Playing with 4K

The recent bout of lovely London weather offered a great opportunity to slap on some sunscreen and do some test shooting at some nice local spots I've discovered. I'd been wanting to experiment with the GH5's boastful 4k50fps recording mode since I bought the little slugger last year so naturally I found some nature and pointed my camera at it. 

I'd become so to accustomed to shooting everything in 1920x1080 that after reviewing the footage I was really blown away by the quality that the GH5 was able to produce in 4k. I had operated under the assumption that more wasn't always better and was unsure whether the cost of shooting in 4k (more media storage required, higher computer processing required, etc) was worth it. The first video was down-sampled from 4k50fps to 1080p25, the over-sampling results in a sharper picture with more vivid colours which help compensate since the footage was shot in 8 bit colour as opposed to 10 bit. The second video was shot using the same camera settings, although borrowed some colourful visuals from Carter's Steam Fair, which was visiting my side of London at the time.

I'm stilling getting my head around the ergonomics and features of the GH5. Unlike previously cameras I've owned, the GH5 continues to impress me with intuitive features it keeps hidden in it's extensive menu system. There are heaps of features I've yet to experiment with that I can't wait to get my teeth into. This week I'll be taking another step towards the perfect set-up by adding a SmallRig cage system to my arsenal. I'll be sure to include a write-up on here once I've wrapped my head around it! 

Steps into Activism

Over the past few years I've slowly been gaining interest in an area that I had never previously considered engaging with - animal activism. I grew up with a dog, numerous hamsters, rats and birds and because of my love for them I wouldn't have hesitated to ever call myself an animal-lover. It's taken until recent years to realise that my self-proclaimed love for animals was in reality restricted to a very specific few. Namely, the ones we share our homes with. After nearly two years of veganism I've changed my tune, and now understand that you can't claim to love something you also eat, because love implies respect, and respect implies kindness which, funnily enough, does not include cannibalizing. The vegan movement has been slowly gaining traction over the last few years and it's one that I'm proud and excited to be a part of. As such I'd decided to continue my volunteer filmmaking to help raise awareness around particular campaigns. My first step back into this arena can be found below and features coverage of Surge Activism's Down With Dairy event which took place in London's Leicester Square.

The event seemed like a very positive experience for both the activists and the curious general public. Free samples of dairy-free cookies, cupcakes, milks and recipes were handed out with leaflets creating an atmosphere of collaboration and education. I feel that one of the largest hurdles the vegan movement is to overcome is the deterring stereotype of the "militant angry vegan", which is often used as an easy excuse to disregard the content of their message. I wanted to create a video that reflected the activist's true efforts as organised, helpful and dedicated.

The event was a good opportunity to further familiarise myself with my still somewhat foreign Panasonic GH5 and its workhorse 12-35mm mk 2 lens. The video was shot at 10bit 50fps, slowed and speedramped to 25fps in Premiere Pro.
Next week I'll be volunteering my time with Mayhew's animal shelter by creating a film for their annual open day. I'm looking forward to helping a small animal charity gain exposure, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also looking forward to playing with all the lovely doggos.

Learning Points from my new Showreel

Creating a new Showreel is a task I always enjoy and loathe in equal parts. I have a lot of fun watching through past projects, remembering the details of what went on either side of the record-icon flashing. So I’ll cherry pick the moments I'm most proud of and gather an ensemble of clips that I feel best represent me and my work. This part is a joy! It's inspiring and reassuring to see the cream of your crop all in one place...but then the task still remains...assign order and sense to this incoherent and unrelated group of clips. I've chosen my best work, and now it's efficacy lives or dies with how it's presented in the edit. You can watch the fruits of this tug-of-war below!

I’m really pleased with my new showreel, and I’m glad I worked through the numerous iterations that it went through. There are a few takeaways that I’ve gained from this exercise that I thought I’d share.

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MUSIC. A former colleague sent me this infographic recently and it's only funny because it’s so true. I don’t like to think of the total hours I’ve spent listening to terrible plinky-plonk ukulele music in search of the perfect track. Initially I tried to build the edit around a couple of songs I personally enjoyed listening to but found that the something wasn't right. The pace would be too fast, or it would be too upbeat, or too cheesy (a symptom of my taste in music). I decided to look for a track that sounded like a showreel track instead of just choosing tracks that I liked. I learned to make an important distinction - a showreel is a reflection of your professional self, not your personal self, so don’t let your personal taste dictate the creative direction without considering the context the showreel will occupy. Pick something that represents your professional-self.

