How to Shoot an Editorial Fashion Film | BMPCC 6k | DZO Vespid | RS3 Pro

Joe Gainsborough here. Today, I’m super excited to share with you the behind-the-scenes process of creating an editorial fashion film with the incredible photographer Ivar Wigan for Heroine Magazine. I’m going to talk you through the techniques and the visual language of the editorial. So let’s discuss.

 

If you’re not familiar with Ivar’s work, I strongly encourage you to check it out – his unique blend of documentary, fashion, and surrealist sensibilities is nothing short of breathtaking. I was blown away when I saw his exhibition series, “The Gods,” shot on the fringes of the decaying cities of the American Deep South. Ever since that exhibition I have been a fan of his work and I was very excited to get the opportunity to make this editorial film with him. The editorial piece was made for HEROINE, a women’s luxury bi-annual magazine covering film, fashion, current events, music, and art. 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

So, here’s the crazy part: I got a very last-minute call from Ivar asking if I was available the next day to shoot an editorial film with him. Thankfully, I wasn’t booked for any other shoots that day, so I grabbed my gear and headed down to the location as fast as I could. This experience really highlighted the importance of always being ready to go and prepared to jump onto opportunities – you never know when something amazing might come your way.

 

What are some key advantages to always being ready to go?

  • Agility: Being ready to jump onto opportunities allows for quick and agile decision-making. This agility is crucial in dynamic environments where circumstances can change rapidly.
  • Competitive Edge: Those who are always prepared to seize opportunities are often ahead of the competition. They can capitalise on emerging trends or gaps in the market, gaining a competitive edge.
  • Adaptability: Ready individuals are more adaptable. They can adjust their strategies and plans swiftly, minimising the impact of unexpected challenges and taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities.
  • Networking: Jumping onto last minute opportunities can often lead to meeting new people. Networking provides valuable connections and information that can open doors to new possibilities.
  • Personal Growth: Embracing opportunities often involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone, leading to personal and professional growth. Continuous learning and development become inherent in the pursuit of opportunities.
  • Positive Mindset: Adopting a mindset that is always ready for opportunities cultivates a positive outlook. This positivity can inspire others and contribute to a constructive and proactive work environment.

 

COLLABORATION

Ivar had this fascinating concept for the photo series and film, Picture this: Chun Jin, our model, portrayed as being ‘trapped in the metaverse,’ yearning to break free from its digital confines. Ivar wanted to convey a sense of entrapment and the longing for escape through the lens of high fashion and editorial storytelling. This theme of being stuck in the digital realm, unable to break free, added an intriguing layer to our creative narrative. I, read into Ivars concept as being an exploration of the metaphorical ‘metaverse,’ seeking to capture the dichotomy between the sleek, futuristic elements and the model’s desire for a more tangible reality. Representing societal pressures, technological saturation, and the struggle to maintain an authentic connection with the world. Chun Jin became more than just a subject; she embodied the metaphorical struggle against the intangible forces of the metaverse.

The photographer Ivar was very open to collaboration and taking my ideas on board, it was a great experience, as although he had in mind some specific shot ideas, there was also a lot of room to experiment with different shot ideas and techniques.

So, how can we as creatives and filmmakers improve from collaboration?

 

  • Synergy of Expertise: Collaboration allows professionals from various fields such as fashion design, cinematography, music, and editing to combine their expertise. This synergy results in a holistic approach, ensuring each aspect of the fashion film is executed at the highest level.
  • Inspiration and Cross-Pollination: Creative collaboration sparks inspiration through the cross-pollination of ideas. Fashion designers may draw inspiration from the cinematography, and vice versa, leading to a more dynamic and multi-dimensional final product.
  • Enhanced Creativity: Working collaboratively encourages a free flow of ideas, pushing team members to think outside the box. The collective brainstorming process often leads to creative breakthroughs that may not have been possible through individual efforts.
  • Celebration of Individual Talents: Creative collaboration acknowledges and celebrates the unique talents of each team member. It creates an environment where individuals can showcase their skills, contributing to a collective masterpiece that highlights the strengths of everyone involved.
  • Diverse Perspectives: Creative collaboration in fashion films brings together individuals with diverse backgrounds, skills, and perspectives. This diversity fosters a rich exchange of ideas, leading to innovative and unique concepts that may not have emerged in isolation.
  • Continuous Learning: Collaborating with other creatives in the fashion film industry fosters a culture of continuous learning. Exposure to different perspectives, techniques, and creative processes provides valuable insights, pushing individuals to expand their skill set and stay at the forefront of industry trends.

