So What Is Underground Planet?

Underground Planet is an award winning production company based in Austin Texas. From concept to completion we develop, plan, shoot and edit amazing videos for some of the most incredible bands and artist that a company like ours could ever hope to work with.

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Jun , 11

26

Free Agent – I’m A Monster

Artist : Free Agent
Song : I’m A Monster
Album: Free Agent
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet

J-Brooka and I had been working for some time on another concept for another video entirely, it was going to be for a song off of his solo album when last minute, two days before we were due to start shooting, everything had to switched gears. Long story short (not my strong point) there was cause for delay in production but the problem being that J-Brooka was in the military and only had a little over a week before he was leaving town to spend time with his family before shipping out to Afghanistan. It was pretty much devastating, not just because I tend to get emotionally invested in a song/concept but in this case because all of us wanted nothing more than to pull this off for him so that he could go overseas feeling like a rock star. It really didn’t look like it was going to happen. A day later J called me and said he had an idea, he had another song called “I’m A Monster” that he had done with Money, Chivas Kimber & Genesis a group collectively known as “Free Agent”. He said he just wanted something kind of in the vein of Michal Jackson’s “Thriller”. Time to scramble.

Like I’m sure a lot of people in this industry do I’m always making little notes in my head of people, places and things that may come in handy one day. As soon as he told me what he was thinking and I started listening to this track for so many obvious reasons a couple local special effects makeup guys came to mind. I had stumbled on their site over a year ago but till this came along hadn’t had a project that would lend itself to their talents. Enter Matt Garcia & Michael Lynn Garcia of Global Fear Enterprises. Not sure if Matt knew just how much of a panic I was in when I contacted him but told him the basics, that since we only had a few days before we had to shoot I just wanted to use some of the characters and costumes he had already created, shoot the artists performing, swap them out with the monsters, baddabing baddaboom, music video. Thankfully he was totally down and able to shift things around to accommodate our last minute shoot. The one caveat being that he thought he could only get three actors for the costumes though I needed four. I told him that wouldn’t be a problem, I’d find someone. A phone call later my good friend Scott Ward, owner of Strange Brew agreed to be the werewolf … and bring coffee. If ya know me that’s a big frikkin bonus. As a side note it would have been great if we could have just had the guys in the group in the costumes but as you may suspect getting someone into that and made up takes time that we didn’t have the luxury of. The only way we would be able to pull off anything like this would be to have their doppelganger in the waiting watching the artists perform and do their best to mimic what they did.

I had a few places that I thought might work for the ambiance I was looking for but wasn’t 100% that they were gritty enough. Doing what any good director/producer would do when you need something last minute I posted an ad on Craigslist while putting a backup plan into place. With one location locked while still hoping for another I went to work on finding girls, gotta have girls! Carly Bell had been working on doing the choreography for the previous concept and was totally on-board with switching gears and being in this one. Some may recognize her from the “Larissa Ness – Thoughts of You” music video I had done, she did all the amazing choreography for that one as well. Next to agree with little or no notice was Stephanie Schechter, she had been one of the stand out models in the “Threads of Hope Fashion Event” and was thrilled to have her join in. Last, and to be completely cliché, defiantly not least was Kelsea Fontes. Though I had never met her in person we had become friends on Facebook through friends of friends and every one of her pics were just stunning. There was a fourth girl (name withheld!) was supposed to be there but more about that later.

Two days before the shoot I got a tip on another location from Rob Surrette for the Armadillo Hall in Taylor Texas. From the pics I could dig up it was amazing but was somewhat leery that it wasn’t in Austin. Extra miles tend to dishearten the kindness of those involved on productions and always seem to increase the odds that someone’s not going to make it. With that in mind I was pensive about changing everything and switching locations. The next day I was having second thoughts while trying to get everything lined up and decided to do some Google maps comparing. Much to my surprise the location I had already locked, though technically in Austin was exactly the same drive time, 45 minutes. Another panicked call, this time to Armadillo Hall to see if there was any way we could shoot there the very next day. Honestly I have no idea how I get so lucky with these things but Tina, the owner, was fifty kinds of gracious and gave us the go-ahead. A round of calls, texts, and emails to all the cast and crew.

