Monday, 27 September 2010

First filming of a live gig

On Friday night I was at Mucky Mulligan's in Perth to film metal band Kill The Commodore as they played their first home gig since appearing at Bestival a few weeks ago.

I used my [very] recently purchased Sony DCR-SR58E Handycam; which is a big step down from the kind of camcorder I have
access to at my day-job, but it'll do for now until I discover whether a bigger camera would be worth it...

The little Handycam is very much just a point-and-shoot type of camera, which is simple enough to operate, but its manual controls (via touchscreen) are dreadful compared to the high-end camcorders that I have been used to at work. As a result of that issue (along with the short time I had to get familiar with the camera) my footage was rather hit-and-miss with numerous automatic controls conflicting with my manually-operated intentions. I also found, as per the warning in the operating guide, that loud noise (ie: live music) can interfere with the camera - to such an extent as to automatically cut the recording process after only so long on several occasions!

My above video, We Will Not Be Moved (live), should hopefully become the first of several to get edited from Friday night's gig footage; with the rest of the videos getting posted as they are finished.

To hear more from Kill The Commodore check out these links:
Kill The Commodore on Facebook
Kill The Commodore on Myspace
Kill The Commodore on Reverbnation

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Bridge of Allan tunnels

At work this afternoon we went for a location-scouting walk along the old railway line (and tunnels) near Bridge of Allen in Perthshire.
The old line runs almost parallel to parts of the M90 motorway, which I regularly travel on, yet until I conducted some research last week I had no idea that the line was ever there... One of the random facts I picked up last week is that part of it was bombed by the Nazi's during World War 2!

After parking our cars on a farm road in the middle of nowhere we went across an over-grown railway bridge and then walked the trail for about 1.5 miles; during which time we had gone through two very long, pitch black tunnels and encountered numerous decaying objects (of the mechanical variety).

I had never encountered a tunnel that can compare to these (while on foot), so thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I think it would be a great location to film all sorts of things... Indeed I was actually asked last month about filming a music video there for a metal band! So now that I know what it's like I can't wait to push ahead with that idea.

On another note, I used my digital stills camera to experiment with some time-lapse photography & experimental stopmotion (similar to Pixelation) on the way back to the cars. I haven't really done much time-lapse or pixelation before, but I am planning another music video (for a different band) that uses this kind of filming technique, and so thought this would be a good opportunity to experiment with the process.

For this experiment I basically just took a photo every 2 seconds (roughly) while walking along a short part of the trail leading up to the second tunnel. 
I had a good idea of what the footage should look like when played back as an animation sequence; but because I was photographing while walking (and without a flash) I had no idea whether or not it would turn out any good... To be honest I expected that the footage would be all blurry and randomly jump all over the place, but I think it has turned out surprisingly readable. You can judge for yourself by watching it in the video below:

And to conclude, here are some other photos from the day...

(This final photo is more or less what you see without a torch - and that's relatively near the entrance!)

Monday, 13 September 2010

Project Onomatopee: "Culture" (August 2010)

Project Onomatopee's theme for August was "Culture", and below is my submission.

This image was more-or-less made at the last-minute, and if I had spent a bit more time on it then I'd probably have made the layout more minimalist in order to make the message clearer. But you learn from your mistakes I suppose...

From the moment the theme was announced (at the beginning of August) I always planned on doing something about the death of culture by making something like:
- a collage of corporate logos;
- a picture of the solar system with a massive McDonald's sign sticking out from Earth;
- a photoshopped picture of people from less-developed countries fighting over second-hand designer clothing;
- or simply a text-based poster saying something like "Kill Culture - Just Do It" to portray how big corporations and the rise of the Internet have made almost everything seem local in the 21st Century.

Despite all those ideas, I never felt entirely happy about what the finished image might look like, so I constantly delayed the project until the last couple of days - at which point I felt as though I just had to get something, anything, done.

At that late stage I decided to see what a Google Image Search made of the term "culture"... The results seemed very random and not at all like I had expected, which actually turned out to be quite useful!

It seems as though Google, for the past decade or so, has had the answer to anything you could ever think to ask: But if an Image Search for "culture" didn't produce the results I had expected then perhaps I was correct to think that culture is dead (or at the least is dying).

From this I remembered about the infamous Racist Google picture that appeared last year showing a Google search result for "White People Stole My Car" returning the query "Did you mean: Black People Stole My Car?"

I decided that for my Project Onomatopee submission about culture I could create a similar Google picture, whereby a search result for "What is culture?" asks if you meant "What WAS culture?"... The theory being that my "culture is dead" statement from earlier would now be 'proven' by an omniscient Google that doesn't recognize the present tense of the question "What is culture?" because culture has been dead for a long time and would therefore be correctly asked in the past tense of "What WAS culture?".

I probably prefer that final idea to any of my earlier concepts, however my rushed execution of the imagery has resulted in a poor final product - one where the message gets lost within a bunch of random images from the Google search result.
Were I being boldly artistic, I would have made my submission a plain white page with only the Google logo, the search box (containing the phrase "What is culture?"), and the Google query ("Did you mean: What WAS culture?"). However as usually happens, I was not brave enough to stick with that bold image, and ended up keeping the realistic image of the full (albeit cropped) screenshot from my Google search.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Demoreel from "Dancing In The Dark"

I've just uploaded onto YouTube a short demoreel of my camerawork from the music video Dancing In The Dark by Lady Miss Emma.

It is the first live-action music video that I've worked on, and was produced by YMCA Multimedia in Perth - who I started working with towards the end of July.
The full music video, directed by David Forsyth, can be viewed by clicking here.

We filmed from the top of Kinnoull Hill (Perth, Scotland) during the sunrise of Friday 13 August, between the hours of 4am and 7am. Below are some photos from that day:

The first footage we shot (at around 4:30am) was in darkness.

Dawn began at around 5am.

And here's the full sunrise at around 7am.

You can watch more of my videos on YouTube at:

You can listen to more music by Lady Miss Emma at:

And you can watch more Lady Miss Emma music videos at: