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Recording 'Live at Sundown' with Matias Reed

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Back in July 2022, after several months of sharing enthusiasm for recording a live session, myself, Matias Reed, Natasha Joseph, and Shaun Williams of Sundown Recording, decided to collaborate and make it a reality.

We initially came up with 3 concepts and rather ambitiously aimed to shoot them all in a day. Matias shared with us 3 tracks in advance, and a couple of ideas. Myself and Nat spent an afternoon mind-mapping ideas and concepts.


Matias was inspired by Mansur Brown’s live session of 'Mashita' for NTS. Besides it being amazing music, the really interesting thing is that it is recorded all in one take on a 360º circular dolly track. This style of recording felt like a really good fit for Matias’ track ‘Entwined’, with it's looping bass guitar and acoustic guitar elements.

The issue was that this was a zero budget production, we didn’t have the option to hire this level of grip equipment. We were all collaborating using just the resources we already had available to us.

Luckily we found a way to emulate this style using a more DIY approach. Thanks to Lens Lab Leeds on this, they agreed to lend us a track system that consisted of wheels that attached to the bottom of a tripod, which ran along a set of rubber piping.

This was by no means an easy set up, the main problem was that the piping needed to be secured in a perfect circle in order to achieve the circular dolly shot. Also they were not long enough to circle all the way around and didn’t have a connector to attach to each end. We therefore settled on the reality we would not be able to achieve a seamless ‘one-shot’ recording, instead we would need to cut the recording with close-up shots.

Shaun helped us set up the rig using a very high-tech piece of string taped to the centre of the circle, the spot at which Matias would be positioned. We then gaffer-taped the piping to the floor to achieve the semi circular track.

In terms of lighting, we used LED rechargeable lights with coloured gels. We wanted the scene to feel quite dramatic, so went for two lights from below, each a different colour; Orange and Purple. We then completely blacked out the background.

When recording ‘Entwined’ there were some unexpected elements that we felt really added to the video, like the stand that Matias used to prop up the guitar he wasn’t using, this was positioned in front of the camera track and created a nice parallax effect.


Wedding Song (For Paloma and Miche)

For the second recording, having listened to the recording, both Nat and I felt a warm, nostalgic feeling, would compliment the track. We used a mixture of gimbal and close up shots and lit the scene with softer and warmer lights..

I decided to use cling-film and vaseline over the camera lens to get a softer look and to allow the highlights to flare in a really interesting way. I think this worked really well with the flicker of the candles that we used to set the scene.

I also knew the video would be realised in the old school 3:4 aspect ratio despite being shot in 16:9 to emulate the older way of shooting video.

Thanks to Matias, Nat and Shaun for all your time and energy put into this project.


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