Author Archives: Christopher

The Ebay Effect

Yesterday I wrote a list of all my photographic and film equipment and put it up on my site for a couple or reasons, one being I kind of looses track sometimes of what I’ve got and where it is. A reminder sharpens my memory and stops the Ebay Effect. The Ebay effect is the looking on Ebay for something you’ve already got and have forgotten about. Im my case it’s my Super 8 camera. A few weeks ago I was looking to buy a Super 8 camera for an upcoming project and completely forgot I already had one which I found in the bottom of a cupboard. Now I wonder if I have forgotten I’ve bought film for it?

Cannes Young Lions Winners

Following my previous post I can can now reveal the brief was to create a sixty second commercial for  the charity Global Angels and the winners are;

USA Hispanic Team win Golden Lion

South Africa win Silver Lion

USA win Bronze Lion

 

USA Hispanic team hard at work in the edit bay

Looking back through the paperwork I see that all the winners took full advantage of the equipment we hauled to Cannes and back which has the trip very satisfying.

 

 

This Week The Best Video Camera is the Nokia N8

“The best camera is the camera you’ve got with you” is a quote by  Seattle based photographer Chase Jarvis who developed the Best Camera App for the iPhone. His notion is that you can only take a picture if you’ve got a camera with you and chances are you’re going to have a mobile phone with a camera on it. So that is the best camera, the one you’ve got with you most of the time.  Carrying on that train of thought this week here in sunny Cannes the best video camera is the Nokia N8 and here is why.

It’s the annual advertising festival Cannes Lions this week and with it comes the Young Lions Competition Film Competition. To create an even playing field  Nokia one of the sponsors of Young Lions, gave each team a brand new Nokia N8 along with 32gb of micro sd memory to use for filming a sixty second commercial.  The Nokia N8 has a fantastic camera built into it, probably the best mobile phone camera in the world right now shooting twelve megapixels and video at 720p. It has been used to shoot many a commercial for Nokia.

The brief I can not reveal right now as the competition is still under way but Nokia along with Getty Images and Adobe provided the technology for the teams to create their entry into the competition. Nokia also provided a tool shed and that is where I have been working for the last few days for Angelic Films. The tool shed, is not as the name would suggest full of traditional tools for gardening and fixing that dripping tap but instead equipped with some basic film making tools, lens adapters, tripods and Steadicam Smoothee’s which we modified for the Nokia N8 all of which are available for the teams to use. The teams are all out at the moment battling to win a Cannes Lion and all that it brings with it and I look forward to seeing the results and how they used the equipment we provided them with.

 

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London Launch Learn @ Asia House


A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from York Smith of York Smith productions. York asked me if I could do some filming for him at an upcoming event at a London Launch Learn event at Asia House, he was going to be away in the Congo working for the UN.

London Launch Learn conduct networking events across London for event planners and suppliers. Junes event was conducted at Asia House a eighteenth century Grade II listed building just north of Oxford Street. Founded in 1996 Asia House is a meeting venue dedicated to the exchange of developing their contacts and understanding of business and of diplomatic and cultural interaction between Asia and Britain.
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A Very British Cult

A few months ago I had the privilege of working for James Collie and Louis Price of November Films shooting some teaser trailer footage for their upcoming documentary “A Very British Cult” which is based on events of the late seventies and early eighties, it should make for a fascinating documentary, one I can’t wait to see knowing a little bit about it.

James will be heading to the Sheffield Documentary Festival next week with the trailer so if you’re going you may get to see it on the big screen. For more information on the project contact James
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The Dangers of Sound

HDSLR’s have a problem.  The problem I am told is sound.  No the reason I say told is, is I don’t believe it. HDSLR’s and by that I predominantly speak of the Canon’s are lacking in the sound department, with the inability to manually control or even monitor the sound as it’s recorded.  On top of that internal mic is not great and it only has a single 3.5mm mic input jack.  So on paper the camera is as I am told rubbish when it comes to sound and people moan about it, or more over bore me to death about what it can’t do. It is worth remembering it is a stills camera that shoots video and not a video camera that takes stills. I actually think this is all positive and here is why. Having sound attached to the camera can be simply dangerous.

