Walled Garden

Collaborative project

The concept

This project was conceptualized and produced by the singer-songwriter Yannika Frank, whom I met during my final years at the University of Limerick. We decided to collaborate with two other friends, Lauren McGonagle and Micaela Rocha, both contemporary dancers, to create a music video for Yannika’s song “Walled Garden”.
The idea for the style, content and location for the video was envisioned by Yannika, who decided to recruit me for the technical and practical aspects of the production, namely cinematography and video editing, while the creative and aesthetical parts of the performances were directed by her. More specifically, the dancers were instructed to improvise the choreographies individually, with a number of formal and visual aspects handled by me, while the over-arching emotional theme of struggle and hampered motion was guided by Yannika.


Despite the limited scope of the framing and subject, teir natural characteristics rendered the camera-work somewhat challenging. The main difficulty arose due to the sub-optimal natural light conditions, as the intermittence between sunlight and overcast weather caused the images to be insonsistent in exposure, sharpness and temperature. While an attempt to optimize the image was made on set, continuously managing aperture most of the issues were curbed in post-production.
These problems were exacerbated by the performances of the dancers and the environment to be filmed. More specifically, a reduction in aperture, compensating for more sunlight, would influence the focal depth enough to render the shooting of the performers, who by their routine would move away or towards the camera considerably, considerably difficult. The lack of suitable ND filters, a dedicated focus-puller or simply the ability to reschedule the shooting were determining factors, as well as the physical constraints for me to move when operating the camera.

Nonetheless, thanks to optimal coverage, a number of discrete-to-optimal takes were recorded and could later be composed in the editing process.


A comparison between two early versions of the edits, featuring two different approaches to shot length and pace, as discussed with Yannika throughout the process

While a clear narrative was laid out by Yannika, the improvisational nature of the choreographies, which were inevitably unique for each new take, required substantial focus on editing process. The need for the sub-textual theme of struggle to emerge also signified the development of a number of different versions of the edit, experimenting on a number of different shot combinations to best serve the purpose. While the dancers choreographed their performances according to the music, the creative decision to place their sections out of order, according to their visual qualities rather than temporal accuracy, allowed for a much broader choice of shots to better fit determinate needs for the story. The free-handed nature of the performances and their consistency in theme also allowed for this to happen, and the editing process mainly revolved around the study and confrontation of different shots and cuts, focusing on their compatibility in context.

Colour correction & grading

Another comparison, now between the raw, ungraded mp4 footage and the finished, corrected and graded product.

In order to render the shots consistent, due to the aforementioned discrepancies in the natural light, a sizeable effort was put into colour correction. While a number of shot were backlit and sub-optimal in their exposure, a satisfying (albeit not ideal) result was achieved, and the process of grading the footage could be undertaken.
Yannika’s vision to enhance the natural characteristics of tone and shade from the setting was at the forefront of this process, which entailed the shift of the midtones to emphasise the rusty, red/brown shades of the bridge, as well as the dusky sunlight present in some of the shots. The challenge mainly consisted in developing the characteristics of orange hard light, typical of clear sunsets, in the shots where the cloud coverage greatly softened the shadings and conferred a washed out, desaturated tone.
The workaround consisted of tapering the highlights, which were lightly shaded in the blue, while raising the gamma, applying the large part of orange tint to this section. Moreover, in order to raise the contrast, the low end of the range was decreased, also underlining the shades.
Several minor adjustments were also applied to properly conform the shots and give continuity.

Leave a Reply