House of Cards Timelapse project

House of Cards Title Sequence

I’ve started another movie project. It’s not finished yet, so I wanted to tell you a bit about it but also give you a few tips if you’re interested in doing more mobile movie making yourself.

This project is time consuming – quite literally time consuming.

I love time lapse photography. With analogue photography it was a very time consuming effort and I didn’t do that much. However, with the time lapse apps now available for laptops and phones I’ve been time lapsing all over the place!

I got the bug again in 2010, using time lapse as a way of capturing some of the real world, treasure hunt games I was creating. A game that took a few hours to play could be captured in a few minutes of film and I didn’t always need to be there.

Time lapse is also great if you are documenting events where very little happens. Conferences for example can be very dull to watch – but if all you want to illustrate is the room filling up ahead of the event then time lapse is perfect.

Combine these film making tools with social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) and your phone becomes the perfect documentation device.

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Time lapse on TV
Just over a year ago I noticed a (kind of) trend in the use of time lapse on TV. Breaking Bad often used little time lapse sequences to illustrate the passing of time and the recent Netflix adaptation of House of Cards uses time lapse exclusively in its opening sequence.

The House of Cards title sequence is a series of 2-3 second shots of Washington DC. That was when the idea struck me. In my head, so many of those shots could be replicated in my local city of Dundee. I should recreate a Dundee version of the sequence!

The idea went on the back burner for a while, but with the new series of House of Cards now out on Netflix, and with a bunch of time lapse shot already in the bag from other projects, I’ve decided to give it a go.

Shots of Dundee’s McManus that may well find their way into this new film

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HoC around the world
I didn’t expect to be the first person to think of this and if you go on Youtube you’ll find a few versions – London, and Paris being two. However, most of them use much longer shots (therefore half as many shots required) than in the original and it struck me that I couldn’t find any that were shot-for-shot. So this is the brief I have set myself.

The original sequence is 38 shots. I can’t have every shot set up exactly the same but I am putting thought into what the Dundee equivalent building or location might be. I’m also following the ‘dawn ’til dusk’ pattern of the original.

Bagged another couple of shots for my #HouseOfCards shot-for-shot #Dundee #timelapse – #HoC_DNDs4s

A post shared by Jon Gill (@onthesuperfly) on

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Tools
All of the tools I’m using for this project have been reviewed on this blog in the past – so what follows is something of a retrospective of those posts.

Camera – iPhone
Mostly, if not exclusively, I’ll be capturing footage on my iPhone. I’m now on a the iPhone 6 and I have no complaints about the camera at all.

Software – iMotion
For the HoC project I’m using iMotion (formerly iMotionHD). There are other similar apps (as you’ll see next) but for me, iMotion remains the cleanest, most intuitive and effective application for time lapse photography as well as stop frame animation. I have in on my iPhone and on my iPad and use it in lots of different ways as you’ll see in all of the related posts.

Read more: Take Your Time

Software – MagicLapse
I’ve been using iMotion for almost four years, but a new app for me is MagicLapse. I’ve only tested this once so far (see below) but i’m hopeful for what it promises to deliver. Magic Lapse combines time lapse photography with long exposures. Every shot is captured over half a second or so and, as you can imagine, capturing light trails from vehicles as it gets darker could be pretty spectacular.

The test I carried out was in a moving vehicle while it was raining. While I liked the ‘fireworks’ effect I’ll be using this for static shots (hopefully in the dry) to capture the movement of the traffic. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Device – X-Lapse by Muvi
X-Lapse is a little clockwork device that moves a camera or phone one degree every second to help you capture smooth panoramic time-lapse images.

The official House of Cards sequence includes various camera moves which I won’t be able to replicate – they would have used computer motion-controlled camera dollies and cranes). X-lapse will at least help me to achieve some nice pan-shots.

Read more: X-Lapse

Device – GorillaPod by Joby

Finally, for the still shots I will be relying on my trusted Joby GorillaPod with the Joby Grip Tight attachment. Again, a tool that I’ve been using for a few years now and remains very reliable – especially as the equipment that is entrusted to it is not cheap. The feet are magnetic (up to albs in weight) and the GripTight is exactly that.

Again, read more for more examples of the products at work: GorillaPod

House of Cards Project
So, I’m going to drip feed shots (as above) every now and then – you’ll find a few on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #HoC_DNDs4s (which stands for House of Cards, Dundee, Shot for Shot).

Hope you enjoy following the process and the final film should be with you very soon.

