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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Aug , 12

6

Adam Carmichael – Heaven Knows

Artist : Adam Carmichael
Song : Heaven Knows
Album : Before I Go
Director : Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet

I simply adore this video and so many of the reasons why I adore this video have little or nothing to do with me but the combined talents of all involved.

For some of you that have read my little “blog” type descriptions on some of my other videos this first bit may seem a little redundant but: I loved this song on first listen. Actually thinking about it as I write I suppose that’s a logical pattern to fall into and it shouldn’t surprise me that many of my vid descriptions start with that statement or similar, of course I loved it on first listen or I probably wouldn’t have taken the gig!

Anyway, back to this song in particular, loved the piano, loved Adam’s voice, and love love loved the lyrics. “Hell knows I know right from wrong but heaven knows how I’ve tried …“ Brilliant!

So as per usual during the “concept” phase, I put the song on repeat and thought my little thoughts waiting for that “Ah Ha!” moment. That being the moment that I think what I’m seeing in my head would be perfect for the song and that the concept will work within whatever budget (or lack thereof) that the project consists of. For “Heaven Knows” the “Ah Ha!” moment came after a good thirty or forty listens when I realized I already had the concept for this over a year or so ago! Not sure why it took me so long to realize it but once I remembered it that little voice in my head let out a loud resounding “DUH!”

I’ve talked before about how I tend to mentally bookmark various locations that I think are cool and/or unique if the right project comes along, the same thing happens with concepts. In this vid I had both. The idea for this came awhile back and was actually inspired by an “acoustic” version of a radio performance by Lady Gaga for her song “Fooled Me Again.” Still and always one of my favorites by her. If you care to check it out you can see that here: Lady Gaga – Fooled Me Again

I’ve watched enough “So You Think You Can Dance” to know just how profound dance can be and that’s all that I had really wanted to do as I was reasonably sure that Lady Gaga wouldn’t have answered my calls to make a guest appearance in the vid. Just one dancer, dancing out the lyrics, emoting the passion and angst while matching the swells and lulls that occur throughout the song. The only other embellishments I wanted to incorporate beyond that were to be the angel wings along with the opening where she puts them on and the end where she “takes them off”. Symbolism to me that I won’t bother getting into only because I know would come off too artsy fartsy and in the end would prefer to leave it to the audience to formulate their own interpretation.

So anyhoo, as with many pet projects I’d like to do, it feel by the wayside and lingered on the back burner as something I would get to one of these days. Thankfully that day came when Adam sent me this song and after many a listen the light bulb finally lit.

From the original concept it was always Marisa Mingea (with one “S”) who I saw as the dancer. She’s lent her talents to two of my video’s in the past, both Teera – Flashy  and Larissa Ness – Thoughts of You and is undoubtedly one of the most talented dancers I’ve ever met. Even without the wings she has an ethereal quality to her and the way she dances that I knew would be a perfect fit.

For Adams part there were only three key requirements, the first being the simpler of the trio. Going back to my “locations I’ve bookmarked in my brain” was a place that I’d seen a couple photographers use and had hoped to use one day, a local Austin bar called Lustre Pearl. The staff there were awesome and more than accommodating. The second thing needed was a strong performance, just as the dance needed to be emotive Adam had to tap into the passion and vulnerability that comes across so well in the song, it without that the video would have been unbalanced.

The next challenge was the wings. What I wanted wasn’t something you could pick up at your local costume shop. I wanted them to be articulated in such a way that Marisa could incorporate them into the dance, that she could bend them, move them, and reposition them at will as opposed to just sticking a pair of generic wings on her back. I also wanted to show her putting them on, I wanted the straps to be in full view (perhaps the only thing I wanted that would make making them just slightly easier to make!) as I wanted to sell the fact that they were “fake” to add a bit of surprise during the last reveal.

To build these I turned to Meredith Johns and her company Hawgfly Productions Inc. They’re a local FX company that had been nominated for 2010 Emmy Award and that, much to my joy and surprise, is based only blocks from my house. Bonus! Thankfully they were up to the challenge as I’m sure you saw in the vid, the wings were simply stunning and everything I wanted them to be. But consider this next time you watch it, as graceful as Marisa executed her choreography, she was doing so with 40 pounds of feathers, leather, and metal strapped to her back. In the shape I’m in I don’t think I could have walked up a flight of stairs wearing em but Marisa made it look effortless.

Amy Chambless from Hawgfly was on set and did all the blood effects/wounds and the, um, well, the nipple covering stuff. Hawgfly also made a second pair of partial wings for the close up of ripping them out of her back.

Huge thanks to Adam, Marisa, Hawgfly, Lustre Pearl, and my awesome crew Matt Friede, Arturo Cavazos, and Eliazar Mendoza, you all do such an amazing job at making me look good.

adamfcarmichael.com/

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Mar , 12

31

Teera – Flashy

Artist : Teera
Song : Flashy
Album: Untitled
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet

Well this one was a long time coming! Teera had hit me up  over a year ago about doing a video for her song “Flashy” though it never made it into production. Finally, about a month back, she hit me up again rededicated and refocused on her music. As this song pretty much demands choreography I turned once again to dancer/choreographer Carly Bell who did the choreography for Larissa Ness’s “Thoughts of You” and more recently made a second appearance in one of my other recent favs, Free Agent’s “I’m a Monster” . In short time she had tapped the three other amazing dancers, Marisa Mingea, Amanda Slick, (who were also both in Larissa Ness’s “Thoughts of You” music vid. and Alia Williams. Teera and the girls began practice and I began trying my hardest to think of a cool location that would lend itself well to this song. Knowing we were on a limited budget and didn’t have enough for a storyline the location had to be pretty spectacular.

Fast forward a couple weeks my crew and I were cruising around downtown picking up b-roll of various notable Austin spots. Had been a long day of shooting and had just finished telling them I think we have enough when I realized that we were near the Long Center and begrudgingly told the guys we needed to stop and get one more shot. As I describe it in the description of the test shot we got “As soon as we walked up the steps I near about dropped my jaw at the little disco stage installation.” It was just beyond perfect, I have no idea who’s bright idea it was to plunk down a dance stage right there but someone give that guy or gal a hug. The backdrop was incredible. I didn’t spend any time making the test shot perfect but if you’ve ever wanted to see me dance you can check out the test shot we did that night here, if you have any desire to see us be goofy, here it goes:

The rest is pretty much self-explanatory, great pop-song+beautiful charismatic singer+amazing location+hot girls+dancing+great crew+awesome camera=would have been hard to screw up this one.

In post I went completely crazy overboard with the glint and starburst filters but did very little, if any, color correction. For me those two effects took it to the next level and completely fit the theme of the song. Without doing the literal of the story arch due to a lack of budget I wanted to stress the whole “flashy” aspect of the song and provide an element that was strong enough eye candy that you overlook the fact that there’s no paparazzi nor any of the other numerous specific things mentioned in the lyrics. For me it’s kinda funny as I’ve never really cared for those two fx but in this particular vid I frikkin love em.

On a technical note, knowing that this was going to be an outdoor night shoot I finally bit the bullet on the nearly $900 Sony CBK-RGB01 Dual Link 444RGB Upgrade for my Sony F3 to enable me to shoot in S-Log. Though I recorded straight to the SXS card and didn’t get 4:4:4 with an external it still blew me away. As I already mentioned I really didn’t do much in the way of CC on this, the raw images themselves were stunning. The shots looked so good in fact that at times it almost looks like we faked the background and shot on greenscreen. The latitude between the highs and lows is markedly better, joyously better, and it made the upgrade worth every penny. That said I am still nothing but grateful that Sony dropped the price of the upgrade to around $900 as opposed to the 3 grand and change they had previously been selling it at. Edited in Sony Vegas.

As always huge thanks are due to my crew, Arturo Cavazos, Eliazar Mendoza, and Matt Friede for making my job so easy and Shane Mikeska for the great makeup!

installation

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