Channel 4 has collaborated with London singer Etta Bond on an experimental music video for song Under the Knife as part of its arts series Random Acts.
The video was directed by Jeremy Cole and was shot in one take before being spliced into 1,347 layers on After Effects. The result is a stunning three-minute film that explores a female artist’s struggle with insecurity and expectations of perfection.
It begins with a muddle of eyes, ears, lips and hair as Bond sings of hiding behind a mask of make up. As it progresses, and Bond moves on to singing of people who have helped boost her confidence, the blurred fragments form a clearer picture. By the end of the video, Bond’s face is revealed.
As Cole’s behind-the-scenes video (below) shows, editing the film was a complex process that and one he says involved “plenty of trial and error and **** loads of coffee.” Instead of using a plug in, he created each layer individually.
“The concept for the visuals was something I jotted down in my notepad and vaguely thought about for a few days whilst working on other projects. It seemed relevant to do something that distorted the image and literally cut up the screen (Under The Knife) forcing the viewer to listen before revealing a comprehendible image.
“I struggled to find references, and more so to describe the format to other people, so the idea in my notepad slowly progressed into a brainstorm that involved a lot of guesswork and untested plans – somehow I reassured others it would work,” explains Cole.
A Kingston University graduate, Cole has worked on documentaries, mockumentaries and music videos for Channel 4 and production agencies including Lemonade, Remedy and Pulse Films. Along with the video’s executive producer James Payne, he approached Bond as he wanted to collaborate directly with an artist, rather than through a record label.
“We’ve both worked in music television for years and the agenda of record labels and brands is usually in the wrong place, creating a physical boundary between audio and visual. It was nice to sidestep that and work directly with the artist,” he adds.
After Bond and Raf Rily (on piano) completed a rough recording of the track, Cole and director of photography Bud Gallimore headed to the studio and shot a live performance in one take.
“I started on the post production while on the train home that night and started to figure out how much of a mammoth task it’d turn out to be,” he says. “In the end, I think it took around 30 hours over 4 or 5 days without the use of any fancy plug-ins or effects… but it sort of works.”
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