Friday, 22 June 2012

Beyond The Beach - Short Film

A few days ago, me and 2 mates decided to go for a day trip to the beach and shoot a short film. It's pretty weird and somewhat 'experimental' but its come together so much better than I thought it might. We have an amazing knack for setting out to do something and ending up, just messing about and having a drink instead haha.

So....we took 3 beers ONLY! and set about shooting whats turned out to be a really impressive little piece in my view. No additional equipment, stabilisation, extra lenses etc... just my friends, a Canon 550D and a 50mm lens. It really is amazing what you can get out of cheap cameras these days. It never fails to astound me....and im not easily astounded. In fact I very rarely use the word 'astounded'

The film follows a man trapped on a beach (possibly inside his own mind) we dont have to work that one out for yourself. I've never been a huge fan of simplistic films, Ok im a sucker for Toy Story but films in general need to ask questions, I made a decision a long time ago that I would never make a film I didn't want people to take something important from. Films are about making you think, making you feel and should leave you with questions....spoon feeding an audience is my opinion is boring.

This all sounds like a sort of get out clause for this film being slightly....odd. Well it is odd and it does require a little thought and a little imagination. But I love it.

Big thanks to Dave and John for a top day out and to the co-writer Shawn for helping me come up with the idea at 2am the night before.

Click the link and enjoy!!

Beyond The Beach

Thursday, 31 May 2012

LIS From the River to Suburbia - Grading

Thought I'd post some screen shots of the grading i've been doing on the film i'm working on at the moment. Its for a very good friend of my girlfriends, her names Alicia (or Lis) and she's an actress. As you can see she's quite pretty and looks awesome on camera. The idea behind the film is fairly simple, 1 girl, a cloak and 2 vastly different locations. One, a peaceful, calm and serene river side and the other, a run down, inner city wasteland.

I've been doing a lot of test grades for this, trying out a few different looks, first shot I went for had some glare from the sun coming through the tree. It washed out some of the colour and contrast of the shot and actually really helped create a vintage look. I decided this was the way to go with this film, for the river section anyway.

Few different looks here, but hey, i'm testing stuff out....I love them all. This may take a while

Let me know what you think....

Thanks guys

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Cinestyle loving

For those who don't know (and you really should by now) The Cinestyle profile for DSLR's from Technicolor is an uber flat looking profile that sits on your SD card and enables you to have the maximum amount of dynamic range available - whichever camera you happen to be using. I here it was made specifically to get the best from the 5DMK2 but it works very well on all the others as well. I tried it out during a behind the scenes shoot (previous post) for my brothers band, Fed To The Ocean.

Now il be honest here - I probably shouldn't have used Cinestyle for this particular shoot. It was for all intensive purposes, a documentary, albeit one without proper sound because we didn't bring a microphone. Since this profiles really meant for extensive grading and 'the film look' this shoot really didn't need it. I was actually halfway through moving house at the time of this shoot and really had no time at all to do anything crazy good, so I threw a quick edit together for the band, knowing that without decent sound we really didn't have a massive amount of usable footage, at least not without the video ending up a crap attempt at a music video.

However.....since that shoot just over a month ago I have had chance to really get to grips with After Effects and some colour grading. Learnt loads....and thats what its all about really isn't it? trying, failing, trying again, getting there, finding something new, having a brain wave, a new lease of creative life and going at it! I took some inspiration from this guy right here -
He's got some incredible films on there and obviously knows his way round a camera as well as colour palette.

Im off out tomorrow to shoot a video photoshoot with my girlfriend and a few friends. This is just a bit of fun and I will be using Cinestyle, and probably grading the bajezus out of it in post. No idea where were gonna end up yet and what the weathers gonna be like. This is England after all. Il post the film when its done, along with some screen shots. Lets see how much better I can get it.

Few pointers for people using Cinestyle for the first time:

- Set the shot up and expose WITHOUT cinestyle turned on. Use 'Neutral' or Standard. Its much easier to get the correct exposure when your looking at a proper image as opposed to a super flat one.

- If anything, underexpose! DONT overexpose because your highlights wont come back. No fancy software, however expensive will bring them back.