Next day shoot day. Arrive at the location and it’s even better than the pics. Perfect mood for this. Quick go around and pick out the parts we want to shoot in. We start staging and the phone rings. Apparently I had neglected to send Matt the new location info and they’re at the original location. They are now well over an hour away but en route. I get a text message, girl number four is having car problems, she may be late. Nothing I can do but keep setting up … and stall. Another text from girl number four, car still isn’t going right but she’s still going to make it but won’t be able to stay long because she has an obligation after. Lights are ready, playback is ready, artists are ready. Message from Matt that one of the actors for the monsters won’t be able to make it. I look around at who’s on hand, Urhighnes Williams who produced the track/beat master had come with the guys and was willing. Cool, we had four monsters. Were about an hour or more into setup. New text from girl four, she doesn’t think she’ll be able to make it. Four guys, three girls, arg. The solution: J gets all three girls in his segment, he’s okay with that. =)

So that, my friends, is my way to lengthy description on how to pull together a music video shoot in a few days. Besides the hiccups I’ve already described everything went off pretty much without a hitch. We did the bulk of the shooting that night but wound up going back for a second day to pick up some shots I really wanted to get. Nothing much to note on that as pick up days are always less stress, you know you have the bulk of the footage in the can and anything you get is bonus. The one thing I will add is that if at last minute you think it would be cool to make all your artists wear monster contacts make sure you have time for it! Most of the guys in the group had never worn contacts before and it took one of them no less than 45 minutes to manage to get them in!

Besides everyone mentioned above a huge thanks to Matt Friede who ran the b-cam and got the majority of the slo-mo and to two of my favorite guys to have on crew, Lee Reinhardt and Esteban Lopez, as always couldn’t have done it without ya!

Quick technical, this was shot on a 7D as the primary and a T2i as the secondary with a Canon 50 1.2 and Canon 85 1.2 with the T2i running at 60p for slo mo. Edited in Sony Vegas and additional CC with Magic Bullet. I should add that the edit on this was a challenge as well. This was one of those that took seemingly forever to find the right look for. Initially in my head I had seen this having kind of degraded film look, doing some overlays of film stock and having some of the transitions be kind of fluttery, where one frame pushes in the next. Once I had synched up all the footage I started editing along those lines and hated it. I don’t know that it looked “bad” per se but it just wasn’t working for me. Perhaps because I had done something similar in the “Endeverafter – Next Best Thing” video and had recently done an even more extreme version for and edit I did of an interview with Clutch for Roxwel and I really don’t like to feel like I’m repeating myself. Whatever the reason it wasn’t working. I think I spent a good two days coming up with something that I liked, the less contrasty and blue-ish tint really worked and for some reason had a bit of an old school film feel. I usually start out a project with pretty high expectations but with the final cc this one looked even better than I had originally imagined it to be. Love when that happens!

Free Agent – I’m A Monster on iTunes

Free Agent Facebook Page

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Mar , 12

21

Daniel Whittington – Never Go Home

Artist: Daniel Whittington
Song: Never Go Home
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet

A couple weeks ago I got an email through the website from solo artist Daniel Whittington who was looking to get a music video made to support his just released “Private Wars” CD. Off to his website I went (danielwhittington.com) to give some of his tunes a listen. Loved em. Irish country, is that what his style is? Technically I’m still uncertain but being of Irish decent (though I feel more German as I’m adopted and was raised by parents of German decent, grandparents still spoke the language … okay, I’ve strayed and over shared and not for the first time have a run-on sentence that needs to end.) I dug it.

Anywhoo, I was leaning towards one song in particular and we were headed down the road to shoot that in a couple weeks or so when on Friday night, two days ago to be exact, he rang and said that for various reasons he had decided the first vid we do should be for “Never Go Home.” As back story I should add that I had just got done shooting red carpets and panel discussions for SXSW and during one, I believe it was Joss Whedon who threw out a Leonard Bernstein that struck me: To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.

