Los Angeles-based cinematographer Laura M. Gonçalves recently shot a visually hypnotic music video for Alexandra Drewchin, known professionally as Eartheater. Crushing
comes from the artist’s fifth studio album “Powders,” and its video incorporates high-speed photography, which was used to capture tumbling dice and pouring wine, as well as Drewchin’s ability to shatter glass using just her voice.
Gonçalves was brought on board by director Andrew Thomas Huang, with whom she’s collaborated frequently.
“[He’s] one of my longest collaborators in my career,” says the cinematographer. “We sort of started together and have a very long relationship. I respect him tremendously, and we've done a lot of music videos throughout the years. All of them have had challenging budgets, and they all come out really great because of his extreme talent.”
In the case of Crushing, the team drew inspiration from ‘90s features, such as
Basic Instinct, as well as erotica films.
“That esthetic was really inspiring to us,” she explains, “so we were looking to really push it in that way.”
The video was shot on a stage in just a single, 12-hour day. The first five hours were spent shooting the high-speed photography, which included Eartheater putting her operatic training to work, breaking a glass while singing a powerful tone.
Gonçalves shot 1,000 frames per second using an older model Phantom camera, as well as with Freefly’s Wave camera to capture the slow-motion footage. The video’s performance footage was captured using an Arri Amira, and the set was arranged so that she could shoot through foreground props, on a dolly, creating motion and interesting areas of focus.
“What was really fun about [this video] was that there were no LEDs used on this video at all,” Gonçalves explains. “This is all tungsten lights, all older lights. It's been about five years, at least since and maybe even longer, since I've been on a job where not one LED or fluorescent fixture was used. It was all incandescent lights. And it was a fun exercise. My gaffer (Warren Purfoy) and I are good friends and old collaborators, and we both harken back to the time of using incandescent lights for everything, so it was fun for us to get to work that way…There's a lot of jobs where we use mostly tungsten, but we'll always throw in one LED, like a key light or something, so it was a fun challenge of just doing tungsten and then matching the color with gel and getting all of all of the looks that we wanted.”
In addition to directing the video, Huang served as its editor and colorist. Gonçalves says the shoot took place on a Monday in August, and by Friday, Huang had assembled a rough cut. The edit and color grade evolved over the following weeks leading up to the music video’s release on September 20th.
“The blue, we're really trying to nail,” says Gonçalves of the color treatment. “I think, on-set, we were like probably a little less saturated, and then in the color grade, we went a little further with the saturation to [bring] out this sort of deep, primary blue. It was a little more teal green on-set. We also increased the highlights and wanted to go almost ‘operatic’…We were really playing with these gem tones — the primary blue, and then the red of the wine swirling, so it's like this kind of red and blue balance.”
In addition to music videos, Gonçalves (www.lmgdp.com) also works on commercials and long-form content. When Post spoke with her, she was heading to New York to work with Questlove on an upcoming music documentary.