Read more about the creation of the House of Cards time lapse sequence by ‘District 7’.

Visualising Commitment – #1kHands

pcic4 Hall 2

If you would like some background to this then go here: Commitment Of A Thousand Hands – #pcic4 With a background in illustration and graphic design the power of the ‘visual’ is central to what I do. Done well, visualisation can be an incredibly powerful tool – drawing, filmmaking, photography – they all draw the eye, and the eye of the mind, leaving an picture that’s not easily forgotten. Great story telling is a powerful learning tool and an image has the potential to tell a story in a glance. I hoped that The Commitment of A Thousand Hands (1kHands) would capture visually what change can look like when many put their hands to the work. Equally the individual contributions had to mean something in isolation. I believe I achieved that. So lets hurtle back three weeks and see what happened:

Hands Title Hashtag

Compare and contrast…
Above: The image in my head – used to promote the idea of #1kHands before the event
Below: What actually happened – hands (commitment) gathered during 28th May

1K Hands Glasgow SECC

Below
– Watch 1kHands build throughout the day…
It wasn’t easy and there was a distinctly slow start. The first day was spent letting people know that 1kHands was coming and what they had to do; but I wanted them to be moved and/or inspired by the plenaries and workshops so the real work didn’t start until day two. To be fair, asking clinical people to draw around their hands comes across as a little odd, but in the vein of the ‘Lone Dancing Guy’ (Derek Sivers TED talk which played out at the end of the conference), the ‘arty type’ soldiered on. pcic4 SECC armadilo Appropriately enough the 1kHands definitely experienced the same pattern of momentum seen in the video. It takes courage to join a movement during the very early stages and I’m not sure it would have taken off at all had it not been for the  serendipity of having a late keynote speaker. Keen to fill time the event organisers hastily filled the main hall with coloured paper and my instructions to “Draw around hands and commit!” By 11am the speaker had arrived, spoken, and I couldn’t move for coloured hands. pcic4-tipping-point After that it was easy… 1kHands had reached critical mass; the tipping point; and everyone wanted to get involved with the weird thing up the corner with all the coloured hands on it… or so it seemed. The reality was that I counted around 200 hands on the final piece (about a third of the attendees) but it looked (and felt) like much more. However, the seed is sown and I see no reason why 1kHands can’t continue elsewhere. Another conference. Another sector even. Perhaps it’ll work online. The point is that #1kHands is not strictly about healthcare. It’s about collaboration, courage and thinking differently in the face of resistance, strange looks and scepticism. The Dancing Guy may be the innovative leader but until someone else sees the value and invests in the idea the Lone Dancing Guy is still just a guy dancing on his own. pcic4 drawing around hands pcic4 cutting out hands The 1kHands wall at Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Learning Session Four (Glasgow, May 2014)  (#PCIC4) celebrates the army of ‘dancers’ who were prepared to put up their hand and commit to doing better. Beyond that 1kHands celebrates anyone prepared to put up their hand and commit to meaningful change.  pcic4 commitment The inspiration for #1kHands was from a talk at the previous Learning Session by Dr David Reilly who has since been in touch and is very encouraged by this next step, as illustrated by his tweet:

We intend to meet up and talk about the future of #1kHands… the ‘movement’ (that’s a medical reference). Until then please keep the has tag alive – tweet your commitment (with a pic of your hand if you can) and tag it #1kHands – it doesn’t matter if you’re health care, social care, local government, education, public, private or voluntary; and if you want to create your own 1kHands wall of commitment at an event then be my guest – just tweet or email me about it – whatever you do just put up your hand and commit. Below: The final #1kHands wall final 1kHands wall

Commitment of A Thousand Hands #1kHands #pcic4

“Would you be kind enough to put up your hand if you feel the human side of care is under unacceptable strain in today’s healthcare systems.” 

Hands Title Hashtag

This is the statement posed by  Dr David Reilly at NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s (HIS) Learning Session three, November 2013. Reilly goes on to say,  “I’ve nicknamed this for myself as “The Conversation of A Thousand Hands” because all of the hands are going up.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (27 + 28 May) I’ll be working at HIS Learning Session Four at Glasgow’s SSEC. My commission was to create an graphic illustration that captured the journey of the collaborative and the two day event, from speakers, attendees thoughts and responses.

