Singer, songwriter, father, Yu-Gi-Oh trading card collector - Bryson Tiller is a jack of all trades. Known for his debut song “Don’t” and, more recently, his part in DJ Khaled’s Billboard Top 10 #2 song “Wild Thoughts,” Grammy nominated Bryson Tiller is one of the best up-and-coming artists in the world right now.
His latest single “Somethin Tells Me” is a reflection of his success so far. To accompany the release of the song in May, Tiller’s record label Sony/RCA Records wanted to create a cinematic and highly-detailed music video featuring the artist, and in typical Hollywood fashion, they wanted everything to be spectacularly flashy. This involved some pretty difficult camera techniques.
While most people notice the plethora of beautiful bikini-clad women, one thing in particular stuck out to me: how did the production acquire such sexy shots of the set when 90% of it was shot in a pool? We found out from freelance DP and experienced camera operator Stewart Addison who worked on the video.
“I came in with the DP because I had worked with him in the past. My rental house Panny Hire L.A also supplied all of the cameras, lenses and camera accessories for the production,” explained Stewart Addison, camera and Technocrane operator. “One of the main features on this production was the Technocrane, which was used to get very specific low-water shots that the Director and DP wanted for the video.”
Director Elijah Steen envisioned the music video to feature Tiller as a photographer taking pictures of various female models mixed with beautiful beach scenery in the background. One major component of this was the swimming pool on set at Weese’s Pieces Studio in Littlerock, California, which was critical to giving the music video that high-class beach vibe.
In the video, Tiller arrives on set with camera in tow and models wandering the pool. When Tiller lines up for his shot, the camera switches to Tiller’s POV with models looking directly at us, periodically alternating back and forth. As the video progresses, various moving shots of Tiller and the models are taken from all angles.
Due to the large size of the pool on set, camera ops had to stand in the water, which complicated acquisition on this project. How do you monitor what’s being shot without the ability to run cables? In addition, how do you get all of the shots you need with a limited timeframe to shoot? For Stewart Addison, the answer was in the wireless downlink.
To capture the shots above water, the production team brought in a Steadicam and Technocrane. The Technocrane was attached to a dolly which ran on a platform raised above the water. Attached to each system was an ARRI Alexa Mini with ARRI Master Prime lenses, which pushed the feeds via SDI to a Teradek Bolt 300 transmitter.
The Bolt 300 transceiver is a RF-based zero-delay wireless system which sends live feeds from transmitter to receiver up to 300 ft away. It serves as an alternative to traditional wired systems.
Through the Bolt 300s, the feeds from both the Steadicam and Technocrane were sent to receivers in the video village off-set, where they were fed into a director’s monitor and a 1st AC monitor, where focus was pulled remotely using a Preston FIZ.
Having a wireless downlink was critical to the music video production. Running cables would have been impossible considering the pool setting they were shooting in, but Director Steen still needed to monitor the shots to get the required footage without the risk of running cables submerged in deep water.
With the Bolt, both the Steadicam op and Technocrane could film above the pool and still send a flawless HD stream to the video village off the set. Being able to monitor and pull focus remotely meant getting the necessary shots as quickly as possible, which helped the production to save time and, ultimately, money for their client. Additionally, being untethered meant that camera ops had complete freedom to maneuver on set, which made it easier for the production to deliver the brilliant content and high-definition video to their client, Sony/RCA Records.
Stewart Addison said, “I always use the Teradek Bolt 300 kits as I know I can trust and rely on them to work in even the most challenging environments or difficult circumstances. They worked flawlessly throughout the multi-day shoot, including under extreme heat when shooting on the beach in direct sunlight and in the Californian desert in peak summer!”