PASSION VS CORPORATE. To start this project I compiled all of my favourite completed works into one Premiere project. I laid them out on a single timeline and split them into two groups - Corporate and Passion. I watched through them all and highlighted my favourite sections by isolating them into the second video layer. This way I could easily see the how much of a proportion of content I’d selected and could see that I was taking a roughly even amount of clips from each group. I felt that a 50/50 split of content would be most effective as it means my showreel becomes multi-purposed. It’s important to me that my showreel appeals to potential corporate and wedding clients but also potential collaborators and artists. You’ve got to feed the mind and the soul, right?

PEER REVIEW. In Walter Murch’s brilliant book on the subject of editing (In The Blink Of An Eye) he mentions having worked with a few directors who immediately go on holiday between shooting and editing their film. The director personally distances himself from the recently gathered footage and goes boogie-boarding to take his mind off of it. Now, when he steps into the editing suite he is seeing the footage with fresh eyes and without carrying all the associated memories of what was going on during the capturing of particular shots. Now it’s not feasible to suggest we go on holiday after every shoot, but the learning point remains valid - we must find a way to wedge an emotional block between ourselves and our created content so that we can judge it objectively. If this is something that you struggle with, as it is for me, I’d recommend asking a colleague or friend to review your work and become our emotional wedge. Try not to give them a preamble about what you’re trying to achieve, just let them watch it, and if possible, watch them watch it. Quite often an amazing thing happens where before they’ve even opened their mouth to give you feedback you already know what you have to change. By changing the audience from you to someone else they lend you a new perspective on the piece, and hopefully if you’re perceptive enough you’ll notice what they’ve noticed. We carry a strong bias with regards to our own work, and whether it’s positive or negative it can prevent us from making the right choice, so if we can’t trust ourselves then try trusting someone else.

Creating for Good

So this past weekend my partner and I found ourselves shamelessly binge-watching Crufts on Channel 4. Between spells of cute-dog-hypnosis we'd watch the short charity films that pepper throughout the coverage, and feel that familiar guilt of “why aren't we doing more? We must be horrible humans.” This was a harrowing reminder that the world is far from perfect and that it’s not going to get any better without average-Joes rolling up their sleeves and getting involved.

To those who’ve felt this similar pang I have one piece of advice - weaponize your creativity for good. Many charities are underfunded and have their budgets wrapped up in keeping the operation running, leaving little of the pot to go towards marketing or raising awareness of their cause. Whether you’re a graphic designer, painter, videographer or writer - offering your unique skills to a charity allows a worthy cause to benefit from your ability.

In the past I’ve made a couple of videos for Scottish-based animal charity campaigns and I found the whole experience to be extremely rewarding and worthwhile. Video production isn’t something that many charities are able to budget for despite being a vital social media tool. The work was hugely appreciated by the charity and helped them publish stronger and more dynamic content on their web platforms, resulting in more audience engagement and therefore more exposure to their cause.

This year I'll be volunteering with Mayhew, an animal welfare charity based in London, by capturing and creating video content of their Open Days. I can't wait to play with some gorgeous animals, capture some lovely moments and create something that will hopefully help their cause. 

If you have a special talent and are looking for an opportunity to put it to good use then I’d highly recommend contacting local charities that you’re interested in helping. Use event calendars and sites like Eventbrite to find events near you, strike up a conversation and see how your skills could be of use. And if they’ve got it covered then there are always other ways in which you can volunteer your time. Give it a go, and see if you can create for good.

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year everyone!

This year I bid farewell to 2017 with a sincere gratitude for all the exciting opportunities that it held. It was without a doubt the most professionally and personally significant year of my life and has mixed things up for the better. I became engaged to my partner, passed my driving test, moved to London and experienced two new jobs, and although all of these lovely things have presented massive changes in my life there is still one constant that persists - video production. So I’m welcoming in 2018 with a renewed enthusiasm for the craft that provides me with drive, meaning, creativity and joy. Here’s to another year of video!

