Note: Video contains some NSFW language.
Here’s a really cool behind-the-scenes look at the set of Metallica’s "Hardwired" music video. This is the first single from their new album “Hardwired To Self Destruct” slated for a November 18 release. Let’s take a look at this video from a cinematography point of view. I think this video is a great example of how you can create an effective music video out of a seemingly simple set. This music video features no B-roll, just great footage of the band hammering it out.
To start things off, this video was filmed in a high school gymnasium in San Rafael. The set begins with black cloth being hung all around the gym walls, ultimately creating a darker and more moody set. They blacked out the floor as well. After that a circular dolly track was then placed around the drum kit creating a stable platform for cinematic camera movement, e.g., the opening scene where James Hetfield starts playing the intro guitar riff.
The lighting is very simple as well. Several strobes are placed around the band at ground level pointing upward towards the band. This is a classic lighting approach used in old horror films (Side note: Kirk Hammett is a huge collector of old horror film memorabilia). This lighting scenario was probably very deliberate. Some strobes are flashing consistently while others are simply moving around illuminating parts of the instruments and faces of the band. The lighting used in this music video is very reminiscent of the music video from the band's 1991 hit “Enter Sandman.” Also note the black and white grading, similar to the official music video for “The Unforgiven.”
The production crew were using some high-end ARRI cameras on the set of this production. While some cameras seem to be utilizing the dolly for steady cinematic movement, others look to be utilizing handheld DSLR, jittery, fly on the wall camera movements that compliment the dynamics of the fast-paced thrash metal. It also appears that they are shooting at a wide open aperture allowing for a shallow depth of field in some shots, thus adding another layer of depth to the dark set.
The stage crew added some kind of special effect dust particles which can be seen floating in the air when the strobes are backlighting them. This is a simple idea that adds some really cool atmospheric elements to the shots. In terms of special effects, that’s probably about it. This video is raw and in your face, using simple yet effective camera techniques.
And Justice For All
Hopefully this behind-the-scenes video will give you some inspiration to look at video production in a new way and potentially create your own music videos. Though this crew is using some high-end production equipment, you could create a video similar to this by using your current DSLR’s HD or 4K video capabilities, alongside some basic production equipment such as a Steadicam to circle your subjects. Set up in a completely dark room and utilize some simple lighting approaches and techniques. I think you’d be amazed at what you could create with some simple tools. Another important point to make is that this style of video really complimented the music, context is everything.
The official music video for Metallica's "Hardwired":