Nov. 15, 2023

ARRI Rental supports queer music video shoot “Particles”

LGBTQI* Community Munich & Rainbow Refugees members a. o. from countries as diverse as the Ukraine, Africa, and Latin America visualize the song´s central message about the beauty of every individual person. Read our interview with Director of Cinematography Maximilian Wichmann.

Nov. 15, 2023
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Multi-tasking? Listen to an audio version of our article on “Particles”

Duration 00:00 minutes

You and Steffen Wick have talents in many different areas. What do you have in common and where do you differ?

We have in common that we both always think big. As soon as factors like cost and technology come into play, you have to cut back, of course. But first and foremost, no idea is too big for either of us. Steffen is someone who likes to be creative and to ignore technical issues. He sticks to his ideas, and I try to find solutions for how to implement those ideas. In the end, it always comes down to a balancing act or a compromise. It's been a very good collaboration so far.

What inspires you?

That's a big question. Live music is very fascinating, but I am also fascinated and inspired by music videos. For me, it's a form that combines image and sound in the best possible way. I like to be part of an artistic process. For my work as a cinematographer and image designer, I am also inspired by stories from other filmmakers. I like old making-of’s from film sets of the Eighties or Nineties. I like how the collaborators had to improvise in order to implement certain ideas and effects, and how that came across credibly on screen. The images are forever recorded in film history, and 20 years later you find out that it was all improvised. I think that's cool. Also, in film, you often have "adventures" with people you don't know until you get to the set.

How did you decide to collaborate on this project?

A German directing duo that does a lot of commercials used to refer jobs to me when I was younger. They recommended me to Steffen. In 2021 we shot our first music video, for his song "Migrant Bird." During postproduction, he sent me his next song "Particles" and asked if I would like to shoot the music video. I loved the song. When someone has confidence in your work and asks you to work with him again – that's a great affirmation.

Did Steffen have a clear concept of how to realize the project?

Our first project we developed in parallel. With the new project, Steffen had precise ideas about what the music video should look like and how the sequences could be. For example, he had planned a tracking shot as a crane ride or top shot from above, but we didn't have the budget for this technology. As a technical partner, I was responsible for implementing it, so my own influences and perspectives came into play. It was an exchange over several months with different variations of the concept, but the basic idea remained the same. It was in place very early on.

How did you find the look for the video?

The first ideas were from Steffen; a lot was inspired by fashion shows and the song itself. Together with gaffer Tom Levin Schwenzle, we developed those ideas that were technically and temporally feasible within the team. Tom’s expertise, from his background in events, was very helpful. It was a mixture of a lot of ideas and little time during the shoot. In the end, however, it's always about gut feeling. You can think about a lot of things beforehand, but during the shoot I like to opt for pragmatic solutions that at the same time have a great effect. Basically, it was always about creating a black space, because we had planned for a completely black studio.

What influenced your decision to use the ALEXA Mini?

The ALEXA Mini is incredibly reliable. For the "Particles" music video, we had planned several camera moves. Of course, the light weight of the ALEXA Mini was great. We also could use the ARRI Maxima as a classic gimbal and stabilizer for our crane shot, for which we specially designed a cable hoist. So, the technical features were a factor in wanting to use the ALEXA Mini, and the handling was very intuitive.

How did you get the camera stable over the hoist?

That was a big challenge. We had a dance ensemble and the camera had to start at eye level and then be pulled upwards. To do that, you need a crane, a crew for the crane, and an operator. With a small budget, it's not that easy. I wanted to try it with a hoist. We tried just suspending the body and pulling it to the ceiling. As this construction was too shaky, we turned the ARRI Maxima upside down: putting it horizontally on its head, placing the camera in, and attaching the hoist to the Maxima. This worked great. We could then move the camera by radio and joystick and had a stable image.

What made you choose ARRI SkyPanels?

The big advantage of the SkyPanel lights is how controllable they are. We planned a lot of moving light and needed a lighting control panel. With the SkyPanels, you get fantastic light quality, and you can adjust colors very flexibly, which was also part of the concept. It had to be combinable with event spotlights. With the lighting, we again had the wire rope issue: if we hang things in the ceiling that are too big, then the height at which we can shoot is reduced. Otherwise the suspensions would be visible in the video. The best solution for this problem was to use SkyPanels. It was just a matter of cost, and that's where ARRI Rental supported us with another sponsorship.

Why did you decide on ARRI Master Prime lenses?

I like to use the Master Primes because they are extremely flexible, and I really love the look. When the look needs to be clean, they're great to use, and when it needs to be a bit dirty, I use filters. The image feels nice. We also used the Probe Lens because we wanted to take an extremely close macro shot of an eye. The Probe Lens was the best fit for this, because it was supposed to be a great wide angle and mounted on a slider.

What were the challenges and the standout moments for you?

The biggest challenge was the rope pull and the large number of extras. I have a background in climbing and some expertise working with knots. I talked a lot with grip people and went to ARRI Rental for testing. It was a very long process and there was a lot of responsibility on set to make sure everything worked. You grow with your responsibilities. It was very exhausting, in a positive way. You feel some pressure, but that's part of the story. You wouldn't do the job if you weren't looking for a challenge or if you didn't want to do something in a different way. Thank you so much, ARRI Rental, for your generous support and trust in our team.