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The “Film Look” is more than an F stop

DSLR film making quests for the film look of shallow depth of film. Film or more over cinema in turn quests for verisimilitude, a dream like environment, surrounded and wrapped by Dolby surround sound in a darkened room. We watch films and by this I mean films that end up in multiplexes in darkened places, cut off from the world outside, our only connection to the outside world or a world beyond though what we hear and the screen in front of us. The choices made by the film maker determine where our attention lies leading us through their vision. Film makers have many tools to focus out attention, crafting great performances, set design, lighting, sound and of course the camera, our visual connection to the world. The camera frames and focus’s ultimately what we see or not as the case may me.

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Jacob and George

Last Saturday I was asked to shoot some pictures of Jacob and George two brothers who each needed a set of  photos to submit to modelling agencies. The shoot took a couple of hours at their home in Hemel Hempstead. The photos were shot using a Canon 5D mk11 and post production was achieved using Aperture.

Jacob

George

Picture Profile’s

I only ever shoot photographs in RAW, that is unless I’m shooting a time lapse sequence to be turned into a video at which point I shoot Medium JPEG’s. Although I have been known to shoot time lapse in RAW then batch convert them to JPEG’S, but this is usually as a result of forgetting to change settings.

RAW is wonderful allowing me to manipulate the image at incredible depth by the use of Apple’s Aperture. Because of this when I am shooting photos I rarely even consider the Picture Profile button on the camera. After all you never had all this to consider when you shot on film did you?  Well you did kind of.  You and I choose film for certain qualities, Kodak, Fuji and Ilford each produce very individual looking film with differing qualities. We all had our favourite and knew what was best for each situation or the look we wanted in the end.
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Now, Then & Future

Most of what I have written so far here has been about what the past, whether it be photos I have taken or video I have shot or edited for clients. Today I want to write down what I aim to accomplish in the future. Right now I have two personal projects that I want to push forward with.  The first is a short film called Chasing Dreams which I hope to shoot in the next couple of months. At this point it will be a low key affair, written specifically to be quickly shot with limited gear and artists.

The second project is a feature film called Stealing Lives, again written to to be shot with limited resources. This being a feature film is a lot more complicated in so many ways.  Stealing lives has been gestating for several years but up until now I didn’t feel the end of story felt emotionally right.

So why now, why write this?

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When The Sun Gets In Your Eyes

Recently I tried to take a photo of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai using my iPhone but the old issue of screen glare reared it’s ugly head making it almost impossible to see what was on the screen. To get around this I took my Zacuto Z-Finder 2.5x from my Canon and placed it onto the screen. Boom. Problem solved, not only was the sun blocked out from the screen but a saw a magnified image. Now it’s not the perfect solution and you do have a bit of a balancing act to contend with between holding the phone, Z-finder and trying to hit the all important shutter button but with a bit of practice I got the shot I wanted.

The image was processed using the BestCamera App on the iPhone using Jewel and vignette filters along with simple white frame. Job done!

It’s A Numbers Game

“the decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organisation of forms which gives that event its proper expression” – Henri Cartier Bresson

Allusions of grandeur, a coverall for luck or something deeper?

Something deeper I think. Back in Bresson’s day photographers were arguably far more technical than they are today and would probably shot a lot less than we do now, bearing in mind the length of 35mm film rarely exceeded 36 exposures.  So every frame was precious, and expensive and probably more considered before the shutter button was finally pressed.  Essentially Bresson in my opinion was talking about the need to be ready for those decisive moments in life, being technically ready for what the universe brings.

Be prepared is also the motto of the Scouts, in fact there any number of quotes, phrases and anachronisms relating to being prepared. Being prepared is important, but its more an just a technical thing, it’s a mental thing too.
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moments in time

Moments in time from Christopher Hughes on Vimeo.

