As much as I love watching films that present compelling narratives I can pick over long after the story has unfolded, sometimes a skilfully used visual effect will come along and knock me right on my arse with its audacious coolness. Such is the case with the music video for Ulrich Forman’s I Got You, born out of the bullet-time experiments of Parisian directing duo Nicolas Garnier and Sébastien Le Gallo, who join us to share just how the hell they pulled it off!
Ulrich Forman is an old friend of ours, we’ve directed a few music video for him in the past. The label didn’t give us any money for this one, so we were completely free to do what we wanted. We didn’t have a real deadline either, but I’m sure nobody thought the project would take so long to complete!
Anyway. Last summer our friend Roger bought a Blackmagic 2.5K, and we had fun with it – we tried to fake the “bullet-time” effect by shooting immobile people and stabilizing the shots in After Effects. We played with the time-lapse option of the camera and high shutter angles to improve the effect. We really liked the result, it was something between bullet-time and stop-motion with a quirky wobbling due to AE’s warp stabilizer… It reminded us the 90s music videos that we loved as teenagers. A couple of month later, Ulrich asked us to direct his new music video and we knew we wanted to use that visual effect. We imagined Faustian themed scenes and the contrast between the “Mr Nice Guy” appearance of the character and his ruined inner world.
We borrowed Roger’s camera and his S16 Zeiss super speed set and started filming. We also bought an old Kinoptik 5.7mm for the super wide angle shots. Ulrich closely collaborate with us. He was not only our talent but also our producer, and sometimes our location manager, costume designer, prop master… We shot the video with what was at hand: the “crane” shot in the stairs was done with the camera hanging on a rope. When the oranges and milk bottle spring out of his shopping bag, everything was tied with wire or hanged with nylon threads. We later cleaned everything in post-production.
The post process itself was quite intensive. We shot RAW, converted the dailies to 2400×1350 ProRes files, then stabilized everything in After Effects because we never knew what take would looks best. Jean-Louis (our editor) was mad at us because he’d never dealt with such a large amount of material! He just wouldn’t stop yelling at us that “real directors know what they want and don’t shoot tons of random stuff” like we did Still, he did a great job.
Once a segment of the video was edited, we brought the shots back to AE for the compositing, the wire removal, color grading… We navigated quite a few times between editing, filming and SFX. We worked in our free time, so the video was done over a few months. We had the time to think about what to do next and try a few things. That said, our next project is gonna be simpler and shorter. We don’t have a choice, we gave our word to Jean-Louis.