Pushing Artistic Boundaries with Da Mad Unicorn

I first came across Madeline when I was searching for talent on another project that I was working on.  I remember thinking that she would be a really great alternative-model.  It wasn't long after that, I discovered that she is also a DJ and Musician as well.  

Da Mad Unicorn's - 5 Pills

Madeline inquired with me about making a music video for one of her new singles.  She then went on to share her obsession with Marilyn Monroe, pin-up-girls and burlesque dancing...  and after listening to a few of her new songs, it was obvious that we should shoot a video for 5 Pills. 

I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone on this video, so I presented Madeline with an edgy video concept.  Once I discovered her comfort level with it, I realized that this video was heading past the corporate-style of MTV music videos and more into the realm of  the "art-nude" style of films that have been more acceptable in European markets for many years. 

We considered a few historic locations in Denver for this shoot.  The Brown Palace, The Oxford and the Patterson Inn.  Ultimately, the Patterson Historic Inn won the vote, it offered the right vintage Victorian feel and "The Royale" -the appropriately named room at the Patterson- delivered an elegant vintage interior design.

Da Mad Unicorn's - 5 Pills. 

My friend and fellow filmmaker Jeffrey Knudsen lent a hand during the pre-lighting session on the day and Madeline's friend Shaun Slaughter joined us for the shoot itself and ended up being instrumental during the "floating-light" portion of the shoot.  

Using a RED Scarlet, I shot some of the takes hand-held, some with a lens-baby lens and some on a slider.  As far as lighting was concerned, I I love experimenting with different lighting ratios and types of lighting instruments as well and I remember thinking that I would favor one look over another, but I ultimately used moments from every set-up that we tried.  

During the editing portion of post-production, I auditioned many color-treatments onto this footage -mostly because I love that part of this creative process-  but in the end, I decided that I didn't like any of the post looks better than the inherent look that I got in camera on the set... which made me happy.   Not only does that completely speed up post-production time, but it makes me feel pretty great that I'm getting a stellar look in camera. 

Without clear "rules" set in place for the edit of the video, I went ahead, edited and delivered my version of the cut -which I felt served the video really well.  After reviewing my initial cut Madeline replied by writing... "It made me cry it's so perfect!!!"

I have to admit, that her comment made my day!  I love being able to make clients happy, while doing what I love for work. YES!!!!





Next Up... Rachel and the Kings

The first time I heard Rachel James' music was a few years back in a listening session at the Durango Songwriter's Expo.  I remember being blown away by the tune that she brought to the session that day and ever since then, I knew that she was headed on the right track.

Rachel James of Rachel and the Kings / Silver Halide Pictures ©2014

I heard through the grapevine that Rachel's band Rachel and the Kings were about to release a new EP/album and so it made sense to see if they were interested in shooting a music video.  I spoke with Rachel and she described a really innovative art-collective idea that she was planning on curating to coincide with the album's release.  The collective was to feature art of all kinds including; photography, stories, poems, sculpture, dramatic skits and videos, all of which were to be inspired -one way or another- by the band's new music.  They approached me and asked if I wanted to contribute something to it.  I liked the concept of their innovative idea, so I said yes, and I started planning.  

I met with the band and I pitched them some ideas, one of which would have taken us out of state -and potentially to jail- and another that would featured the band along with some puppets.  After a lot of debate, some dead-ends and self-realization as a producer, I decided that we should head over to ManMadeMedia to shoot in their studio. 

Since all of the grandiose ideas that I initially had didn't work out for one reason or another, I finally decided that instead of going BIG on this music video, we should go the complete opposite direction which meant that we would strip the band down to their most basic individual elements...  lead singer, guitarist, violinist, bass player and drummer. 

The shoot was scheduled for Tuesday evening, just 4 days prior to the Saturday that the video would have it's premiere.  The race to complete the project in time was on!

With my camera assistant Kit Chalberg and the clock ticking, we began the 6 hour shoot.  I shot with the RED Scarlet and the FS-700 for all of the 24p and 48p shots and a RED Epic for all of the 60-120 fps slo-mo shots.  I was really happy with the way the RED shot under the Kino-flos without any flicker at higher frame rates.

Just prior to shooting on the set, I created an in-camera look that allowed everyone watching the reference monitor to get a rough idea of what the post-produced image would look like.

The band, as a whole, has a really fun sense of humor and they were very easy to work with.... so needless to say, the shoot was a blast and our time in the studio flew by.  

Once we wrapped, I knew that we had some great footage and I found myself psyched to begin editing. 

When screening the shots, I realized that I liked the on-set "look" so much that it made sense to kept it as the final look for the video. 

I experimented with a few different style techniques during post-production and ultimately the original concept prevailed, to showcase the fundamental elements of the band and let the performers be the focus of the video.

On the evening of the premiere, I finished the video with about 20 minutes to spare before the Premiere began.  

I've always believed that there is no bigger challenge that one in which you might not succeed, so I feel proud to have delivered this level of quality in a video, on-time and under such a tight deadline.


"Tage's creativity and passion on our recent music video was an amazing experience. With very little time to spare he directed and created a gorgeous video that communicated our music perfectly.  He was professional and tireless and the final product was a perfect reflection of the entire process.  High quality, expertly edited, beautiful work."


