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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Moonlight Skyfall with Velvet 56 and Velvet 85

  • 2 min read


Moonlight Skyfall is a thoughtful, mysterious video that was shot and directed by Gregory Gillaspie using Velvet 56 and Velvet 85. Gregory Gillaspie explains the concept for the video in the blog post that follows.

Heather Parks is a talented pianist who is aiming to create original video content around her music renditions, and she hired me to accomplish this. These aren't meant to be music videos as much as visual music. The imagery of her performance enhances the music itself.

For this project, our second video, I wanted to do something that captured the romantic feel of this original rendition --a combination of the music "Skyfall" from the James Bond film and "Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven. We decided we would release the video on Valentine's Day, 2018. I decided I wanted the lighting to be entirely by candlelight. We ended up using exactly 91 candles.

blonde woman in red dress plays the piano in a candlelit room moonlight skyfall music video velvet 56I always look to make each project different from the last, and I'm always on the lookout for unique glass to accomplish this. As soon as I saw the images from the Velvet 56, I knew it was right. Velvet 56, along with the candlelight, gave the video a very "Barry Lyndon" look and feel. It has a lovely way of spreading light around and giving sources a beautiful glow. My tests concluded that Velvet 56 sharpened up just enough at F/2.0 to produce an intentional but not too dramatic look while keeping the round bokeh. I tend to often shoot with diffusion and found that no filtration was necessary with this lens at F/2.0. I went ahead and added focus gears to the lens so focus could be pulled on it with a follow focus. Its action is very smooth and precise, and the detail is all there. A lot of information is being resolved, but it is very diffused looking-- which is exactly what I wanted.

While planning the shoot, to my pleasant surprise, Lensbaby released the Velvet 85. While I was going to attempt to shoot the entire piece on one lens, I knew having an additional focal length would be very helpful. I tested it and found that the color matched the 56mm perfectly. Since the 85mm has a slightly smaller maximum aperture, I tested them both at F/2.0 and found them to have a nearly identical T-stop. This might sound like a given, but with creative lenses such as these, it's not something to be taken for granted.

woman with blonde hair shiny eye makeup eyes closed lipstick in darkly lit room midnight skyfall music video

I can see many uses for these lenses. They would be excellent for something like a dream sequence or intentionally surreal imagery. People might see the image and confuse it with something from a low resolving lens- but it's not. Like I previously said, it resolves a lot of detail and produces a dreamy, diffused look at its wider apertures. I've never seen a vintage lens that can produce a diffused look without a loss of information. There is nothing else like it. I hope Lensbaby considers even more focal lengths in the future. Intentional tools like these really assist storytellers like me.

blonde woman in red dress plays the piano in a candlelit room moonlight skyfall music video velvet 56 bokeh