Keith Urban breaks down his trippy new video for 'Polaroid'
The country superstar talks through the challenges of shooting the motion-control visual of his latest single.
Country superstar Keith Urban knows his nostalgic new single "Polaroid" will be seen through the lens of the coronavirus pandemic.
"A lot of things have taken on new meaning now," he says. "Somebody sent a joke to me the other day that said 'A man walks into a bar...lucky bastard.'"
Still, even with the song's video taking place at a party outdoors, "Polaroid" has a joyous spirit. In an interview with EW, Urban says the first thing that attracted him to the song when his co-producer Joey Moi first brought it to him was its overall vibe. "I just loved the feel of it," he says, adding that the track — co-written by pop songwriters Sam Fischer, Steph Jones, Geoff Warburton, Griffen Palmer, and Mark Trussell — "just spoke to me right away."
Once it was recorded, Urban solicited a treatment for the "Polaroid" visual from director Dano Cerny. The 2018 ACM Entertainer of the Year liked that Cerny wanted to base the concept around motion-control technology. Urban explains that the camera they used "can be programmed to create a certain sweeping move — left and right, up and down — and then come back. And then it will do the same move to the nth degree over and over and over again." By mimicking that trajectory multiple times, the director and singer were able to "overlay various things on the footage, and create the video that we did."
But there were challenges. The shoot still required the actors to hold their position during each reset, which Urban found fascinating. "There was a guy and a girl on a swimming pool diving board, and Dano went out and was repositioning them for the next shot, and they're getting a little bit closer, and a bit closer, and then this girl is straddling this guy."
Urban first thought "Gosh, this is amazing. These people are really, really great going with this." Getting a look at the couple again for a later shot, the singer notes, "before the camera was even on, I look over and these guys are pretty much making out on the diving board. I'm like, these are some seriously committed actors right here. They know they're being filmed and they're going for it." Turns out the diving board pair were a real-life couple, as were a majority of the pairings in the video.
Urban also notes that "Polaroid" was supposed to be a night shoot, because the song begins with the lyrics "Sometimes I forget who we were back then/It's Saturday night stealing cold beer and cigarettes." When Urban first noticed a noon call time, he tried to flag this issue with Cerny, who broke the news that there was a storm coming, so they would be lucky to shoot anything at all.
The former American Idol judge still made another attempt to have the video's setting align with the song, but the filter they used in post-production to darken the footage, in Urban's eyes, "just looked like a really depressing video, so we scrapped that idea."
"Whatever, it's a party," adds Urban. "It started at noon and went to the next day maybe, so here we are."