Captured on 16mm film and augmented with projection mapping techniques, Directors Notes alums Crowns & Owls make their fifth appearance on DN today with a soulful music video for former Wild Beast, Hayden Thorpe and his debut solo track Diviner. A beguiling mix of digital and analogue mediums, we invited Crowns & Owls to share how they channelled the feeling of allegorical storytelling and placed Thorpe and his piano front and centre for this heartfelt tune.

Hayden is a good friend of ours, so the video is a culmination of a lot of our conversations, combined with him having the trust in us to manifest this deeply personal song into the visual medium. Hayden was formally the joint vocalist in Wild Beasts, who went their separate way last year after 5 albums together and Diviner is his first outing as a solo artist, so it was a big moment for him.

We’d spent a lot of time discussing the core themes of the song; looking for guidance during one of life’s paradigm shifts, the digital realm as a divine entity and the modern day waltz of the digital and the organic. We felt that the core of the video needed to be focussed around Hayden’s strong performative ability; the song calls for a visual where the viewer can connect to the songwriter and feel the weight of each lyric – so the man and his piano had to be front and centre.

The song calls for a visual where the viewer can connect to the songwriter and feel the weight of each lyric.

The wilderness setting felt appropriate as a backdrop for a pilgrimage of sorts; seeing Hayden at the start of the video offering a part of himself to summon the song into the piano; we wanted the piece to feel like a parable or a piece of folklore. The guiding hands blossom from inside the piano itself which the camera moves in to explore the dark innards of. We wanted to explore this as a parallel for introspection and the importance of this when figuring out where to head when life’s path gets murky.

We decided early on that we wanted to shoot the video on 16mm film, the organic nature of the format felt appropriate as a parallel to the earthliness of a piano driven track, which develops into becoming embellished by dense synths. We felt it would be interesting to reflect this visually by using digital projection mapping techniques. We projected footage we shot prior to the performance section of the video, which was masterfully embellished with hologram based VFX by Micheal Laine.

It was important to us that the video feel quite timeless; capturing everything we could in-camera, using practical effects and a contemporary palette against slow 70s style zooms and cross fades.

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