The Making of: Logic's Album Announcement; T.I.T.S.

The Making of: Logic's Album Announcement; T.I.T.S.

 

Camera: RED Dragon 6k Anamorphic & Wide Screen

Lens: Arri-Scope Anamorphic 40mm & Zeiss Ultra Prime 16mm

Editing: Adobe Premiere Pro in 5k

Color: Davinci Resolve

Myself and the Cast of TITS

Gearing up for the release of Logic's sophomore album, The Incredible True Story, meant we needed to figure out a way to announce it to the world. Some have  took to twitter or other forms of social media, posted the album cover, and others have made videos. The Incredible True Story, or TITS as we have come to know it, is a rap album all wrapped up into a story of human survival. Certainly not a typical rap album or even concept album.

We knew we wanted to do something special for it and Logic came up with the idea of going down the hallway in a space ship and he would be playing his MPC. Much like a scene out of an Alien movie the lighting would be dark and moody but we did envision it being a nicer looking spaceship. Logic also wanted to give the fans insight to what the album was about by filming a few scenes to post along with the video. Once these ideas got ironed out we started to assemble the pieces. 

 

 

Steve blum reviewing his lines

 

Pre-Production

Because of budget constraints we needed to find a space set that was already built. Sadly most space sets like that of Kubrick are torn down after so no other productions can use them. Thankfully there is a beautiful space set in Laurel Canyon that has been around forever. I had seen it before in multiple shorts, music videos, and comedy sketches. We scouted the location and immediately fell in love. 

Next we needed to figure out schedules with not only the location, Logic, Steve, and Kev. All three are insanely busy but especially Steve and Kev. This was also the first time I had ever met them. While i'm primarily a Cinematographer, I wear a lot of hats in the Logic crew much like I did with the Macklemore crew. I, along with my main producer Scott Wickman, put together the budgets and scheduling for this project. Thankfully after a few schedule changes, we found a date that worked for everyone. 

 

Logic & Kev talking out the Rubix Cube Scene

 

 

Shoot Day

At the time I was also working for Trey Songz and was constantly traveling with him. He was celebrating his 10 year anniversary of being a musician with a big party in the Hamptons and they wanted me there. The few days before we also had some shows on the east coast so it would be multiple days of work I would be missing. They begged me to make it work and I agreed that i would as long as I could fly out at 5am the next day to make my shoot with Logic. I agreed and thankfully it worked out perfectly. After 48 hours with only 2 hours of sleep I got to the airport to board my flight. The only problem was if something went wrong with my flight I had one flight after and if something happen with both of them, the shoot wasn't happening. I got to the airport and waited for TSA to open and everything was working out. Then i arrived at my gate to my name being called to come up to the front desk. I've been on hundreds of flights and that has never happen and usually isn't good. The woman asked for my boarding pass and started typing away on the computer. I reluctantly said, " Please tell me i'm still on this flight!". She responded with, " You're no longer on this flight". My heart sank because all the anxiety i had been having praying this all worked out just came crashing down. Then she looked up, smiled, and said, "Just kidding, we are upgrading you to business class!". I nearly collapsed on the desk in relief.. With all the good karma coming my way my flight was on schedule and I was upgraded to business class for free which meant I had a full bed to sleep in. As soon as i landed I grabbed all my gear and my crew and I drove straight to set. 

Myself shooting Logic & 6ix

Our first setup of the day was to shoot the little scenes with our characters in the cockpit. Logic had written up a few scenes from the album and additional scenes just for this video. We wanted to make sure we did all of these first because they required audio recording which can take some time. While lighting with my gaffer Steve Griggs I saw a strange color cast. The scene was lit with all tungsten lights but for some reason the colors of the room were showing up either a weird green a blue. I reset all the settings in my camera but we couldn't figure out what it was. Thankfully it looked great anyways and felt very scifi like. Later on I realized the low light OLPF was in the camera and the settings were on the Skin-tone highlight OLPF. This was good to know in case i wanted to recreate this effect without geling the lights. 

The second and most difficult setup of the day was the main shot, the hallways scene. We ordered a hazer but got a fog machine which for people who don't know, it makes a huge difference. Secondly we were shooting with a movi while trying to use the mimic but more importantly, a very large anamorphic lens. Of course the original anamorphic lenses i wanted were messed up so I had to rent a different set. I'm still not even completely sure which lens i ended up renting but when I look at photos it seems to be an Arri-scope 40mm. Sadly this lens is old and massive and there was no way we were going to make this work on the gimbal. I knew this was a possibility so I rented a 16mm Zeiss Ultra Prime. The mimic ended up not working properly which is fine because it was still in beta.

For lighting we wanted to have splashes of color all over that gave it the scifi look we have come to know and love. This is also around the time the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out and theres a shot were they lit from the floor. After seeing that and seeing our floor setup, i knew i wanted to put Daylight Kino Bulbs in a square around Logic's feet. This would give a really cool look, highlight where he was, and cast a nice blue under light. Lastly, after messing around with my gaffer Steve, we really liked a roaming searchlight from above. Steve went up and operated it and almost fell through the ceiling of the set. He actually did step on a bad section and broke part of it. Luckily no one was hurt and it wasn't too expensive to fix. 

After 3 or 4 rehearsals we ended up getting our groove and playing around to where we nailed the shot every time. We experimented a few more times and finally got to the final version where we orbit Logic and then pull back as he finishes. Even though the set wasn't as updated and futuristic as Logic and I first envisioned, it got the point and feeling we wanted across. We also took advantage of the space and shot some promo portraits and reference photos for Sam Spratt to create what became the album cover. 

We had a very small crew but because my team is amazing, we were able to cram in a lot! Especially with Bobby Campbell, Logic's engineer killing it with the sound design for the trailer. 

Nick Mahar is a Director of Photography based in Los Angeles & San Francisco.