For post Brit-punk pioneers Bloc Party, the directorial duo Aggressive, a.k.a. Dan Shapiro and Alex Topaller, completed a 3:48 music video for the group wistful single ‘I Still Remember’ off their sophomore album A Weekend In the City (Vice/Atlantic Records). They duo lensed the live-action in London and edited, designed and executed the visual effects at their base in Manhattan, Guerilla FX. The music video, distributed internationally, began airing on stations January 8 after an exclusive run on mtv2 and mtvU.
Aggressive directed the video for the lovelorn new cut that finds the band scattered throughout what appears to be a series of trains. ‘Since this is technically a one-shot video, we needed to find some manageable ‘building blocks’ to shoot and composite together. Considering the activity of a train car can be broken down to what goes on in its seats, we began by getting two vintage maroon-leather train seats and bolted them to a green stage. This became the stage on which each of Kele Okereke’s memories play out. We shot one pair of seats at a time, keeping the camera locked stationary and getting as much image in frame as possible.
All camera moves were achieved virtually in composite later,’ explained Aggressive Dan Shapiro. ‘On every seat, we recreated a particular ‘memory.’ With this toolbox of train seats, passengers and Bloc Party members Kele Okereke (vocals/ guitar), Russell Lissak (guitar), Matt Tong (drums) and Gordon Moakes (Bass), we built the actual structural rows of the train cars, ‘editing’ the scenes by bringing in a new pair of seats as our camera pulls back through the aisle of the train. Since the footage is locked to the actual structure and depth of the train car environment, it helps alleviate the unrealistic flatness that usually goes along with green screen shots.’
Dan partner, Alex Topaller added, ‘The sticky thing about this isn’t the difficulty of any individual shot, but the sheer quantity of footage needed to produce a train car full of different people (and different singing Keles!), all of whom need to appear on screen simultaneously. Crunched for time, which was compounded by the need for Kele many wardrobe changes, we ran the set like an assembly line: extras and band waiting in the wings, hop on, sit down, ride the train, hop off. We had everyone available jumping on the set. You can even spot Dan and me in a couple of shots.’
All of this footage, shot in HD on Varicam, was then stuffed into a single Mac Pro desktop, which nearly burst into flames as it valiantly crunched through the massive composites with dozens of simultaneous full-res video streams and effects needed to get the one-shot effect.
Aggressive executed the editing, complex effects and composites at the independent design, effects and post finishing company, Guerilla FX (New York, NY), Guerilla Linda Peters completed the online editing assignment for ‘I Still Remember. ‘
The music video was produced by Refused TV (Los Angeles, CA) and Executive Producer Cathy Pellow and Producer JP Fox. Nick Sawyer was Director of Photography and Grant Freeman the Assistant Director.
Stock footage for the music video was obtained from Getty Images (New York, NY).
Bloc Party’s ‘I Still Remember’ is the fourth video directed by the Aggressive duo. Their other music videos include: Black Label Society’s “Concrete Jungle” (Roadrunner Records), an action-packed adventure which blends traditional hand-animation techniques with high-end CG; Hoobastank’s “Born to Lead” (Island/Def Jam Records), which sets the popular band on top of a high-speed tank; and Lil Rob “Summer Nights” (Upstairs Records), the first high-profile music video for the emerging Chicano Hip Hop industry.
Aggressive is represented for commercial work by New York-based Zero To Sixty (0:2:60) and continues to make their professional home at Guerilla FX.