instruments

Czardas - a sneak peak behind the scenes of our latest music video!

Shooting video in the rain.....or at least shooting between downpours! What fun. NOT! It was discouraging to get all the paperwork done, logistics worked out, and time spent to drive all the way to MO, only to be met with BAD weather! But, God worked out everything for the best and we came away with a video that has more weather features than we had originally planned on! His ways are always best, even though while you’re going through them, it can be easy to wonder. 

As you can see above, we did all sorts of things to keep the rain off the instruments as much as possible!

Umbrellas were our best friends.

The details: We arrived at the location only to have the skies pour and drizzle. Even though the rain lasted all day, we were able to shoot video now and then when the skies let up. The canopy we brought along at the  last minute was invaluable - we were able run under it when it poured and also do some closeups under it during the rain. I would be almost out from under the canopy on one side while the soloist would be as far away from me as possible while still remaining under the canopy. Crowded! Have you ever tried to get 8 people, 8 instruments (including a piano), a generator, umbrellas, and camera equipment all under 1 ten by ten foot canopy? It was tough to keep stuff dry! Beth (a very nice runner) brought us towels to use in drying off our instruments and even opened up her home in case we needed a place to warm up/dry off - thanks Beth!

Here, you can see the canopy when it was only filled with 4 people and part of the equipment - we weren't even shooting footage under it!


Because of all the rain, we weren't able to capture all the footage we were hoping for, so we were able to schedule a return to the park (on our way home from Texas) to finish the video. The only problem was it poured Monday morning when we were again scheduled to shoot video - thankfully, the rain dried up mid-morning, and were were able to grab a few shots before heading home!

I forgot to mention: the hill here was treacherous for filmmakers trying to get a smooth shot without stepping in holes and slipping a bit on rocks!

Take a listen here and see what you think! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8LsbYpw-2w 

In case you’re interested, here’s the backstory behind this unique burned out castle:
According to local folklore, Ha Ha Tonka is an Osage Indian word for laughing waters, alluding to the springs in the gorge far below the castle. This American mansion was built by Robert M. Snyder, a wealthy Kansas City businessman, on more than 5,000 acres. Construction began in 1905 only to be halted a year later with the untimely death of Snyder in one of the state's first automobile accidents. Snyder's sons finished building their father's dream, eventually leasing the property out for use as a hotel, until tragedy struck in 1942. The entire interior was consumed by fire when sparks from a chimney ignited the roof. Today only ruins remain of one man’s dream.

It must have been gorgeous before, but I love the feel it has now!

Check it out on YouTube!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8LsbYpw-2w 

Schindler's List Video Shoot - Behind the Scenes!

To see the finished video on YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUigOhTXUNg 

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The reflector came in useful for this shot. Karen could feel the heat of the sun!

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My highlighted, detailed shot list and notes. (These were actually the notes from Granny, Does Your Dog Bite, but you get the idea!)

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Luke, Seth, and my dad took turns filming a few moving shots that included me. 

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This was definitely the toughest shot of the movie! As the last scene, I wanted a drive-away moving shot. With all sorts of bumps and ruts in the road, getting a smooth shot wasn't easy! Seth hung out the back door and held the Glidecam HD 4000 for me while I filmed. Luke was at the wheel. After trying several takes with the Jeep, we got the winning take using our Sprinter van. That way, we were able to stand up and hang out the back doors, absorbing the bumps with our knees. All in all, it was quite a feat to keep our outfits clean during the whole process!

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Before filming, we moved all the items that wouldn't fit the look we were after.

Inside the vandalized house - because of its age and the vandalism, this house fit the "war scene" feel very well. We were thrilled that we were able to get permission to film in this perfect location!

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Filming the night scene was both fun and eerie! I could really feel the music!

Talking about how we should film the next scene...

Preparing mentally before another take...

 

Again, if you're curious to see how these bits and pieces came together in the finished product, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUigOhTXUNg 

See you later!

Granny, Does Your Dog Bite?

Hi again, everyone! Time has been flying along at break-neck speed around here, hence the sad shortage of blog posts recently! Hopefully that shortage will be fixed soon. Anyway, to get to the exciting part, we have now released our next YouTube video!!! Granny, Does Your Dog Bite? You can watch it here, like it at the link below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you will be notified when our next video comes out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4UHmlMz0kg 

Time for some behind-the-scenes details and pictures!

Do you see the stream? It's deeper and more slippery to cross than it looks! We threw one pair of mud boots in the van when we were packing and used those and a handy stick to ferry people across the stream... put on mud boots, hold onto stick, wade across stream with expensive instrument, have someone on the opposite bank toss your shoes over to you after you've crossed, toss the mud boots back over the stream, repeat! 