Inspired by Reilly’s “Conversation…” I was keen to make the illustration about ‘action’ – my solution I call “The Commitment of A Thousand Hands” (#1kHands). The hands I hope to document are not hands in the air signifying their discontent with a system but a show of hands intent on transforming the system.

hands pledge

In the words of HIS website, “The aim of the learning session is to provide support, encouragement and inspiration to make sure attendees have testing activity in all five areas of the “Must Do With Me” elements.”

“…support, encouragement and inspiration” are all very well at an event and without a doubt ideas will be formed and promises made. However, in the cold light of day, back at work, in isolation, our promises seem much more onerous and perhaps insignificant.

And so “The Commitment of A Thousand Hands” aims to instil a vision in the attendee’s minds of many hands together – It references the idea of “aggregation of marginal gains” – that while small individual efforts may seem almost insignificant, when gathered together these commitments have the potential for significant transformational change.

So get involved – on the coloured paper provided draw around your hand and write your pledge/commitment on the palm of your paper hand. I’ll then take the hands, cut them out and create the collage of hands reaching upwards. You can post as many times as you like…

 

The Commitment of A Thousand Hands is about collaboration, diversity and the practicality of action, doing and work. Each hand is as unique as the commitment associated with it. As an individual you are not simply committed to a single piece of work on your own, but a collective work (with the support in spirit) of a thousand hands.

There will also be a postcard at the event (below). Again, write your pledge onto the a pre-printed hand and fill out the information on the back – please do both and feel free to use the same idea/pledge on both.

HQI Pledge Postcard

To illustrate the #1kHands process I have made a short film – please share it as widely as possible with those at the conference. Also look out for your contribution on Twitter using the hashtag #1kHands alongside #pcic4

Here you can watch Dr David Reilly from last November’s session. (This link will take you directly to the statement at 1:38)

Are you coming to #pcic4? What do you make of #1kHands ? Comments below please…

Wellderly – collaborative participation

wellderly figures

My wife is currently studying on the Design for Services Masters programme at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (Dundee University). Along with two colleagues from the course she has been working on a submission for the Young Innovators Challenge (YIC) – entitled Wellderly.

“The Young Innovators Challenge returns with a new focus on social innovation. This is a great opportunity to develop ideas and new ways of tackling real issues that can make a difference in Scotland and beyond.” Scottish Institute for Enterprise website

wellderly set

Above: The stage is set. The whole film was captured and edited on an iPad with the models set out on a ‘lazy-susan’ to reduce the need for moving the camera. 

My involvement was purely digital – in that I helped create the movie. The script and models were all Keerthana, Jenni and Moyra. I took the pieces and the audio and put them into what you see below. We were tight for time which meant about three hours preparing the various elements and then four hours the following evening to animate the 90 second film – submitting in time for the midnight deadline with (literally) seconds to spare!

wellderly animation stuff

I hope you like…

I would consider this a prototype. At some point in the future I would hope to tidy it up a little – maybe add some sound effects – but I’m pleased to say that Moyra, Jenni and Keerthana have been announced amongst the finalists for YIC 2014, so, along with a very good idea, our little film did the job.

wellderly timing sheets

Above: Timing is everything – key points in the audio are mapped to two, three, second chunks which allowed me to work out how many frames I needed to capture for each segment.

Incidentally, in reference to my previous post on ‘social innovation’, the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (who organise YIC) offer their own interpretation of social innovation as “Social innovation is an emerging global phenomenon that brings together enterprising and entrepreneurial thinking with creative innovative skills to deliver solutions with a social impact. Done well, it changes people’s lives and communities for the better.” – again, it’s quite broad, but worth a read I thought.

wellderly title

Please let us know what you think of Wellderly by leaving a comment here or by contacting  Moy, Keerthana or Jenni.

One Day Digital with Nesta

nesta one day digital

It was One Day Digital at Glasgow University on Saturday. Organised by Nesta UK I was invited to provide a workshop to enable Primary Teachers some basic understanding on how they might use iPads for creative projects in their classrooms. I set the scene here.

nesta one day digital

My approach was a combination of showcasing projects I have run and the work that has come out of them; demonstrations of practical and inexpensive apps to use; and some ‘in-at-the-deep-end’/‘off-you-go-and-do-it’ group tasks. Each session broke up into two or three groups periodically throughout the workshop. Each group produced a short film and an animation.

The irony of reinforcing the point that all film-making requires a great amount of preparation, and then sending 13 teachers off to complete a task they are totally unprepared for wasn’t lost on me – however, they all stepped up and threw themselves into the task and what you see below are some of the ‘fruits’ of the day.

nesta one day digital(If you were there and you have content on your own iPad you would like to share please contact me through the form here. (contact page))

Frankenstein’s Photos were pretty popular – basically using a framing app to composite sections of each team member to make one new face with frightening results.

