Keeping It Cool and Cinematic With Green Day

Mon, Jul 24, 2017

Green Day "Still Breathing" production with Teradek Bolt

From American Idiot musical adaptations to alcohol-induced, guitar-wrecking frenzies on stage, Green Day is one of the most iconic, quintessential rock bands of all time. Since their debut in 1986, the band has gone from tiny garage punkers to international rock stars, winning countless music awards and even being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

When the band created the songs for their twelfth studio album, Revolution Radio, they needed a music video to accompany their song “Still Breathing”, a song which would go on to reach #1 in multiple rock charts in the U.S. Sony Music reached out to Paul Brown (director) and Will Sampson (DP) to help produce the video.

“They wanted to do something very different from normal music videos for this song,” said Sampson. “If you listen to the song, it’s about people overcoming difficulties in life. So for this video, we wanted to focus on the story aspect of people who struggle and find themselves stuck in the process.”

On The Road

Billie Joel Armstrong on set of Still Breathing shot by Will Sampson using Teradek Bolt
Filming Billie Joe Armstrong’s lost and contemplative persona for “Still Breathing” music video.

For the music video, Director P.R. Brown wanted to feature the band members undergoing uncertainty and supplement it with various ordinary people dealing with internal struggles in natural settings. Acquiring shots like this required the production team to make a roadtrip across multiple locations in Oregon and California, stopping at specific national parks and other locations to get the perfect footage.

This presented some problems. On top of this being an off-road style production for a huge client, the label only gave them 5 days to finish acquisition. If they wanted to finish the project quickly while getting the best footage possible, Director Brown needed a way to reliably monitor the shot with as little obstructions as possible.

Most of the music video’s scenes were filmed in large natural parks and outdoor areas.

The key was in their wireless downlink system, the Teradek Bolt 300. Sampson and his team brought with them an Alexa Mini equipped with Kowa anamorphic lenses. Connected to the Alexa Mini was Sampson’s Teradek Bolt 300 video transmitter, which sent a visually lossless video feed directly to a Bolt Rx connected to Brown’s handheld SmallHD 7” monitor. The Bolt was able to do this with near-zero latency at up to 300 ft. away making live monitoring of the shot extremely simple for Brown, his 1st AC and producer.

Having to film in woodlands, badlands and coastal geographies for the project, Sampson and his team were racing against the clock to cover as much ground as possible. Starting off in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, many of the shots required specific positioning, making it difficult for Director Brown to monitor the shot.

“The volcanic terrain in the Badlands was really hard for us to navigate and required a lot of moving around with a Steadicam. So instead of looking over my shoulder or, god forbid, running a cable to the camera, I used the downlink to send video to him,” Sampson said. “This meant he could stay closer to the actors and still see what I was doing.”

The forest and beach locations underwent a similar scenario. In order to get multiple angles of the actress meandering through the forest, Sampson needed to be completely mobile. This meant relying on his Bolt to send the feed to Brown a short distance away, who could monitor from his handheld SmallHD. The same thing was done at Cannon Beach, where they needed to be constantly moving up and down the shore as well as shooting from above the cliffs.

Rockstar Results

Having wireless video allowed Sampson and the production team to capture some stunning imagery for Green Day. Without cables to hinder Sampson, he could maneuver around the locations and talents to acquire footage that would otherwise be impossible with cables. Additionally, because the team could monitor the footage in real-time, they were able to make adjustments to the shots on-the-go instead of reshooting scenes several times.

Behind the scenes on Still Breathing with Green Day

All of these help Sampson and the crew accomplish one thing: save time. Thanks to the Bolt, the production crew was able to acquire all of the shots they needed much more efficiently, resulting in less time spent on the road and a faster production overall.

“The Bolt basically made this whole project possible for us. At any time, we could just stop and change how we’re shooting the scene, which means we don’t need to huddle around our monitor for playback every time,” Sampson said. “It’s super reliable and allowed us to get the kind of footage deserving of a Green Day music video.”

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