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[Premiere] FaltyDL's "New Haven" Video Is A Slow-Burning Optical Wonder

Using a variety of subtle optical effects and tricks, the video by Kyle McDonald and Blair Neal focuses on literally taking your breath away.

by The Creators Project
02 September 2014, 7:45pm

Today, The Creators Project is premiering the music video for FaltyDL's "New Haven," a single off the producer's fourth LP, In The Wild (out now via Ninja Tune). Directed by Kyle McDonald (who we previously featured here) and Blair Neal (previously), the video is as tricky as the song itself. Accidentally hit mute on your computer and you may miss a slurred riff that resembles the sound of a wind-up car being pulled back and shot across the floor with reckless abandon. Blink and you'll miss a shot taken via drone. Blink again and you might fail to notice that the video's lead actress keeps switching. As you look closer and listen in, the more things will begin to reveal themselves.

In the clip, a girl sleeps as visible breath emanates from her mouth like puffs of smoke, the visuals in time with the song's chopped up vocal samples. She jumps out of bed in a flurry and begins what may either be a jog, or a continuation of a dream in which she's running from an unknown force. The scene repeats itself three times, each iteration subtly changing an element or two of the sequence (including the addition of brief pulses of psychedelic colors) so the narrative maintains a shroud of mystique. 

To achieve this vague, ominous atmosphere, the directors implemented a variety of unique shooting techniques, including Lumia projection to create the shocks of color, a high speed camera to warp the narrative's sense of time, and Schlieren imaging to visualize the protagonist's possibly stressed breathing. The effects are understated but deft, together yielding an abstract by continuously curious video. The Creators Project talked with the team behind "New Haven" to discuss their camera techniques, as well as why it was extremely difficult to achieve the Schlieren effect on camera.

The Creators Project: The project description notes that video concept was based Schlieren imaging (and subsequently Lumia projections) — what about the song in specific inspired your chosen visual techniques?

Kyle McDonald and Blair Neal: The very visceral breathing samples throughout the song reminded us of this technique that is used for capturing minor variations in air temperature and pressure. The same way the song brings out the beat with breath and the voice, we wanted to visualize that.

You explained to us that as you experimented with Schlieren imaging, you found it difficult to reproduce the results on camera. What exactly went wrong?

We underestimated the accuracy of the optical elements required to produce an effective large-scale Schlieren system: our pin light source wasn't enough of a pin light, our camera and light weren't colinear enough, the retroreflective screen didn't have a narrow enough return angle, the effect of ambient light on the retroreflective fabric was more significant than we imagined. We're convinced we could get the right effect with a large parabolic mirror but I'm not sure we could build a system that is both accurate, stable, and portable enough to get the shots we want. Definitely needs more research.

Unfortunately the more experimental techniques like Schlieren and Lumia don't lend themselves well to being photographed. The Lumia setup just looks like pointing a projector at a weird surface, the Schlieren doesn't make sense because it's basically a camera with a 200mm lens 25ft from a piece of draped fabric with someone holding a lighter halfway between the two.

What shots were captured on the high speed edgertronic camera?

All the extremely slow motion shots right after the protagonist gets out of bed were captured with the Edgertronic camera, including the shots running down the stairs, face washing, teeth brushing.

How do you hope viewers respond to this video? Do you hope to trigger any sensations in particular?

We tried to create a sort of atmosphere of confusion and repetition at dawn/dusk, but beyond that some of the more experimental shots like the drone lift offs or the harsh editing in time with the music just pair well with the already visceral movement in the music.

Set up of the parabolic lens used to capture several visual effects.

For more on FaltyDL and to purchase In The Wild, visit Ninja Tune's website here.


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