Thomas Dolby recently relied on New York-based stock footage provider Shutterstock for his latest endeavor, The Invisible Lighthouse.
Best known for his MTV videos and ’80s pop hits such as, “She Blinded Me With Science,” Dolby has spent the last 12 years as musical director of the TED Conference. It was here that he became aware of Shutterstock, whose extensive footage library became an integral part of The Invisible Lighthouse. The film recently won awards for best documentary short and best director at the L.A. DIY Festival.
Dolby plans to take the film on the road this Fall, screening the film in old movie theaters throughout the country. He personally performs the score and songs and narrates the story, live to picture, with the help of a traditional Foley artist.
Shot within 10 miles of his home in the U.K., the film depicts the closure of a historic lighthouse off the coast of Suffolk, at an island location formerly used as a testing zone for experimental weapons. The lighthouse featured in a notorious UFO incident referred to as “the British Roswell.” Dolby had to make several clandestine trips to the site to capture his footage.
Dolby wrote, directed and shot the film over the course of a year. The shooting package he chose consisted of GoPro cameras, a Panasonic HC-V700M, and an AR Parrot drone with a built-in 720P camera.
Dolby taught himself Final Cut Pro X and cut the film in his self-designed wind-and-solar-powered lifeboat studio. While editing, Dolby realized he needed to open up the project visually, and turned to Shutterstock for additional footage.
“I needed a crowd scene, a plane landing, a lighthouse beacon revolving, an airport electronic board and some time-lapse shots of L.A. at night,” Dolby explained. “I made this project on a tiny budget so there was no way I was going to be able to travel to shoot this footage myself. I was amazed at what I could find on the Shutterstock website.”
Dolby created a Shutterstock clipbox, downloaded low-resolution watermarked ‘cutting copies’ of the clips, and edited them into his master. Then, once he was 100 percent sure of the content, he changed over to the HD version.
“This method of viewing and editing footage through Shutterstock is ideal,” he said. “It means I can complete my film assembly using quick to download low-res media, and price out the final result within my budget. Then, what a joy it is to switch to the high-res footage.”
“Thomas Dolby has been a multimedia pioneer for over 30 years,” said Ben Pfeifer, VP of new business at Shutterstock. “It’s gratifying to be a part of his creative process for The Invisible Lighthouse.”