 

COMPOSITION

Collaborating closely with Ivar Wigan, we made a deliberate decision to employ a meticulous and photographic style. Our aim was to let the intriguing architecture of the chosen location take centre stage in the composition. The strategy involved using locked-off shots, where the camera remains static throughout, allowing the visual elements within the frame to naturally guide the viewer’s attention.

We decided to go for a very photographic approach and keeping the camera static created a timeless and classic feel, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the film. The stillness of each frame served as a deliberate nod to the traditional elegance found in classic cinematography.

 

To enhance the film’s visual impact, we opted for a wide Loawa 12mm lens. This wide-angle perspective not only captured the expansive details of the location but also contributed to the creation of an epic and immersive atmosphere. The deliberate choice of a wide lens allowed us to emphasise the grandiosity of the surroundings, providing a cinematic scope that complemented Ivar’s concept. The magic of the 12mm lens lies in its ability to widen the perspective, capturing a broader view of the surroundings. As a result, it provides the audience with a sense of spatial depth, almost as if they are physically present in the environment depicted on screen. The lens becomes a window through which viewers can not only observe but also immerse themselves in the world we created.

What are some key considerations filmmakers should make when deciding on their composition?

 

  • Balance: Ensure a harmonious distribution of visual elements within the frame to create equilibrium and avoid a sense of imbalance.
  • Hierarchy: Establish a clear visual hierarchy to guide the viewer’s attention, emphasising essential elements and creating a structured visual flow. What elements of the frame are most important to tell the story, to communicate the concept.
  • Rule of Thirds: Utilise the rule of thirds by dividing the frame into a 3×3 grid and placing key elements along these lines or at their intersections for a visually pleasing composition.
  • Symmetry and Asymmetry: Choose between symmetrical or asymmetrical compositions based on the desired mood. Symmetry can convey order and stability, while asymmetry adds dynamism and interest.
  • Leading Lines: Incorporate leading lines to guide the viewer’s gaze through the composition, creating a sense of movement and drawing attention to focal points.
  • Frame Within a Frame: Explore using natural or constructed frames within the image to add depth and context, drawing attention to the central subject.
  • Contrast: Leverage contrast in colour, tone, or texture to make important elements stand out and create visual interest.
  • Scale and Proportion: Consider the scale and proportion of elements within the frame to convey a sense of depth and dimension.
  • Negative Space: Mindfully use negative space to enhance the composition, allowing the viewer to focus on the main subject and creating a sense of simplicity or isolation.
  • Lens Choice Impact: Selecting between wide-angle and telephoto lenses significantly influences composition and storytelling in cinematography. Wide-angle lenses, with their expansive view, enhance depth and spatial relationships, while telephoto lenses compress scenes, bringing distant subjects closer and emphasising details with a narrower field of view. The choice between these lenses is a creative decision that shapes the visual narrative and emotional impact of the image.
  • Experimentation in Cinematography: Embrace a spirit of experimentation in cinematography by exploring unconventional composition techniques. Studying and understanding current composition trends allows filmmakers to push creative boundaries, discover new visual languages, and contribute to the evolution of storytelling through innovative cinematic compositions.

CLONING EFFECT

Ivar wanted to play with the idea of cloning the model, creating multiple versions of her. As the director of photography, I collaborated with Ivar to bring his vision to life. We achieved this by setting the camera in a locked-off position and having the model walk or stand in different positions.

It was a nuanced play with the very fabric of reality, an allegory that hinted at the fluidity of identity within the confines of the metaverse.

 

It invited contemplation on the nature of self in a world saturated with digital echoes painting a narrative where the model, fragmented and multiplied. The multiple versions of Chun Jin weren’t just visual effects; they were embodiments of the complex interplay between the authentic and the simulated, the tangible and the elusive.

To create this effect we had one locked off shot of the scene and filmed it multiple times with the model in different positions. I then cut her out using a technique called rotoscoping and then layered multiple versions on top of each other.