HDSLR cameras have amongst other things created a great resurgence in time lapse photography. The ease and simplicity can make for quite a addictive experience as you don’t always know what exactly you are going to capture.

Last week I too dipped, for the first time, my toe into these time lapse waters and above is the result. The film is created from seven sessions of between thirty minute and an hour and a half  shooting a frame every three or four seconds. QuickTime’s were created from the stills using Quicktime 7 and the whole thing edited using Final Cut Pro. which took quick some time because of the amount of rendering required because of the native size of each of the time lapse QuickTimes.

The music for the film is by the amazing Moby and was licensed from mobygratis.com a wonderful resource for non profit film makers, something I had heard about sometime ago but never looked into until now.

Kit used:
  • Canon 5d MK2
  • Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8f
  • Manfrotto 561 BDHV monopod
  • Yongnuo Timer Remote Controller
  • Zacuto Z-finder

Going Social

Chances are that if you are reading this you kind of have some grasp on what social media is and I’ll not bore you explaining to the converted. The exciting part of social media to me is not the technology but the content and how it spills in and out from the digital world.

The above video “Social Media Week Highlights: Random Acts of Kindness with #NOKIAConnects” shows how Nokia randomly gave away phones all over the world to people who responded to tweets on twitter. Nokia didn’t shout we’re giving phones away they just asked to meet a few people to talk about social media week and then gave them a phone. Which is very cool as there was no real expectation from the those who came to meet up. I think the reactions say it all and would imagine they probably told, blogged and tweeted all about it, expanding the impact of a simple act of kindness.

I shot some of the above London footage using my Canon 5D mk2 and a Canon 24-70mm L for AngelicDigital who compiled and organised the whole world wide media edit for their client 1000Heads, a top Word and Mouth Agency on behalf of Nokia.

Winner Takes All

Winner Takes All from Christopher Hughes on Vimeo.

Back in the dark ages, 1997 I directed a short film, Winner Takes All as part of my final degree course work at the University of Westminster. My course Contemporary Media Practice spanned four disciplines, Film, Photography, Video and Digital Imagery, that and having a rather good time. Looking back I think I may have highest marks in the having rather good time part.

Winner Takes All has barely seen light of day ever since it was made, but for a couple of degree show screening, back in 97. The copy here is only on I have a digitised version of a Beta Sp playout from the avid it was cut on, so quality is not the best compared with todays technical standards.

The Film was shot over five days, easter 97, in Essex, Islington and Harrow campus of the University of Westminster. The film was shot Kodak negative  using 16mm Arriflex SR2 and prime lenses. The negative was processed and TK’d by Metrocolor. Editing was done on Avid at  Jim Bambrick and Associates.
Winner takes All stars Tom Lovegrove, Tony Gabriel and Mark Benton, with me doing a bit of a Hitchcock at the end.

Death of 16mm Film Somewhat Exaggerated

Twitter has been alive today with reports that Soho Images will no longer print 16mm film. There has even been a petition set up to get them to change their  minds  Now Deluxe, Soho images new owner has it’s main UK lab in Denham and as for as I am aware it stopped processing 16mm film back in the day when it was called Rank ilm Labs and  that was some time ago.

Should we be worried by Deluxe’s plans? I think not. Sad? A little possibly, less people will get the experience of playing their rushes on a projector or cutting it on a Steenbeck.  There is something very tactile and gratifying about film, but it is also very frustrating sometimes.  I’m lucky I learnt to edit on four and six plate Steenbeck’s. But today there is to real arena for 16mm projection or need for printing with the advent of relatively cheap edit systems like Final Cut Pro and Avid.  Films that are shot on 16mm like most 35mm films these days go through a digital intermediate process, scanned to telecine it, edited, selectively scanned, graded and then shot back to film or mastered into a DCP (Digital Cinema Package). Very little 16mm film is actually edited by hand. and the skills are somewhat redundant.

