PJ BOSTIC: The Making of a Video

Click here where you can download a sampler of PJ Bostic’s music spanning all four albums and a special cover of Limelight by Rush. Discover the thinking behind each song and gain some insight into each recording.

PJ Bostic’s first official music video is premiering May 16, 2023 at 1:00pm EST on YouTube: Blue Light Gaze.

Blue Light Gaze: The Making of a Video

Brad Bowman with Paul Roraback (Paul’s comments are in italics)

PJ Bostic is a band. PJ Bostic is Paul Roraback. Confusing? Maybe, but recording under a band name gives Paul the freedom to either do everything himself, or collaborate with other musicians to bring his musical vision to life. 

I decided to start a solo career performing and recording everything by myself after being in several bands that were very good, had momentum and then broke up. From Bloodgood to Grammatrain to Gideon’s Press. Everything can end at the whim of one person. I got tired of working so hard just to end up starting over again. So I dove into my own songwriting not knowing if I could pull this off and never looked back. It’s like I was set free. While I miss the family and comradery of a band I don’t regret that after over 15 years of making music “PJ Bostic” has never broken up. It can’t. It’s just lil’ ol’ me and it will end when I say it ends, unless God has something else in mind, and that I can live or die with.

I stumbled upon PJ Bostic’s music in 2018 when I discovered the fantastic album “Light Me On.” PJ BOSTIC: Light Me On – Heaven’s Metal Magazine (heavensmetalmagazine.com) I had that album on repeat for quite a few weeks as it seriously scratched my progressive-metal itch with its solid songwriting and spectacular sonics. Paul then unleashed the album “Faith of Least Resistance.” PJ BOSTIC: Faith of Least Resistance – Heaven’s Metal Magazine

Writing for Heaven’s Metal does have some great fringe benefits. I now have the opportunity to interview many of the musicians appearing on the site. I had no idea my interview with Paul would lead to a great friendship and the opportunity to collaborate with him on a very exciting project. PJ BOSTIC: Video Interview – Heaven’s Metal Magazine

I had just finished my second video for the band Trytan. Both Trytan videos were lyric videos using B-roll and some animation. 

TRYTAN: It’s War

TRYTAN: The Descender

My editing chops were challenged but I wanted to create something a bit more conceptual. I reached out to Paul and suggested doing a video for his song “Blue Light Gaze.” I sent him links to some of my work and he bought into the vision. I selected this song as its message is of great importance to today’s culture. 

The title for Blue Light Gaze is a play on words regarding the harmful blue light that comes out of our devices. The lyrics were inspired by my own experience first and then my observations. I noticed that time and time again streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus would release some kind of series which was usually well done, but after a few episodes or seasons the content would become more and more sexually explicit and more violent. Batman was my favorite childhood superhero so I was very excited when the Gotham series came out. It was well done and it wasn’t long before I was hooked. At some point, like a frog in a pot of boiling water (yes I know that’s a myth), I found myself trying to justify watching this show that started out tame enough but had become super violent and extremely sexual as the episodes went on. As someone who has struggled with pornography and sexual temptation since a very young age I really don’t need more stumbling blocks like this in my life. I do my best to avoid them when I can, not because I’m a “Super Christian”, but because I’m not. Greater men than me have fallen into darker places and I don’t care to go down that road, I’ve been there enough already. So at times Netflix and the like make me feel kind of tricked into watching something I normally wouldn’t have watched. I believe they use this formula on purpose and I don’t think it’s just to make money, I think it’s to sexualize and desensitize all of us. I believe this is more important to them than the money. They’ve done this over and over again and it makes me think about our babies. Our children are being exposed to extreme sex and violence and they’re too young and naive to comprehend the damage it’s doing to them so they indulge. I guess you could say it made me angry as I pondered these things so I picked up my pen and wrote “Blue Light Gaze”.

I initially wanted the entire video to be set in and around the room portrayed on the cover of the Rush album “Power Windows.” I played around with the idea that “Blue Light Gaze” was a missing song from that album. “Blue Light Gaze” has that late 80s Rush sound and its theme seems to be a continuation of what Hughe Syme was conveying with his iconic artwork. 

Power Windows, Hugh Syme

I sent Paul a teaser showing him what I had in mind and while he was pumped about the animation he was worried that leaning too far into “Power Windows” might get us some unneeded negative attention. 

Screenshot of Blender 3D with model of Philco Television Set.

We then came up with the idea of filming him performing all of the instrumentals and videos as separate takes and playing them back on monitors placed in various environments and locations. We did sneak into the “Power Windows” room, but it now was an homage and not a theft. Paul enlisted his entire family and production officially began. While I was gathering 3D assets to animate, Paul was setting up his studio to film his performances. 

I live in Ohio and Paul is in Texas and our budget for this endeavor was exactly $0.00. No travel budget meant Paul would have to take care of filming. My directions to him were simple: shoot as many angles as you can with as much cool lighting as you can manage. 

