The Making of "Reflection" Music Video by Swindy

Declan: Hey Swindy, my name is Declan. Thank you for taking time out to answer some questions.

Swindy: Absolutely! My pleasure, thank you for reaching out to me.

Declan: I wanted to look at parts of the video as it came together. First, who did you work with and how did you come to finding them and feeling comfortable that they were the one to take your music single and turn it into a visual?

Swindy: I worked with some people who I know from the music scene in Tucson. They have a company they started called Originate Design Productions. Nathan and Isa. I had heard through the grapevine that they had some pretty cool 4K equipment and we're looking to make music videos. I reached out, told them what I was thinking, and they liked my ideas. We had a dinner meeting and sketched out a storyboard together. I think we were both pretty eager to start with visuals and music. This was a new process for both of us.
Declan: How much did you as the songwriter have input on the story-boarding of the video?

Swindy: I gave input. But I also agreed to let Isabel Uzcategui be the director. She took some of my ideas and expanded on them. Many of the ideas we talked about, we never were able to capture, and or never made it to the Final Cut.

Declan: How do you visualize your songs?

Swindy: It depends on which type of visual you are talking about. As an artist, I am an extremely visual person. I can visualize entire music videos in my head. 

When it comes to taking a vision and manifesting it into a video, there is definitely a challenge. But it's a fun challenge, there is an entire process to be developed around capturing visual footage to use. To create good visuals, I am finding that you need a lot of expensive gear and knowledge. It's quite fun. Something I have taken to recently has been just playing around with my own cameras and filming random things just to continue with the habits of capturing visuals to use for projects. I like dumping the footage on my computer and play with effects. It's kind of like sketching out an idea for a painting. Overall, yes I do find visuals to be more difficult than audio.

Declan: How important do you think it is to have a visual element with an audio?

Swindy: It's more important to have a visual than it is to have the audio… lol, sad but true. I have been getting the sense lately that you may as well just have visual to go along with everything you create audio. It seems as though it is just becoming a standard. Obviously, a good song is a good song. At the end of the day, yes that is what it is all about. The music! But having the visuals to go along with the audio is more important now than it ever has been before. And will only continue to become more important, more standardized, and more expected.

Declan: Did you have a location scout that helped? How did you find your spots to film?

Swindy: No. We did not use a location scout. We scouted ourselves. There are many spots in and around the Tucson area that I already knew about. And the spot we chose in particular ‘Texas Canyon Dragoon’ is a place that I had always driven through and thought to myself, “man this would be a cool place to film a music video.

Declan: What do you find to be the most difficult part of making a music video?

Swindy: The most difficult part, for me, was coordinating everybody's schedules. Everybody is always just so busy. And of course, we did not have a large budget. So it was just a matter of working around everybody's existing schedules.

Declan: There were some special effects that we found notable in "Reflection."The eyes certainly, and the overlay of you with a mic stand and singing over the other singer. Talk about how those parts came about.

Swindy: The effect with the eyes came from a couple of special lights that we assembled and built. I have always been a fan of the beauty ring. And I wanted to do some photo shoots and some music video scenes with a beauty ring. A beauty ring is a round circular illumination that the camera lens goes inside of, the light points at the subject, and gives an even distribution of light on the face or the object. One of the results of this kind of light is that if you are staring straight into it, the affect puts a ring of light in your eyes. 

Heard them referred to as Dragon rings as well. 

We decided to take it a step further and build a larger triangle light. We put that over the ring, and the effect was that you could also see a triangle in the eye as well. We did those shots in the studio. Definitely, want to play more with that. 

The overlay scenes came from an idea I had about being silhouetted in front of a projector. I wanted to capture some footage of something like that. We talked about filming John singing his parts, and projecting him behind me while I sang mine, I also wanted some time-lapse footage in there. But we did not end up going that route. The effect ultimately was achieved not via video projection, but simply filming me as a silhouette on a lit up white background, and overlaying that footage with the footage of John singing in Texas Canyon.

Declan: Does it feel awkward or natural to you to be in front of a camera ‘acting?'

Swindy: It feels very natural for me to be in front of a camera acting. It's not even really acting. It's just straight up authentic. The camera is just capturing me being who I am when it comes to this music, acting is just tapping into that source. And I feel like I am very good at tapping into that source on-demand. Being in front of the camera is very important to me, and it feels good.

PC: CowGirlZen

Declan: How did you prepare for your part?

Swindy: I had several changes of clothing for a couple of different looks, so that took time to plan out. Plus, I wanted to apply my own makeup throughout the shoot so prior to the day of shooting I experimented with that as well.

When it came time to shoot, we played the music as loud as we could while filming the lip-synching. And it usually took a couple of takes for me to warm up till I started to feel like I was actually performing. When I perform, I usually lose myself a little bit. And I wanted to make sure that I could tap into that so that the camera could capture the energy.

Declan: The crew that it takes to make a music video successful of course is crucial. First, how do you manage to get the times all coordinated to film? Second how many people total were there altogether in creating the video from the film crew, to set people, to the band members?

Swindy: Getting the times coordinated to film is the most difficult part we encountered. That is the main reason why the video took so long to finish. Everybody in the video's schedule was cram packed, so we had to put certain shoots off for months. If we had more money, it might have been easier. Because people would have had more incentive to prioritize time for the music video. You learn with each thing you do and make changes to help next time.

There were about 7 or 8 people involved in the shooting of this music video. A few actors, a director, a cinematographer, a behind, the scenes videographer, and a couple of set hands.

Declan: Any odd or humorous parts occur during its filming that you can share?

Swindy: Not really. I find it odd and humorous that we ended up filming in Texas Canyon during the hottest part of the year. In 115° heat. Otherwise, everything went smooth. Alyson (backing vocalist and actress in the video) was barefoot in some of the scenes and needed to wear the sneakers of one of the deck hands out on the site.

PC: Channing Yazzie
Declan: What music video are you planning next?

Swindy: I really want to do a music video for “Ignite My Love." I was actually planning on releasing a music video for “Ignite My Love” sooner. I ended up paying a bunch of money as a deposit to work with a music video Producer based in Albuquerque. This guy just kept my money and never produced anything. Should I mention names? I really want to because… Shame on this guy, he stole from me! But I won't. 

I'm also looking at creating a video for “iBegin” which is my favorite song from the EP. I have thorough ideas for both songs. 

My good friend and bandmate Mike Jenny and I are also conceptualizing for music videos that go along with all of the new music we are creating as we speak. 

We just want to have a music video with every song we release, and we are finding ways to make that easier and easier. Because we want to move fast. But we do not want sacrifice any quality.

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