While most LUTs out there are heavy-handed at the expense of quality, Finishing LUTs offer a lighter touch and are rigorously stress-tested to work well across a wide variety of footage and lighting conditions.
With studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Mill boasts a creative culture of talented artists from multinational and homegrown backgrounds, nurturing innovation, flexibility and diverse ideas. VFX Supervisor Pete Rypstra shared a little glimpse into their project for Castrol EDGE which utilized our Legacy 4k glass elements.
“We used a combination of multiple camera passes as well as using photo-real, full CG cars to give the illusion that there were two cars on the track. We were also asked to give the Clone rival its own distinct look to distinguish it from the real car.”
“The movements of the light elements lent themselves beautifully to the effect we were trying to create.”
Today Shulman works as Creative Director at Vantage, Mic’s branded content studio. After working with brands like Nike, Ford, Coach and Vogue, this year he released his passion project, “Built By Pain,” which chronicles the comeback story of MMA fighter Brendan Barrett.
We asked Shulman to sit down with us and talk about his thinking behind this original work.
The biggest difference is time and time alone.
Having time allowed me to foster a natural connection and trust with Brendan over many phone conversations. After hours of talking about his life story it became apparent that everything came back to the shattering of his hand, which ended up becoming the anchor of the story.
What I learned is that trust between subject and filmmaker allows the most vulnerable moments to unfold.
On the flipside, the disadvantage of working on a personal project is being your own client and critiquing your own work. The hardest part is taking a step back and knowing when it’s complete.
Drawing on inspiration from opening title sequences, episodic dramas, and unconventionally cinematic commercials, we created these melodies to help you evoke curiosity and establish a cinematic tone in your films.
One of the best ways you can enhance your visual projects is to use the power of sound. In this 12 minute tutorial, we take you behind the scenes of many Lens Distortions videos to see the tried and true techniques we’ve been using for years.
The goal from the start was to use a violent sport to tell a human story.
I think it was less of a surprise and more of an affirmation to uncover everything that goes into training and fighting from a mental, physical and emotional standpoint.
I wanted to share a human story that people could relate to and be inspired by, regardless of their knowledge of MMA.
How did you ensure that relatable story came out on camera?
Telling the subject to “put on a show” in a space, or place, that doesn’t resonate with the past can be a slippery slope. This is why the trust and vulnerability was key to pulling out the emotions we wanted on screen.
For example, Brendan never saw the photos of his past, images of his shattered hand and his grandfather until he unveiled it on camera.
For me, the sound was just as important as the visuals. We didn’t capture sound on set, so everything had to be well-thought out and well-crafted in order to really draw you into the scene. I wanted to treat everything, except the narration, with an almost ethereal, dreamy state which, to me, ties it into the past.
Because the approach was already very cinematic, I wanted to keep the visuals as raw as possible; FX needed to be limited. The kaleidoscopic shots and a few of the transitions with double overlaid images all tie back to the dreamy feel of a memory.
Very simple. I shattered a mirror on set and filmed through a long lens. No special FX needed!
Your use of Lens Distortions effects in this film are subtle but hit particular emotional notes. For example, we love how you combined some of our glass overlays with the double overlaid images at 2:24. How do you balance live effects with tools like ours?
There needs to be justification for any visual tool or effect.
For me, Lens Distortions are the highest quality, most natural-looking effects. Adding your glass elements to shots where I couldn’t achieve the look live allowed me the flexibility to adjust the visuals in post as needed.
I find that the more subtly I use the effects, the more natural they look.
I try to stick to the basics: Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator.
I would say experience, intuition, openness and feedback are the most important tools.
Know your voice. Hustle. Learn. Create.
White In Revery | Cinematic wedding films
“We consider Lens Distortions effects as that ‘cherry-on-top’ to the film.”
White In Revery is a husband and wife team based in Denver, CO that specializes in storytelling primarily, but not exclusively, as wedding filmmakers.
They currently use our full lineup of 4K Video Overlays.
White in Revery shared some of their best tips for editing wedding videos with our Light Hits lens flares and Shimmer particle effects.
“We love utilizing Lens Distortions effects to smoothly guide the viewer throughout our films and to articulate certain moods. Sometimes there is negative space that we subtly fill with a Light Hit to help the viewer focus on the content and emotion that is actually going on in the scene.”
“We use Light Hits to add movement to a still frame, smooth out transitions between shots, and even strengthen pivotal beats in a song to make the scene a bit stronger and more effective. We consider Lens Distortions effects as that ‘cherry-on-top’ to the film.”
“For receptions, Shimmer is fantastic. We sometimes have to balance a photographer’s flash into a shot and the Shimmer pack really smooths it out. By incorporating Shimmer into dancing sequences, we feel it adds just enough movement and energy to the frame without being too distracting.”
See more of White In Revery’s work at whiteinrevery.com.
Explore the effects in this post
When the creative department at EXPRESS creates video shorts for some of their women’s clothing lines, they’ve leaned on Lens Distortions as a key ingredient to craft a distinct look.
We caught up with Jordan Schmelzer, the in-house Video Editor at Express, who’s been working with the company in some capacity since early 2015. Before that, he was a freelancer for almost 10 years as a jack-of-all-trades type of production guy, working with clients such as Chipotle, White Castle, Victoria’s Secret, and Nationwide Insurance.
Jordan was kind enough to give us a bit of the backstory on these and share some images from production.
What’s the backstory on these projects for EXPRESS?
The goal for projects like these is to showcase notable models sporting looks for EXP Core and One Eleven, which are subsets of the Express line of clothing. One Eleven is a line of casual tops and EXP Core is fitness apparel, both designed for women.
