I would like to thank everyone invovled in the production of the musicvideos, especially to all the directors, musicians, producers and to the wonderful cast and crew. It was a great opportunity to do the cinematography on these amazing music videos in winter 2018 till spring 2019.
In this article I will give you some information about the videos as well as some 'behind the scenes' photos.
HERBERT GRÖNEMEYER - 'Bist du da'
Directed by Zoran Bihac, produced by Munir Abbar, shot in Ouarzazate, Morrocco. The decision which format and aspect ratio we will shoot was pretty clear. The story of the video was based on the Odyssey and the whole imaginary was based on epic landscapes and obscure architecture. There was no way around shooting anamorphic.
We brought a set of the Hawk V- Series lenses and the Angenieux Optimo 48- 580mm with the anamorphic front element from Vantage Berlin.
The storyboard contained around 50 shots, with a lot of VFX and green screen shots and we only had one day of shooting with four location moves. This sounded like the Odyssey itself! Especially the Greenscreen shots had to be planned precise because there was no second unit and no artificial lightting except softening and bouncing the natural sunlight.
Munir organised everything into every detail and with the fabulous crew from Morrocco we really did it! Except a couple of shots we filmed the whole music video on just one day!
LINDEMANN - 'Mathematik'
Till Lindemann, singer and frontman of 'RAMMSTEIN', and German rapper Haftbefehl, what a crazy duet. The idea to bring 60 hooligans in white trousers to make a mosh pit was as crazy. This was the first collaboration with producer Munir Abbar and it was a fantastic one! I got the call while I was at the Camerimage Film Festival. Zoran and I were talking on the phone about how can we film this in one location and what could be a good light concept for this music video? We wanted it to look gritty and atmospheric with lots of neons. Julian Holzwarth came in as another cinematographer to get more footage within the hooligan crowd.
While I was at the Camerimage Festival I went to the Vantage booth and had a look especially at the wide angle Hawk V- Series lenses. They were looking incredible and especially with a ceiling full of Asteras tubes and a crowd of hooligans that would be the best choice. During the shooting one camera mostly shot on the 25mm Hawk V- Series, the other camera on the 50mm.
The light concept was to rig the whole ceiling with Asteras LED tubes and to program them for changing colors, dimming and animated movements. In terms of the colors we wanted to have a combination of a warm and rusty orange and a dirty green. Gaffer Peter Kramer told me about lights I have never worked with, so called Landing lights. They have a lot of power but dimmed down they got this warm and rusty orange tone. Fantastic idea, so we put three of them on a stage behind the crowd. In combination with the dirty green from the Asteras the lighting was done! With light desk operator Peter Weist we could program different light setups for the Asteras, depending on the chorus or the verse.
SEEED - 'Ticket'
Hello Morrocco again, this time Marrakech and again with Zoran and Munir, the dream team! Most of the technical crew was the same as last time, so the atmosphere was lovely from the moment we arrived. One day of shooting and the storyboard had 50 something shots. No problemo in Morrocco.
The black and white music video has a absurd story with a protagonist played by Youness Benzakour, who was amazing and could play in a Coen brothers film. The scenes were on many different locations and also some moments in the car, so everything had to work smooth and fast in order to get it done.
We chose the locations especially in terms of interesting patterns for the black and white. In the last location, when the singer is giving birth we created the most crazy pattern. This location was built with bamboo and we shot at night to get the most mysterious atmosphere. There was just one 9K HMI and a bit of fog. On the ceiling a couple of Asteras were rigged to fill the hard contrast.
We shot spherical with the ARRI Alexa Mini on a set of Zeiss Ultraprimes (mostly on 20mm) and a lightweight Arri Alura zoom for most of the scenes with the car.
All Photos by Munir Abbar
SCHWARZ - 'Leftwing Duckling'
If you are looking for a relaxing holiday destination, don't choose Benidorm. It's the most crazy town, a paradise for filmmaking. With director Anthony Vouardoux and a small crew we spent a couple of days in this strange place. The strategy for this music video was to shoot as invisible as possible inside the bizarre tourist zone, documentary 'Mimikry' style. We decided to shoot on a Sony Alpha sII with old and beautiful Nikon glass to pretend we were also part of the drunken crowd. Everyone of the crew was wearing wigs, hats or other party accessories, things that seem normal in Benidorm. It was the perfect Mimikry! All the performance was shot during blue hour, so the nights were long!