The Blue Light Gaze video was filmed on my iphone (SE 2nd generation). My wife and I used the Filmic Pro and Filmic Remote apps and shot in 4K at 24FPS. My kids and my wife all helped with the filming along with some stationary angles. Some of the kids went from being excited to help to reluctant and back to happy to help but in the end I think there were no regrets, They’re all happy to have been a part of this. I filmed one or two angles at a time playing the song over and over again. It was quite the workout! I ordered the LED bar lights online and found these colored tubes that I could cut and slide on top of the lights to make them all blue. I hung up black sheets everywhere in the studio and put them all over the floor and with a little bit of haze I think for the most part I got what I wanted. Of course the bonus was having my kids cameo in the footage! The opening scene shows my daughter Ocean peering through a door she’s opening. Her face is reflecting the blue light emitted from the room as she sees her three brothers mindlessly staring at their computers, lost in the blue glow that seems to have them unknowingly hypnotized. (My kids deserve a grammy for sitting still for that long!) 

The image on their computers came from my fish tank. I turned the blue light on at night, filmed it out of focus and I think I may have slowed it down. The motion of the water and the bubbles helped to create sort of an impressionistic style of ambiguous nonsense that could represent the nature of the Blue Light Gaze.

After receiving the footage, it was now my turn to get busy. I wanted to complete this video using free software. My full-time gig provides me with pretty much any tool I need for production, and while that is great, it is expensive for freelancers and the like to buy subscriptions to the Adobe Creative Cloud, 3D Max and the Substance Suite. So I used Blender, Unreal Engine and the free version of Black Magic’s Resolve. This gave me superior animation, rendering and editing power with not a dime dropped on software. The entire project was produced on my 9 year old gaming computer with an updated graphics card and solid state hard-drive.

Where the magic happens! Editing workstation.

I took the many takes of Paul playing and singing and synced them up on one timeline. This was a massive project with over 30 tracks of video. He had close to ten different tracks of drums alone! Once this was complete, I kicked out a drum performance video for Paul to post and all percussion geeks to enjoy. Blue Light Gaze: Drum Performance Video

Each scene in the “Blue Light Gaze” video is a separate environment. If I were to model each of these environments from scratch the video would have taken months, if not years, to complete. I knew what I wanted each environment to be so I scoured the Unreal Engine Marketplace and found exactly what I wanted for each scene. The only shot that was scratch built from the ground up was the final scene.

I built different monitors that are playing the performance tracks and inserted them into the environments. I also included a monitor with Paul’s kids staring intently into Blue Screens. The video transitions from scene to scene using different “glitch” and dissolve transitions and the camera motion is smooth with some frenetic pans, zooms, and other movements to keep things visually “spicy.” 

The concert stage scene was built using a stage “construction kit” made up of lighting trusses, lights, platforms, speakers, etc. I also built a 3D representation of the drum kit Paul plays in the video. The initial thought of this scene was to have a cool effect, like an explosion or a shower of sparks, play with each drum hit. I spent hours staring at the instrumental break tracking which drum and cymbal was being hit so I knew when to trigger the effects. After rendering out the scene, Paul and I realized that the pyrotechnics of the scene were seriously detracting from Paul’s filmed performance. So we lowered the kit to the main stage, and just timed a light to blink on it with the beat of the song. It is a lesson I learned a long time ago – do not be afraid to try something new, even if it looks like garbage, at least you learn something new.

After rendering out the scenes from Unreal Engine, I then assembled them in Resolve and kicked out the final product. Since this was a music video, and Paul himself produced and mixed it, the audio track is pristine. The only addition I added was the ominous rumble at the very beginning as the door opens and we see Paul’s kids staring at the screens. 

Screenshot of Unreal Engine – Final scene in Blue Light Gaze.

Here are some statistics for all of the tech nerds:

Size of 3D assets and renders: 43.8 Gb.

Size of video tracks: 31.9 Gb

Total tracks of video: 32

Number of environments in video: 12

I think Brad Bowman did an amazing job with this video. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m very hard core about videos being synced up. I’m often surprised at how many videos out there aren’t. I suppose you could say that I’ve developed a bit of a chip on my shoulder in this regard and I think this is super lazy on the part of the editors not to take the time to make this happen. Brad synced these up the video and audio meticulously and the 3D imagery he added takes it to another level. It looks absolutely amazing, in fact it superseded my expectations by far! 

Collaborating with Paul on this project has been one blessing after another. I made another life-long friend. I’ve had many discussions with Paul regarding everything from Alex Lifeson’s Gibson guitars to heretical teaching in the progressive church. It is also nice to do a music video for a song with such an important message and one that is insanely repeatable.

I’m hoping the beauty and quality of this video draws people in to be inspired by a message that’s so much more important than all of these things, that message being “guard your heart”! And we need to be proper guardians of our young ones by having the courage and strength to stand in between them and the dangers of the “Blue Light Gaze”.

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