I recently went over to Jacksons Lane in Highgate to film a short promo for STRIKE!, a piece of circus-inspired theatrical crossover directed by the lovely Keziah Serreau.

Rather excitingly, the opportunity had arisen shortly after I’d been told that my rental C100, booked ahead of filming a wedding and a music video for Rob Lynch that weekend, would be arriving on Thursday rather than Friday (the very day of the performance.) Not having actually shot with the camera before, this was the perfect opportunity to get my head around it ahead of the weekend’s shooting. 

A nightmare day ensured that I missed the technical rehearsal but I shot a few interview sections with Keziah and her designer Raymond Sartie before getting to shoot the evening’s performance. Cicely Fell provided a 2nd camera (a 5d) and an expert touch in the interviews.

It was a real treat of a show and some of the imagery made for compelling subject matter. I had the C100 with a 24-70mm L lens mounted on a monopod right at the front on the right of the stage. I had asked Cicely to take care of the wide shots with a 35mm prime on the 5d and so I was free to just get right in close with the zoom and capture the essential life and movement of the performers. If anything, at times I could have wished for a little bit more of a zoom as it would have been brilliant to have been able to get in close enough to the action to almost create almost abstract shots of the at-times quite surrealist action but I’m very happy with the results we achieved.

The soundtrack to the piece was particularly brilliant and I was lucky enough to be able to ask Tom Mills, the composer behind it, to create a custom soundtrack to my film, something that really puts a premium touch on the piece.

I didn’t love cutting the 5d and C100 footage together give the hectic nature of the day and ensuing disparity in settings and lenses etc. but shit, I think I’ve got round those issues pretty well and also that overall the film captures a goodly bit of what the production is about. 

I hope that Keziah is able to secure funding to work STRIKE! up into a fully-fledged production because the scratch, based on just 10 days of workshop travail produced quite marvellous results; striking imagery, atmosphere and energy. I’d love to watch it without having to peer into a rather small LED screen but I’ll take it. 
 
Select links: (neither Keziah nor Cicely seem to have a website!)
 

My great mate Alastair has started up a wonderful social enterprise called The Living Furniture Project, which employs homeless people to make bespoke furniture.

Part of what sets the LFP apart from other such enterprises is that the furniture is designed by an awesome group of furniture designers and their creative visions are shaped into reality by the homeless employees. The employees gain great skills constructing quality pieces to the highest specifications which makes the experience all the more valuable.

I’ve been helping out by making profile videos on the designers themselves, all lovely and very talented people. I’ve made 4 so far and have got another 3 to go (I think?!) It’s been great to visit them all in their creative spaces and a nice challenge to create something informative and worth watching given very little preparation time and material to work with (in terms fabricate action!); I have tried to steer away from endless shots of tools! If anything, making the videos has highlighted my need for more tools with which to achieve quality camera movement; a proper tripod, slider etc. Still, I’m pretty pleased with how they have come out and I think that they give a good impression of each of the designers’ personalities…

Here are the vids, anyway:

Geoff Walker

Sarah Baulch

Nic Parnell

Donna Walker

Special shout out for the track that we’ve been using as a music bed: St. Tropez by FYFE. It’s an absolute beaut!

You can check out the LFP’s site here: http://www.thelivingfurnitureproject.org.uk

Please go and check it out and give ‘em a shout over on Twitter (https://twitter.com/TheLFP) or Facebook. It’s a truly great project and one I’m privileged to be involved with.

So! I’ve missed out on blogging about a load of projects recently. You know the story – get ill… put off going to hospital… end up shivering and incomprehensible in the A&E waiting room… have to be operated on the next day… standard stuff really!

Oops.

Anyway, I’m better now (sorta…) Quick rundown:

I’ve been making profile videos for the designers working with the AWESOME Living Furniture Project. The first video dropped this week and features a Kiwi fella called Geoff Walker who makes really wonderful furniture from re-claimed materials.

There’s at least 4 more in the same vein for the other designers and I’ve really enjoyed visiting them all in their workshops and putting together the shorts. They each do amazing work and their spaces are all really different which, I think, paints a really interesting picture in comparison.

