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It’s done! Our third and latest music video for David Choi is finally complete and ready to share with you all! This video for “By My Side” has been in the making for a long while and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
FINDING AN IDEA
As with all of our videos, we started with nothing but an idea. A sequence of events, a look, a feel and tone that would match the song. To be honest, we felt some pressure going into this music video. Pressure from ourselves, mainly because the last video for “That Girl” was so well received (Thanks everyone). We just didn’t want to disappoint people (and ourselves) with a video that wasn’t as beautiful and epic. And as usual, we have to make something that is worthy of the song. So we let the ideas stir and didn’t jump on anything until we felt it was THE idea. The direction of “By My Side” is less narrative video and more of a representational piece. The video is essentially pretty simple: David sings to a girl that he wants to be with. Since it’s not that elaborate, we were very picky with the few elements that needed come together.
“I just want you by my side.” David’s song is about a desire to be with someone. And to find that person among all the people we encounter in our lifetime, is pretty magical already. But how do we show that in a video? Wong Fu has done a good number of “boy meets girl” stories, but this time we wanted to convey something in a more abstract manner. In the beginning of the video, we catch David in the middle of a process. The balloons he makes can be seen as the things he does to show his feelings to the girl. She sits higher than him, initially unattainable. Whether it’s to pursue or maintain a relationship, people always need to make different efforts and sacrifices. We’ve all made “balloons” for someone. Eventually he wins her over and she let’s him up to her world by giving him the key. The ending should not be perceived as him rescuing her. She does not need rescuing. Rather, there is no ending. What happens is simply natural– they exit from a place they know and into an unknown future. However frightening this sounds, the fact that they are together makes it worth it. Hopeful. Happy. Side by side.
Just like the music video for “That Girl” we made a storyboard for “By My Side.” We’re definitely not the best illustrators but our little sketches did the job Following the storyboard as an outline proved to be extremely helpful for establishing the pace of the video. Not to mention we followed it almost shot-for-shot during the two days on location. On top of planning the sequence, we payed special attention to the art direction for this video. In particular: the color palette consisted of neutral tones, the props and wardrobe all needed to have a vintage feel. Aged and worn. This ensured that the white white balloons would stand out against everything else and visually hit hardest. We set up lighting and cameras to give us a low contrast look so the video feels “washed out” and vintage. It’s true, planning ahead definitely pays off!
Aside from David, this video required only one cast member, the lead lady. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was for us to find a girl to be in this video. Surprised? Well, one of the main reasons it was so difficult is because we were specifically looking for “non-professional actors”, which makes finding the right one extremely challenging since we could only search as far as our contacts and networks of friends spread, they had to have the right look, plus they would have to take time off from their regular jobs. Why did we opt to work with a non-professional in this case? Partially because it was a low-key shoot, and also, from past experience we realized someone with little experience/expectations can actually perform very well. It’s all about being natural and comfortable. It also helps if our actor can just step into the project and be excited for it, rather than see it as a job. And so, we asked around friends, and friends of friends. Many were open, but couldn’t fit it in their schedule. Finally, our buddy Carmen referred us to a girl that her friend, Melly, photographed. And so we found Jenny, a “normal” girl who didn’t know too much about YouTube, but we knew was photogenic, open minded, and excited. We confirmed her w/ less than one week before the shoot! The biggest challenge after finding her? Making sure she could get over her fear of heights. The irony of it is quite funny.
With some amazing help, we were able to find all the necessary elements and bring this song and video to life. Since the video takes place in one location, it was crucial that we found the right place. We ended up shooting at a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. It had the perfect aged feel we were going for and some wonderful natural lighting from skylights too. “By My Side” is an extremely sweet song. While we wanted to make an equally sweet video, we felt some contrast would add depth to the video. The warehouse provided that contrast with it’s dark and empty space. We wanted to present viewers with something they wouldn’t expect from just listening to the song. While we were locking down a space to shoot in, we were also searching for everything else. And by everything, we mean everything! Calling construction companies for scaffolding and lifts, helium tanks and balloons, antique stores for skeleton keys, friend’s backyard for stones, building doorways, renting rugs, the list goes on. It was intense. But with the help of an amazing crew of talented people, we had a fun and productive two day shoot.
Photos by Melly Lee
You might not have noticed but some of those balloons were computer generated! Even though most of them were hand 100% helium-blown, hand-tied balloons, we asked our friend Eugene to help with some of the more dynamic shots. For those shots, we just had David and Jenny act as if they were interacting with balloons that weren’t actually there. The final composited shots that Eugene created matched up seamlessly with our original footage! A lot of thought and work went into creating those “simple” CG balloons though– From matching lighting, to recreating camera movement, to choosing texture and translucency, to the stiffness of the twine. We don’t do many projects that mix computer graphics with live action, but when we do, we’re always amazed with the results!
Here’s a shot of everyone that helped make this video a reality. Thank you for all your time and energy!
This was by far one of our most intricately designed and organized project. Much due to the incredible help of our producers Christine Chen and Regina Fang. It feels great to create a 3rd music video with David as well. 3 years, 3 videos, each one very different from the one before. It’s a great representation and testament to the progress of our work, our friendship with David, and most of all your support of both of us to continue what love to do. Thank you for making this video possible!