Music Video: Slayer - 'You Against You'
Issue: March 1, 2016

Music Video: Slayer - 'You Against You'

LOS ANGELES — Editor Ed Marx once again partnered with director BJ McDonnell on a new music video for heavy metal band Slayer. The two worked together last summer on the band’s Repentless video, which launched in September in conjunction with Slayer’s album of the same name. This latest project ties in to their existing work for the band, as the new You Against You video serves as a prequel to Repentless, showing fans the violent events that took place in the week leading up to the prison riot.

You Against You begins with a Quentin Tarantino-like short, complete with titles and credits, and then leads into the band’s performance. 

Eric Leach served as DP for the six-day shoot, which covered the production of You Against You and additional content that Nuclear Blast Records plans to release later this summer.

The narrative elements are set in and around an old-time diner, while the band was shot separately at an airplane salvage yard. DP Leach shot the project on an Arri Alexa. A crane was used to capture the overhead shots that showed off the salvage yard and its massive plane parts. Marx cut the music video on his Mac-based Avid Media Composer. 

“What I have come to embrace about whole things is that there is a bonafide storyline,” says Marx of the two videos’ connection. “As editor on this project, the most fun came with how to incorporate all these camera acrobatics. The crane was flying all over the place, but it had to have a cohesive feel from shot to shot.” He adds that he didn’t want the beautiful footage to get lost in a shuffle of fast cutting. 

“There was so much interesting choreography and options,” he says of the camera placement and movement. “I could go to anyone of the Slayer guys any time I wanted, but asked, ‘What is best musical choice?’ Yes, I wanted to focus on the guitar solos, but I didn’t have to just play to the solos.”

The video was shot in February and was then posted with the goal of premiering on the “Rolling Stone” Website in mid-March.

“I edited at close to full resolution in Avid DNx,” notes Marx, who then handed it off to Bryan Smaller at Company 3 for color correction. Smaller, who also color corrected Repentless, spent approximately three hours working on You Against You. He credits his past work with DP Eric Leach and having already established a desired look on the first video with helping to move this one along efficiently.

“Eric called me before the first video and said they want it to be bad ass, grungy, sick, exciting, intense, and a little too far past the limit,” recalls Smaller. “I said, shoot it close to look you are going for and I will go further.”

Smaller says he added an intense layer of grain that would be almost gimmicky in any other context. He also sharpened elements to be more vulgar.

“The principal direction was ‘make it look consistent with the first video,’” he explains. Repentless was shot on a Red camera, he points out, but that wouldn’t affect the goal of matching footage from You Against You’s Alexa shoot. Smaller says that in addition to adding grain and sharpening footage, he also made an effort to make each location feel like its own vignette. The salvage yard was very cold, but the diner scenes were hot. Adjusting the color for each would amplify the contrast in the edit.

At Company 3, Smaller used DaVinci Resolve software running on a purpose-built, Linux-based workstation. His room has a Sony CRT display and a large plasma monitor for client reference. He graded all of the footage in the order it was shot, based on time-of-day stamping. This helped with matching shots and overall consistency. He then turned it back over to Marx for finishing. 

Michael Kammes provided sound design and mixing services for the project, just as he did for the last fall’s Repentless video. Kammes says he spent approximately a day and a half working on You Against You, and gave much thought as to how subtle or over the top the sound effects should be.

“When you deal with horror and thrillers, there is room for nuance,” Kammes explains. But, knowing that most of the video’s viewers would be watching it online or via a mobile device with small ear buds, he had to take into consideration how elements might reproduce. Therefor, he opted to go with more obvious and direct effects that would appear powerful, even on tiny speakers.

“Ed [Marx] laid down that foundation,” he says of the sound effects, referring to the video’s violent opening scene, and the sequence at the end in which the lead actor is arrested and sent to prison.

“I went through iterations,” he says of the refinements, pointing to the boot footsteps and door creaks. “What’s interesting was towards end of video,” he notes, pointing to the police arrest and prison sequence. “You are taken out of reality. We asked, ‘Do we want to hear footsteps? Do you want to hear yelling?’ We went surreal.”

Kammes worked in his home studio, which is equipped with a Mac-based Avid Pro Tools system running Version 11 software. “I used a lot of Izotope plug-ins,” he says, citing the company’s reverb and compressor. For monitoring, Kammes uses Event speakers, which he praises for not creating ear fatigue during long sessions. He was fortunate to work from a locked picture, which was sent to him as a ProRes LT file.