May 27, 2013

How I did it. Shooting a music video with "lens whacking" effect

Are You familiar with the technique of lens whacking? Here's a music video shot few months ago where I used this effect:

Dies de Pluja (Official) - No Tinc NĂ²via

Whacking lens technique is an effect that allows you to get light leaks and different focal planes by which only a small area of the frame is focused.  The way to achieve this effect is not attaching the lens to the camera. Normally the light reaches the sensor, or the film, trough the lens which leads it and distributes it all over the sensible surface. When the lens is not attached some light will enter through the open spaces between the camera and the lens causing light leaks. The bigger they are, the more light will enter. 

Also the light leak will move across the frame if the lens is rotated and moved back and forward. If you tilt the lens then you'll add another effect, typical of tilt-shift lenses: the focal plane changes so it is not the same of the sensor or the film but swerved of some degrees; this means that only one part of the image will be in focus.

Light leak. Frame from the video
The lens whacking effect creates very interesting, cool and different images, adding a natural retro look and allows you to connect with the camera and be very creative. It works perfectly well to edit together two different shots if you play with the amount of light hitting the sensor. You have to bear in mind that light leaks produce low saturated images and flatten the contrast and, if you really concerned about the sensor and its cleanness, don't even think about using this technique, because it will get loads of dirt!
I used the lens whacking technique in this low budget music video for a simple reason: the lyrics deal with the great effort you need in life to carry on trough adversities, so the atmosphere the words recall is quite sad and melancholic; the title says it all: "dies de pluja" is Catalan for raining days. But the authors wanted this video to be positive and give an optimistic message. I decided to do this with light: light is life and it should have been everywhere throughout the video, becoming one more character of it. So I constantly looked for flares, trough the lens whacking technique and by not flagging lights in the scene allowing light spills into the lens. I also used the soft orange tone to achieve this purpose and add a sense of calm and serenity to the whole video.

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