Sleepover Miami – Director’s notes

We recently teamed up with the brilliant team from Sleeper Magazine to create this official film for Sleepover Miami.

Sleeper is the international magazine for hotel design, development and architecture. Over 100 guests from top brands and companies associated with high-end hotel design and development came together for a weekend in Miami. We were there to document the trip. Miami is booming. Back in the 1980s it was still viewed as a sleepy city that used to be a great place to go on holiday, back in the 1950s before the Cuban crisis. First it was the LGBT movement that helped to transform South Beach and now this narrow strip of land is full of beautiful hotels, art deco architecture and people from all walks of life enjoying the sunshine, great food and lifestyle. So how do you go about creating a film that captures a pretty frenetic tour of the best bits of Miami?

In the good old days we’d describe this shoot as “run and gun”, but actually as technology has developed we have become a lot more sophisticated with the equipment that we take and shots that we make. I have a back-pack on standby with my drone, a handheld stabiliser (I’m a big DJI Osmo fan) and my DSLR (Panasonic GH4). I also have a GoPro in there and an assortment of accessories such as the sucker pads for a car. I also invited my old friend Mike Lunt down from Ohio to film with me using his Canon C100.

When people are on a tour, it’s difficult to stage shots, you need to be really quick with your camera work and that takes practice. Exposure, shutter speed, aperture, lens choice, framing, then capture the shot all in a matter of moments. It’s not for the faint hearted and you’ll often hear me talk about how video is NOT like photography. We repeat shots with different lenses or to capture different aspects of the scene. Sometimes we might take an hour on one sequence if we were shooting an ad. With this kind of travelogue film you don’t get that opportunity. You’re telling a story with moving images and to be honest, I love it. It’s a challenge and you learn what works really fast!

We added a day to our Sleepover Miami itinerary (tough I know) so that we could capture South Beach by drone and also travel around in our car using three cameras. I hit upon the idea of framing the same shot via my Go Pro and then via the Osmo, both fitted to the front of a Mustang convertible. The Go Pro inherently is going to pick up judder so I used it in timelapse mode. The Osmo performed amazingly well, all the way up to about 40mph. I daren’t travel any faster. We did get a few comments and people saying “hey film me!”, but it’s Miami, everyone wants to be a star. If you look at the final film the shot “into the light” at 01:57 is the Go Pro timelapse out of the tunnel near the port. Many of the other shots including the amazing track back on the metro (hats off to Mike for controlling the Osmo remotely using the app on that one as I drove around Miami) use the brilliant DJI Osmo. That shot is at 01:54.

One big difference between filming in London and Miami is the weather. Sunny and 30 degrees C (86F for our American readers) throughout our stay. What more do you need as a filmmaker? I hope you like the final film. It was actually quite hard to figure out what to leave out!

Director’sĀ favourite Sleepover Miami shots:

00:00 – Opening sequence. That was shot on my drone, looking straight down. I love the way the early morning light ripples across the frame.
00:24 – Nothing says Americana to me quite as much as the original Ford Mustang muscle car. The GT350 is a classic. I’m not sure what year this is but it looks like the 1960s to me.
00:40 – I had “Hotel California” in my mind when I asked Mike to take this shot of the long hotel corridor. Great lighting too.
00:48 – Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s a $15 Million gold leaf covered skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a giant box. Created by Damien Hirst. You’ve got to admit, it’s grabs your attention
01:05 – Perfect grid pattern of the deck chairs and parasols on South Beach. Filmed on my drone
01:28 – In the right place at the right time…. with the right camera and the right skills, but still what a beautiful shot of this enormous cruise liner with the sun setting behind it.
01:54 – Hats of to Mike here. Using the DJI Osmo app he tracked the metro car above our heads as I passed underneath. What a shot.
02:00 – Into the light. Probably my favourite shot. Created on the Go Pro in timelapse mode. I sped this up in post and then smoothed out the movement and the transition to white with the solar flare.
02:11 – that’s running at 9x normal speed. Kind of cool to see the bridge go down and the cars race across.
02:29 – every video from Miami should have waves breaking at 120fps . Super slowmo eat your heart out.

PS I love Cubanos (Cuban sandwiches). Thanks for the tip Galen Driver. I’m hooked


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