Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Illumination Music Video Shoot - Part 1

I am getting a surprising break in my day today - as I'm currently babysitting our nieces Gwenevere and Grace (for Will's sister) while they work on their new house.  

It's been a bit crazy around here, but I'm rather amazed that they are so quietly watching a movie right now.  Maybe I should be worried....

But instead I'm going to try to catch up on our blog during this rare moment of peace.

Last weekend, I had Part 1 of my video shoot for my song "Illumination", which is the title track for my most recent album release.

I guess I haven't gone into too much detail about this yet, but for the past few years it's sort of been my dream to produce music videos to go along with my music.  It's been a very long process of learning how to do it, who to work with, how things are done, how much it costs, and yadda yadda yadda.

I've had some really not-so-great experiences filming (the Moonlight video), and then I've had some really awesome positive experiences filming (the Requiem video).  

In the end though, through a series of fated events, the idea fell into Will and I's lap to produce our own videos.  He loves photography and has done my BTS footage and has a great eye, I have great visual ideas and concepts....

So for the past few months, we have been saving up our pennies to slowly invest in our own equipment.  As of now, we've purchased our nifty camera - a Panasonic GH3 which is specifically geared for film, a lense, a couple of glidecams, and a bunch of accessories.  We still have a lot to purchase, mainly lenses (which are $$$$), but we have enough to practice on right now.

So even though Will and I are still in the process of investing in equipment and learning how the heck to use it, in the meantime, I have still been working on a music video with my filmmaker friend, Ali.

A LOT of preparation has gone into this video.  Let me just say that it has gone through so many different concepts and ideas I can't even count them on both of my hands  -and I was never happy with most of those ideas.

In the end, I took a stand and said "I want to do this my way or the highway" basically.

Ali agreed, and so what has ended up happening is me working with the Evergreen Philharmonic to come on board for the filming. (see happy face below)...

The other scene for the video (which will be Part 2) will be an outdoor shoot taking place later this spring when the weather is nicer here in Seattle.  That in itself is a little story that I will tell you towards the end of this blog - with photos as well.

A lot of people see the things I do with my music - and the amazing things I get to do.  They probably think we have a ton of money to do all these things, but really, all I do is simply ASK.

The philharmonic agreed to do the video because I performed with them in December and we already had a relationship established there - and besides they knew my music already.  I was able to perform with them in the first place because I asked to. I went to the conductor with a fresh idea he'd never done before (performing original music, non-classical, by a local artist).

These were the thank you gifts that we put together for each of the orchestra members:  A CD (with the song they are doing with me) and a Symphony chocolate bar.  My dear friends the Yose's helped me put these together one night....

It was no small task to do this.  

The music itself, which I'd already had finished for the December concert, took 2 transcriptionists to help me prepare it for an 80 piece orchestra. When I had originally written the music, I did not ever intend for it to be performed live with a huge group like this, and so I only had violins, cellos, french horns, percussion, and some synths.  And so all new parts had to be created for all the additional instruments.

These two photos were from the December concert...

Here are some photo's from last weekend's film shoot...

Ali had an interesting time trying to film the orchestra.  I totally kept forgetting that he didn't know what the different instruments were called, so I would say "Let's get some shots of the Timpani" and he would look at me like "Say what?".

The orchestra peeps had fun with the shoot though.  I had Ali feature some shots of my cellist, Stephanie, who performed as a soloist on my album (on a different song) and so we cleared out much of the cello section in order to put some spotlights on her and get some decent shots.

Doing a film shoot like this gets kind of repetative, as we play the same music over, and over...and over as the videographer captures different angles and shots all over the orchestra.  There is a lot of waiting time.

Also, in order to get the orchestra to play exactly like the recording, the track we play to is set to a metronome so both the conductor and I know exactly when to come in and play and to be spot on.

We tried to just get through the orchestra scenes in the allotted time that we had, and then once the orchestra was finished we cleared everything out and then did some close up face shots, hand shots, foot pedal shots, etc of just me with the proper lighting.

Here is me in the green room before the shoot doing a mirror check.   

Normally I have my very good friend Noelle come with me and do my hair and makeup for stuff like this, but she wasn't able to come for this shoot (she lives 4 hrs away from me), and so I did it on my own. I am usually okay doing my own hair, but I struggle with my makeup.  She told me I did a great job though, and I confessed "I just looked on the back of the eyeshadow thing where it gives you a diagrahm of the eye with numbers for each color, and I followed that." Haha.

Here is me with Kristen Yose on the left - she is my piano student and she ran the audio for the film shoot. Basically she pushed play and stop about a hundred times.

And then Anna on the right is a 1st violinist in the orchestra. I seriously cannot believe these two 14 year olds are as tall as me!! I'm 5'7"!