- Shoot with half a mind of what you want your shoot to look like at the end. I would say that for every shoot though, whatever profile your using.

- Focusing with cinestyle on is hard. Especially if you have a decent lens, shallow depth of field and all the rest of it. Get yourself an external monitor and if you can, set it up to display a different profile. It'l help trust me.

- Not really a cinestyle issue, more a generic filming one. Shoot at your camera and lens sweet spot aperture wise. Yes shallow depth of field is lovely and everyone wants to shoot wide open. But it will be soft, I did a most shots at 2.4 - 3.2 and its still slightly soft. I find on my lens here (Canon 50mm 1.8)  the best spot is around 4 - 5 .6

If you want to comment, give me any pointers, ask me anything, help me on a shoot or give me any cake, please do......Its all about collaboration kids. I know loads...but like most people,  I need to know a lot more.

Cinestyle - Ungraded

Cinestyle - Graded

Nautral profile - Slightly tweaked, sharpening off completely, saturation down 2 notches, contrast down 2. Just to show that these can be graded as well.

....and graded to match the previous shot.

Monday, 2 April 2012

550D shoot and a small rant

Few tests with 550D + Magic Lantern

Ok so I'm a little late on the DSLR uptake.....kind of but I'm nowhere near a total newbie. Been used to shooting with prosumer video cameras for a few years now, Sony Z1, couple of Panasonic P2 cameras and my own Sony EX1 which I LOVE! Anyway, like many I've always craved the elusive film look. I tried a million types of picture profiles on my EX1 and practice grading ALL the time and got some great results. You can view some stuff on my Vimeo account at I shot mainly corporate stuff at that time, still do occasionally so the film look isn't exactly essential.

 I was forever reading articles and reviews on DSLR's and following their progress pretty closely. The amount of footage on sites like Vimeo now is immense and its pretty clear how incredible an image can be got from them, so eventually I was always going to buy one.

Now I'm no Philip Bloom or Vincent Laforet so I'm not for now anyway gonna be posting load of reviews and documenting my ponderous adventures around the globe. I quite simply am not rich or known about in the film making community quite yet. That's not a dig at them, their 2 people I look up to and follow and I've learnt a massive amount from what they do. They strive to help people like me become better film makers and more importantly help develop a massive community of people who can share ideas and help each other. That whole ethos is something I really care about and love. I'm also a major geek so I'm not going to complain when someone posts a 20 minute video of how to rotoscope in After Effects. Having these kind of skills is a massive bonus, especially now in a digital age, the world and his hot wife can make a film. There's so much competition to get noticed, be appreciated and make money that you have to throw everything into it to get anywhere. It's great to see people sharing ideas and giving others advice.


I got a 550D....yes I know its the baby of the range, the 7D is a great camera and the 5d mk2 is just incredible. Now the C300 is here and the 5d mk3 is out as well, things just keep getting better and better. Seems like I'm kissing some Canon ass here, course there's some awesome cameras out there from other companies, Nikon in-particular. I've actually shot a few photos with the D300 at work and it's great. But for now I'm sticking with the 550d.

Lens wise, I ended up with the 50mm 1.8 and so far I'm loving it. Plenty of reviews on that around so I wont go mad with detail but its a great lens for starting off. Got one for £70 n all. Buzzin! Next on the list is probably the Sigma 30mm as that's the standard for cropped sensor cameras. I also took the plunge and grabbed both the awesome Cinestyle profile and the Magic Lantern hack for the camera. Really glad I did. It's amazing having all the features and makes the camera so much more usable for film work. Here's a couple of photos I took with it straight off the bat. My girlfriend wont thank me for the first one but I'll buy her a cake to make up for it. You can see how beautiful she is anyway. My dog.....wont give a crap. I do have a much bigger (and better dog) but he wouldn't stand still for long enough.

So, ranted on a bit here I'll actually post a video. This is my first full shoot with the camera and I got lucky. It's a short documentary/making of music video for the band 'Fed To The Ocean' if you like a bit of headbanging metal, head on over and check them out.

And now for the final film....for the moment just on YouTube as my Vimeo upload is playing up.

Much love n all that jazz.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Classic Car Day!

