Category Archives: Blog

A Very British Cult on Indiegogo

 

This week sees the launch of the Indiegogo campaign for  November Films “A Very British Cult.”   A Very British Cult is going to be a feature length documentary about the 1970’s and early 1980’s self help group Exegesis. A group that was  not short of controversy every resulting in questions in Parliament and a BBC program about it.

Louis Price our director grow up in the program with both his parents members of the organisation and is exploring what really went on and examining how it has effected his and the other members lives.

Most of the documentary will be shot digitally just like the above pitch video which we filmed main on my Canon 5D. However there is the intention is to shoot part of the documentary using dramatic re-enactment the on 16mm film, which will be more in keeping with media production of the time . This will probably be the last time I get to shoot on actual film which is both an exciting and yet sad prospect.

November films have a good track record in the documentary field having already produced Beyond Biba, and distributed several documentaries in the UK.

To learn more about the campaign or the film click here to take you to the Indiegogo campaign page

 

Ratan Tata – Asian Business Leaders Award – Asia House

A couple of months ago whilst working for York Smith Productions I was part of the team that filmed filmed the Asian Business Leaders Award for Asia House and the historic Banqueting House in Whitehall, London. We shot eh even using 2 Sony EX3’s in fixed positions and  Canon 5D which I operated, roaming around the venue and event. The small form factor of the Canon 5D is make sit an ideal for event work specially when space is at a premium.

Nokia Maps 3D – The Mapstronaut

Another thing I had a little part in the filming of this video for Nokia demonstrating the power of their 3D Maps. I filmed most of the London footage again working for Angelic Films. Shot on my Canon 5D using and Canon EF 24-70mm L F2.8 and 70-200mm L4 lenses. More about Nokia Maps can be found here

 

Nokia Products That Changed the World: Stephen White

A couple of months whilst working for Angelic Films I shot and edited a short interview with Stephen White from Nokia about a recent exhibition: Nokia Products That Changed the World at the London Design Museum. The interview was included on the Nokia Connect website and accompanied a extensive article about the exhibition. the Video was shot using a Canon 5D and 24-70mm L F2.8 lens

 

Cooking test shoot

As the year is coming to an end and the nights are drawing in I am already planning projects for next year. One of which is to be a cooking series injunction with with brother-in-law Iain who as well as being a trained chef is now an organic farmer, with a farm on the Suffolk/Essex border. Currently they visit two farmers markets a week one in Stoke Newington on a Saturday and Queens Park Farmers Market on a Sunday. Here Iain not only sells the produce of the farm but often gives out cooking advice. Next year we intent to take this a little further and create a cooking video blog around the farm and the produce it sells integrated with recipe methods and ingredient lists.  Right now we are in the designing and testing stages before going into production sometime after Christmas, trying to establish a look and style along with the practicalities, which are numerous.

The video above was shot in that vain, to see how the lenses I currently own as well as how the Canon 5d mk2 would fair close up. So as christmas was coming I thought I’d try  shooting the making of a Christmas cake. Admittedly the cake in question was a Delia Smith kit from Waitrose. Lighting wise I did start out with practical available light and my 150w pepper until the bulb exploded and from there on it was just the kitchen and under counter lights. As the location we have in mind doesn’t currently have a mains electricity supply we will be looking low powered and battery powered lighting for the actual shoots. This is only one test we will need to undertake along with a set test and testing what are the best cooking equipment to use both in terms of best for filming, cooking and overall design look.

An Education

I will start with I know nothing more or less than anyone else I just know different things from my experiences and education.

The other day I walked past my old university on my way to meet a couple of actors for a upcoming project. It wasn’t a campus I ever spent much time in if any but it was my old university all the same. Nothing much had changed, the same people stood outside, rain or shine smoking. The voices and faces may have changed but these were the same people I remembered.

There has been lots of talk about the merits of an education, a university education specifically, much of it has centred around the cost involved. It’s a tough decision for those weighing up their options and the lines of opinion seem pretty much divided these days between those who have been, being for and those who haven’t against. I went and oddly enough my friends are pretty much divided between those who went and those who didn’t. Each on are successful in there in their own area, most of the non degree friends wrk in the film industry although I have notices more and more people getting degrees and coming into the industry a little later than ten years ago.

Does anyone actually need a degree in the film industry, probably not. Most of the time the most qualified person on any film set will be the one person that is left of the film credits’ the Unit Nurse. The film industry has always trained it’s own and and had trainees in every department, people paid and learning on the job. The trainee position is essential, its the runners, camera trainees, people who are a vital job and get to learn how to do the nest job up the food change, such as clapper loader or third assistant director. These aren’t purely trainee positions they are important jobs in their own right. Continue reading »

Nothing To See Here

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Everyday people, companies and organisations all try to get our attention and garner our interest. This is what advertising is essentially about. For years communicating advertising messages to large sways of the population was restricted by money, the more money you had the more people you could reach. But heres the thing advertisers and advertising agencies have always known it’s not the quantity of people you reach its the right kind of people you reach. It is advertisings 101.

Today it is cheaper to connect with a mass audience using the web, advertising revenues are huge for the web at large and porthole sites such as google. Web advertising predominantly relies on click throughs from one site to another whether it be sales or information and this is the fundamental difference between traditional advertising, print, TV, radio and the web. Traditional advertising wants to take you somewhere else from where you hear or see an ad, that or in gauge a emotional connection or notion about a product or brand which outlasts your connection to the advert. If traditional advertising didn’t still work we wouldn’t have free to air TV still. Continue reading »

Getting a Background White Using Aperture

Getting a background white is often a necessity for when images are to be inserted onto a white printed or webpage. The best way to do this is to shoot your subject against a white background and light both the background and your subject separately. But we don’t live in the ideal world and often time space or equipment is not available to us. If you can shoot a clean image of your subject against an white background and as long as the subject is properly exposed it is possible to make the greyness around turn white using Apple’s Aperture program.

The first of the three images below is the raw image I shot  of my Canon 24-70mm using an overhead Elinchrome Dlite 4 with a soft box about 60cm above facing directly down. The camera settings were ISO 200 f11 at 1/125 of a second.

The second image shows an adjusted colour balance using the eyedropper tool in the white balance panel of Apertures Adjustment settings. I use the eyedropper to sample an area of the that I know should be white. If you don’t like what you see first time just keep sampling until you get something you like the look of.

The third image is the result of using the Devignette adjustment in aperture. The Devignette adjustment can be found in the drop down list in the Adjustment tab in Aperture. There are two settings for this adjustment Intensity and Radius. By playing around with both the sliders depending on the image should turn any murky edges to your “white” background to pure white.

Raw image of lens  001.jpgwhite balanced image of lens  002.jpgDevignette filter balanced image of lens  003.jpg

The beauty of using this method if you are using Aperture as your default library is that of speed. You can do all the adjustments within the program without the need to export it or open up Photoshop and as ever you can be assured that the original RAW file is untouched should you need to go back to it.

 

 

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.

 

 

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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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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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.

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.