             -Rachel James 


In the Studio with The Garuud Effekt

Marti Christopher is the sole member and creative force behind The Garuud Effekt, but you’d never know how minimal the behind the scenes are by listening to the intricate arrangements in this powerful blend of electro-pop.  Also, burried beneath his witty charm and playful demeanor, is the fact that Marti Christopher is a super talented classically trained artist in the media of pencil, charcoal and paint.  All of these, not so obvious attributes about Marti were fun to discover along the way, but this was only the beginning.

From the set of Cut Me, Photo by Kit Chalberg Photography

The process of creating an idea for this video stemmed from a string of multiple late night conversations where we would bounce ideas off of each other to see what which ones would consistently come back around…  we both agreed that the cream usually rises to the top during these kind of interactions, so we embraced it and ran with it.

Since Cut Me maintains an almost pop 80′s sound, I felt like shooting a video shot in the studio would suit this tune very well.  Considering Marti is the only member of the band, it made sense for me to keep the video simple without any other distractions and focus on what mattered most…. Marti.  So we decided on a stark black and white color palette for the video and went shopping.

H&M clothing was first on our list.  We browsed through the mens’ department where we found a handful of great suits.  After a session of iPhone photos in order to compare the best looking options, we agreed on a stellar suit and moved on.  Next, we took a trip to Home Depot to buy some painting supplies and then we headed over to Man Made Media -owned and operated byMarin Biegunajtys- to paint the green-screen cyc white.

Marti Christopher trying on some suit options for the video shoot. 

While working through 3 coats of white, Marti told me his theories on how capitalism have all but removed the -tried and true methods of- communal style parenting and that monogamy is directly influenced by the advent of farming in early tribes.  After he completely blew my mind with these revelations, he told me stories of how he spent time in Jamaica as a child, how his mother met his German father and how his family spent many years together in Canada when he was growing up.

Kit Chalberg and Jeffrey Knudsen joined us for the day of production.  Both of these guys were a huge help to the process in addition to just being a ton of fun to be around.

I had never seen Marti perform live prior to rolling camera that day, but I did caution him that the success of the video relied entirely on his ability to “turn-it-on” once we rolled camera.  To my delight, Marti showed up looking stellar in his new suit, hat and color matching guitar.  Once he slid his sunglasses into place, Marti instantly transformed into the rockstar mode, we turned on the cameras and Sir Christopher brought-it in a big way!

On that day of the shoot, we shot with the new RED Scarlet and the SONY FS-700.  After playing with the footage in REDCINE-X Pro, I decided that the RED looked SO good…  that we weren’t going to even try to mix the two cameras together in the final edit.

 Most of the time in the studio was spent shooting the extra setups with the signs and the props.  Marti’s actual performance while singing and dancing was done in an astoundingly minimal 3 takes.

In the editing room, we worked to give the footage a very kinetic feel to match the vibe of the upbeat song.  Since the song title Cut Me, is a very visual line, we had decided early on that the stark black and white color palette would be a great setting to use a strategically placed splash of red during the choruses.  During the shoot, we played with things like red spray string and confetti during the choruses only to find them less effective than I had hoped on screen.  Finally the idea came to me that we should use animated opaque color fields.   After trying out the concept on a few choruses we were hooked and decided to keep these unique color moves in for the final cut.

Overall, I was very pleased with the results of the production, I look forward to the next project with Marti and working once again with all of the fine folks that made this project come together.


On the Road with Andy Palmer for Production of The Monk

Preproduction for Andy Palmer’s song The Monk began in the first portion of April of 2013. Andy Palmer writer and performer of The Monk, myself and the Associate Producer Kit Chalberg first sat down to discuss ideas and concepts for the video. We started the process with the… “which song?” discussion and came round and round until we landed right back where we began… The Monk.

During the making of the video we went traveled to the Eastern Planes of Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes and Downtown Denver in order to get just the right look for each scene. We spent two days shooting and traveling for the initial shoot. Kit, Andy, Mark Chalberg, Chuck Fiorella and myself drove almost 500 miles round trip to get to all the locations.

Photo by Kit Chalberg Photography / Visual FX by Tage Plantell

After getting back to the post production facility, I noticed that I had gotten a great look for the shots of Andy walking in slow motion down the two lane road but, I knew when we shot it that I really wanted to shoot it on a steady mounted camera system like a Steadicam or Glidecam. So I bought a Glidecam and we went back to the same location in Watkins in order to reshoot the “lip-synching” shots with Andy all over again. I couldn’t have been happier with the results. Not only did the Glidecam work like a charm, but the FS-700 Sony camera -that I had bought just prior to starting the production- was starting to make more sense to me and as a result I our shots were looking WAY better.

After editing began, I had to take a large break to knock out a couple of projects… One was directing, shooting and editing an online series called Riding the Line for The Race Across America and the other was creating a sit-down acoustic video for the popular band The Dirtyheads for The Pier’s Acoustic Music Series.

In July, we had determined that adding one more scene would really help to make the 1,2,3 rhythm of crossing paths between Andy’s character and the Monk for a better pay-off in the end. So, we went back out and shot the additional scene where Andy’s character stops in to the convenience store for a pack of smokes and yet again just barely misses the Monk.

I got a new computer and new set of software -if I’m gonna take this job seriously I have to have the right gear… right?!. So I got all of the new post-production equipment set up, made it through all of the “firsts” of new gear and then continued on my plight with the video.

So here we are in the middle of August and I’ve finally gotten things wrapped up. I’m proud of the finished product, but I have a ton of new ideas and concepts that I can’t wait to apply to the next video that is coming up.