16mm or super 16mm is still a great format for image acquisition film has a huge latitude beyond the digital poster boy, The Red. It should be noted that widescreen 16mm,Super 16mm does not have room on the negative for an optical or magnetic sound track, making it pretty useless for projection without the use of a double header projector, running the film and sound separately.

16mm and super 16mm  cameras are more generally reliable than the Red camera by a country mile as well, less to go wrong.  The film itself can be manipulated to get fantastics looks with a good DOP and there is still lots of great kit that was designed to last a life time.  Film cameras don’t get replaced, they get repaired that is how they were designed and there is still lots of it around with sets of gorgeous image producing lenses. So lets not shed too many tears yet, 16mm is still alive and will. Improvement in film emulsions and scanners will along with people wanting to create interesting looks probably will keep 16mm around for some time yet.

Recent films shot or partly shot on super 16mm film include, Black Swan and The Hurt Locker.

Freeing Old Negatives

There use to be a time when people would quite often only shoot one roll of film a year.  The roll would either contain 24 or 36 exposures and would have a family Christmas at the beginning then a sumer holiday and then at the end of the roll the start of the next Christmas.  Today we all takes more pictures than ever before. Not only do we take more we probably share them more with email, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.  But what about all those old negatives we have in draws, packets and files? Just like that pile of CDs that are now on the computer it’s possible to do the same with those negatives.  Film scanners can be relatively cheaply bought either new or on Ebay.  Use it  to scan all your  archive and then you can stick it back on Ebay or pass it on to a friend to do theirs. Last thing any of us want is another un-unsed box cluttering the place up.

Here are a few I scanned in the other day.  Most of the negatives are from my work as Picture editor at the University of Westminster Students’ Union fortnightly magazine, The Smoke.  Most of the photos were shot using either my  my trusty Olympus OM2n, using a mixture of Ilford HP5 and Delta 400. The scanner is no way be means up to modern standards, it’s ten years old and has lived in a draw for much of that time. The software is not great and the whole thing is rather temperamental but its nice to rediscover images that I had forgotten. The scanned negs have not been altered but for the removal of the odd bit of dust, just shows how good the faithfully thirty something year old OM2 is.

 

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Aussie Bloggers’ Christmas Markets

Aussie Bloggers’ Christmas Markets from 1000heads on Vimeo.

I edited this just before Christmas using Final Cut Pro at Angelic Films office in Pinewood Studios, whilst surrounded by snow.  Although not shot by me it was shot entirely using my Canon 5D mk2 and a Rode Videomic, over two days in December.

The Best Camera.

Although I am very lucky to have some great equipment I don’t have it will be 24/7. However I more likely than not to have my iPhone with me.  My iPhone allows me to quickly take photographs with out much effort at all. “The best camera is the one you have with you” to quote Chase Jarvis.

The iPhone like many mobile phones as an incredible camera built into it which alone a few years ago would have cost more than the phone itself does today.  This is great for everyone and unlike traditional cameras and I include film and digital in that, it is far easier and quicker to show and share your pictures with others via MMS picture message, by email,  or social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.  Now of this will come as any great headline news I would imagine but with a new raft of Apps for the iPhone it is even easier to create even more stunning and interesting images where once you would have needed thousands of pounds worth of software to do so.  My current favourite App is Best Camera created by photographer Chase Jarvis.  Best Camera, unlike other photo Apps gives you the ability to create your own unique look by stacking a selection of filters on top of one another and there by giving you greater input into how the final image will look.  Best Camera also allows you to share to all your social media, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, email and to it’s one community gallery in a couple of clicks once you have set it up. Genius!

A few recent iphone photos.

Shamaila Khan Album Cover

Last Friday Shahid Bawa, Shamaila Khan’s producer dropped by the office and gave me a copy of Shamaila Khans new CD with one of my photos adorning the front of it. As the Canon 5D is out on hire, I took this with my iPhone.

 

 

 

The album cover was shot whist we were shooting the video for her next single, Dum Se Dum at Greenford Studios in London. The video was shot on the Red camera and directed by Adam Coop of Angelic Films. Here are a few more images from the shoot.

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