SALTATIO MORTIS - 'Sie tanzt allein'
The video that was directed by Julia Patey is basically about a dancing performance of a young woman on an empty theatre stage, intercut with a performance of the singer of Saltatio Mortis, who is sitting in the audience room.
It was very important to have a very dynamic cinematography, going with the dancer, feeling very close to her in the threatening environment. I chose a set of Cooke Panchros and a Zeiss Ultraprime 8mm lens and with the first technical rehearsal Julia and me said out of one mouth: 'Let's shoot everything with the 8mm lens!' The perfect lens for this video. We shot on an ARRI Alexa Mini mostly on a Mövi M Gimbal.
The light concept was about creating a narrow space that feels threatening but majestic at the same time. The gaffer Jakob Krüger created with two moveable HMI spots and a bit of haze we that atmosphere. There were a couple of par cans already rigged by the theatre that could be controlled and operated by the lightdesk.
The singer performed in the audience room, filmed with a 25mm and a 50mm Ultraprime lens. The light was similar. The spot was above him, creating some atmosphere and bounced into a 8x8 Ultrabounce that was on stage. For the backlight we used a source 4.
PHELA - 'Reset'
Similar to the SCHWARZ 'Leftwing Duckling' this music video was shot like a documentary. Raphaela Beer, alias PHELA, organised everything in advance because we only had one day of location scout and one day of shooting. We wanted to shoot it just with the smallest possible crew because the idea was to make a video with plenty of kids from a neighbourhood outside of Frankfurt. Malte Siepen and me decided to do everything by ourselves. We shared the directing, cinematography, gaffer and focus pulling job. The decision what camera we were shooting on was based on the fact that we will shoot with small children. We didn't want to intimidate them so we shot on a Canon C300 II with Zeiss Milvus lenses and a clip on mattebox.
Most of the kids we got to know during the location scout. This was very important for the trust they gave us and other way round. On the day of the shooting the collaboration with the kids was fantastic and Phela and her sister did an amazing job with the kids. Also the weather was perfect during these two days, instead of cold rain or snow we were lucky and had the first warm and sunny days of the year.
PHELA - 'Mama'
The goal was to create a music video with 13 children and 12 mothers performing Phela's 'Mama' with their children. At first Phela and me discussed it and said it should be reduced to the emotions of the mothers with their children performing the song. Keeping it simple. We found the white studio of the Ballhaus Rixdorf in Berlin. It has a charming atmosphere that will help the performers feel comfortable.
Each pair had roughly 30 minutes to perform, what is not a lot. But everyone gave it's best performance. There was no fear of the camera that was rigged to a dolly. It was absolutely playful, especially for the kids, they were all interested in what is going on.
We shot the video on a Arri Alexa Mini and chose the beautiful LOMO standard speed lenses. My first assistant camera was so kind to be the stand in for a quick lens test on the pick up day. We tested them fully open and on every lens (except the 18mm) as well as with a 1/2 Hollywood Black Magic. The lenses are looking very creamy fully open and they all had a bit of a color difference. The 50mm lens was not performing as sharp as the other ones fully open so we decided closing this one half a stop down. The softness of the lenses paired with the ARRI Alexa Mini and the white and clean studio was a good combination for this music video.
HERBERT GRÖNEMEYER - 'Warum'
From start to finish 4 days in total and a shooting time of roughly two hours. I have to admit I was pretty nervous. I was on shoot with director Zoran Bihac, creating the projections for the LINDEMANN tour when he suddenly asked are you available and up for a shoot the day after tomorrow? Sure! Herbert Grönemeyer just released his first single of his new LP and the song 'Warum' should be the second single. Zoran played the song and said it should be very reduced and simple.
Herbert Grönemeyer and band were recording songs for his new album at Black Box Music Berlin and we had to shoot it somewhere there, because time was the limiting factor. We decided to shoot it in a big black studio and brought a lot of speakers there as a back drop. We used the light equipment we had from the last project and with gaffer Jens Thurmann we created a simple setup that would work 180 degree. A 10K with a chimera on a cherrypicker as backlight and a Arri Skypanel 120 through a 12x12 china Silk. From the other side we ad a 12x12 UltraBounce as fill.
The RED Dragon was rigged on a DJI Ronin 2 and with that setup we were able to film the whole performance for the music video in less than two hours.