Where the wild things are.

3 04 2009

Now I really hope that this one proves to be good. Spike Jonez in charge and Maurice Sendak working with the production, so it should be. I know it’s a little off topic for this blog, but anyway…

It really seems to bring to life the vivid illustrations of the book. Now waiting for the big screen adaptation of the very hungry caterpillar. Maybe not.


You’ve got it made! (now get it seen!)

12 03 2009


Scottish Screen has produced a guide for all you budding filmmakers out there. Nicely put together by Nigel R Smith, it details the festival circuit , awards and digital distribution. Well worth a read for the serious filmmaker.

check out this link for general info 


and this link for the download of the guide.


Canon 5D mkII update

19 01 2009

Well the 5d mk2 has been out for a little while now, and a lot of people have got their hands on one. I’m still holding off to see what Canon are going to do about the 24/25p issue. For those of you not aware, the camera shoots at 30frames per second. This is pretty much the standard frame rate in the US and Japan, but for Europeans, we have 25 frames per second. The 24p relates to the speed that film runs at and is obviously great for those wanting to shoot more filmic videos.

Anyway, lots of sites have been moaning at Canon to do the decent thing and update the camera to work properly in the UK. They’re selling it here, but we don’t get the same functionality that they get in the US. We’re already paying a massive premium on top of the US prices, so don’t make me any more depressed. Come on.

If Canon don’t get the job done, then maybe the people at CanonHack.com will do it for them. Another good place to find out if it is being updated is at canonrumors.com 

I was also interested to see if there is any more nice footage out there to show what the 5D MKII can do. Vincent Laforet’s blog is still a great resource, and he  has some tips and tricks. Tips and tricks for the 5D MKII – Part 1  Tips and tricks for the 5D MKII – Part 2 Audio. He certainly seems to be getting a lot of work as a cinematographer since releasing Reverie into the wild. 

Another good place to see what the camera can do, especially in low light (what I really want it for), is on Angus Giorgi’s Vimeo page. Vimeo is a great site, full of interesting videos. Vimeo works more like a showcase for new and existing talent, rather than Youtube’s mass of lifted programmes and sneezing pandas. No more yapping from me, just click below to see Angus’ video.


There’s also a forum thread over at dvxuser.com where desperate 5D MKII owners are retiming the speed of their clips to make them 25PAL footage. It looks like it’s going to take a long time rendering if you want to do it.

If you have no idea what the Canon 5d mk2 is, or why it’s so revolutionary for moving image then read a good review of it here or read my original blog entry

update – check out all the latest on the camera at http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-eos-5d-mk-ii-hd/

James Miller details a high shutter speed workaround on his vimeo page 

The Ship – Eglis Mednis

1 12 2008


This is something that really shows what Machinima is capable of, and how it can be used as a viable filmmaking medium. I’ve not been overly keen on most that I have seen, but this really has a high level of emotional impact and it’s moody, minimal nature is great. It features a couple of characters in a bleak snowy landscape, but it is really the sound where this comes alive. A great deal of work has been put into the soundscape, and watchers of it should really think about this, and apply a higher level of sound design to their own work. In reality, very little happens, but by employing a few simple cinematic principles (albeit to a high level) this piece draws you in and takes you somewhere else. 

This has won the Best of the Fest Award at the Machinima FilmFest 2008, and as well as watching the film, you can also read an interview with the filmmaker by clicking on the picture above.

Thanks to SubmarineChannel for this, and remember to visit their site for lots of interesting creative video work.

