Phenomenal Video Productions started with me, Daniel Evans, and David Salloch way back in 1999. We started writing a movie which would only ever be partially made, and then it ended up getting lost forever. We started with a Sony Digital 8 camera. It was our first camera for both of us. We bought it together, splitting the cost 50/50.
With tax back, the purchase amounted to something like $1650.00. I might be off a bit, but it was up there. I think his mom put it on her credit card and we both paid her back. I ended up buying Dave out and then bought another Pro Panasonic commercial shoulder-style 3CCD camera, a huge leap up in video technology at the time.
I was still learning, and I hadn’t even gone to school or anything for photography. I just grabbed the profession by the balls and started doing my thing. Which may or may not have been the best approach, because you do end up learning a lot of things the hard way.
One thing we ran into a lot is bad lighting. Cameras back then just couldn’t see well in the dark. There is a lot of factors to this. A huge one was solved recently with smart software algorithms, so now even smart phones can see in the lowest light with excellent quality.
One fun thing about being in a band as well as an aspiring videographer (who wants to one day concentrate on the performing arts) is the sheer volume of material there is to record while out playing shows. Or seeing friends shows. Bands most often want to be video recorded, if asked. They are mostly hoping for a copy for themselves for free of course. Your average indie band doesn’t have much in the way of finances to pay for all kinds of advertising, merchandising. Not until they get a backer of some kind. Unless of course one or more in the band are from wealthier backgrounds. The point being, the work in music video shooting and editing has always been plentiful if you’re willing to work something out with the artists. Unless they’re dicks.
Of course maintaining a job helps if you’d like these extras. That can obviously make scheduling around everyones busy week difficult. But most often it’s really the only way to manage. Realistically, its often hard for a band to meet more than twice a week unless you all live together. Which would rarely work for those in bands who are also married or in some kind of relationships, especially with children.
The point I’m getting at is that doing these first few videos was a great way for me to hone in on my craft. To practice on willing participants who had no other means of recording themselves anyway. Sometimes with disastrous consequences, because people have great expectations sometimes, and sometimes even free isn’t good enough when things go wrong. Like bad lighting. Its almost always bad lighting at shows. No band really likes to have the lights on.
Speaking of dimly lit areas, here is a concert video we shot of a band called Krahamer. Being in a hardcore type band myself at the time (Trebend’le), I filmed quite a few similarly heavy bands. These guys were super high energy, and so capturing them live was both a challenge and fun to do, with the lighting being a major consideration, since this bar was pretty dark. We filmed this with two cameras – The Digital 8 and the Pro Panasonic. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, considering the lighting and the general chaos of the show.
With regards to lighting, things have changed a lot in the past ten years, even. Now bad lighting isn’t such a concern, especially with modern cameras. A good phone camera can handle bad lighting just fine.
Another one band of the many bands we shot over the years was called Extinct or Alive (a now defunct band featuring Scott Rebelo on vox / synth / guitar, Luke Supulsula on drums, Shawn Reeves on bass, and Matthew Davey on lead vox / guitar) a progressive rock band similar to, say, The Mars Volta.
For this next video (shown below), we used Panasonic TM700 and a Panasonic AG15P. This video is really about capturing the rawness of such a band live, who, like Krahamer, had the ability to be really intense, and so capturing all the sound and making it sound good can be challenging, but it’s not so bad if you know how to work the camera and the gain stages, etc. Our cameras were built for that, and a lot of times we were shooting with the shoulder mount, so no shock mount.
In addition, the chemistry between the band mates and the audience is something I always try to capture in every video (if there is any chemistry, that is). These guys had it for sure, and I wanted to make sure it came across. This was a house show, so it had that intimate atmosphere where the audience was just a few feet from the band.
After doing a whole lot of videos of various hardcore bands, I eventually branched out to do what you might expect – weddings! I did some weddings, focusing on making the videos more film-like in the process. This was an education all its own. I didn’t really make that many wedding videos, as it turned out. I couldn’t stay away from the music, because what I really wanted to do was band performances as well as other arts / artists. I think that was really coming through in the work I was doing at the time, too. I was always leaning towards music myself since I was always in and out of bands. Mostly in, with Treben’dle. That one lasted on and off for 15 years.
Trebend’le went something like this: David Ball on bass (sang and helped create band), Chad Casarin on drums (sang and helped create band and also wrote some songs, three on guitar). Dave Salloch came in 2000, played bass and sang, wrote a lot with me. Steve Elliott played guitar, and he came in around 2006. Dave Kuhr played joined in 2007 and played bass and sang, and wrote with me till the end in 2011.
Here is a video we shot of Trebend’le for a song called “Rotations”, shot with a Panasonic TM700 and a Canon Vixia HG40 miniDV. This video is more in a music video style, because the performance and the audio don’t really match up, so it’s more artsy that way. The audio and video are from the same show, which was shot at Forbes Park at a festival here in Cambridge that used to go on every summer.
We kept the project to a warts-and-all aesthetic, including noises and talking that popped up in the audio naturally, and then juxtaposed it with the more artistic style of the visuals in the video, like the windmills and such. That said, I think it turned out cool and still captures the unique energy of the band, even though it’s not what some people would call “perfect”. It’s more punk rock style, like the band.
This live performance video by The Candidates at The Starlight Social Club in Waterloo, Ontario, was shot with the combined efforts of the Pro Panasonic and the Sony Digital 8. The Candidates feature Adam Thompson (guitar), Vince Wardell (drums), Neil McDonald (bass), and Steve Parkinson (guitar).
This was one of the first “hires” we got from a band, and it was a really fun video to shoot. The band here is in fine form, combining a bit of punk and a bit of pop. Both me and Dave Salloch tag-teamed this video and the results are still enjoyable to me.
The current band I’m in Dumbster. Dumbster is me (Daniel Evans), Mike Warrington (Pugs – Also in Gourmet), and Micheal “The Meat Man” Gratton. This project started in late 2014 and continues on for the unknowable future. Style wise, this band is still in development. At the moment, we’re leaning towards a part disco, part funk, post punk experimental type of thing. Dumbster has a few keyboards, three drum machines, loop machines and guitars all chugging away, so figuring out the finer details of this band is an ongoing thing – for now.
Here is a recent video we shot of Dumbster. The video was shot with a Canon G40 – my favorite camera so far that I’ve used. This clip was filmed by Brad Glover. It was a very tricky low light situation, but this is where this camera seriously shines, as it picks up light in the dimmest of situations and it still looks fantastic. It helps that it has a huge 52mm lens though, as well as a gigantic sensor.
But music and video are really one and the same to me. They belong together. Music changes the emotion and energy, the rhythm and colours the pictures in a way that words can’t always do.
The best way to contact me about a gig is through the Phenomenal Video Productions Facebook page. Contact us and we’ll get back to you when we can. Here are some other links of mine to check out: