Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Rain - short video

'Here today. Gone tomorrow. Rain doesn't last forever'.

This is a short video I made by experimenting with a Canon EOS 7D. It was shot within the space of 2 hours, and mainly concentrated on focusing techniques.

Due to lack of experience, many of the shots that were taken were not smooth. Difficulties arose in focusing from one object to another. However, over a short period of time, the focusing became easier and relatively smooth transitions could be made.


The footage was not colour graded or changed in any way because - even though some of the shots are a little on the dark side - the video was then able to retain a natural look. I also like the soft edges that the camera was able to achieve, and found that turning the contrast up would  sharpen that effect.

Rain and raindrops are perhaps difficult to capture because they are so small and fragile, but what was most interesting was the abilities of not only the camera, but the lens too. 

I found that it was good to test the various ranges and focal length of the camera to find the maximum opportunities available.

DISCLAIMER: The music does not belong to me.

You can watch the finished video here:

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Nordicana 2014

Nordicana - a live celebration of Scandinavian crime thriller fiction and film.

Whether you are a fan of crime fiction, danish pastries, Scandi dramas or even Swedish meatballs, there is something for everyone at this extraordinary event.

Nordicana is held in the UK up to two or three times a year, and is hosted by NordicNoir (which is a sub-label of Arrow Films). It was held at the Truman Brewery, which was a spacious warehouse and not at all cramped - even though the event received around 3000 visitors over the two days. Nordicana 2014 lived up to all of it's expectations.
As much as we love British and American crime drama, there’s just something special about a Scandinavian series. An extra something. Perhaps it’s the culture, perhaps it’s the moody landscapes, perhaps it’s the unrelenting darkness. Perhaps it’s even the language.

Nordicana had much to offer: premieres for new TV series and films, discussion panels with writers, actors and composers, and The Great British Bake-off style 'A Great Cinnamon Bun-Off'.

Swedish Meatballs!
The itinery was spilt evenly over the two days, however when only being there for the one day, it was ashame to miss out on the other's events. Being there only on the Saturday, (which saw a lot of late visitors due to travelling down to London on the morning) there was a great atmosphere of excitement, ease and friendliness.

The first event was The Bridge 2 - Episode 9, which was introduced by the Ambassador of Denmark. Having discovered Scandinavian Drama through the political drama 'Borgen', it was interesting to see other dramas that had been made by the same companies. 'The Bridge' is a crime drama focusing around the crimes that happen around the bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden. 
There was also an interview with lead actress Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia by broadcaster Suzi Perry. After seeing this preview of the episode, I was immediatly taken with the series.

Next was a premiere of the film Pioneer by Erik Skjoldbjaerg. It's a thriller, and is based around the oil harvesting occurences that happened in the North Sea in Norway during the 1970's. The cinematography and grading of this film was quite beautiful, and the sound was truly remarkable. Parts of the film took place under water in compression tanks, and the sound effects at these times were nerve-shreddingly real. The script was also extremely believable when it came to the relationships between the characters, and the film is definetly an-edge-of-the-chair experience.

After the film was an interview with Aksel Hennie (the lead actor) by Mark Sanger (BAFTA nominated editor of Gravity). It was interesting to hear how the lead actor in the film felt about his part, and his experience of the filming process.

The last event was 'The Legacy - Episode 1' which was a new series from DR, and the producers of The Killing and Borgen.

Overall, this event was a brilliant day out, and I would highly recommend it to all Scandi lovers, and those who have yet to discover it.










Friday, 4 April 2014

Midnight Music Video

Music Videos are perhaps the most experimental ways of testing a variety of filming techniques, from small short narratives to psychodelic patterns, allowing the maker to find new ways of portraying and relaying images to the audience.

This music video, by the popular band Coldplay, is from their most recent single called 'Midnight' - which is directed by Mary Wigman.

It is an unusual and unique piece of work, as well as interesting, both in the way the video is complitated but also in the approach. The music accompanying the video is truly haunting, but at the same time undoubtedly beautiful.

The lyrics are as follows: 
In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of this storm
When I'm rolling with the punches
And hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on.

Millions of miles from home
In the swirling, swimming on,
When I'm rolling with the thunder
But bleed from thorns
Leave a light, a light on.

In the darkness before the dawn,
In the darkness before the dawn,
Leave a light, a light on.

The meaning of the lyrics is unclear, (or it simply hasn't been disclosed), but several individuals have interpreted the song as a message of hope. The tone of the music is generally positive, but the distorted vocals carry a darker shade of mentality - which is perhaps heavily portrayed in the accompanying video.

The video itself is clever, and contains many technical effects. What is most noticeable is the fact that it is filmed in what seems like night-vision or x-ray vision, which in turn allows the editor to experiment with a broader variety of effects such as ghosting.

Ghosting is an effect which means that the image is replicated several times, and then positioned slightly off the original and super-imposed over the top. You can see this in the above image as the man closest to the camera has several arms, but his body remains in the same position.

The colouration of the video is black and white, however, as it goes on, colour is slowly introduced. Another possibility of how the video was filmed, apart from night-vision and x-ray vision, is infra-red. This conclusion is apparent in one particular shot where the singer's hand is placed against a tree, and when it is removed the mark of the hand can be seen on the surface. This mark is undoubtedly a heat source, which reinforces the idea.

Other techniques include jump cutting - which is used particularly to make people reappear and disappear in a single shot- and video merging - which is when one shot is placed on top of another. The merging process is limitless, and several videos can be layered on top of each other.
You can watch the video here:

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Adobe Photoshop - Painting

Photoshop is a brilliant piece of software. Anything from editing images, creating posters and drawing deisgns - it will do the job. 

Some say that one cannot truly learn something without putting the skill into practise and experimenting individually. It takes up to 10,000 hours to master just one thing, and when it comes to technology it is definetly true! Softwares are forever being upgraded and technology is always advancing.

In essence, Adobe Photoshop is relatively simple to use, but when one has a desired look in mind it is often due to experimentation and practise that the job is done.

In my spare time I have practised with the software and tried out different ideas, and , of course, not all of them have worked. However, one particular work I enjoyed was sketching and painting something from scratch. It is not easy with a mouse, and even less so with a touchpad.

It starts with a basic outline using a pen/pencil with the opacity set to 50 or less. When this is done the skin layer is added, and the different shades are blended together using the blur tool. After this the detail can be added such as the facial features and clothes/accessories. More than often I found myself having to reposition certain aspects such as the eyes.

This was the first attempt:


(Lady Mary  Crawley - Downton Abbey)

And this was the second attempt, which, having had a little more practise, is much more detailed compared to the first:
 (Black Widow - The Avengers Assemble)

Emmanuel School Promotional Video

Promotional videos are an art in themselves; too fancy, or too cheesy or too expensive! When promoting something, it is important to keep to the basics and eliminate anything that is negative or unnecessary. Moreover, it is important to portray the truth - without giving the audience a biased viewpoint.
Over the early part of summer 2013, I took on the task of creating a short promotional video for my old secondary school. On agreeing to this task, (as I hadn't made anything of the sort beforehand, and therefore had to do a rather large amount of research) I looked up how to make a promotional video. 

Prior to filming, I talked with several of the directors and staff to write down the basic structure for the video and this then enabled me to create a basic storyboard.

As my resources were limited at the time to a compact Ixus Canon Camera and Adobe Premier Elements (which the school kindly bought me in return for creating the video), it was difficult to achieve the desired look. The camera used has no manual lens and I was therefore limited to either normal shots or macro shots (close ups), and was not able to transfer from one to the other (tracking/pulling). I did however use a tripod for the some of the interview footage, although mostly it was handheld. The internal microphone on the camera was used as I did not possess one at the time.

I had aproximatly 2 weeks to film, which mainly consisted of interviewing the students and filming around the school. Specific lessons were noted such as art, science and P.E. (physical education) to ensure that a broad and varied amount of footage was shown. As always, it is important to make sure that enough footage is taken. In total, I took about 45 minutes worth of footage.

When it came to editing, I created a simple structure for the video and kept to it once a rough edit was done, and then the fine tuning and shortening of the length. Although the video lasts a total of approximatly 4 minutes, it was difficult to fit all of the information in. 

When most of the editing had been completed, a piece of music was recorded by Ashley Hall on the guitar - a cover of 'When I survey the Wondrous Cross' - which was then added to the edit and the project was adjusted as necessary.
Here is the link to the finished video:

Thor 2: The Dark World - Film review

'When Jane Foster is possessed by a great power, Thor must protect her from a new threat of old times: the Dark Elves'.

'THOR 2: The Dark World' is the action-adventure/sci-fi/fantasy sequel to Marvel's 2011 film Thor, which continues the adventures of Thor, the mighty avenger, god of thunder, in the Marvel Universe.

Jam-packed with special effects and a brilliant story line, Thor: The Dark World will keep you rooted to your seat from beginning to end.

Although thrilling from a technological point of view, there is the opinion that the SFX within the film, and the focus on the action and seemingly superfluous fight sequences, has deterred from the emotional connection between the characters and the audience; and has hindered the general enjoyment that might have been more accessible.

Some say that the film is a missed opportunity, that the film is saturated with tedious dialogue and the characters are too bland.

The acting however, is to be praised: Tom Hiddleston's marvelously malevolent performance as the untrustworthy Loki, and Chris Hemsworth's angst-ridden character who battles through everything to save the one he loves.

The chemistry between these two actors is perhaps what keeps the film going. The scenes that they have together are full of fun, and at times sadness, but it is their brotherhood that is the running theme throughout this sequel.

However, although some were disappointed with the film, it is still a terrifically exciting film worthy of its predecessors that is sharp, funny and full of surprises.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Talking Heads

Kristoph Kieslowski was a Polish film director and screenwriter born on 27th Jun 1941. He made over 25 short films/documentaries and 14 feature films including The Decalogue (1988), No End (1984) and Talking Heads (1980).
"The Industry doesn't like to see the complexity of the world. It prefers simple reporting, with simple ideas; this is white, that's black; this is good, that's bad" - Kristoph Kieslowski
Talking Heads (or Gladagece glowy) was short documentary featuring a wide range of people from all generations, backgrounds and professions, who are asked three simple questions.

1) Who are you?
2) When were you born?
3) What is important to you?

Each question was answered individually, told to an interviewer, and was accompanied by the year each person was born in. The film starts with a 1 year old boy, and works its way towards the eldest interviewees.

Here is the original documentary:
The task was to recreate Talking Heads in the style of Kristoph Kieslowski, to go out and interview people by asking them three simple questions.

1) What are you?
2) When were you born?
3) What would you like most in the world?

The team split into three groups: Young (ages 8 - 25), middle aged (ages 25 - 50) and old (ages 50+). The interviews took place in and around Stafford and West Bromwich. Each individual was given a short amount of time to think about the answers they would give, and then the team would film them whilst they talked to the interviewer. To ensure that the volunteers knew what the team were doing everyone was given a consent form to sign, and people under 16 were given a form for parental permission.

After collecting in all of the footage and recordings the team selected a few to edit the film together. It was decided that the style of Kieslowski's documentary would be imitated by using the dates of the individual's birth and making the whole film black and white. 

The basic idea was to simply listen to people's stories and thoughts, and what the group found was that perhaps, by simply going out and doing some spontaneous filming, one can capture and share the best adventures out there: the adventure of an everyday life.

You can watch the finished film here: