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Wales x Triumph Motorcycles

Watch the full video here

The adventure began when Triumph asked for a video to promote their new Tiger 1300 bike. We decided to put it to the test in the Welsh valleys and see how it would handle in the cold and wet climate.

 One of the mountains in Tornado Valley - a name given because of it's frequent use by RAF jets.

One of the mountains in Tornado Valley - a name given because of it's frequent use by RAF jets.

 Heavy cloud meant that our view from the summit was obstructed, but still beautiful nonetheless.

Heavy cloud meant that our view from the summit was obstructed, but still beautiful nonetheless.

 Day 2 incorporated a little photo adventure before heading on the road back home.

Day 2 incorporated a little photo adventure before heading on the road back home.

 Heavy rain had meant that the streams had swollen into large rivers.

Heavy rain had meant that the streams had swollen into large rivers.

 Drew figuring out if there was a way to cross the river.

Drew figuring out if there was a way to cross the river.

 On the Road to Mt Snowdon with adventure influencer, Drew Collins (middle) and filmmaker, Tom Lee (right).

On the Road to Mt Snowdon with adventure influencer, Drew Collins (middle) and filmmaker, Tom Lee (right).

Overall, it was a great weekend away with a couple of good mates, exploring an amazing location. 

 

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Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson learn that not everything is unpredictable

 Britain's Got Talent finalists, DNA Mind Readers with Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson at the Sony Music UK Studios

Britain's Got Talent finalists, DNA Mind Readers with Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson at the Sony Music UK Studios

To celebrate the release of Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson's new track, Unpredictable. I travelled to the Sony Music Studios to team up with filmmaker Zack Langsdon and Britain's Got Talent finalists, DNA Mind Readers, to show that not everything is unpredictable.

 Louisa Johnson's reaction says it all.

Louisa Johnson's reaction says it all.

The video is set to be released this summer, so watch this space for updates!

This is not the first time I've collaborated with Zack. We both recently worked on a Lynx campaign called #isitokforguys and filmed major celebrities such as Anthony Joshua, William Poulter and Wiley. The campaign was aimed at raising awareness for the high suicide rates of young males and some of the videos can be seen below. 

 

 

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Alessi's Top Timelapse Tips

This is taken from a blog post I wrote for Vintra on how to shoot awesome timelapse content, which can be seen HERE.

1. ALWAYS SCOUT YOUR LOCATIONS OUT BEFORE YOU SHOOT.

Although this may be a simple one, it's one of the most overlooked rules for new photographers  starting out. Sunrises are the perfect example of why you need to pre-plan your shot, as often you will have little time in the morning to setup and compose your shot in the dark. The Sunseeker App on the App Store is an amazing tool for using it's 3D Live View to see where the sun will rise.

 BBC TWO, Operation Stonehenge  The Sunseeker App was used to pre-plan this sunrise time-lapse.

BBC TWO, Operation Stonehenge

The Sunseeker App was used to pre-plan this sunrise time-lapse.

2. REMEMBER TO ACCOUNT FOR CAMERA BUFFER WHEN SETTING YOUR INTERVALS.

When setting intervals, new photographers will forget to account for their camera's buffer time. This is the time it takes for the captured photo to be saved onto the card. If the interval is too short, photos will be saved at irregular times, which will lead to jumpy footage. Most cameras will have a different buffer time, as processing power varies. If in doubt, 4 seconds is generally a safe rule of thumb to go by.

3. USE LENSES THAT HAVE A MANUAL APERTURE TO REDUCE FLICKER.

Using lenses with a manual aperture ring will significantly reduce the flickering seen on a lot of time-lapse footage. Although auto lenses' apertures can be set to a fixed f-stop, there will be micro changes in the rings between each shot, it's this inconsistency that causes the flicker. If you already have footage with large amounts of flicker, GBDeflicker is a great After Effects plug-in to reduce it in post.

GBDeflicker comparison test

4. IF SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS, LEAVE THE TIMELAPSE RUNNING.

One thing about timelapse that makes it fun and also very frustrating is the amount of things that can go wrong. When faced with unexpected conditions during a time lapse, your best bet at having usable footage at the end, is to keep it rolling. There have been many times where I've wiped rain off the lens whilst shooting and the inconsistency between frames has made the footage unusable. DON'T TOUCH YOUR CAMERA

It started to rain during this test shoot and the temptation to stop filming was hard. However, I kept rolling and I ended up quite liking the effect from the rain on the lens.

5. HAVE FUN AND EXPERIMENT.

Sometimes it's good to just play around with new ideas and challenge yourself in different situations. Timelapse is a long process and there's a lot of kudos to anyone who has enough motivation to make a timelapse film, however good. 

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Meeko: How we made a short film in a month on a £50 budget and lost another film in the process

When asking our lecturer, “in terms of f**k ups, how have we scored?”

 

He replied, “Well you’re definitely in the top ten… in the history of the course”

 

This was in context to us corrupting a hard drive, which hadn’t been backed up and had our final project for our degree on it. The course has also been running for 60 years, so as far as f**k ups go, we did pretty well. 

Our first film was called Perfect, which depicted the tale of a middle-class family of three and a creepy interloper trying to take over her sister’s life. After the successful planning, fundraising and shooting of the film, the worst thing imaginable happened - our hard drive had corrupted itself, resulting in the loss of over half the footage. Ironically, a major film such as Toy Story 2 had a similar issue and as former Chief Technical Officer of Pixar, Oren Jacob states, “over 90% of the movie had been deleted.” (Jacob, 2012). Although they eventually recovered the footage, we weren’t so lucky in the recovery process, which meant that we either had to reshoot or make an entirely new film.

 

Perfect stills

One of the most challenging aspects of losing the footage was the fact that we had no budget left to fund a reshoot. Perfect, had originally run a successful Kickstarter campaign and raised the money through crowd funding, which was all spent on the original shoot. Although our original Kickstarter was a success, we couldn’t do it again. This was due to the fact that we simply didn’t have enough time to successfully plan and market a fundraising campaign and secondly, we didn’t want to let down our original backers and ask for more money. This severely limited my options on what to do next, as not only did I have to be time efficient to succeed, but cost efficient as well.

 Old Kickstarter campaign for  Perfect

Old Kickstarter campaign for Perfect

However, instead of working out how to resolve the difficult and challenging issues surrounding Perfect, I spent a lot of time procrastinating and watching the endless Top Gear episodes on Dave. This at first seemed counter-productive (which it probably was), however, in episode 1 of series 6, Richard Hammond talks about the latest cheap cars and whilst introducing the new Toyota Aygo, he states, “some cars are designed, and then built cheaply. The Aygo, was designed to be cheap from the start” (Hammond. 2005). This same problem had affected us, as unlike the Aygo, Perfect was written with a budget in-mind and it would have been impossible to do a reshoot on no budget and end up with a good quality film.

Therefore, after a lot of consideration into how the footage we had recovered could be used (i.e. flashbacks), I decided it was time to cut my losses and write a completely new film. This decision meant I had more creative freedom in deciding the new story, as I was not dictated to use certain recovered shots. However, the team and I would still have to produce, direct, shoot and edit an entirely new film in less than two months with no budget, an ambitious task.

To get inspiration for the new film, I watched numerous short films on Vimeo, Short of the Week and Youtube. The two main films, which caught my attention, were Lesley (Ainsley, 2016) and Real Gone (Worley 2015), as they used one actor, had simple storylines and were ten minutes in length. Real Gone however, became my main source of inspiration, as they had shot the whole film in two days, which given the amount locations used, was impressive. In a behind the scenes video, director Seth Worley stated that the film was “a lot like the other shoots we do, where there’s no crew, no safety, no money, no nothing and it went just as smoothly as any other shoot.” (Worley, 2015).  This reassured me that making a film in such a short time was possible, however, they still had some kind of budget to spend on locations, actors and special effects. Therefore, like the Aygo, it was time to go back to the drawing board and go even simpler.

 

The next films I started to look at were horror films. This was because they were often cheap to produce and fairly simple to make. This can be demonstrated from the success of Paranormal Activity (Peli, 2007), which had a budget of fifteen thousand dollars and ended up making a staggering one hundred and ninety million dollars at the box office. Another factor that lured me into making a horror was that the majority of components (sound, lighting, acting) are often heightened to create a sense of hyperrealism. This would give the individual roles in the crew good opportunities to express their creative freedom, which I could ultimately use as a persuasion technique to get people to commit to such a last minute project.

To save time whilst I was writing the script, I told my producer, Christian Jeffcoat, to release a casting call for two female leads. However, as there were only a couple of weeks to organise the shoot, I decided to get another producer on board to assist Christian. Noora Hiekkaranta helped greatly in the casting process and we got huge interest, despite having an unfinished script. To save time on actors coming in for auditions, we conducted Skype auditions and despite the odd network interference, we had casted our two female leads.

After casting the actresses, I chose to use Celtx over the industry standard, Final Draft, to write my screenplay, as Celtx is based online and allowed the crewmembers to make and see changes in real time. This kept everyone in the loop and also made the process a lot more streamlined and efficient.

To keep the overall logistics simple, minimal locations would have to be used. In total, there were three main locations: a caravan, a car interior and a house. After I had decided locations, I did a recce of each location with my director of photography, Zack Langsdon and together we visualised the shots we would need. This was relatively easy, as Zack and I have worked together in the past and we both share a similar aesthetic.

To minimize our camera footprint, Zack and I decided to use the RED Scarlet mounted on a shoulder rig. This streamlined the process of setting up shots and allowed us to shoot in 4K, giving us a nice buffer for the image. However, we found that 200 ISO was the sweet spot of the Scarlet and we therefore had to pump loads of light into the scene, which was challenging when trying to create dark empty spaces at the same time.

 Zack shooting on the RED Scarlet

Zack shooting on the RED Scarlet

We also used a hazer over a fogger, as this allowed us to give a more consistent layer fog, which was essential for continuity. This also turned our torch into a beam of light and added a whole new dynamic to the film. To light our scenes, we simply used LED panels, red heads and then used polyboards to bounce the light back at our subject. This kept our lighting setup as simple and as streamlined as possible, making life easier when setting up shots.

Film stills of Meeko

The £50 budget was all spent on food, as I feel food is the most important aspect on any film set, although finding good recipes to feed 12 people over 4 days proved tricky. However, I simply opted for tomato-based dishes, as this was cheapest and I therefore made dishes such as: tomato and lentil soup, ratatouille and rice, curry and then another vegetable soup. Having good food on set lifted everyone’s moral and also productivity, keeping everyone on form and working as efficient as possible.

 The poor souls roped in last minute

The poor souls roped in last minute

To save time in post-production, I decided to adopt an unconventional workflow, meaning we could now simultaneously shoot and edit the film at the same time and I could view rushes and dailies throughout the production. I was extremely impressed by our editor, James Lee-Warner, as he had adapted to this new workflow and done such an exceptional job, that by the time we had finished the 4 day shoot, the film was already half edited.

The next stage in the process was to add the sound mix for Meeko, for this I worked alongside Bee Macneill. My main goal was to avoid using the clichéd horror sounds and to keep the sound design very minimalistic and atmospheric. This was because the film was so visual; I did not want to distract the audience from it and overcompensate with too much sound. Overall, I am happy with the sound mix, but if we had more time, it would have been beneficial to work alongside a composer to build on the tone of the film further and also mix it in 5.1 surround sound, to really immerse the audience.

Behind the scenes photos by Celine Brekne

All in all, I believe that similar to the Aygo, Meeko was a successful film that was “designed to be cheap from the start” (Hammond. 2005), which led to it costing just fifty pounds to make and being the most efficient film I had ever worked on. Although I wasn’t able to cover every aspect of the production, the obvious lesson learnt from this experience is BACK UP YOUR S**T.

 

Meeko will be released later this year, in the meantime please follow us on Facebook and check out the trailer below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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700 miles, 36 hours and a music video.

After a hectic week of four consecutive night shoots for my short film, Meeko and ending the week with a shoot for Stephen Duffy’s new band, The Lilac Time, it was safe to say I was well and truly spent.

 GH4 shooting 4k on the Dynamic Perception

GH4 shooting 4k on the Dynamic Perception

I had planned a pretty chilled week of doing dissertation work and lounging around. However, that all went out the window when Zack gave me a ring to say we were going to London. It turned out that the director from the Stephen Duffy shoot was impressed by the way we worked and asked if we would be keen to film a music video for an ex-rock legend from the 80s, how you could you say no? Only problem was that this was super last minute and we would have to drive up to London the very next day to do it.

First thing on the agenda - see how much gear we could pikey off the uni to take with us. A lot of the gear had been booked up by other students (our beloved RED) and also for the new Filmmaker in Residence programme at Falmouth Uni. We therefore decided to try out the Lumix GH4 teamed up with an Odyssey 7Q+, as this would allow us to capture super high quality 4K. We also grabbed the usual things such as: a bunch of lenses, a fogger, some LED panels, a few tripods and my Dynamic Perception Stage Zero rig.

We set off at 7am, grabbed brekkie on the road, stopped for some coffee, got lost, stopped for more coffee, grabbed lunch, stopped for even more coffee and then we finally arrived 300 miles later.

After chatting with Doug, he told us that there wasn’t much of a plan and that we had full creative freedom to make this video. We were a bit thrown back at first, but learnt to embrace it once we had figured out the flow for the video, a few BTS shots can be seen below.

 A grumpy looking Alessi at 7am with no coffee...

A grumpy looking Alessi at 7am with no coffee...

 Zack & Doug grabbing a quick rig shot.

Zack & Doug grabbing a quick rig shot.

 Our awesome model, Libby, getting ready for the next scene.

Our awesome model, Libby, getting ready for the next scene.

 Masters of Tetris

Masters of Tetris

 That's a wrap (we weren't this energetic after the 7 hour journey back)!

That's a wrap (we weren't this energetic after the 7 hour journey back)!

Unfortunately we can’t disclose whom this video is for, but the video will be released around mid-June and hopefully covered by NME.

Check out Zack's site for more great content: www.zacklangsdon.com

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