I stick to the Adobe Suite of products. Everything is cut in Premiere Pro, this is where the story and flow come together. For adding any special effects I will use After Effects, and then all my voiceover work is recorded in Audition.
Tutorial: Matt Komo on Visual Effects Learn Komo’s overall approach to VFX and some of his best tips on editing for visual impact. Explore the visual effects libraries 〉
“It’s a long road and the ones who stay in it and succeed are the ones who genuinely love what they are doing.”
How important is thoughtful sound design in a film? Sound is everything. It’s so important in taking your visuals to the next level. I always say a visual on its own lives in a 2D space, but with sophisticated sound design, you can transport that image into a 3D world.
What’s your overall philosophy on using effects? I love effects when they are used tastefully. Meaning, if they help enhance your image or are used in a way to progress your story forward I’m all for it. Its when they are littered into every other cut that it will begin to distract the viewer from the story you are trying to tell.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming filmmakers? Learn something new every day and experiment. Your style will evolve, but more importantly, you’ll find it through putting out a volume of work. Make sure you love the process, its a long road and the ones who stay in it and succeed are the ones who genuinely love what they are doing. It’s like that with everything though, not just filmmaking. Making films and telling stories, it’s a great lifestyle to live and should be enjoyed.
Rolls Royce | “I Am Ghost”
The Mill is a visual effects and content creation studio collaborating on VFX, digital and design projects for the advertising, games and music industries. With studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, they partner with the world’s best agencies, groundbreaking directors, creative firms and visionary brands. Working with Daughter.Studio, Mill+ created this stylish spot for Rolls Royce and their latest ‘Ghost’ model. The Mill’s VFX team utilized Legacy 4K glass overlays from Lens Distortions. The slick spot moves seamlessly from one image to the next using clever geometric based design to depict various aspects of a highly desirable lifestyle, personifying the ‘ghost’ or essence of the car and its owner.
“I wanted something textural and emotive, not the normal approach to a car commercial. I was thinking title sequence beauty, seamless transitioning, moments of wonder… more music promo and fashion film.”
Mill+ Director FILFURY explains, “This was a dream project to work on – design elegance, rooted in geometric form, symmetry, and simplicity. This was the story of ‘I AM GHOST’. My desire was to hint at luxurious, functional design found within our owner’s life, and do this through a palette of clever reveals and transitions – matching vehicle form with architecture, objects, motion, and nature. All breathtakingly elegant and purposeful. I wanted something textural and emotive, not the normal approach to a car commercial. I was thinking title sequence beauty, seamless transitioning moments of wonder, more music promo and fashion film. The result is a dark sophisticated image palette with rim lit form. This was design lead, sexy and cool. Confident mark making through a beautiful celebration of the Ghost form. This isn’t design for design’s sake however, there is substance and storytelling.”
“The glass effects help add a touch of nostalgic feeling to what can sometimes be stark and crisp environments. They harp back to a photographic, lensic treatment many viewers feel more connection with.”
Mill Lead 3D Artist Dan Moller continues, “One of the main challenges of this spot was working out how to blend a large number of shots together; it’s about three-quarters of the way through the film before a hard-cut takes place. Through careful previz and shot development, rapid iteration with both rough 3D and testing in 2D we were able to find some quality solutions. By leveraging all our departments against this problem-solving process, from concept to motion graphics and design through to CG and 2D we were able to easily troubleshoot all problems put before us. A key challenge came in art directing the rolling highlights across the form of the Ghost. We rendered reflected UV passes, then rotomated gobo shapes over the top using STMaps in Nuke. These gobo sequences were then rendered back out of Nuke, plugged into the UV shapes in Maya and rendered back over the car. This resulted in a speedy and intuitive solution to the highlights problem through a slick collaboration between our 2D and 3D departments.”
It was important to Rolls Royce to differentiate the Ghost film from their other product films, primarily through an emphasis on colour. This became a particular focus for our lighting team to ensure this was communicated as effectively as possible, and also played into our post treatment in 2D. During this phase led by Mill 2D Lead, James Mac, lens elements were carefully selected to add both texture and colour to each shot, with those finishing touches truly elevating the film.’ Amongst them were glass overlay elements from Lens Distortions.
“The glass elements have been a long-standing consideration for myself when I need to add depth and layered chromatic dispersion to shots. They help add a touch of nostalgic feeling to what can sometimes be stark and crisp environments. They harp back to a photographic, lensic treatment many viewers feel more connection with. I also used the Legacy 4K glass effects to drive narrow focus effects through portions of the imagery, helping take the edge off the CGI elements,” James Mac said. “Virtually every project benefits from having Lens Distortions used to treat and layer the frame. They are my go-to textural footage,” he added.
Stranger Things | Title designers look to Light Hits for optical quality
We’ve been following the work of design-based production studio Imaginary Forces for a while now and were excited to see our Legacy effects pop up in some of their projects a few years back. We were thrilled to learn recently that their team used our 4K Light Hits to give that extra something to the opening title for Netflix’s wildly successful new original series, Stranger Things. Imaginary Forces animator Eric Demeusy was kind enough to give us some background info.
“They’re the best ones out there.”
Demeusy said, “The goal was to make the titles look like they were made optically in the 80’s. We used a lot of subtle details for that and one of those details was Lens Distortions. We needed good, realistic flares that we could use very minimally to make it feel a little more natural and filmic. They needed to be real optical effects, so naturally, Lens Distortions was what we went with. They’re the best ones out there.”
“To get that kind of brief… is a designer’s dream!””
In an interview with The Art of the Title, Imaginary Forces Creative Director Michelle Dougherty describes her team’s initial conversation with the Duffer Brothers, “They referenced Richard Greenberg and all the greats that he’d created — The Goonies, Altered States, Alien, The Untouchables, The Dead Zone, just to name a few. That was great to hear because we understood where they were coming from. That was really refreshing — and pretty surprising — that these creators knew so much about title design.” “After that call, they sent over some book covers that they liked, from books that they’d either read or seen as children. Most of them were by Stephen King, so we knew they were looking for something that felt ’80s and tapped into this nostalgia by using that typography. They really loved the simplicity of those covers, but also those Richard Greenberg titles. To get that kind of brief — to let the typeface set the mood for a show — is a designer’s dream!”