Read my post on Machinima for a bit more info on what it is

Don’t Forget about me – posts from the past

19 10 2008

Ink Tank Experiments

Here are a couple of companies who have been doing really interesting things with the classic film technique of filming ink and other substances. By experimenting with this technique and then treating it in after effects or other post-production software you…


Pixilation is a great technique for producing quick and fantastic looking animation. Based on stop motion, where the animator places clay figures or other 3d objects in front of the camera, takes a frame then moves the objects and repeats. The difference…

 The Action Cats

a group of designers, animators and filmmakers who use interesting experimental and traditional techniques to produce an innovative and dark look for their piece “The Experiment”. “The Experiment” was produced for Adobe’s “See what’s possible”…

David Anderson – Door

There is a great power in inanimate objects and architectural features, and exploited here is the door. A closed door is a very powerful image. Just seeing it places questions into the audiences mind, raising their emotional expectation. A closed…

Dangerous Parking

This shows some really interesting text, being deformed in a wispy, smoky way…

Rojo TV

Full of really interesting creative video work, this site really spans a wide range of artistic video and motion graphics work. This should prove to be a great source…

Richard Fenwick

Richard Fenwickis a designer/filmmaker/animator who works across a wide range of formats. He goes where the idea takes him, flitting between animation/design…


Mark Lewis

I saw his work at the BFI Southbank gallery in October 07. He often uses strong effects, like the ‘vertigo shot’ / dolly zoom (or whatever you want to call it)…


Rosie Pedlow / Joe King – Sea Change

A beautifully simple idea executed very well, Rosie and Joe’s film takes a seaside caravan park as its subject, and reveals through a series of smooth tracking shots…



Is there anything worth watching on TV anymore? Not a great deal, but there’s usually a lot of nice idents about. For a while BBC2 and Channel4 have been… 


 Jan Svankmajer

Jan Svankmajer is a real influence for me. Often miscribed as an animator, he should really be classed as a surrealist filmmaker as his work moves effortlessly between…

Is this for real?! Canon EOS 5D MKII Video Footage

2 10 2008

Wow. If this is really what the video footage shot with the new Canon EOS 5D MKII DSLR looks like then it’s pretty astounding. Canon and Vincent Laforet are putting explicit statements out there that there is no post production or altering of these images. Thanks to Ash for the heads-up. Click for the video.

Obviously Vincent Laforet is an experienced professional photographer, but he has discussed this camera with a pro editor and is pretty blown away. Just read his comments on his blog

“1. The 5D MKII camera produces the best stills in low light that I’ve ever seen – what you can see with you eye in the worst light (such as sodium-vapor street lights at 3 a.m. in Brooklyn) – this camera can capture it with ease.

2. It produces the best video in low light that I’ve ever seen – at 1080p.   A top commercial film editor who  who regularly edits RED camera footage – and has seen the raw footage from the 5D MKII – says the 5D MKII is “far superior to the RED camera” in terms of low light performance…

3. You can use your prime and zoom lenses from your Canon still cameras with it – and shoot wide open… so you can shoot films with fisheye lenses, 50mm 1.2 as well as the 200mm f2 or 400mm 2.8 that you may already own…

4. This camera is so easy to use – that you can work incredibly quickly, mostly handheld – without a huge production – and using natural light – ergo you don’t need a huge budget and tons of preparation anymore… forget the lighting trucks and generators that take up entire city blocks…

5. This camera will sell for approx. $2,700 – and perform better than many $100K plus video cameras out there…

6. Photojournalists in particular – will be able to take full advantage of this camera’s strengths – because they are used to walking into any room, and finding the best natural “available light” in the room – or knowing how to add a single light source to make it pop… they are used to working quickly and with small or no budgets… which is something this camera is begging you to do…

It has the potential to change our industry.”

OK it costs £2299 without a lens, and as you can see below, Vincent has used a number of expensive lenses to shoot with. But still, this price is not bad for a high level DSLR and HD Camera, but if the quality of the images and low light shooting are as good as this, then combined with the lens interchangeability then it’s astounding. It’s kind of taken the wind out of Nikon’s sails.

As explained on the Canon site –

“This video was shot with a pre-production Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR. The files used to create this video were not manipulated in any way, only re-compressed for ¼ resolution display on our website. To view Vincent Laforet’s comments and behind-the-scenes video on the making of REVERIE, please visit his blog: blog.vincentlaforet.com

Uncompressed, Full-Resolution Sample Video Clips
To download and view three uncompressed, full-resolution sample video clips from REVERIE, please click here.

Sample Photographs
The CDLC has posted a gallery of in-camera JPEGS shot by Mr. Laforet during the making of REVERIE. Click here to view the gallery.


EF Lenses used in the making of REVERIE:
FD 7.5mm f/5.6 (converted to EF mount)
EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye
EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro
EF 135mm f/2L USM
EF 200mm f/1.8L USM
EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM
EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
TS-E 24mm f/3.5L
TS-E 45mm f/2.8

Video ©2008 Laforet Visuals Inc.”

Now that I’ve had a little time to check out more details, the camera appears to be able to shoot video in raw format. This should be great news for people doing compositing as the lack of compression will enable smoother keys. Also the raw ability should give a greater control over exposure in post production. The biggest problem is that the video frame rate is set at 30 FPS!!! Oh why can’t there be a 25FPS PAL Mode. Hopefully soon this can be sorted out for the european market. The terrible auto exposure jumping which is present on the D90 is not apparent in this footage, which gives a much smoother exposure change. Still some jumping is evident, but only slight and should only cause minor problems. Look at the tilt down the building to see it in action. 

Links to check out.




Super 8

1 10 2008

Super 8 is a filmmaking medium which is seeing a resurgence recently, and has rightly been an essential part of the creative moving image artist/filmmaker/designer’s arsenal for a long time. 

Before home video cameras existed, there was super 8. A cheap, accessible film camera. Using smaller strips of film than conventional film cameras (the 8 refers to the film size – 8mm, versus 35mm for professional film camera) it allowed reasonably well off families to make their own home movies and to film their holidays and family occasions. It gradually died off as video cameras became cheaper in the 80’s. 

Film is far more tricky to work with than video, and for the amateur market the benefit of video over film was clear to see. Video is instantly accessible – just play back the tape, you can even hook it up directly to a TV set. Before you can see a super 8 film, you have to finish off the reel – approx 3 mins worth of footage, then send it off for processing, then project it onto a screen – minimum about 8 weeks later. You could find at this moment that it was badly out of focus, under/over exposed and that your footage was unusable.

But while the practicalities of using super 8 meant that it lost out to home video cameras, the actual quality of the images are often much richer. Video is always chasing the look and feel of film, and for purists it will never get there, just the same way that a digital recording will never have the warmth and pure sound that a vinyl record has.

The super 8 look is often used to show dream sequences, flashbacks to childhood and many more experimental uses. 

Due to its fall from use, many owners of cameras were selling them for a few pounds on car boot fairs, and you can still pick up a bargain today (although more difficult to find – check ebay or other auction sites). If you do so, then try to get the camera and a projector, as you need to be able to see the finished film as well. Be aware that there is also standard 8, which uses a spool of film rather than a cassette. Check that you are buying super 8 kit, as standard 8 is more tricky to use and process.

What about the filmstock?

Super 8 comes in cartridges containing approx 3 mins of film, as shown in the picture above. The filmstock is increasingly hard to find in the UK. As far as I know, Kodak (the last major producer remaining of super 8 cartridges) has stopped making them. There is stock left, try the widescreen centre to see what they have. The standard film for Super 8 cameras is Kodak Ektachrome 64T Colour Reversal Film.

If you have more epic intentions, then you can go for more expensive filmstock, and move between Colour Reversal to Colour Negative film. The cost starts going up, but so does the quality. If you look into buying colour negative film, then you will need to pay for the telecine process which will convert it into a format of your choice – Mini DV, DVD etc. Once again, check out this page at the widescreen centre for more info.

You can also try pro8mm who take pro 35mm filmstock and cut it down to 8mm and package it up into super8 cartridges. This means that you can use the same filmstock as the pros use in feature film production. They have a London office – details here. They also take old cameras and refurbish them, making them super super8 cameras.

A big exponent of super 8 is straight8. They had a season on channel 4’s 3 minute wonder recently, and run competitions and screenings for super 8 filmmakers. See below.

For more info, try the following links.