LA-based director/director of photography Aaron Grasso recently partnered with production company Lord Danger to create two new music videos for Niki & Gabi, “opposite twins” that are known in the fashion, beauty and comedy worlds, but whom are trying to heighten their musical profiles.
The Sleep It Off and
Let It Roar music videos are part of their debut EP “Individual,” which debuted this summer and can be viewed on their Website (http://nikiandgabi.com) and YouTube.
“When [Flip Management] came to us, they were literally like, ‘We need five videos next week,’” Grasso recalls, laughing. “But we went back and forth, and pushed it back a week, and ultimately did two videos in the end. The turnaround for preproduction was super quick.”
Grasso says the team scouted locations in South LA on a Friday, began building the sets the following Monday, and shot the two videos on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In Sleep It Off, Niki and Gabi are each in their own room. Stylized lighting and sets play up their beauty and fashion sensibilities. After being showcased as individuals, they ultimately break down the mirrored wall that divides them and perform together. Slow motion, lighting, lens flares and water effects add to the video’s glossy look.
Let It Roar is Niki’s solo video, which was released in late July.
“We built a 12-by-12 cage in the center of a warehouse and it’s filled with dancers,” explains Grasso. The camera smoothly follows the performer, shooting from outside of the cage. Ultimately, Niki and her crew break out.
Grasso shot at 2.8K resolution on an Arri Alexa Mini, equipped with an anamorphic Cooke Optics lens that accentuated the lens flares. He says his style of shooting is to use practical and stylized lighting, and to capture as much of the effects in-camera, rather than adding them in post.
“I think there is a misperception that you can shoot things ‘just whatever’ and fix it all in post,” says the director/DP. “There is some truth to that, but there are certain things that you are never going to recreate.”
Directional lighting, he says, is one such example. That effect, he prefers to capture on-set.
Both videos were edited at Zwick Post (www.zwickpost.com) in Los Angeles.
“We had two different editors cutting the two different videos,” Grasso explains. “What I typically do is, [we’ll] put together initial cuts and it comes back to me and I give it a few passes with a little tweaking, but I worked very closely with them on this.”
The videos were cut inside Adobe Premiere Pro and Grasso himself used Premiere to add his stamp to them.
“I give a lot of notes initially,” he explains, “but it happens with every edit: we build a rough cut and I give notes, but I can only go so far. I have personal things that I like to do that are a little harder to explain...so I took the cut, physically, and did a pass.”
Apache Color (http://www.apache.tv) in Santa Monica handled color timing, helping to achieve
the highly polished final look that plays up the twins’ beauty and style.
“Color timing is massive,” says Grasso about achieving the final look. “I color pretty much all of what I do at Apache Color…They are the best. We did a full color pass and they really made it pop.”
Grasso says music video budgets can vary, and with each budget increase, there are heightened expectations.
“That’s always the case — even if budget gets bigger, there is a bigger ‘ask’ that comes along with it. That was the case here. In terms of music video budgets, they were pretty reasonable. But because we were shooting a high-gloss, pop video with all of these different elements, things add up fast. While the budgets were decent, it definitely felt like a low-budget, scrappy shoot.”