 

Rotoscoping is a technique in filmmaking where artists trace over live-action footage frame by frame to create masks, animation or special effects. It’s a time-consuming process but incredibly powerful in achieving seamless VFX. In this scenario and to put it simply, a mask is essentially a cut out. So I was able to cut out the model from the video and place her onto of another video layer to create this clone effect.

 

To make the cloning effect more manageable, we ensured that the model didn’t cross paths with her other versions unless it was crucial for the shot, making it a simpler masking job in post production. For more complex interactions where Chun crossed herself, I utilised Davinci Resolve’s Magic Mask effect, an AI tool that speeds up the process of rotoscoping. These AI VFX tools are changing the game on what is possible and dramatically speeding up complex tasks.

 

MISE EN SCENE AUGMENTATION

Mise en scène refers to the arrangement of visual elements within a frame in filmmaking or theater. It encompasses the composition of a scene, including elements such as setting, lighting, costume, props, and actors’ positioning, all working together to convey the desired atmosphere, mood, and storytelling in a film or theatrical production.

 

To enhance the overall look of the film, I employed compositing techniques in post-production. This involved removing unwanted elements from the background, such as shop signs, people, and details that didn’t fit the aesthetic we were going for. I did this by taking a clean plate of the background. A plate, in VFX terms is a recording of the shot without any characters in it and no movement. I then took this plate into Photoshop and used the AI generative fill feature to take out any unwanted parts of the location. If you change a part of the image where there is movement from the model in this area then you will need to do some complex rotoscoping, so if you need to do this without a tonne of workload then just focus on areas of the image that will be simple for you. I then brought the background plate back into Davinci and placed it under the layer of the rotoscoped model. If you are shooting locked off shots then this technique is quite achievable, if you add in any camera movement then it becomes very complicated and will require working with a VFX studio.

 

Crafting an effective mise-en-scène is paramount in the art of visual storytelling as it shapes the aesthetic and emotional impact of each frame. The careful arrangement of elements such as set design, lighting, costumes, and actor positioning allows filmmakers and visual artists to control the visual narrative, influencing the audience’s perception and engagement. A well-crafted mise-en-scène not only adds depth and authenticity to the narrative but also serves as a powerful tool for conveying themes, emotions, and storytelling nuances. It transforms each frame into a canvas where the visual language becomes an integral part of the storytelling process, capturing the audience’s attention and enhancing the overall cinematic experience.

 

DREAMY EFFECT

Ivar wanted to avoid a clinical and sharp look, so I added a radial blur effect in post-production to give the film a dreamy atmosphere. This subtle touch contributed to the overall mood and vibe of the piece. It gives the edges of the frame a blurriness that feels like the edge of a vintage lens whilst the centre of the image stays fairly sharp.

What are other techniques that filmmakers use to add softness to their images?

 

  • Diffusion Filters: Filmmakers often use diffusion filters, which are optical filters designed to scatter light and soften the image. These filters reduce sharpness and create a subtle, dreamlike quality in the visuals.
  • Vaseline on the Lens: Applying a thin layer of Vaseline directly onto the camera lens introduces a softening effect by diffusing light. This technique is employed to add a romantic or ethereal quality to the imagery.
  • Vintage Lenses: Using older lenses with inherent optical characteristics, such as lower contrast and unique flares, can introduce a natural softness to the images. Vintage lenses often possess distinct optical qualities that differ from modern, clinically sharp lenses.
  • Glow Effects in Post-Production: Filmmakers can add a soft glow to their images during post-production using various software tools. This digital approach allows for precise control over the level of softness and can be adjusted to fit the desired visual aesthetic.
  • Stockings or Nets: Attaching stockings or nets directly to the lens or using them as a makeshift diffusion filter can produce a softening effect. This technique introduces a delicate, veiled look to the visuals, reminiscent of older cinematic styles.
  • Lens Flares and Halos: Purposefully incorporating lens flares and halos, either in-camera or through post-production techniques, can contribute to a softening of the overall image. These optical artefacts add a subtle glow and can enhance the atmosphere of a scene.

And there you have it – I hope you enjoyed a look into the creative process behind this fashion film with Ivar Wigan. If you enjoyed this video, make sure to hit that like button, subscribe for more content, and leave a comment down below with your thoughts. Until next time, stay creative, stay inspired, and I’ll see you in the next video!