PRACTICAL makes films and videos that are the culmination of cameras, research, travel, sketchbooks, sleep, screen time, and running wild. Based out of Traverse City and Grand Rapids Michigan, we love sharing our work and process with those around the world.

The Original

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It's February, but looking back to November, the Practical team somehow found a way to make a few hours free in our busiest time of year to film a music video for our good friend Roo Panes -- in full faith that we could also find time to edit it. My favorite part of a project that is made with everyone's full agreement that "we really don't have time to do this" is that the perfect details, the bits of wonder, and all truly great moments that come to life, not from hours and days of brilliant planning and imagination, but simply from the skill and brilliance of everyone on set. It's the raw talent of everyone who had a hand in making things happen on around the camera that brought this film to life.

The obvious talent in this piece is Grace Boyles. Without time to lay out a full form for the piece or proper choreography, Grace's natural ability and instinct for the project was the element that made it clear to the whole team that she was going to do her part to bring the piece to life so all we had to do then, was ours. The truth is that this project had the potential to be great because Grace is great.

Behind the camera, Roo (working remotely with us from London) and the team and created a concept that was doable with our time constraints and flexible if we encountered limitations, but also very interesting. At many points I thought maybe it'd be too much or a bit odd, but now I wouldn't change a thing.

Knowing that this was going to be a full (or so we thought) black and white project, the most important thing was going to be light, the source of our shape, line, and craft between light and dark. We used everything type of light we had access to to get the look we wanted but ended up created so much spill that we had to use large canvases of cardboard to block light from hitting too much of our "dark" background. The background was actually a white wall, but because of the proximity and intensity of the light on Grace, the difference in exposure would render the whole rest of the room a smooth, perfect black.

We had the great pleasure of working with our new camera, the RED Epic X with the Dragon sensor (Hobbit Trilogy, used for Jurassic World and Star Wars: Force Awakens VFX) and our set of 8 Vintage Nikon Prime lenses. Most of the footage was captured from atop a shoulder, not a tripod, mostly as a way of trying to get our bits and pieces faster and more accurately with more flexibility in position and in fewer takes. The final edit went through a detailed color and tone grade and had Practical's real 35mm Film Grain applied over it to break up the overly smooth digital look and give it a more organic feel.

I'm so thankful to everyone who gave their time for this project and looking forward to releasing some of the other projects we've been working on together. Soon!

Thanks for reading.


[Team: Matthew Bouwense, Jake Burgess, Alissa Levandoski]