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The Story Behind That Picture: "Empty Music Video"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. March 19, 2016


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Music video made with Leica Cine lenses and electric guitar

You like electric guitar rock and nice lenses? Then listen to this! Back in September 2015 I recorded the music video for the new track "Empty" that Joy Villa released in February 2016 at the Grammy's. The entire video is shot on Leica M 240 with Leica Cine lenses and the Leica Noctilux


Joy Villa with Leica Cine 100mm Summicron-C f/2.0.
Still from the music video. Leica Cine 100mm Summicron-C f/2.0.


Incidentally we happen to travel more than 25 countries a year, so that was how the music was made in Munich, Germany with producer Makob Wegmann and the music video done by me on a rooftop in Hollywood.

I borrowed some Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic to work with them, comparing Leica Camera lenses with Leica Cine lenses. I will be writing more on that part later as they are really interesting and - which is very disturbing - can now be bought individually for use on Leica M still cameras. They used to be sold only in sets of lenses starting from $100,000 to $350,000. Now you can buy an adapter and any single lens you want.


I used a Leica M 240 and two Leica Cine lenses: The 100mm Summicron-C f/2.0 and the 18mm Summicron-C f/2.0. These lenses are are around $15,000 - $20,000 each. The Summilux-C f/1.4 versions are double of that.

The production of this music video was done in our hotel apartment in Hollywood with available window light in the afternoon, and then on a Hollywood rooftop just before sunset. It's all handheld and the soundtrack is the music only. That simplifies things a lot.

Still from the music video "Empty"


Also the fact that it's a music video means that the sequences are usually very short. I would take the same part of the song a few times, and some times do different angles. Very much how I would do a model shoot or portrait shoot: I have an idea what the setup is, and if I see other possibilities, I'll add them as well.

Just here, with video, it's not just 1/125 second but a 10 to 300 seconds at the time. But the idea of taking a few and then see later which worked, that's essentially the same as if it was still photos.


The beast: Leica M 240 with Leica Cine 100mm Summicron-C f/2.0 mounted (and Tie Her Up leather strap).


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The white balance, metering and all is also much the same as doing stills, except that all video is shot at 1/50 second and the control of light is then done with the aperture or ND-filters.



Makeup artist Nichole Ray starting with the makeup on Joy Villa with Jacqueline van Bierk in the back (wardrobe). Also, Nicole's videographer was doing a behind-the-scenes video that day.


From fairly early in the day Joy's makeup artist Nichole Ray came and started doing the makeup that would be changing again gradually from scene to scene. Also the wardrobe changed by the help of Jacqueline van Bierk.


Still from Joy Villa's music video "Empty"


The sequences were planned so the makeup increased, the dresses changed and by the end we did the last scenes on the rooftop naked and with honey and black blood!


Still from the last part of the music video where Joy Villa is soaked in honey


How we managed not to ruin the hotel is still a wonder.

One of the advantages of working with available light is the speed you can work with. That goes for both stills and video. Another advantage, in my opinion, is that available natural light is the most beautiful. You can get close with real ARRI film lights, but then we're talking a whole other production. The main reason to make "sunlight" and "available light" with film lights is to be able to shoot long sequences over several days without the light changing. You can't have a scene in a movie where the light looks different every time you cut to another person.

With a music video with fast changing locations and scenes you can be less concerned about changes in light.


The Leica M 240 with the adapter for PL mount, and the 18mm Leica Cine Summicron-C f/2.0 next to.

The music video was recorded handheld. The Leica Cine lenses are quite heavy, but also they demand a different way to work than still lenses. You sort of place the camera first for angle and all, and then you adjust your eye to the viewfinder based on the cameras optimum location. It's not a large step seen from outside I'm sure, but after working with the Cine lenses for some days you feel how you have been using your hands and eyes in a different way.

The editing of the music video and matching the sound with the video clips we had an editor come in and do with Joy Villa in Apple Final Cut Pro X. The editing maybe took even longer than the actual recording. I generally don't do video editing but will shoot video sequences for music videos and the like and then leave it to editors to put it together.


Makeup artist Nichole Ray doing one of the next layers of makeup on Joy Villa


Currently Joy is recording music in Los Angeles which will come out in 2016 and 2017. I think the direction is going more rock and even symphonic rock (as in when concept albums was the norm). You can get her previous music, as well as "Empty" on iTunes.


Still from the Joy Villa "Empty" music video



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Still from the music video "Empty" by Joy Villa.

Epilogue ...


Visiting CW Sonderoptic

A month after we did the music video for Empty, I visited CW Sonderoptic in Wetzlar that makes the Leica Cine lenses for a day and talked about lenses. This will be an article in itself at a later time. I know it's a long wait for something that interesting but that story ties in with a few other articles on Leica lenses. So stay tuned for that.


Visiting CW Sonderoptic in Wetzlar, Germany where the lens nerds get to nerd out completely all year round ... more on that in a later article!


The Leica SL with a Leica Cine lens mounted - and a few other things to make it into a video kit.



Thorsten Overgaard
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Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
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Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
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"Empty" music video
For HD click HD or watch on Vimeo.

Buy today on iTunes
Buy today on CD Baby

Written and performed by Grammy Considered recording artist Joy Villa.

Produced by Makob Wegmann (Munich, Germany) and Joy Villa.

Music video by Thorsten Overgaard.

Lenses by CW Sonderoptics
and Leica Camera.

Makeup by Nichole Ray Artistry.

Wardrobe by Jacqueline van Bierk.



A Leica Cine 100mm Summilux-C f/1.4 in all it's beauty. The price is around $35,000 which is a lot, but also a lot less than a set for $350,000. Which is what might make them interesting for me and you ...



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