Combine seven musicians with pine desert soul, funk, hip hop, psychedelic, rap, pop, and yucca fire blues, and you might end up with something like Maraj. This Kalamazoo based group has somehow managed to craft a dynamic, coherent sound and style out of a wide range of influences and elements - and it’s LEGIT.
Here’s how we went about creating their first music video:
When Ben and Andy (from Maraj) first approached us with “Pointers,” they envisioned it set in a true house party, and wanted ,above all else, for this to be a true hip-hop music video. From this alone, we planned to shoot our rappers at low, wide angles, and in multiple locations. Also - shoot the heck out of crammed, high energy, living room jamming/dancing.
Stylistically, we wanted to visually embody what we felt when listening to the song. Dramatic red lighting was inspired from the darker, serious sounds and driving bass. The still profile close ups and slow motion draw from the abstract, psychedelic shift when the female vocals take over on the choruses.
After a location scout, we drew up a shot list that was prioritized from the crucial shots on down to ‘well, that’d be nice if by some miracle we still have time to get it.’ We only had one day, but really, about 6 hours to film the ENTIRE music video. This is where a shot list is our best friend - even if we forego 30% of what’s written down, it gives us a constant tangible goal and keeps us organized and sharp on set.
One last team briefing at the office. Pack up the cars. Buy winter gloves, gum, granola bars and RedBulls on the way. Arrive to the house around 5pm. Maraj is showing up at 6pm, and 20 extras are coming at 7pm. Order pizza immediately. Unload the gear. Find a safe place to keep our gear. Put the lights on stands, lenses on cameras, and take one last look at the shot list and locations. Lights, camera, music video.
Maraj and all their friends were really great to work with. Some people needed more persuading to join the action than others, but all in all, the vibe on set was great. Everyone kept great energy going all night despite performing and dancing to the same song 20 times in a row.
The majority of the music video was filmed on a Canon C100 mounted to a Freefly Movi M5 stabilizer with a 16-35mm lens. This was our workhorse, allowing us to get smooth, beautiful shots without the hassle of a clunky jib or slider setup in tight quarters. Slow motion was filmed handheld at 120 fps on our Sony FS700. For lighting we used 3 LED panels and 2 small Lowell minis with color gel combos.
The first thing we did in post was create a rough edit to see what we were working with. What drove the edit at this stage was nailing the transition to slow motion during the chorus, and making sure our cuts made sense and felt right with the music. We don’t use too many fades, but slowing the party down, and layering clips on top of each other ending up creating a really effective, almost dizzying party feel.
The kaleidoscope effect was inspired by Maraj’s cover art, and added the perfect flavor to the psychedelic choruses and middle-eastern samples. We created these in After Effects using footage from the shoot composed with 3D geometric shapes using the Element 3D plugin. The shapes and some of the kaleidoscopic backgrounds were programmed to pulse and spin with the beat of the drums.
We color graded everything dark and cinematic to really throttle the eerie, dramatic feel of the song. After one small round of revisions with Maraj, presto bango - we had ourselves a finished music video.
The people from Maraj were great to collaborate with. They take their art seriously, and brought a lot of passion to this project. At the same time, they put they a lot of trust in us - which we’re always honored by. It’s really cool to partner with a client whose art we have high regard for, and who feels the same about ours.
- Jeremy Angeletti, Project Lead and Director
Official music video for Pointers by Maraj maraj.bandcamp.com/