7:56 PM, Friday, October 10th, 2008:
A couple months ago when I first talked to Erin I was floored that she had absolutely no video of her performing. Her music production was so overwhelmingly professional I couldn't believe there was no way for her to promote herself visually other than pictures. I was certain I could help...
...but it was a very delicate area for sure. Jazz is not comedy. You have to be subtle and let the voice take center stage. All the editing "tricks" kind of go out the window and you really have to make sure the focus stays squarely on the music and not get too "college art school" about your techniques. That was literally all I had in mind when I came out here. Subtle, slow, captivating and try to find that connection with the audience...

...the rest relied on Erin's ability to make you feel like she's singing only to you. She knows that instinctively and she never missed a beat. Add in the difficulty of lip syncing everything at twice the speed (so it could be slowed down later) and she was still able to emote and connect with the camera.


The singing shots other than the blue light one were done in the middle of the night within the myriad of stairs and hallways at the Intercontinental Hotel. Totally guerilla style. We'd wait until someone who worked there walked by - and set up the tripod, hit the playback on the laptop, hit record and then I'd run off for lookout. It was pretty fun actually.


This last shot through the revolving doors was when they finally asked us to leave and luckily as I said - it was the last shot. It really came together well. So what was the story within the black and white shots? Other than the lyrics, there never was one. We never wrote out a treatment - we just shot what seemed right. I wanted shots of her walking around the city because it looked cool, not because of the song. But once everything was loaded, the story started to come together.


It's a woman who is contemplating an old flame, and walking around the city near where he's staying. Finally, at the end - she goes to him. That's the beauty of editing. If we had chosen different shots? Would have been a different story. Had Erin not thought of the shot through the revolving doors? Different story. That's what's so fun about these types of collaborations. We literally just ran around and said "Let's do this!".


It's also what makes the editing process so painstaking. I took all day on my birthday and just focused. It took 14 hours (not counting the little bits I loaded earlier in the week) just to edit and the majority of that was trial and error. Finding the story, feeling the song. The song is so slow, clearly everything had to be slow motion - but even the fades were labored. I slowed them way down, some only to 50% and then back up as smooth and as slow as possible.


And then, the moment that literally made the entire project to me. During one of Erin's breaks I was watching part of my performance and noticed how the lighting played off my head and that cool mic. So I ran up to the stage and did a quick test by myself and lo and behold - it was perfect. Change a few settings on the camera and you've got the money shot. It's the foundation that holds the story together...and she did it in one take as the staff were itching to leave. Perfect.

And how wonderful are those mics. I'm amazed she doesn't sing with it every single show. It just screams "I AM A SEXY BEAST" no matter what you sing into it. :-)
So with that my trip to Chicago comes to a close. I am exhausted, but I'm very happy that I was able to put that together while still here. I would usually never attempt that - but after the blue shot? I was dying to figure out how this was gonna look. I hope it can provide Erin with another vehicle to get her music out there. I absolutely believe that newcomers to Erin McDougald will see this and instantly want to see/hear more. I still can't believe there wasn't video of her singing before this. She has star quality and in this day and age you really need to see her sing (even on video) to get that whole package. Hopefully now the whole world can at the click of a mouse as well as live in Chicago.
New York awaits...