Case study

UPAYA HILLS
“FACE IN THE CROWD”

Producing a visualiser/lyric video for a new release by the indie rock band Upaya Hills.

Tools used:




The client

Upaya Hills is an indie-rock band with electronic elements based in East London.

The brief

In lieu of traditional music videos (or often in accompaniment to), lyric videos and ‘visualisers’ have gained huge popularity – particularly during the limitations of COVID-19 – in use by contemporary bands and musicians as a way of outputting content and reaching new and existing audiences as consistently as possible. The band wanted to create promotional material for their new song in this vein that would serve as the primary visual to the track, at least until a traditional music video could be created.
They also required 15-second portrait adaptations for use in social media stories.

Style

The band’s branding follows a minimalistic, retro/neon theme that often features the use of chevrons as per their logo.
The track itself is packed with energy, so this had to be expressed alongside their minimalistic branding. The band was keen to create something that evoked the excitement of live gigs, as the song was mostly written and recorded during the live music drought of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Chris helped us with the editing of over 25 videos and we were blown away by the quality of his work and understanding of what we needed. We had a short deadline and Chris worked efficiently with our team to make sure that the videos were delivered on time. He was able to take complex subjects and create visually pleasing videos which enabled the viewer to understand the video subjects. I would not hesitate to recommend working with Chris and hope we can work together in the future!”

Jess Saurmarez

Head of Marketing, Stephenson Law

Process

It became quickly apparent that this brand style in motion would be reminiscent of the many retro wave videos currently popular on various big YouTube channels so we began to use some of those as additional reference. I began with a basis of a clean neon image – a ‘hero’ chevron with plenty of glow effects that would be the main focal point – and an artificial water reflection underneath. To create the feeling of a live event light show I added other chevrons in a complimentary colour either side that would flash in and out in time with the music. The hero chevron then occasionally glows bright, mimicking a ‘blinder’ light you’d likely find in club settings.

With the energy of the chorus, I opted for a slightly less ‘clean’ look – a distorted space background with chevrons flying at the screen, all through a lens distortion effect for an extra immersive feel.

The lyrics in the verses appear elegantly on screen line by line with a similar glow effect to coincide with the feel of the music, whereas the energy of the chorus is matched with the lyrics flying at the screen.

For the middle eight, I went with a full homage to the retro wave videos we’d taken inspiration from. Framed in a CRT TV and with extra retro/VHS style processing, a grid floor appears, palm trees move towards the viewer and a cityscape can be seen in the distance – all drawn from scratch. The neon chevron is replaced by a classic retro wave sun – in the same rough shape as the chevron.

The video ends with the hero chevron taking place in the centre of the screen as the letters for UPAYA HILLS appear in front, forming the band’s main logo.


Summary of approach

• Building on the band’s retro/neon brand identity and recognising current trends to find relevant references.

• Designing an aesthetic that felt both vintage and modern/minimalist whilst reminding audiences of live gigs (thus making audiences excited to see this band perform live).

• Matching the energy of the song as it rose and fell in different sections.

• Consistently reiterating the band’s style throughout, contributing to future brand recognition.