2017 contained many exciting video projects for me, some of which I’ve included below. But it was also a year where I began to further understand my own processes and developed a better understanding of what I’m good at, what I enjoy making, how I work best and my own personal style of filmmaking. I deepened my appreciation of documentary and human character studies, but also fell back in love with cinema thanks to a local (and very cheap) theatre. I sold my camera equipment that I’d used consistently for four years and bought a new system, forcing me to relearn and reimagine my workflow. It was a year of change and consequently a year of growth.

 

In 2018 I want to further deepen my understanding of film and how we connect with it. I want to experiment with colour, movement, sound, composition, motifs - anything I can feasibly create myself so I can understand the language of film in a way that transcends theory. This year I would like to incubate and distill a sense of courage in my work and not concern myself with the dull practicalities that can often overshadow a project. I’m in a new environment, surrounded by new people, with a new set of tools and a new sense of curiosity, and I can’t wait to get started.

Here’s to a wonderful 2018.

Spring Updates

Spring is finally here, and bringing with it a new season of creativity!

To celebrate the returning of the sun I felt it appropriate to get back to my film-making roots and piece together a short skate video with a close friend of mine. Ali Samson (the featured skateboarder) and I were close friends in high school, with shared interests in playing music and skating we made a lot of content together over the years and have thankfully kept in touch.

For this short piece I broke out my Tokina 12-24mm lens for that wide-angle skating look, and mounted my Feelsworld EVF direct into the hotshot so I could monitor the shot while I skated and keep track of the composition. I dropped a 2-3% warp stabiliser on one or two of the shots to iron out a few bumps in movement, but overall the footage came out very smooth. Other than a few magenta light-leak overlays very little colour correction was applied as I wanted to keep those natural warm Canon-sunny-day colours.

Continuing on the theme of Spring/Summer, I had the pleasure of shooting a suitably summery event for the Kingsgate Shopping Centre: 

The event focused around a group of dancers who'd perform routines while touting the latest fashion offerings from the shopping centre. Filming dancers in a very crowded public place wasn't without its challenges, however I am happy with the final result. I attempted to capture the excitement and fun of the event by using upbeat music matched with an upbeat editing pace while also keeping the visuals as colourful and interesting as possible. I focused on capturing the movements of the dancers while incorporating some movements of my own into the camera operation so the whole piece has a sense of dance and celebration to it.

I'm scheduled to film another one of Dunfermline's events in the next few weeks - the Dunfermline Food & Craft Weekend - which I'm really looking forward to. I'm also looking forward to shortly releasing a personal creative project that's been in the pipeline for a while now. Coming soon! 

New Year - New Showreel!

Happy 2017 everyone! 

I wanted to roll in the new year by piecing together a new showreel as it's something I haven't updated in a couple of years. I felt like my work has really developed since my last showreel (which was in 2014) and wanted to create something that would reflect that growth. I chopped together a short edit to display some of my favourite pieces of work from 2016/2015 which you can watch here - 

2016 was a super productive year for me - I established some fruitful professional relationships, created a higher standard of work than before and worked on some projects I felt truly passionate about. It was a year to focus on honing the skills I'd developed and used day-to-day. However this year I aim to shatter that status-quo and create a whole new way to approach my filmmaking. I'll soon be gaining some new equipment which will open up new opportunities for creativity, which will require new workflows in all areas of productions. I'm turning my focus to topics of filmmaking I feel more connected to and I've set myself new ambitious goals. 

It's going to be a great year! Watch this space.

The "Viking Heart" Student Challenge

Edinburgh College's Graphic Design course boasts potentially the best industry engagement of any design course in the UK. They've established relationships with design agencies around Edinburgh which allows students real-world mentoring and project opportunities, one of which being the award winning One Week Project. A fun element of my job is documenting these projects so the video can be used by the college to increase awareness of employer engagement, promote the course, but also provide the students a tool for self-promotion.

This semester's brief was delivered by Highland Park - a single malt Scotch whiskey from Orkney, who were looking for the students to breath life into their social media channels to appeal to younger markets. Watch below to see how the teams got on!

Graduation Run & Gun

Every September Edinburgh College hold their student graduation ceremony, which a great chance for the students and parents to celebrate in their achievements together. The Video Unit (the department I work in) is tasked with filming the day to create a highlights video so the students and the college have something to look back on relive the excitement of the day.

Having made several of these videos now we had decided to take a different approach this year, learning from the mistakes of the past. Previously we'd used three camera operators, with one assigned to either photography, gowning or reception and then all three positioned on tripods for the ceremony itself. Although this provided excellent coverage of all stages of the day we found ourselves drowning in a sea of footage when it came time for post-production.

