ST. LOUIS, MO — P.O.D.’s new album “Circles” will be released by Mascot in November. The SoCal band fuses punk, metal, rap, dub and hardcore, and has established a following in the San Diego area.
J.T. Ibanez (IG: @jt_ibanez) first met the band more than 22 years ago, when he was working as a concert promoter. He helped bring P.O.D. to the St. Louis market a half-dozen times over the years, and has stayed in touch with the band.
For Ibanez, P.O.D.’s music is personal. He is an Iraq War veteran who spent much of 2003 in Baghdad, living in an abandoned school and coming under attack daily. In between the chaos, his team was able to set up a satellite and watch TV on occassion.
“I remember sitting there in the 100-degree heat, watching the latest video from P.O.D.,” Ibanez recalls. “It was from the Matrix soundtrack, a song called ‘Sleeping Awake.’ It seemed to come on every 10 minutes on whatever channel we had, and I was ok with that. There was comfort in seeing them and in those moments it helped me escape my reality.”
Fast forward to 2018 and Ibanez finds some relief from his PTSD in filmmaking. His long-term connction to the band led to the recent completion of a new music video for their latest single, “Rockin’ with the Best.” Ibanez directed, shot and edited the piece in just a few days and on an extremely low budget.
“It's hard for me to wrap my head around all the things that led to this point and how it came to be, but I'm beyond grateful that I was given the opportunity by the band and Mascot Records,” he says.
The black & white video features in-studio performance footage of the band, intercut with MMA fighters intensely sparring in a ring. The grittiness of the gym setting and the fighters compliments the heavy track.
Ibanez put out a Facebook call for participants and couldn’t have received a better response, landing several MMA fighters, including Sabastian Grant (St. Louis Golden Glove winner 2018). He shot the fighters over the course of several hours in a St. Louis gym using Red’s Scarlet camera. Since P.O.D.’s song had yet to be released, it wasn’t used on set, so the fighters were never aware of exactly how the footage would be used. Ibanez adds that all of the hits delivered during the sparring are real.
After the gym shoot, he put together a quick edit of the fight footage against the soundtrack using Final Cut Pro, running on a iMac with a Core i7 processor, 32GBs of memory and AMD Radeon R9 Graphics card. He left holes for the inclusion of performance footage of the band and presented it to P.O.D. as a concept. They were very receptive to the concept.
The band would only be in town for a few days, so Ibanez’s time to shoot them was extremely limited. He secured studio space with an infinity wall and shot them in realtime and at 120fps for some of the slow-motion sequences. The band was backlit by Quasar flicker-free LEDs, which Ibanez describes as both inexpensive and effective.
Ibanez, pictured here with a Blackmagic Design Production 4K, shot P.O.D.'s video on a Red Scarlet. (Credit: Jeremy Hodge Photography)
Upon completing the shoot, Ibanez spent two days finishing the cut in Final Cut Pro before showing it to the band for final review. The only change came with the final shot, where the band is revealed in color. He swapped out an alternate take to complete the project.
Ibanez says he perfers a cuts-only approach to storytelling, without the use of elaborate transtions, wipes or effects.
“It’s a personal preference for me,” he notes. “I dislike most transitions.”
The final video was delivered in 4K, even though it may only appear online at HD resolution. In addition to his iMac and Final Cut Pro set up, Ibanez also employs a 6TB external LaCie drive for storing and managing his footage.
The Rockin’ With The Best video was released online in mid-September and already has 200K views. “Circles” will be released on November 16th.