How Musicians Are Tapping the Potential of Immersive Video Technology - Rolling Stone
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The Future of Music Videos: Ganser Tap the Potential of Immersive LED Tech

Chicago post-punk band use the same futuristic system used for The Mandalorian to film a pair of ambitious videos on a budget

If you’d taken a wrong turn on the expansive-looking film set for Chicago post-punk group Ganser’s latest music videos, you might have accidentally crashed into a wall. That’s because rather than shoot outside or use a green-screen background, the band tried out an LED Volume backdrop — essentially an array of high-resolution screens that can respond realistically to camera movement, similar to a video game. It’s the same technology Disney+ uses for The Mandalorian.

“When you think about the cost of building out a full set versus just being able to render one with this LED backdrop, it will have a benefit for people who couldn’t afford that,” says co-lead vocalist Nadia Garofalo, who works in the film industry.

Alicia Gaines, the band’s bassist and other lead vocalist, was impressed by how the Volume setup enabled virtual-production supervisor Andy Jarosz to create a dynamic environment for the shoot: “Andy was adding in trees and changing lighting on the fly.” She adds, “I have a feeling that there’s going to be a lot of very fantastical music videos coming up, especially from artists much larger than ourselves.”

For the propulsive disco-punk stomper “People Watching,” Ganser conceptualized a clip in which Garofalo lies in a hole while her bandmates bury her alive. The group made a short trip into the cornfields outside Chicago during wintertime to film some exterior shots. Later, they decorated Resolution Studios with fake snow and cornstalks that matched the backdrop. “It’s kind of nice to be like, ‘OK, we’re shooting it in the cold winter — but we don’t have to actually go out and dig a hole in the ground and be outside for 10 hours,’ ” Garofalo says. “Saving crews from elements is cool, too.”

The ambitious quartet filmed everything during a marathon, one-weekend shoot. “I was being shot from the waist down,” Gaines recalls of the burial scene, “so I was burying Nadia in fake soil and looking at the monitor on one side, checking her lip-sync. This was our most difficult video to make.”

For “What Me Worry?,” a more echoey, experimental track that will appear with “People Watching” on Ganser’s upcoming Nothing You Do Matters EP, they reversed the action, this time with Gaines escaping from the grave. They also pulled the camera back to reveal the LED Volume setup, proudly showing off their magic trick’s prestige. “It just makes everything so much more possible,” Garofalo says. “Even with smaller budgets where we can’t afford to shoot on those big locations or build these crazy worlds.”

The group’s adventurous nature also resounds in the music on Nothing You Do Matters, which they cut with Liars’ Angus Andrew, who encouraged them to embrace experimentalism and play around with vintage synthesizers. “It’s strange that the material that everybody is more familiar with from us is stuff from pre-pandemic, and that just feels like ages and ages and ages ago,” Gaines says. “Having Angus in a room, like, conducting as we were doing vocals and just really pushing us to go above and beyond where we’ve been before was a joy.”

The group enjoyed trying out a few new ideas that will put them on the path toward their next full-length, following up 2020’s Just Look at That sky. “We want to be very sure-footed,” Gaines says.

For now, the openness of the Nothing You Do Matters material informed the release’s title. “I think it’s a really positive title and hopefully people get that,” Gaines says.

“It’s almost like a cheerful nihilism,” Garofalo adds. “It’s not the idea that ‘It doesn’t matter, so don’t do it.’ It’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter, so just do what you want to do.'”

In This Article: Ganser

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