With that in mind as he said he wanted to do “Never Go Home” I said “Well what are you doing tomorrow?” He said “Nothing planned” and I said “Well lets shoot it tomorrow” and he said “Cool” he asked “What time?” I said “How bout we meet up at one?” he said “Cool, where are we going to shoot it?” I said “Not sure” he said “Works for me” I said “Cool, see ya at one.”

That was around 9:30 PM two nights ago. As the song was all about Texas I had a flashback of the location we used for Free Agent’s “I’m A Monster” video. (I’m A Monster Video Here) I remembered there was a dividing wall that had a huge Texas flag on em thought I thought might be perfect. I called Rob Surrette who had initially suggested that place in to an ad I had posted on Craigslist. I was a little crushed to find out that the landlord had gotten new tenants and he didn’t know what the status was. He offered to drive over there in the morning and see if anyone was there and if so if they would let us use it. That was enough of a plan for me. Next made two calls to two of my ever so awesome crew, Arturo Cavozos and and Eli Mendoza, to see if they would be available. By 11 PM I had a crew for the next day and a maybe long-shot location.

Yesterday was awoken to the good news from Rob that we were a go on the Ex-Armadillo Hall. Do you need to know that I then had a cup of coffee and a cigarette as I double checked my camera batteries? You probably don’t, but now ya do.

Art was late but I’m confidant it was just because he likes to keep me nervous, bailed my house around 1:45, got to the location around 2:30 and we were shooting within the hour. Daniel himself was a consummate, and a really f*kn nice guy to boot. I only gave him my brief, fairly pat, pre-shoot direction and take after take he nailed it. Pretty confidant he would have even without my self-purported words of wisdom. Can’t wait to go see him live, from the top of his derby to the bottom of his snakeskin boots, Daniel is an entertainer. Not in the sense that he’s putting on a show for the camera but he’s putting on a show as that’s what he was born to do, he feels every note and every word and it shows. I might add that he’s the only man I’ve ever refereed to his movements being “spindly.” (watch his legs!)

Back to the shoot, if memory serves (yea, I know, it was only yesterday but I’m not a clock watcher) we wrapped around 6:30 and were at the Salt Lick celebrating with BBQ by 7 something. Got home, slammed the footage on my pooter, set it to synch up with PluralEyes and woke up today ready to edit. I’m not sure if it was inspiration or stupidity but somehow I got it in my mind that I wanted the edit done within 24 hours of when we started. Though I made my little self imposed deadline (whoot!) I did make a couple more tweaks and the render put me a little over. I only failed on a technicality! Was a blast trying though!

Last the technical, shot on a Sony PMW-F3 with the Sony 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm, edited in Sony Vegas, additional CC in Magic Bullet Looks 2.0.

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To make this post even longer I wanted to share Daniel’s blog about the shoot … because it made me feel good! =)

The Story:

A month ago before the craziness of SXSW kicked in, I started doing research on Austin videographers with the idea of getting a video of “Never Go Home” accomplished post album release.

I reached out to a few and watched several dozen videos, and became more and more interested in Ray Schlogel from Underground Planet. His videos seemed to combined a high level of professionalism with a great eye for energy and band presence.

I called him, and we discussed trying to do it quickly so he could have it done prior to other commitments that kicked in around April. I had no idea how quickly that would turn out to be!

Right in the middle of SXSW, we decided to take a Saturday and film the entire thing in one location. At first we had plans to film multiple places and pull it altogether for a video that only involved me instead of a band. But within the first few takes, both of us were fairly certain that we were getting all the footage we needed.

We ended up shooting at Armadillo Hall in Taylor, TX using the empty space and a few props I bought from a nearby antique shop. Ray brought in a great crew (thanks Rob Surrette, Arturo Cavozos, and Eli Mendoza!), and we got to work within minutes of arriving.

Ray was a great person to work with, highly professional, and he has an incredible eye for camera shots. I was totally sold on the video after merely watching the first two or three playbacks.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do, and please head over to Ray’s page and like it to follow his other work!

– Daniel Whittington