A.

Beach

The Question.

How do you build a compelling and interwoven story that communicates across many mediums?

Throughout 2015, John Nichols, an artist and musician based out of Miami, created and produced his debut EP, Beach. During this process, John connected with Jeen, a friend and talented photographer, and proposed the idea of creating a visual story to accompany the release of his EP.

Jeen approached me and the three of us began to discuss the potential of the project. John is an incredibly talented musician, and the nicest guy to work with, so we quickly said yes. Our first step was to assemble a team that could handle the various needs of our project.

The Team.

Me

Project lead

Jeen Na

Concept Development & Photography

Aaron Covrett

Design & VFX

Isaac Taracks

3D Modeling & Animation

Discovery

The Vision.

When we approached this project, we started at the root of John’s ideas. We wanted the visual language of the release to be deeply connected to the conceptual ideas and motives of his EP as a whole.

John wrote Beach as a story. It exists as a broader commentary on an individual's internal battle derived from doubt, heartbreak, and an overwhelming desire for personal acceptance. We highlighted what we saw as the most important thematic elements and crafted imagery that would aid in the communication of these complex intertwined ideas.

Creation

01

Photography.

Our first visual for Beach was a small body of photographs. These photos acted and served as a launching point for the locations, color palette, and an overall visual aesthetic for the project. Throughout the entire process, we looked to the photography as a visual guide for us to adhere to.

02

Video Production.

Inspired by the photography, we jumped right into production for the biggest element in the campaign, the music video. Utilizing the photography as a storyboard, we scheduled two days of production. We scheduled some fairly challenging shoots on a tight schedule, but mostly we were excited about the possibility of spending a warm day at the beach.

At 4:00am on a thursday morning, we made the trip an hour north-east to the lake michigan shoreline. We wanted to be in the water ready to start filming by the time the sun rose.

Unfortunately for us, our shoot fell right in the middle of the coldest week of the summer. With highs in the 50s, the water was brutally cold. This made it extremely difficult to stay in the water for any extended period of time.

We followed up our day at the beach with a much warmer option, the studio. We spent all of friday shooting takes of the song with several different studio setups and gathered the needed content for our studio setting.

After a long day at the studio, we took a short drive for our final location, my childhood pool. We plunged into the freezing cold waters once again, and shot the remaining scenes we needed to put together our edit.

03

Post Production.

The post production process proved to be the longest and most challenging portion of this project. We had a two month period from our shoot days to final release. Working with this accellerated timeline and functioning on a budget of approximately $0, we were forced to be pretty clever.

After wrapping up principal photography, I jumped in and began our first round of editing. I aimed to flesh out the overall structure and direction for the video before we moved into VFX.

I find that this stage can become extremely demoralizing quickly. You are forced to watch all of this footage over and over again while you put together the worst version of your video. I find that it is important to just charge through this section and get anything put together. It's easier to refine and revise an edit than stare at an empty timeline.

Now with a first draft edit, we had a clearer direction of our VFX needs. I organized a system of dolling out plates and project files to both Isaac and Aaron. Utilizing a system of reference spreadsheets I organized my VFX requests. I kept as many of the easy compositing shots on my main machine. For the remaining shots, I distributed proxy files over Google Drive. (Not the quickest, but definetly the cheapest.) From there I'd receive the completed VFX project files over the Drive. From there I could merge their work into my active project. This ensured I was prepared to relink with full resolution DPXs before sending out for color.

The entire process conisted mostly of sketchy lighting techniques and the consumption of copius amounts of fast food.

Isaac built the second narrative line that is present in the final video. Using Maxon's Cinema 4D, he modeled and animated the core pieces of imagery that we defined earlier in the process: the Cup, the Cloth, and the Flower. After he built the scenes, I would jump in and place and animate our camera moves and define the animation durations. We used Octane Render for the renders and I did the final compositing and corrections in After Effects.

To enhance the narrative, we developed a "Glitch" type effect to use throughout our studio scenes to demonstrated the tension and distortion of our character. We used a mixture of Gabriel Grenier's amazing Plugin, Pixel Sorter, and some basic effects like noise and turbulent displacement. We used this effect extensively across the video and in the design of his album and promotional material. We were even featured in aescripts for this process.

Beach Prologue.

The opening track for Beach is a spoken word that tells the album's story. Just like this track sets the tone for the album, we wanted to create a piece that would set the stage for the music video. We released the Beach Prologue across social media a day before the release of the music video.

The Music Video.

The music video released the following day. It was receieved amazingly well, and gave John a nice platform for the release of his album.

04

Design.

When designing beach we aimed for the assets and imagery we used to be tightly tied to the music video. They had a symbiotic relationship, both influencing and growing with each other. In the end, we created a heafty amount of deliverables to be released in the lead up to the album.

Album Art

The first step while we were desigining beach was the album art. We went through over 100 concepts and revisions before landing on our final design. This set the stage for the rest of the brand and promotional material.

Poster Series

Utilizing the visual and narrative motifs we established earlier, we designed a poster series that was released in the lead up to the album. These posters tied tightly in to the overarching message of the album and helped to set the tone of the release.

Website

For our final piece of design we took the imagery and design guidelines we established and applied them to the web. We built a simple landing page that would have the important links to John's content while creating a unique experience for the viewer.

View the site.

Implementation

01

Social Media.

Throughout our entire production process, we made it a key goal to release elements of the the project sequentially. Over a two month period, we slowly built the narrative across platforms and mediums. This build up helped to premote the release of his album and give his brand a unique and curated look.

2 months to release.

Photography

10 days to release.

Poster Series

2 days to release.

Beach Prologue

1 day to release.

Music Video

02

Reflection.

Working 40+ hours a week on Beach, attending school full time, working enough client hours to pay rent, and attempting to fit in a few hours of sleep every night made for an insanely challenging couple months. But the amazing part was that it never felt like work. And this was because I had the pleasure of collaborating with such a great team. A team that was deeply invested and had such high expectations for what we wanted to produce. In the end, this project became the most exhausting, life dominating, fufilling, and rewarding project I've ever worked on.

The project is not with out its faults, but to be able to create something that lived up to the vision we casted and has potentially inspired others, is the best I could have ever hoped for.

The lesson.

Story is king & your team is god.

Final Deliverables


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