How Musicians Are Tapping the Potential of Immersive Video Technology

If you took a wrong turn on the sprawling film set for Chicago post-punk group Ganser’s latest music videos, you may have accidentally crashed into a wall. That’s because instead of shooting outside or using a green screen background, the band tried an LED volume background — essentially a series of high-resolution screens that can realistically respond to camera movement, much like a video game. It’s the same technology Disney+ uses The Mandalorian.

“If you think about the cost of building a full set instead of just rendering one with this LED backdrop, it will be beneficial for people who can’t afford it,” says co-lead singer Nadia Garofalo, who works in the film industry.

Alicia Gaines, the band’s bassist and other lead singer, was impressed by how virtual production supervisor Andy Jarosz was able to use the volume setup to create a dynamic environment for the shoot: “Andy added trees and changed the lighting on the fly.” She adds, “I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of very amazing music videos coming out, especially from artists that are a lot bigger than ourselves.”

For the driving disco-punk pounder “People Watching”, Ganser conceived a clip in which Garofalo lies in a hole while her bandmates bury her alive. The group took a brief trip to the cornfields outside of Chicago during the winter to do some outdoor photography. They later decorated Resolution Studios with fake snow and corn stalks to match the backdrop. “It’s kind of nice to say, ‘Okay, we’re shooting in the cold winter — but we don’t have to go out and dig a hole in the ground and be out there for ten hours,'” Garofalo says. “Rescuing crews from the elements is cool too.”

The ambitious quartet filmed everything during a marathon shoot over a weekend. “I was shot from the waist down,” Gaines recalls of the funeral scene, “so I buried Nadia in fake soil and looked at the monitor on one side to check her lip syncing. That was our most difficult video to make.”

For “What Me Worry?”, a more echoic, experimental track that will appear alongside “People Watching” on Ganser’s forthcoming album Nothing you do is important EP, they reversed the action, this time with Gaines escaping the grave. They also pulled the camera back to reveal the LED volume setup, proudly showing off the prestige of their magic trick. “It just makes everything so much easier,” says Garofalo. “Even on smaller budgets where we can’t afford to shoot in these big locations or build these crazy worlds.”

The group’s spirit of adventure also resonates in the music Nothing you do is important, which they edited with Angus Andrew from Liars, who encouraged them to turn to experimentalism and play around with vintage synths. “It’s weird that the material that each of us is more familiar with is pre-pandemic material, and that just feels like ages and ages ago,” Gaines says. “It was a joy to have Angus in a room conducting while we did vocals and just really pushing us to go beyond what we were before.”

The group enjoyed trying out a few new ideas that will put them on the path to their next album after 2020 Just look at this sky. “We want to be very sure-footed,” Gaines says.

For now, the frankness of Nothing you do is important Material informed the title of the publication. “I think it’s a really positive title and I hope people understand it,” Gaines says.

“It’s almost like happy nihilism,” adds Garofalo. “It’s not the idea, ‘It doesn’t matter, so don’t do it.’ It’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter, just do what you want to do.’” How Musicians Are Tapping the Potential of Immersive Video Technology

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