Ch-ch-ch-check Geoff’s video out here:

 

I went over to the Roundhouse one recent Sunday to film a tour diary episode with my buddies in Bullet For My Valentine at their London show.

It was pretty hectic backstage and what with the number of people waving cameras around I was a little sensitive of filming as much as usual but still, it came out pretty well. Apart from a number of shots that I filmed from the balcony early-on in their set, I resolved to shoot everything in slow-mo. It’s all pretty faux-epic but the show was an absolute beaut and it fits good.

 

…and finally, something that I’ve been waiting for a long time to see released – my minidoc about our recent tour to Germany where Charlie was supporting Amy McDonald. So chuffed with this and, even though there’s loads I’d change even a couple of months after I originally finished with it, it’s great to see people enjoying it. Reckon it’s worth a longer post, to be honest.

 

That’s all for now. Hit me up if you wanna talk about anything – nworpole@gmail.com

Well, this was fun! I was recently approached by an actress friend to shoot a dramatic scene.

It was all improvised from an idea that Liz had and the girls only rehearsed for it just before we actually shot the piece so it was seat-of-the-pants stuff. If anything though, I think that gives it a really nice and spontaneous vibe; it’s certainly easy to tell that the girls are friends because of their rapport.

Everything was shot in a few takes with just one camera and a 28mm lens. It was the first time that I’d ever shot anything dramatic although, given that I’ve been waving a camera around for less than a year, that isn’t exactly surprising! Anyway, it’s certainly given me the desire to do more. I’m already thinking short films now but we’ll see how that goes… I’m not exactly in the business of writing scripts and well, the whole ‘budget’ thing might be interesting!

Anyway, great fun and even better practice.

I went up over to Wales the other day to shoot a number of pieces of web content with Bullet that would be released during the launch window of their new record Temper Temper.

I showed up at the rehearsal studios to find a lighting delivery from the nice people at Video Europe (videoeurope.co.uk), who had dropped-off a couple of 4ft 4bank Kino Flos (http://www.videoeurope.co.uk/product/kinoflo/4ft-kinoflo-system) and a 1x1ft LED litepanel (http://www.videoeurope.co.uk/product/litepanels/litepanels-1×1-bi-color).

The first piece of content on the agenda was for ModernDrummer.com’s blog, a video tutorial/insight piece showing Moose playing through some nice drum licks from three of the songs from Temper Temper. We did full playthroughs of the songs Breaking Point, Leech and Living Life (On The Edge Of A Knife) and then shot Moose talking about the bits that he wanted to pick out.

Here’s the finished piece:

I set up the two Kinos in front of Moose’s (awesome) kit, positioning them at roughly 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock of him. These lit both him and the kit nicely but still gave me a decent level of contrast and little in the way of details in the rest of the rehearsal room, something that I wanted to cut out. I wanted to portray him rather playing in a pool of light, if you like. The litepanel was used to make sure that I could see his feet when I had a camera on them, I would have been screwed without it!

Having 2 cameras at my disposal (a 600d and a 550d), I shot each of the playthoughs twice giving me four angles to use in editing. Each time, I had one camera on a fixed angle and one carried handheld with a basic shoulder-rig. Both cameras were loaded with a pretty neutral picture profile (Marvel’s Cine – http://marvelsfilm.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/finally-the-new-marvels-cine-profile-3-x-for-canon-dslr/), though this time I decided not to use my favourite profile, Technicolour’s Cinestyle (https://www.technicolorcinestyle.com/download/) With hindsight, this was probably a decent decision. I am starting to think that, while it gives a lovely cinematic ‘baked-in’ feel, with illustrative/tutorial web-content such as this, it’s nice to have a slightly different feel.

The first fixed angle was a wide one from behind Moose’s left shoulder showing most of the kit – for this I used a kit 18-55mm wide open at 18mm; it’s situations like this where I wish I had something nicer as the kit lens is pretty dull and lifeless. The second fixed angle was one that showed Moose’s feet (camera positioned under the left-hand floor-tom) so I could pick out his kick patterns as some of the beats are quite cool; again I used the kit lens, wide so I could get everything in.

