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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Feb , 09

1

Zhenya Kolykhanov – отец (Father)

Artist : Zhenya Kolykhanov
Song : отец (Father)
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet

This one was somewhat spontaneous. I actually first met Zhenya about two months ago at a club where he was playing with his band Zeerok & The Immigrants. A band which on their MySpace page describe themselves as “Rockabilly, Jump Swing”. The band was pretty incredible and something about a Russian guy doing Rockabilly in Austin Texas was just to cool.

About a week later he invited me out to see him do his solo thing at a little upscale chocolate shoppe called Viva Chocolato! In stark contrast to what I had seen just days before, here he played a variety of string instruments while running them and his voice through a loop machine. I’d seen some pretty amazing solo stuff using a loop machine before but till then it had always been hip hop/rap performers. Essentially an artist will record bits of music or a beat by tapping on on control board with their foot and then trigger their playback which “loops” that bit of recorded sound. He would play and record a bit on a banjo, have that looping, put down the banjo, pick up a guitar, add a little bit, put down the guitar, move over the bass, add the bass line, all while singing whatever song he happened to be playing at the time. It was amazing to watch. I was especially impressed by this song because despite using all this modern gadgetry the song itself was traditional, classic and to see it created live was fascinating.

Fast forward a couple days and Zee came over to talk about the vid were going to do for Zeerok & The Immigrants. I told him that on a side note I’d really like to do something to show his solo stuff. As luck would have it he had all his equipment in his van outside. I stapled a couple black blankets to the wall, threw up a couple lights, he set up, plugged in and played. As noted at the beginning of the video the audio was done in one take, just as he performs it live, we just ran an XLR from his Boss RC-20 Loop Station to the camera. He replayed it a handful of times so I could get additional angles and then in post I used black and white and split screen to denote the parts that were being looped.

myspace.com/zeerok

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