outsider music video b good

Cinematic Music Video Shot in NYC | B. Good “Outsider”

When the artist B. Good came to me with the concept of duplicating himself and playing two different characters in one scene, I was really intrigued! I knew that if done the right way, this could be a really cool, dramatic, and cinematic music video.

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This was a pretty simple stitching together of two different takes in post. I shot the artist as the doctor character on the right, and shot the artist as himself on the left, then blended the two shots. One issue I contended with was a difference in exposure. We were using daylight to light the scene, and since the doctor’s coat was bright white and close to the window, it was too bright for the camera. We were using the a7sii camera for this, which easily blows out in bright daylight. My solution was to shoot one half of the video darker than the other, and then blend them together in post, using layers of garbage matted video, each layer color graded to blend with the opposite side. Having knowledge of color theory and painting comes in handy here, as I was able to match/blend the wall pretty well together. The split between the two shots is not a perfect line, instead it’s an organic, curving shape that crawls across the frame, allowing for a more complex blend at the seam.
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The idea was to paint the “doctor” character as a kind of villain, so I decided to have him backlit instead of lit brightly as the “patient” was. This gave the two B.Good’s an entirely different look from each other– one somber, introverted, and dark, while the other was in the spotlight, extroverted, exploding with emotion.
music video b good outsider music video still
These outdoor shots were captured on a long lens– a gorgeous 70-200mm. As mentioned in the Zapatillas Music Video break down, I am VERY conscious of focal lengths. I love using a long focal length for these outdoor environment shots to get that gorgeous compression. No better way to turn a cityscape into a backdrop than with a super long lens.
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The shots in this room were REALLY fun! I’ve used moving lights in many of my music videos, including SBU for Alus, and MOJO for Cellus Hamilton. My love for shadow play and wandering light started in college when I orchestrated a live dance and string instrument performance piece where a dancer moved around a set filled with sheer fabrics, and I followed her around with a light, projecting her shadow onto the fabric. The concept of the video was based on Peter Pan, where the dancer’s shadow ran away from her, and she danced both with it and against it.
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The artist was a great performer, and really went all out on these takes.
cinematic music video nyc
I love a good symmetrical shot. The weather was very strange that day, and the entire ocean was covered by a thick sea-mist. It made for a very surreal, mysterious image that made the artist look like he was really in the middle of nowhere. Shooting on the roof let us shoot “outside,” however, the we never see the artist actually out in the world, so he is trapped. It’s like the building is his own mind, and he can’t escape (I did get two shots out on the beach, but ended up scrapping them because the concept of the vid was stronger without them). Being in this surreal, nowhere place makes him an “outsider” to civilization.
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If you look closely, the “doctor” notes are actually the full lyrics to the song.

cinematic music video nyc

cinematic music video nyc

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cinematic music video director nyc
Had fun with dutch angles. What kind of music video about a psychiatric patient WOULDN’T have dutch angles??
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Even though the primary light was coming from the right of frame, the space had enough reflective, light color surfaces that we had beautiful moments of fill.
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As soon as I saw the blue and fluorescent light of this room, I knew we had to shoot here. It was tricky color grading the video so that this shot blended in well, but by basing the overall hue of the color grade on green, I was able to pull it off.

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Nothing creepier than a silhouette in a dimly lit asylum bathroom.
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Dr. B Good listening to himself.
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The artist, B. Good gave us some GREAT expressions! He was a natural actor/performer, so that gave us lots to play around with in terms of body language for his characters.
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This shot appears 3 times in the video. It’s only up for split seconds at a time, see if you can catch it! Going along with the gritty David Fincher / horror film style, I just had to throw in some subliminal moments.
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Of the words on this poster, I felt that “LANGUAGE” and “PERCEPTION” were the most relevant to the music video. This B Roll shot appears twice.

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cinematic music video director nyc

cinematic music video nyc
Because the artist is playing himself, I intentionally broke the 180 degree rule in order to represent the frantic, confused state of mind of the artist. It was also to emphasize the fact that he playing both characters, and that his character was essentially yelling at and berating himself.
music video color grading before and after
Music Video Color Grading before and after. Above is after color grading, below is the before color grading. This is my favorite shot in the video even if it only appears for a split second. I made a power window around the eye and sharpened it, brightened it, and intensified the contrast. I gave the whole thing a vignette, and increased contrast and saturation on the whole thing. I brought out the reds of his skin to counteract the yellow over tones and green undertones, for a well balanced, gritty look. At this point in the video, there is a surge of intensity, so I exaggerated the color grade more for this moment as opposed to the earlier shots.
music video color grading before and after
Shot before color grading. As you can see, not much contrast, kinda dull, no drama. Very few music video directors know how to leverage color grading! Color is a very powerful storytelling tool.

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cinematic music video nyc
Just a nice little cinematic rack focus shot on the guitar strings. I work with Sharan Kukreja of Yellow Beanie Productions a lot, and his work focuses on live performance. I have shot MANY guitars in my days!

cinematic music video nyc

cinematic music video nyc
While “rolling shutter” is the bane of many music video productions, I actually used it as an in-camera shake effect here. I shook the camera rapidly left and right. Along with the horizontal stripes, the effect created a very cool blur of blue, emphasizing the feeling of uneasiness in the story.

cinematic music video nyc

cinematic music video nyc

cinematic music video nyc
With enough camera shake, the artist becomes like a ghost in the frame.
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Classic music video guitar smash shot.

artist as two people music video

By the end of the video, we reveal that the artist is alone, and the elements of the doctor’s office disappear. Was this ever a medical facility? Was the doctor real, or imagined? Is this a time warp where the doctor is consoling his future self? I included one quick shot of the doctor standing up to make the ending more ambiguous. Also, due to the ending, I was okay with the background elements of the room showing up behind the artist’s head in many of the performance shots. Was the artist just sitting in a rec room somewhere, talking to no one the whole time? I also felt that the room resembled the recreational day rooms in many in-patient care facilities.

During our conversations, the artist and I really clicked, having the same taste in music videos from the 90’s– the Golden Age of music videos. When it came to the color grade, I looked to Eminem’s “STAN” for inspiration. I crunched the blacks, doused the thing in green, and added warm tones where necessary to balance the color theory. I remember being so inspired when STAN came out– whenever I heard it playing on TV, I’d run to go watch it. It was like watching a favorite movie over and over again!

That’s really where my passion for making music videos began. Back as a kid when I saw how much emotion a song mixed with visuals could make. When done well, a great music video can be as gripping as a film or TV show. While I often get calls to do music videos that focus on the artists’ performance, I love being able to explore concept and storytelling in music videos as well. This was a really fun project, and the artist and I are already in talks about planning the next one!

Without futher ado, here is the B. Good music video for “OUTSIDER”

DIRECTOR: Lee Milby

PRODUCER: Sharan Kukreja, Yellow Beanie Productions

About the author: Lee Milby