This year we took a less-is-more approach. We used two shooters, both running Canon 5DmkIII's, handheld using stabilised lenses (the 24-70mm f/4 and the 24-105 f/2.8). This meant we were able to move quickly instead of being locked into our tripods, and the handheld footage provided a sense of movement and aliveness to the footage that we'd previously lacked.

We were more selective with our shooting, looking for opportunities to arise and then recording them as opposed to constant recording and then scouring through the content afterwards. This is essential as the video had a one-day turnaround deadline, which we were able to meet.  

We made good use of Premiere CC's Warp Stabiliser tool to smooth out any bumps or shakes in the footage. This tool has really changed the way I think about shooting run and gun videos, allowing me the freedom to be more experimental with movement in shots. Knowing that you don't need an expensive 3-axis gimbal to achieve nice tracking or sliding has allowed me to create more dynamic looking footage while keeping kit to a minimum.

I'm still on the search for more kit-minimising techniques as I believe that, now more than ever, it's possible to do much more with much less. Disruptive camera technology is constantly being introduced and changing the game, so I plan to keep a firm ear to the ground to be able to stay at the forefront of light and effective run and gun.

Below are two videos I've made recently, both utilising the techniques I've described above, and both featuring elephants.

Summer '16 Updates

Recently I returned from the most ambitious and adventurous trip I've ever been on - three weeks travelling around Thailand and Bali, and the experience was truly amazing. I knew I was going to take my camera to capture some of our experiences but I didn't anticipate just how full of colour and life these countries would be. Here's some of the tech breakdown - 

With limited baggage space I knew I'd have to pack bare-minimum equipment, so opted to go completely raw and just bring my Canon 5D mkIII body, my 24-70 lens and my shoulder sling strap. On the run up to the trip I'd been experimenting and practicing handheld motion attempting to create slider or dolly-esque movements in camera and had found a few techniques for achieving the effect, so I felt confident in not bringing any additional support. I was commissioned to make an event coverage video for a local shopping centre before leaving so I used this as an opportunity to practice the technique and implement it into a live project. You can see the best examples in the video below at the 53 second mark.

I shot my last trip (Sziget Festival, Budapest) in MagicLantern's MLV RAW format and, despite the extra consideration of massive file sizes, decided I'd be doing the same thing for this trip. The increase in dynamic range and colour that RAW provides is dramatic compared to the 5D's usual video output, and feels as though you're shooting with something more akin to a RED or ARRI. Having limited equipment means getting the most out of what I have and MagicLantern certainly does exactly that. I've been uploading framegrabs from my RAW footage to my Instagram account so be sure to check them out and follow my account for more!

I shot intermittently while we travelled, leaving gear in our Airbnb accommodation on quieter days and taking it out on the more adventurous. The time away from the immersion of constant shooting gave me a chance to reflect on my work in terms of career aspirations and as a creative artform. It seems as though the distance has helped me understand more about what I want to achieve from filmmaking and helped focus my attention in the right direction. 

Upon my return, feeling inspired and refreshed, I pieced together a short preview from some of my newly acquired footage, which you can watch below. 

Since returning I've been developing several new film project concepts which are now in varying stages of production. For the latest news and updates be sure to follow my Facebook page as exciting things are coming!

Scottish Galleries & Budapest

June is graduation season and working in a college has lead me to both enjoy and fear this time of year. Just about every creative subject taught at Edinburgh College host some kind of exhibition and as such require some level of filming, whether it's simply recording a flavour of the event for future promotional materials or something more in-depth and case-study-esque. It's a very busy period but I always find myself inspired by the sheer volume and diversity of the creative works on display.

We created the first short film below to document the Graphic Design Department's most recent One Week Project. The students are given a live brief from a client, in this case National Galleries Scotland, and have 7 days to meet the brief and present their solution. The team who deliver the best pitch are given prizes and have their concepts taken forward and considered for implementation. The winning concept was really strong and something I'd personally enjoy seeing the galleries employ.

You can read more about the Graphic Design Department's activities on their blog.

Outside of my work at Edinburgh College I've been working on several video projects, one of which I managed to sign off on last night (more info on that coming soon) leaving me with a desire to edit something together just for me. Client-based work is always welcomed however it's an attempt to express someone else's vision or communicate their message. Feeling fuelled by all the creative work I've seen recently I delved into the dusty project files from last summer's trip to Budapest and within two hours finished this little edit.

The video was shot on my Canon 5D mkIII with a 24-70 f/4 lens, RAW in MLV format converted to Quicktime files using MLRAWviewer. The depth of colour and sharpness of the picture reminded me that the result is worth the more demanding workflow, inspiring me to shoot some more RAW content this summer. The festival was so vibrant and exciting that it would be very difficult to paint a vivid enough picture to give the viewer a real idea of the experience (although the official after-video does an amazing job). So with the short selection of footage I had I decided to show 'pockets' of the festival to give viewers a small taste of something similar to my experience at Sziget. 

Learning Magic with Cammy

It was around February this year when, after a long and inspiring conversation with a good friend and mentor, I'd decided to really start putting effort back into my freelancing. Since I'm effectively starting from scratch I knew it would be important to dedicate time to rebuilding that key object for any creative - my portfolio. Therefore I decided that 2016 would be the year of the showreel, and that I'd focus my energy on finding a wide-variety of projects with strong visual elements. No project would be too out-there for consideration...Enter Cammy's Magic!

A photo posted by Richy McAllister (@richt33) on

After learning that Cammy, a young aspiring magician, was looking for new video content for his various social media platforms I knew it was a project I wanted to be involved in. It contained everything I'd been looking for - it was hugely visual, entertaining, interesting, an area I know nothing about (so naturally I'd learn a thing or two during the process) and it also offered an opportunity to shoot in a different kind of environment to that which I'm used to.

Social media has become one of the most effective marketing tools on the planet and I believe Cammy is wise to be using it as a hub for sharing his latest and greatest tricks and illusions. He undoubtedly understands it's potential as one of his older videos went viral and reached a whopping FIVE MILLION VIEWS...That's quite an audience. One that couldn't have been reached so easily just 10 years ago, before the cataclysmic rise of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Social media is a tool that can be used to startling effect and with Facebook's new automatic video player there's never been a more optimum time to start filming, sharing and catching your followers' eye. Cammy's Magic is an ongoing project so keep an eye out for more content soon, and be sure to check out his Facebook page!

'The Space' Opening Exhibition

The Image Collective are a group of creatives who are gradually turning the unlikely setting of the Ocean Terminal shopping centre into a place for art. A few weeks ago "The Space" was launched - a dedicated exhibition space providing a platform for both well known and new artists to display their work. I knew it was something I'd like to be involved with so I jumped at the opportunity to create a video to capture a 'flavour' of the evening. 

Today's #runandgun #rig for an events coverage gig #videographer #canon

A photo posted by Richy McAllister (@richt33) on

I shot the event on my trusty Canon 5DmkIII and 24-70mm f/4, bundled onto my seldom used shoulder rig which I'd calibrated into more of a handle-bar/figrig setup. 

I felt like this offered me more opportunity to capture shots with some movement as handheld tracking (although not impossible) can be very tricky to nail. I utilized a few of these moving shots to help establish the environment and, with a little bit of warp stabilization, was really happy with the results.

The hybrid image stabilizer built into the 24-70 f/4 was a big selling point for me for exactly these kinds of situations. I feel like I can get reliably steady tracking and sliding shots without having to be weighed down with tripods, monopods or steadicam systems. More ambitious shots with more movement would perhaps require some additional equipment, although I am working towards one day achieving Brandon Li level run-and-gun handheld work.

I feel that it's important to be able to create dynamic movement on the fly and with a minimal set up. Since the popularization of sliders the parallaxing shot has become commonplace in a lot of corporate and creative films. I feel that the sheer volume of which the shot is used has diluted it's dynamism forcing us now to think more creatively.

Camera operation has always been a strong focus of mine and shoots like this only further inspire me to really refine my technique and technical calibrations. 

The band that played live were kind enough to let me use one of their tracks for the video's backing music, and as well as being nice guys they also happen to make awesome music! You can check out Indigo Velvet here.

Baba Gadji Pickups Shoot

In November last year I posted a behind-the-scenes photo album from a short film shoot I'd been helping out on. The subject matter was too bizarre not to shoot some stills of and I ended up with some candid photos that I was really pleased with. Last weekend the work continued as I was recruited to helped shoot some pickups, and much like the previous shoot there were laughs, chaos and more behind-the-scenes photos to take.

Baba Gadji Pickup Shoot March 2016

I took the shots on my Canon 5D mkIII with the Canon 50mm f/1.6 prime, switching to the 24-70mm f/4 for filming. The photos were taken using the ambient light from the set which was a mix between sunlight from the windows, room lighting and a softbox. 

I really enjoy shooting candid on-set photos because it not only fills the gaps between takes and location or costume changes but also provides an insight into the atmosphere of the shoot. This is usually lost in the actual footage which has its own agenda and narrative requirements to meet. Since this shoot had some very visual elements involved I knew there'd be some interesting outcomes...particularly the facepaint-kimono combo.

To keep fully up to date with my video/photo production you can now follow my new Facebook page! 

GLMAA Kickboxing Champions Case Study

A few weeks ago I travelled to Birmingham with the GLMAA competition squad to compete in the WAKO British Kickboxing Championships. Over the course of the tournament three of our junior fighters took away British titles which, considering the level of competition, is no small feat. Gary Lee and I agreed that their achievements were worth documenting and sharing so I got to work on creating a short case study piece. It features some insight from the fighters and their parents, reflecting on the tournament experience as well as a look into their overall experience within the academy.

Shot on Canon 5D mkIII, 50mm f/1.6 with Sennheiser lapel mics & Zoom H4 recorder.

Unfortunately I wasn't as prosperous in my division. I won my first bout but lost the second, knocking me out of the tournament (which you can watch in the player to the right. I get knocked on my arse at around 00:33 for anyone interested in seeing that). I was however really pleased to have competed at such a high-level event and spending time with the amazing talent within the academy is always a treat.

I can't say enough good things about kickboxing as a hobby. As is evident from the parent's testimonial in the video above it can have majorly positive effects on the confidence, patience, discipline, well-being and focus of not only young people, but adults alike. If you're in the Fife area and are looking to try a new hobby I couldn't recommend GLMAA enough.

Learning Kickboxing Photography

I've always enjoyed watching martial arts. As a child I was obsessed the the Power Rangers which led to a short stint of Taekwondo classes however never progressed much beyond a humble yellow belt. Now that I'm all grown up I've come to terms with the fact that they probably weren't or never will be recruiting new Power Rangers, however that didn't stop me from taking up a new martial art anyway. Since 2013 I've been attending and training at a local kickboxing gym - Gary Lee's Martial Arts Academy (GLMAA). Initially it was purely to improve my health although after not long I began to enjoy learning the techniques and my attention shifted. Now several years into training I'm part of the competition team and even had the privilege of representing the academy at the WAKOS British Championships in Birmingham in February this year (2016).

An opportunity arose recently for me to contribute back to GLMAA by helping them produce, edit and manage all of their online visual assets. This will include event, product and promotional photography and videography, as well as some graphic design elements.

This is a great opportunity for me to start branching out further into the realms of photography and I'm particularly excited as it's within a subject that I have a real passion for.

Last week I took some test snaps in class to experiment with the best camera settings for shooting in a poorly lit hall with primarily tungsten lights. Below are some of the results.

We decided that colour-popping the yellows would emphasize the academy's branding colours while also neatening the image up for potential text inserts for social media use. We wanted to focus on the people who train at the academy, getting close-ups of facial expressions to show how enjoyable and relaxed the classes are.

I'll be adding a few new pieces of kit to my arsenal over the next few weeks to allow more creative flexibility with regards to this style of photography. I'll post the results shortly!

'Atomic Love' Music Video Shoot Photos

In November last year I helped a friend with a very special short film project he's been working on for some time now. Although I'd helped out on a few of his shoots before as camera op, this shoot was set to be something special. I'm deliberately omitting as many details as possible to ensure the final released product carries as much anticipation as it requires, however below are a selection of photos from the day.

The film is in it's final editing stage and will hopefully be ready to submit to film festivals this Spring/Summer.

Yurting, Weddings and Skateboards

As 2015 drew closer to an end so did a few wee personal projects meaning the year could end with a nice and neat bow tied in.

Last year for my birthday a group of friends and I rented a sleeping pod in a lovely little camp site in Glenshee. I knew I wanted to go back after having seen the possibility of staying in their authentic Turkish Yurt, so we booked a long weekend and I brought my camera. As well as documenting  the experience of our stay I thought it'd be nice to involve the owners of the site in the video by interviewing them. I got to learn more about the history of the site and was given an insight into their eco-friendly philosophy. It's a cool little business run by genuine and lovely people that I'm happy to work with on these little passion projects. It's something I'd like to perhaps delve more into in 2016.