The day before the shoot, I went to Costco and picked up a ton of food for the orchestra. I didn't think that they would eat it all, but those teenagers seriously went through all of it.  There was a bag of Hershey Bliss chocolate that I, in particular, was hoping they wouldn't go through....but it was GONE. Completely gone. Haha.

So the story about my dress that I wore is kind of interesting as well.  You may remember it from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards where I wore it in Nov 2012....

I was never quite happy with the dress because a) the sleeves and bodice were not as modest as I had hoped and so I ended up wearing my hair down to cover stuff up the whole night, and b) there was something about the bodice that made me look really "hippy" (wide in the hips).

So I had my friend Andrea, who is a really great seamstress/alteration specialist, re-do the entire bodice.

What she did was line it with nude material (nude swimsuit material so it's very thin and light), create sleeves (because I wanted 3/4 length sleeves), and also add ruffles around the neckline. It was my idea to also create a tulle belt and train in the back - which fixed the "hippy" issue.  In the end I was quite happy with it!

Now as for Part 2 of this video, it's another interesting story.

I had been collecting ideas and inspiration photos on Pinterest for this shoot, and found the following:

So I spent a lot of time driving around trying to find an ideal outdoor location to shoot some video footage like this.

There is this estate here in our town that is right underneath Mt. Si and has the best views. I remember Will told me that it was on the market, but I didn't see any for sale signs and so I didn't know if it still was.  Will looked it up on his MLS website and it was indeed still for sale.

I was able to then get the contact information for the owner and send her an email.  Long story short, the owner is a millionaire, philanthropist, author, life coach,...and really a wonderful person.  She invited us out to her home to meet her and her husband, and we were even allowed to bring the boys with us.

We spent about an hour walking around the property and it was so lovely.  I kept finding more and more places where we could film, but I think my absolute favorite were some English gardens she had in the back near the river...

Again, I feel incredibly lucky that we are not being charged to shoot at this estate, and it could not be more perfect.

We are waiting for better (dryer) weather later this spring, and hopefully more flowers in bloom as well.

And for now....that's a wrap!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Life and Times of Us

It's General Conference Sunday and we just finished eating some homemade cinnamon rolls and watching conference.

Since I have been a total utter complete slacker at blogging for the past month, I thought it was high time for a review of what we've been up to.

Please, don't be too bored.

March 8th - Will Runs a Marathon...with Boys in Jogging Stroller

Ok, he didn't run an OFFICIAL marathon, but on one Saturday where I was busy with rehearsals, he decided to go for a run.

You need to understand that when Will says "I'm going for a run", it doesn't mean he'll be back in an hour.  It usually means I'll see him in 5 hours, maybe 10.  On this particular day, he decided to run 25 miles while pushing 80 pounds in a jogging stroller.

How in the world did the boys survive 25 miles of sitting in a stroller?


Lollipops from the Waterfalls Gift Shop that kept their hands and mouths busy up until the last 5 miles, at which time Will called me to come pick them up. Unfortunately I was 45 minutes away and he could probably make it home before I could make it there to come get them. And they did.  Around 8pm that night in the pitch dark.

My brave boys.


While Will was running said 25 miles with boys in stroller, I was busy creating music.

No really, I was.

My friend and fellow musician, Felicia, came up from Oregon to spend the weekend at our house working on three songs for her upcoming album.  This was my first time co-composing music in person with someone, and it was actually pretty mentally exhausting - hence the need for us to take many breaks to eat, watch movies, and go for walks :)  

Artists need creative outlets okay?

Same weekend, I also had an orchestral performance with our stake orchestra...

(with my friend Kelley)

Will brought the boys to the performance, and I let Taylor be in charge of the little tiny miniature violin. It's actually a real little violin that has its own case, strings, bow and everything. Not sure if you can see it in the photo below, but he's got it in between his fingers.

I could see him standing up on the pew trying to see me playing in the orchestra, holding his little violin and trying to copy me. 

Next, I went to a piano concert where a few of my music colleagues were visiting from Nashville to perform. They flew out to Seattle to attend my release concert last August, so I wanted to be sure to return the kindness and attend their concert as well since they were performing in my own area.

They asked me if I wanted to come up and perform a special guest number on the program, but I said nooooooo thank you. I am quite enjoying just sitting in the audience for once thank you very much.

Another thing that happened is I bought an old antique upright piano. 

I was needing a "prop piano" for some upcoming music videos - because I don't know, I just didn't really feel like dragging my nice grand piano out onto the muddy grass to film.

Will actually has an old upright grand at his parents house....in IDAHO.  Kind of far away and not possible to go and pick up to bring here any time soon.  So I started looking on Craigslist and found this one - which actually I really love because of the old gold scrolling and details in the carving.

I bought it and had it delivered for $250.  A real steal for this piano, as I know it is actually worth quite a lot more.  The guy I bought it from told me that it was his wife's employer's grandmother's piano.  If you do the math there, it is a late 1800's piano.  The really astounding thing is that all the original ivory is still on every single key, and every note plays. Usually on old pianos like these, a lot of keys will be broken or notes won't play.  This one was also mostly in tune - amazing.

