Ever have a creative idea that you just had to pursue? An idea, or better yet inspiration, that arrives in your head almost at whim, perhaps triggered by a song or other sensory stimuli. This is the sort of inspiration that I thrive on and live for. To me, this inception of concept is what allows me to truly express inner self.
As cliché as it might be, the inspiration for the latest of my swim promos I do for my college team came to me when I first listened to Golden by Parade of Lights. The song, which is a happy and upbeat pop style song, follows the chorus line of "Everybody get golden" which is then followed by an electronic melody and rhythmic pumping bass. Since my college's colors are blue and gold the lyrics resonated well with the idea of being in a promo video.
The other half of my inspiration came from the idea of water moving over skin. Reminiscent of those older Gatorade advertisements as well as classic Aqua Di Gio cologne commercials. Both of which feature stylized black and white footage with the Gatorade advert having athletes sweat the sports drink which is not monochrome. The Aqua Di Gio commercial just focussing on soft lighting and caustics (those refractive light patterns created when the sun travels through water) with water droplets sliding down skin.
Combining these inspirations led me to the visual style of selective desaturation. Where I wanted only the blue of the pool and swim suits to be visible with everything a metallic rustic gold monochrome.
This promo is also surprising by the fact that I filmed, edited, and colored it in three days. The first day of filming I only had a brief window (pun intended) to shoot. The pool was being used for a club team swim meet and by the time everyone had left and the pool cleared the sun had just gone down. Further only three of the athletes on my team could make it to film. However I chose to focus on more of what I call atmospheric or "feels" shots. Shots that are meant to convey a feeling or sense of environment.
The pool my campus is blessed to have is a wonderful indoor pool that posses the rare quality of having large windows on three of its walls. For those who are not familiar with collegiate pools in the midwest, most of them are dungeons without any natural light. These large windows allow for a very natural open feeling. Since the sun was setting the light coming from the windows was absolutely gorgeous. It had that sublime soft directional nature that allowed for deep shadows but also a flattering lightness in the highlights. From this light I got my several of my favorite shots, specifically where the swimmers/divers stare into the lens of the camera and look intimidating while water is dripped down their face.
The next day I filmed the rest of the promo. To get some motion in the short I used a GlideCam with a Canon 5DII and 17-40L. For the diving I liked the idea of following the diver off the board with the camera. Unfortunately this makes them appear very small in the frame once they are in the air but I like the overall dynamic nature of those shots so I kept them. For the swimming I wanted to get several dolly like tracking shots, which I managed to get by adjusting the balance so I could tilt down easier. To compensate for the wide angle the glidecam shots have I mixed some telephoto shots shot on tripod to get closer details.
While my focus that second day of shooting was to get the action shots I still spent some time getting more feels angles. Firstly I needed some detail shots of male swimmers. Since I was filming much earlier than the day before I had the benefit of being to use the caustic lighting of the sun off the water. I absolutely love this light and snagged some really cool details of water on skin with it.
With all the footage filmed I quickly pieced together a simple edit, knowing that the coloring process would be the focus. From the basic edit I went straight into Davinci Resolve. Having become decently experienced with it I already knew how to structure my nodes to get the look I wanted.
Basically, in plain english, my workflow as as follows: Create clean plate (adjust exposure and color to be neutral), select blues and isolate them (using both color selector and power windows), boost blues a little bit to give a more electric blue, desaturate non-blues, boost contrast to get metallic look, give golden shade to metallic b/w, add vignette, add film LUT, and lastly sharpen. Basically here is my node structure from Resolve:
I used mostly serial nodes and a layer node for the selective desaturation. Not visible is the LUT and sharpening node I added to the whole timeline to be consistent.
Here is a progression of a single frame from how it looked out of camera to finished render:
All in all I was finished with the promo, including color, on the third day. I am very excited with how it turned out and absolutely love the look I was able to achieve. It continues to amaze me how productive and efficient I can be when I am truly inspired.