The only difficult thing was that I hadn’t actually heard any of the songs before I got there so I didn’t know which bits to focus on when I was shooting handheld but, with two cracks at each song, I think I managed to get what I needed. With the handheld sections, I used my 28mm Pentax SMC-M manual prime exclusively. I can’t get enough of these manual Pentax lenses (I’ve got a 50mm as well) and think that I’m going get them de-clicked at some point. They’re just lovely and can be picked up reasonably inexpensively, especially the 50mm, though I’m still looking for an 18mm.

I’m pretty chuffed with the way that this vid turned out. I had to artificially warm up the shots from the kit lens (4/5% at 30º??!) because, as previously stated it’s pretty dull and the Pentax lenses are a lot more vibrant, but the edit was nice and simple. I suppose that it’s a nice illustration of do the right planning and the shoot will take care of itself. I had thought through all of the shots I needed in detail beforehand and it was just a case of setting-up and doing the business.

In the end little of the actual playthrough videos was used, save to illustrate how the described licks and chops fit into the song, so I cut the full songs separately as content to hold in reserve. I hope that they come out at some point as they’re pretty cool and I’d like people to see ‘em.

Link to the page on the Modern Drummer blog: http://www.moderndrummer.com/site/2013/02/moose-of-bullet-for-my-valentine-drummer-blog/#.URZ8hKWSOfQ

What a year (again). A year I listened to a lot more metal but, I suspect, less music (by volume) than last. No time/appetite for a big post on this but for those who are interested… my favourite 13 records in no particular order.

Devil Sold His Soul – Empire Of Light

Straight Lines – Freaks Like Us

Billy Talent – Dead Silence

Tu Amore – Your Love

Parkway Drive – Atlas

Murder By Death – Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon

Bad Books – II

Enslaved – RIITIIR

Don Broco – Priorities

While She Sleeps – This Is The Six

The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

Enter Shikari – A Flash Flood Of Colour

Katatonia – Dead End Kings 

Spotify playlist embedded below for your listening pleasures!

The live shoot I did with Rob for one of his new songs ‘Stamford’ was a very last minute thing that, I think, turned out dry nicely indeed.

We were on the phone one day, talking about his new tracks and then, with very little discussion we were down in his basement the next with a two camera setup trying to work out just how to make the room not look like his basement.

A Japanese screen, a wax scull, a couple of travellers chests and a light-up globe later and we’d created him a little boudoir to sit in. Positioned right in front of a window, I had the idea that I could crank up the exposure and get a lovely, washed-up vibe to make-use of the light that we had – the rest of the room being rather dark away from the door. This turned out to work very pretty well…

For the shoot I had my 600d and a 550d that I had managed to get my hands on that day. I dialled-in some nice flat picture profiles for both cameras and put my 28mm Pentax SMC-M on the 550, which I set up on a Gorillapod in front of Rob. My 50mm Pentax SMC-M, I put on my 600, which I mounted on my bust-up old shoulder-rig – it was to be the roving camera that I would operate. Audio was handled by a condenser mic going straight into Garage band, which gave us a nice clean sound.

Fortunately with two such similar cameras, it’s easy to get the settings very similar and again, I’m really finding out the benefits of having several optically similar lenses as it makes for a very easy job of colour correction.

We shot 5 takes of the song with the intention that the greater part of the video would be cut between the two angles of one single take. This was achieved pretty easily because Rob pretty-much smashed  it every single play-through so, in the end we had 5 usable instances of the track.

When editing came around, I just used the rather nifty multicam clip and audio synchronise features of Final Cut Pro X to collect takes 4 and 5 into single clips. I then bounced between the two angles, picking the nice shots of Rob I got with the roving camera and just devolving to the static camera when there wasn’t so much interesting going on.

I toyed with the idea of adding some choice cutaways from other clips but decided that I much preferred the idea of having everything from a single take. When it came to post, I had to fight the urge to add a grade out of habit but frankly, I think that the vibe of the footage warranted not buggering about with. A tiny bit of correction and I let it be.

In the end, I’m really chuffed with the final product; a nice-looking live video of a good song. Pretty sure there’ll be more to come in the new year; Rob and I are already making plans.

Any questions or comments, hit me up below or at nworpole@gmail.com

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