Another attempt at promoting a local grass-roots company came in the form of this short personality-piece documentary. The subject was a long-time friend of mine who had recently started his own business teaching one-to-one skateboarding lessons to children and adults. The project was a perfect opportunity to come to grips with my new equipment as the first full shoot on my 5D mkIII. The entire project (excluding the interview) was shot in RAW so it was a great opportunity to get used to the workflow while helping a friend gain publicity for his budding business. Extreme (an extreme sports TV channel) shared the video on their Facebook page quickly amassing 40,000 views, perhaps making it the closest video of mine to going viral.

My personal shooting schedule was nicely concluded by filming a wedding for a family member. The venue, the weather, the people, and the day itself were all beautiful, and I can't thank Vicki and Paul enough for trusting me to capture their big day. 

Now that 2016 has begun I'm looking ahead to future projects and plans are being made. I'll be sure to keep this blog updated with my film-making activities and post any and all new content.

Happy New Year!

Big Rig

Having upgraded my camera equipment a few weeks ago it became abundantly clear that my galient little laptop was going to struggle processing the new formats I'd be experimenting with and then implementing into my workflow.I knew that the best option would be to build an editing rig specifically for handling these kinds of tasks. I also knew I'd need to enlist the help of my brother - an IT specialist with an interest in Frankensteining PC components together and overclocking them into oblivion.

I sent him an email and received the following timely and concise response - "I am preparing a spreadsheet. Prepare your face."

After a few weeks of research, face preparation and spreadsheets we settled on a build spec that we were both happy with. I ordered up the following components -

  • Gigabyte Z97P-D3 Motherboard
  • Intel Xeon E3-1230v3
  • GTX 960 4GB Graphics Card
  • 32GB DDR3 HyperX Fury RAM
  • Corsair CXM 600W Power Supply
  • Kingston 240GB SSD
  • Seagate 2TB Barracuda HDD
  • Salman CNPS10X Heatsink & Fan
  • Antec P280 Case
  • Creative Gigaworks T20 Speakers
  • Acer G226HQL LED Monitors x2
  • Cyborg R.A.T Gaming Mouse

So last weekend my brother and I spent a solid 6 hours (not including a 1 hour Indian food & Youtube break) piecing together an electrical jigsaw, you can watch a timelapse of it above.

The setup went well with only one or two speed bumps to overcome. Once the OS was installed and updates updated I got to installing Adobe CC 2015 and can happily say that it runs like a dream. I've worked with some RAW and high frame rate footage to test its mettle and it holds up brilliantly.

As well as having the hefty technical arsenal I believe that having a dedicated workspace has a huge impact on your productivity and creativity, and this has been a big realising factor for me with this project. Laptops are convenient but I never felt like I was able to really knuckle down while working on one. What helps me get into the correct mindset to sit and churn out a heavy editing session is comfort, a neutral and calm environment, having everything you need in one place (hardware, recording media, digital assets, etc) and a cup of coffee and a biscuit or two don't hurt either.  

I'm currently working on a personal project using all of my new technical assets and the workflow has been so much more enjoyable and efficient than my previous set ups.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

 My first day at the zorb run, filming their crowd-funding video.

My first day at the zorb run, filming their crowd-funding video.

I like buying people experience gift vouchers for birthdays and Christmas. There's a large margin for error when buying tangible gifts and I like to think practically. So when Becky's birthday was dawning I knew that I had to sort something out.

Luckily for me, last year I had the privilege of helping a new Edinburgh-based adventure company, Rolling Haggis, get set up by making their crowd-funding video, so I had a good idea where I'd be going. After a few phone calls we were ready to roll. See below.

We had an awesome day on the run thanks to the Rolling Haggis team who are all super lovely, and thanks to Gopro's amazing cameras we were able to capture the whole thing in 1080p @ 120fps. The edit was quickly knocked together in Premiere Pro with Ratatat's song 'Two' from the 9 Beats album. 

If you're ever looking for an exciting and alternative outdoor activity in the Edinburgh region then I'd highly recommend giving Rolling Haggis a go. Don't be fooled by the pitch and volume, those were happy screams.