How many things can you do to a flower and still have it look beautiful? That is what we spent many days exploring at the start of this project. How do you turn these static objects into 90 minutes of beautiful content. Our work on the video design for the band Foals started with the question “can you make an entire show out of flowers?”
We knew early on that we wanted to avoid using stock footage, many of the good clips out there have been over used, are too short and we would spend more time fighting them into something workable than we would really want to. The initial content development was all building up to a jam packed 3 day film shoot where we would need to capture all of the content to create the show.
FRAY Studio worked closely with Cassius Creative and Foals lead singer Yannis Philippakis to develop a set of unique looks. Initially not with a specific song in mind, but to try and find the right visual pallet for the show. A few recurring themes emerged - mainly centred around how to take something natural and beautiful and physically and digitally destroy it. It was a careful balance to make sure we didn’t step into cliche territory whilst ensuring that each song felt fresh and different from the next. This came down the the filming style, careful flower selection and the digital treatment for each song.
Narrowing looks down, assigning colour pallets and beginning to assign looks to songs allowed us to develop a shot list. The filming fell into the main categories: Special FX, Still Life and Sets. We worked with art director Elliot Rooney, Pavilion Productions and Matter SFX to take these ideas and make them beautiful on camera. Through this process we have to refine our floral choice to what was in season and within budget. We had desperately wanted a Bearded Lilly for one look but they did not come into season until 2 months after the shoot so instead the art department took and Iris, remoulded the petals and painted it to look like a Bearded Lilly!
Over 3 days, working 30 hours, we shot thousands of pounds worth of flowers, took a lot of anti-histamines and worked with a brilliant crew to move though all the set ups and keep more or less on schedule. The most complex set up involved burning a rose and blowing up bunches of flowers. Matter Special FX worked out brilliant ways of destroying flowers safely! All was shot on a Phantom Flex at 1000fps to capture every detail in slow motion. By the end we had 4TB of raw footage of exploding flowers, burning flowers, flowers shot under UV light, oddly lit flowers and much more.
With all of the footage captured, the mammoth task of producing the content for the entire show was underway. The team was working remotely across Europe, kept in sync with Resilio and enough Zoom calls to watch each others house plants grow day by day. The way that Foals perform live added to the complexity of making the show. There is no click track or timecode, the the same song is never performed exactly the same twice. All of the video sections had to be made twice as long as intended incase the band repeated certain parts of a song, and others needed to have loops built into the middle of clips to allow for moments of the show with a completely undefined amount of time such as Yannis Philippakis or other band members getting into the crowd.
When you combine this with 4 different video surfaces, songs could easily result in needing over 100 video files rendered that had to be carefully programmed and married up with the lighting cue list.