Most videos are essentially look-books, and often have somewhat of a “behind-the-scenes” feel to them. They live on the Express website, YouTube, and are pushed via Instagram, Facebook, etc.
What is production like on these spots?
Productions are very fast paced because they are primarily photoshoots where we simultaneously grab video assets. Like most shoots, there is a lot to get in a little time. For most One Eleven productions we’ve been using a small three man crew with two Sony FS7 cameras. For the most recent shoot with Emily Ratajkoswki, the team traveled to Puerto Rico with a slightly bigger crew, RED dragon, Movi and drone. Everything in beautiful 4k.
Walk us through your post-production workflow on these.
The challenge is to make the videos feel like more than just a moving catalog. We want to bring life and emotion to these videos, and deliver a specific feel and message that resonates with our brand. When you see a photo of a girl in a shirt, it’s just that, but when you add music, action, and a color grade, it becomes much more than a girl in a shirt, it becomes a story.
“We’ve taken such a liking to Lens Distortions effects that they’re becoming an integral part of our video workflow, specifically with our One Eleven clothing line.”
For us, a good edit starts with music. Chris Borman (Senior Art Director) and I get together and choose what we think would be a really great music track to match the video – something that fits the brand, mood of the shoot, and most importantly, something that would make for a great edit.
Often times we are able to license songs from artists to pair with the footage, other times we create custom music tracks. Once we find something we really like it’s just a matter of choosing the best shots and cutting to the beat. Then comes color grading and Lens Distortions, which is my favorite part.
Any interesting challenges with these edits?
The original One Eleven concept was to shoot in an open NYC loft with mostly natural light. Many of the shots have large bright windows in the background. This presented a challenge for the video team because even when shooting with Slog3, it can be difficult to expose a shot for both inside and outside simultaneously. Needless to say, we were left with some over-exposed shots.
While this presented a challenge, the color grading process and Lens Distortions really solved the problem we were facing. The natural-looking Light Hits turned the footage from drab to dynamic and made the over-exposed shots look intentional and really dramatic.
What kind of look and feel were you trying to create with these spots?
Traditional Express videos are equally video look-books, but they are a little more produced-looking. With One Eleven, we wanted to have a very natural, easy feel to complement the nature of the clothing. Adding Light Hits and Legacy elements from Lens Distortions brought a layer of natural-looking beauty and depth to each shot.
We’ve taken such a liking to Lens Distortions effects that they’re becoming an integral part of our video workflow, specifically with our One Eleven clothing line.
When Utah based synth pop artist Garrett Garfield needed a music video for the single from his first EP, he turned to his longtime friend and collaborator, Aaron Sorensen. We were really impressed with the final version of “Eye of the Storm,” which uses a lot of unique glass textures and lighting effects, including Lens Distortions. We reached out to Aaron to get to know more of his story and how this project came to be.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your experience, and what you do.
Ever since I was a kid I was always making videos with my friends. At the time I could be found on my parents computer literally exporting every frame from iMovie and importing them into Photoshop to paint each one. Over the years I made my life easier and learned After Effects, Cinema 4D and currently Houdini and Nuke.
Now I’ve been working as a VFX artist for 6 years professionally on a variety of projects. And recently had the opportunity to Direct and VFX supervise a Game Of War commercial.
What did you live production rig consist of?
Our budget was really small and I was more doing it for the passion of the song and the video. But after we totaled how much it would have cost paying everyone that helped, it was around $10,000.
We shot on the Red Epic and Dragon with Ziess Cp2 lenses and a movi rig. We had a lot of friends and family donate there time and talents to make this all happen.
Walk us through your post-production tools and workflow.
We edited the video in Adobe Premiere, after which I took a couple shots into After Effects to create a “hero” shot to get a look a feel for the video. Once we locked the edit I spent around 2 full weeks tracking in mocha, painting clouds in Photoshop, compositing and coloring everything in After Effects.
Any scenes that were particularly fun or difficult to create?
One of my favorite shots I did was of Garrett dancing in slow motion while surrounded by the storm. It was pretty simple but turned out pretty cool! All I did was scaled him down to make the shot looked wider than we could have filmed. Captured a frame, brought it into Photoshop and started to paint a bunch of clouds. I broke up the clouds into different layers and then using the liquify tool in After Effects I animated the clouds slowly moving. Then composited a couple lighting strikes from stock footage and that is it 🙂 Turned out pretty cool!
You took full advantage of our Legacy video effects. Can you tell us a bit about how you used them in this project?
In camera we had shot a lot of glass effects, so while editing I started to notice we were lacking that same effect during any VFX sequence. That is when I found Lens Distortions to be really handy! I saw an ad for in on Facebook around the time I was editing and thought “No way! This is perfect for this project!” And it was the perfect tool to help me really sell the visual effects. I had a lot of people ask me how I composited VFX behind glass distortions. Dirtying up vfx and adding Lens Distortion makes them feel much more organic and believable.
What’s next for you? Any exciting projects coming up?
Currently I am working on a Game of War Commercial I directed! It is my biggest client yet. I was really excited when they liked my work and pitch for the commercial. I have a long road ahead of me with the visual effects on this project but it will definitely stretch me.
As filmmakers, we’re always looking for sources of inspiration. Where do you look to be inspired?
I am constantly on Vimeo getting inspired by other people work. Particularly Salmon Lighthelm, Dan DiFelice (at The Mill), joseph kahn (music video director) and many more. Outside of watching more videos for inspiration I listen to a lot of ambient soundtrack type music, going for a drive and talking with people about life has definitely given me inspiration.