NEW YORK CITY — Seth Applebaum (sethapplebaum.com) is a multi-discipline creative, with skills that span production to post. He is the principal colorist for Blackfin in New York City, and also heads up the band Ghost Funk Orchestra. Recently, he combined his creative talents to create a new music video that pays tribute to Bill Withers (“Ain't No Sunshine,” "Lean On Me”) who recently passed away. For My Friend was written by Withers and adapted by Applebaum, who then enlisted 60 members of the Orchestra to remotely expand on it musically.
Applebaum created a drum and guitar track, and then sent a video file and sheet music out to Orchestra members to contribute their parts using their own phones, iPads or computers.
“I wish I could do it all live, but there’s no service with low enough latency,” he explains.
The contributions arrived in a range of formats - including .m4v and .mov files - in all different settings.
Applebaum employed a similar concept for a video recently, though on a smaller scale, and used Adobe Premiere to assemble that project. But for this one, he decided to use Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio, as that’s the program he uses every day for color correction and online editing.
“The editing side has gotten as strong as Premiere, if not stronger,” he says of Resolve. “They have similar tools, but are named in different ways.”
The For My Friend video introduces each musician in their own window. As the song progresses, different sections and soloists are highlighted. At times, the entire orchestra appears simultanously.
Applebaum started the assembly by syncing all of the videos and creating a mosaic in Photoshop, where, after cropping and sizing them accordingly, all of the musicians would appear simultaneously. After rendering the large mosaic out overnight, he went on to create smaller groupings that could pop in and out as the song develops.
Audio for the project was posted using Logic software.
Applebaum says he began writing the arrangement soon after Withers’ passing on March 30th. The following Friday he sent out his reference track and by the next Tuesday, he had received all of the remote recordings. He worked on the edit, and by the following Friday, the project was complete.
“The quality was better than I expected,” he reflects, noting that the different orchestral sections benefitted from so many contributions. “They build on each other and created a better sound, so there was nothing crazy to manipulate.”
Vocals, he recalls, received the most attention, with him making sure they sound as clean as possible.