Behind the Scenes - Editing the OFFTOPKILLS Music Video in Adobe Premiere Pro
When OFFTOPKILLS approached me, they had a few ideas about what they wanted to create ahead of releasing their new album LIGHTVISION. Which you can stream on Spotify or wherever you get your music from!
We sat down and discussed the plan for creating a music video for their song Do You Love Me; it would be a one day location shoot with four scenes in New Jersey on a cold evening in November. Special shoutout to the crew at OFFTOPKILLS—Parker, Eric, Anthony, Matt—Kara Donnelly for lighting, Miles Winfrey for P.A.'ing, and Emily Burke for set design.
I want to walkthrough some of the process for editing Do You Love Me that got us to the final cut.
Once we wrap, I'll ingest the footage we shot into Adobe Premiere, collect some baseline notes from the artist for editing, and begin organizing the project. Depending on the shoot, I like to bin clips based on location or scene. In this case, I binned clips to each artist's name, went in and isolated the best clips by naming them, assigned a color label to each artist, and used markers to identify the best moments in those clips.
I tend to cut music videos by shooting masters, meaning we'll film a full performance of the song 2-3 times for each part. I'll then sync up the best takes in my sequence. Sometimes this will result in 10-15 tracks and the markers let me keep track of where those highlight moments are in the timeline.
Now it's time to start cutting. I like to listen to the song (basically until I hate it) and get a sense of pacing ingrained into my memory as I approach building out the edit. I'll think about how I want the intro to look and feel, what shots make the most sense, and what I want the person watching to feel.
One of the more challenging pieces of this video was a sequence with Eric, who was performing a part of his verse by weaving in and out of four trees. He wanted it to look as if he was popping up at one tree, disappearing, and then popping up at another tree. So to achieve this, we shot four takes with one for each tree. Then in the editing, we synced the four takes and cropped each one to seamlessly blend them together. It was fun to see it come together!
As the edit starts to take shape, I'll continue to refine and switch out shots if it turns out they don't work as well as I had hoped. Often times, it's best to walk away from the project for a bit so I'll take a break and work on something else and come back with a fresh set of eyes. If I ever get stuck, I'll head to YouTube and watch music videos to get inspired.
Some recent ones that I've really loved were Waxahatchee's - Lilacs (created by Ashley Connor, Katie Crutchfield, and Marlee Grace), Sports Team's - Fishing (directed by Kris Rimmer), and Purr's - Avenue Bliss (directed by Guy Kozak).
Once a rough edit is assembled, I'll start the process of going back and forth with the artist's team to fine tune the cut. We'll often sit together and make changes in person, it's very collaborative and hands on. For instance, I had mocked up this classic 1940's style intro based off some old western title cards I was researching. And at first we all were kind of hyped about the look of it, but eventually realized it wasn't working. So it kind of evolved and became simpler, which I think was a good decision.
I think we went through about three versions before we got to a picture lock and color correction and grading could begin. The color grade was my favorite part in this project and the most rewarding to see as it was the last step before handing off the final cut.
Everything was shoot on a Sony a6500 in S-Log 4K, it's not the greatest scenario for color grading, but we had a small budget to create this video. So we made do with what we had and frankly, I'm pretty hyped about the result we got out of these shots.
It was color corrected and graded in Adobe Premiere Pro using Lumetri. Then the final cut was exported with Media Encoder and delivered for use on social media and in press kits. You can see the final cut of OFFTOPKILLS - Do You Love Me below.