Today I realised a dream....and only in the smallest of ways. I became (in my head anyway_ Jeremy Clarkson. Headed to a classic car show a few miles away and saw some insanely sexy cars. Even my girlfriend enjoyed it, although her dad looked like he enjoyed it more.

I know its not exactly film or editing related but I thought I'd post a couple of photos anyway, including a very special moment of me with my childhood hero....a DeLorean. 3 of them to be exact and one even had a flux capacitor in it, although I doubt it actually worked.

Ford GT's, Lancie Delta Intergrale, a Jenson Interceptor (sorry about the poor photo on that one, I couldnt get a decent picture, to many people admiring) some very odd herse with spooky music playing from the coffin and even a custom Manchester City paintjob. Couldn't have asked for more.

Im after a Delta Intergrale. I know it looks like a box but that thing makes me shiver. At 5k for a halfway decent one though I would have trouble choosing between that and a load of new camera gear....any donations gratefully accepted.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Blogging is cool now im doing it....

First Of Many
The story of me and the first blog post.

Beer in hand (self congratulatory clinking as i'm alone) im about to commence my first blog post ever!!!

If your here, first and foremost....thanks. Blogging has always had a bit of a stigma attached to it in my eyes but my girlfriends done it for years and doesn't have followers...she has disciples. I'm not after a following like that but iv realised this is a great way of sharing my film making skills, editing, camera work and general techy geekiness and learning more from others. Im a regular follower of people like Philip Bloom, Vincent Laforet and David H J Lindberg amongst others who make some fantastic films and are great resources for people like me who always want to learn more.

The idea here is to throw up a mixture of ideas, films, tutorials, tester shots and maybe even a review every now and again. We'l see what goes down.

know I look knackered, its late and iv been working all day.

So day 1......

Last few years iv been freelancing in the TV industry. Mainly running on shows, editing for a high profile news company, bit of camera work here and there and now im a full time 9-5 media job so freelance work takes 2nd place. However, film making is something that I love and still aim to do as much as possible in my spare time. I have owned a Sony EX1 for 2 years now and used it to death. Its a fantastic camera, little outdated now perhaps but still amazing. Problem with it is however, while it was amazing for corporate work it never really lent itself to film. I know people like Tarentino would rather probably rather give up film making altogether than make films in the digital realm but lets face it....its the way its going and there's now so many incredible digital cameras out there that do almost as good a job as film if not better in some cases. The EX1 however just aint one of that in mind, iv just purchased a Canon 550D. Im not going to bother doing any kind of review of the camera, its been out years, there's reviews all over the net. There is also plenty of footage out there to ogle however im going to add to it time.

First off....a recent music promo for a very good friend of mine. Mr John Ainsworth, an incredibly talented acoustic, singer songwriter from my home town of Manchester, England. This was shot on the EX1 at 720p.
Graded within FCP. What I love about this video is the 2 sunset shots at the start. Sat on a roof of a recording studio last Autumn (2011) we got the most amazing shots over the town of Stockport. Slightly grainy, even more so when exported in H264 but perfectly whatchable. I dont remember the exact settings on the camera for these shots but I remember I flicked the ND filter 2 notches and this appeared. After messing about with the picture profile settings slightly I came up with a great shot. Really tried hard to get a decent silhouette but we were so unstable on the roof  I decided in the interests of safety and time to go with what we had. Here's some screen shots before and after grading.

The second is a lot darker but full screen it actually works a lot better. The sun isn't casting quite as much light over his eyes. They were almost not visible anyway which is definitely something I want to work on the next time I get a shot like this. As my tutor taught me back in college, the eyes are EVERYTHING!

Not a bad look to it really. Usual colour grading technique for film look, some blue added in the shadows, slight tint of orange in the highlights, brought the blacks down slightly and voila!

I cant put the finished film up quite yet as its been sent to his management company who are going to use it on his website when thats online. Finished video will be up asap.

So thats my first blog post. More to come soon enough. Got a few things in the pipeline now including a short film i'm very excited about. Lots of pre-production done and a few test shots to do soon, thats if the weather perks up. Its been dull and grey in Manchester now for what seems like years. Looking at early April for shooting though. Few tests to do with the 550D first....