Oh, and I also taught Preston's pre-school class all about the violin. I let them play mine and explained to them that they make little violins for children, and they all got very excited. I think some of their parents might have gotten requests that day for a violin :)

Ok so time for a little intermission of Preston art.

Preston actually took this photo himself. I think it's pretty impressive for a 4 year old, right?

Here is one of Preston's drawings of a train...

Preston LOVES to draw!  He spends hours everyday drawing and bringing me his pictures.  He finds our tape and puts them up on the wall in his bedroom (also on the wall of our bedroom- haha).  He is also getting good at spelling and writing words. He can now write his name, and also "momma".  So often times he will write both of our names on his drawings. It's very cute.

March 17 - Random Snow

That's right. It's March and we got like 2 feet of snow a couple of weeks ago. No joke.

I walked by my window and stopped, went back and saw this when only an hour before it was clear and overcast.

And then the next morning it looked like this!...

But I did enjoy doing this during the snowstorm....

When it WASN'T snowing...

At the train station, being boys.

And asking me to take pictures of toys...

More of Taylor "practicing" his little violin...

Will playing on top of Will in bed... 

Oh! And I bought a new dress...

And did braids...

Oh my goodness, this blog post gets even longer. Are you STILL there?? If you are, good job.

Okay, so being that it was March there was a BIG HUGE national holiday.  No not St. Patrick's Day....

March 25th - 8th Wedding Anniversary!

Yes, it's been 8 years. Can you believe it?  If you want to count the years we dated and were engaged, then it's been 10.  Will and I met Sept 24th, 2003 when it was weird and stalkerish to date people online.

Thankfully we were both weird enough to fall in love with each other and here we are 8 years later still going strong, in more love, and with two little mini-me's.

So we did celebrate.  

We went to the Columbia Gorge...

But first I dropped the little boys off at Grandma and Grandpa's house on the island, where I had to stop and document my presence on the beach since I had missed it sooooo very much.

Then Will and I fought Friday night Seattle Easter weekend traffic for FOUR awful hours...

Before our trip, Will spent some time cleaning out the garage and he found our big binder of printed emails.  We have an entire binder full of emails/letters that we wrote to each other when we were dating. I brought the binder with us and I have to say we had a LOT of fun reading back through our old letters!  It's weird how we've forgotten about so many little details. I felt like I was reading a book, and kept wondering if the two main characters were going to end up together or not!

But we finally reached Oregon where we first hit the Trailrunning Film Festival at McMinnamon's (sp?), then crashed at our hotel.

The next morning...

Will and his friend Jay (who was not invited on our anniversary getaway by the way LOL), ran the Waterfalls 50K at the Gorge.


Meanwhile, I hiked the trails and met Will running several times while people thought I was a racer instead of a hiker and cheered me on. "Good job! Wow you're so fast!"  I didn't have the heart to say that I had a car.

There was one part on the trail where I met Will and he was SO excited to see me!  I thought to myself "Good job Jenni you made it to an access point where you could see Will during his race!".  Then Will asked me if I brought his caffeine-free Pepsi.  He previously stuck 3 cans of it in the little backpack that I was wearing. I didn't really want to hike up with 3 cans of pop, so I removed them.  The excited look on his face went from total excitement to utter disappointment.  

I had no idea how emotional an ultra runner could be for not bringing him his Pepsi. Whoops.

So the NEXT time I saw him, which was on a road, I stood there by the road waiting for him with Pepsi IN HAND.  

Finally he finished...

After the race....we left and checked into our romantic hotel, The Columbia Gorge Hotel...

Later that night we went downstairs for dinner...

During dinner, Will told me NOT to google ghost and paranormal stories about the hotel. WHAT?!  So of course that is exactly what I did, and read some spooky stories about hauntings in this old historic hotel.

So of course all night long any sound I heard freaked me out.  I never thought I would say I was thankful to be coming down with a cold that night and passed out with Nyquil. Ha.

The next day was Easter Sunday, and we enjoyed a nice long drive home...

We stopped at the Maryhill Museum of Art

As well as stopped by the Stone Henge Replica...

And then I slept. A LOT. While Will drove, and drove :)

Meanwhile, up on the island, our boys were getting completely spoiled by G&G...

I sent an Easter basket with them to open Easter morning that had two little Easter trains. They loved it, or so I heard :)

Grandma and Grandpa had an Easter Hunt ready for them!

And now that we're all back home...

Picnic at Rattlesnake Lake a few days ago....Spring has finally come? (Hopefully?)

So nice to have a child who is old enough to use the camera! I can now be in the pictures too! :)

Last but not least, the boys starring in a couple of silly videos:

Dizzy boys bored during Grandpa's art show...