Yep. It was interesting getting the piano and the bass down there.

Toby, our dog, was hilarious! The out-takes of him are definitely worth watching. After we told him to "go get it!" to eat the sandwich, Luke was on the opposite side of the camera with a dog treat to call him after he snarfed down one sandwich quarter. After doing the take a couple of times, Toby got wise, looked at Luke, and then snarfed down a second sandwich quarter before running to Luke. It was a riot! 

Getting the cellos safely into the watery cave!

Our two cellists! You can't imagine how cold the spring water was coming out of the cave!!! The boys' feet were quite cold at the end of this scene!

Icey cold!

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To get to the next location meant packing up all the various instruments and camera equipment, and carrying everything to the next spot where we unpacked it all again! Generator, amplifier, piano, bass, instruments, etc....

Of course, for this video we had Toby with us, so we all had to make sure all the dog hair was gone from our clothes before each take! It was worth it, though, to have him along! 

Well, I'll leave you with this image - our very buggy scene! Bugs in our eyes, bugs in our mouths, and so on!

It was a fun, exhausting, and rewarding day!

P.S. Our next video is on track to be released in two weeks!

Serious Singing Talent!

...for a dog, that is!

Our dog Toby doesn't let us down when it comes to musical abilities! Toby is "rug-trained" to the door mat at the front door entrance (meaning that when he is allowed to come inside, he is required to stay on the little door mat). He greatly enjoys this privileged, and begs to take advantage of it whenever possible! Anyway, we practice together as a family almost every evening that we don't have a concert, and some times, Toby happens to be inside and on his little rug during those practices. On certain pieces, as the music gets more intense and emotional, Toby will start to howl. (I'm sorry to say that he hasn't learned how to hit the right pitches yet and, therefore, is ridiculously out of tune!) The howling will increase in volume and number of times per minute as we hit certain pitches on our instruments. (Have you seen a dog howl while he is lying down and his head is flat on its side on the floor? Toby's got talent.) Sooner or later, several of us will break down and start laughing, and the piece we are playing will suffer dreadfully! (It's worth it though to hear his wonderful voice and slightly out-of-tune notes!) Seriously. You gotta hear it sometime! Toby's favorite numbers to join us on are The Orange Blossom Special, The Nutcracker, and The Hallelujah Chorus.  :) 

Our favorite (and only) dog! He's a great furry friend.

Our favorite (and only) dog! He's a great furry friend.

Our Second Adventure at Brookwood Recording Studio in Michigan

We are finally back home again! It was a longer trip this time because... well, I'll explain later.

After driving the 8+ hours, we arrived at our hotel, unloaded and... you guessed it! We practiced until 11 pm! The Best Western staff were kind enough to open up the dining hall so that we wouldn't disturb any other guests.

Yep. Practicing is what we've been doing round the clock lately.

Yep. Practicing is what we've been doing round the clock lately.

Next morning, we started recording our first song at Brookwood Recording Studio with David Lau. While listening to and coaching us after each take, he made the discovery that somehow, when we were re-arranging our arrangements in preparation for the CD, a couple bogus notes had crept in!!! Out came the White-Out and Abigail went to work.

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Oops.

The problem? Getting the stuff to come out properly!

The problem? Getting the stuff to come out properly!

After some laughs, we finally got enough white-out on the page and got on with the recording.

Next came lunch, then more recording and then going back to the previous session's takes and telling David which ones we wanted. He is SUPER fast (and good!) on those computers.

Then it was back to the hotel, supper, part of a movie, some truffles, and then listening for a long time to all the day's work in the studio.There were many decisions to make on what would go onto the CD. After all, it's on there forever! Kinda scary. And, we had to finish the CD by the end of the next day.

One quick portrait of the group + David Lau, our recording engineer before we hit the road.

One quick portrait of the group + David Lau, our recording engineer before we hit the road.

During the time when the rest of us were recording one song, the guys played Rook,  a really old, fun game.

During the time when the rest of us were recording one song, the guys played Rook,  a really old, fun game.

While we were doing a take, David would be sitting with the score and writing in what takes were best in which places and any mistakes he heard. Such a great help!   Thanks David!

While we were doing a take, David would be sitting with the score and writing in what takes were best in which places and any mistakes he heard. Such a great help! 

Thanks David!

Click on a photo to view it full screen and then use the arrows on the right and the left...

In the early evening we were finished, and started driving. Only instead of going home, we headed east, drove to the coast, and then started back, driving for almost 26 hours non-stop. Very exhausting.

Find out why in next week's edition of the Johnson Strings news!