Thermal Imaging Cameras Make for Disturbing Music Infrared Video

English rock band The Horrors have released their latest single, “Ghost”, in the form of a curiously disturbing video. The music video, by in/out directors’s Jean-Philippe Blunt and Thom Humphreys, uses thermal imaging camera to present the ghostly aspects of the human form.

The performers Charlotte Lowdell, Jakub Drewa, Sharran Alexander, Wren Myers Haynes were captured using FLIR systems, making movements to the heavy sound of The Horrors’s single. The resulting video contains in/out’s idiosyncratic scientific approach to film-making.

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We had a chat with in/out to find out more about the process.

THE PLUS: How is your summer going?
Jean-Philippe Blunt & Thom Humphreys:
Sweaty. There’s an uncharacteristic heat wave over here in the UK. We also found ourselves in Ukraine for a chunk of it. More on that below.

TP: What was the concept behind the video?
JPB & TH:
In broad-brush terms, we were interested in the body at the infrared end of the spectrum, particularly how the images allowed us to literally get under the skin of our performers, making them appear both familiar and alien at the same time. This feeling of uncanniness seemed to perfectly tap into the eeriness of the track. Technology aside, we wanted this to be rich thematically but without ever distracting too much from the visuals. It’s a fine balance. So in that sense there is no specific overarching concept – we were more interested in keeping it as much of an open text as possible. It also hopefully allows for an immediacy and purity of viewing experience.

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TP: What was it like using FLIR systems – had you used them before?
JPB & TH:
It was our first time using any thermal system. Like any other format, it brings about its own restrictions and freedoms – one particular snag being you can’t manually heat-expose the image. One freedom is that it doesn’t ‘see’ like an optical camera does, so the set needn’t be dressed to the same degree as usual. Particularly handy on a low budget.

TP: What instructions did you give the performers?
JPB & TH:
We were alluding to an atavistic human: the first woman and man. Asking them to naively explore their identities, in and of themselves, and in relationship to one another. Thermal helped to tap into this primal curiosity.

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TP: Do you believe in ghosts?
JPB & TH:
As Michael Jackson once said in his preface to the 1983 ‘Thriller’ music video – ‘I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.’

TP: What was it like working with The Horrors?
JPB & TH:
They were very hands on during the pitching stage, particularly concerning the performers and their character. After that they let us get on our way with the shoot and the edit. In the latter stages of the edit, and to their credit, they were a particular bunch. I suppose that’s why they have such a solid visual output.

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TP: What are you working on now?
JPB & TH:
We recently finished our first commercial, shot in Ukraine earlier this summer. It was our first foray into the testing world of advertisement but we came out the other side rather enjoying the whole experience. It’s the complete flip-side to making music videos, but again has its ups and downs. That’s out there now, so we’re waiting for the next brief.

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