We also managed to stage what must be the shortest film festival in history in that each of the animations were less than four seconds each.

 

One Day DigitalSo despite the very early start (Taxi at 6:20am) to get to Glasgow Uni for 9:30 and inevitable Groundhog Day effect of delivering the same workshop twice, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed working with everyone.

Finally, here’s a Storify prepared by Nesta who programmed and managed the event – thanks to them too.

If you were there, what was your KEY take-away from the day? Please leave comments and feedback below. Much appreciated.

Volvo not included – getting creative with iPad

learning-ipad-1

This Saturday at Glasgow University I’m hosting a Digital Media class using iPads at Nesta’s One Day Digital event for primary school teachers. The focus will, quite honestly, be my eleven year old self’s wish list of school holiday activities… film-making and editing, animation, audio recording, image manipulation and sharing them.

volvoTo do all of this 20-odd years ago – as I did – and to make it mobile would have required a Volvo estate… bulky cameras, VHS machines and clunky TVs, meters of power and connector cables.

Of course things have moved on, but do you realise how much? In 1982, nearly 10 years before I bought my first video camera, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) the emerging digital division of George Lucas’ (creator of Star Wars) movie company Lucas Film, created cinema’s first entirely computer-generated (CG) sequence. It was in Star Trek II: The Warth of Kahn, it lasted 60 seconds and cost a reported $250,000 (total budget of which was only $11M) and required a computer that would have filled several large rooms.

Today, any reasonably high-end laptop has the processing power to generate effects vastly superior in quality at a fraction of the cost.

But we’re not going high-end. Let’s take a step back because while laptops got more powerful other options emerged too.

Joby gorillapod video and grip tight

I have several cameras in the house, but the one I use the most isn’t the best quality, it’s the one that fits easily in my pocket. Equally I love vinyl records too but I mostly listen to music on a device that, yep, fits in my pocket. Coincidentally the same device that I mostly take photos with.

So for me it comes down to convenience. Gary Penn of Dundee video game company Denki has a set of design rules for computer games – but I believe they could be applied to many creative activities. The key one here is ‘convenience‘.

If I can easily take the device with me everywhere I go then there are more opportunities for me to be creative. I don’t have to plan opportunities in the way that I would have with a car full of kit.

Now, we may not be making an Oscar winning movie on our iPhone or iPad just yet (except for this one perhaps) but the experience will be much more immediate, fun and equally as rewarding; not forgetting extremely convenient.

treehouse qr scan

Of course, in this instance the key audience are those who are unlikely to have Final Cut Pro running on a Pro Mac. What’s more likely is that at school or in the home they have access to a phone or tablet that is capable of colour correction and manipulation of images and moving images; film-making, animation, time-lapse and slo-mo video.

And despite the convenience of mobile devices they can’t yet take away the reality that movie making is often very hard work, with extremes of both intense attention to detail and periods of not very much happening. But we wouldn’t want them to. These mini-projects can help young people understand and appreciate the challenges of the processes as well as the satisfaction of the professional film-maker, documentarian or journalist; but in a space that they can relate to.

Hopefully we’ll capture some examples from Saturday’s workshop and get permission to post them here. I look forward to meeting those of you who are coming along – it should be a great day! UPDATE: Read about it here!

For reference here are the list of apps we’ll be using and what for:

Part One
Movie making – the trailer (App: iMovie)
Movie making – for fun (Apps: Action Movie + iMovie)
Movie making – the documentary (iMovie)

Part Two
Audio/AudioBoo (Apps: Instant Rec and AudioBoo)

Part Three
Frankenstien’s Photo – image manipulation (Apps: Snapseed + Nostalgio)

Part Four
Stop Motion Animation – (App: iMotionHD)
Time lapse – (App: iMotionHD)

Whether you are coming on Saturday or not please feel free to post any queries or comments below.

Muvi X-Lapse for time lapse panoramics

muvi x-lapse pic 3

I really didn’t have to think too long about this purchase.

I love making time-lapse films and iMotionHD is one of my most used apps on both the iPhone and iPad.

Time lapse is a fascinating filming technique. It’s the perfect tool for:

  • Establishing shots (how else could you make a conference-room filling up with people look remotely interesting?)
  • Creative openings (the day’s sunrise)
  • Illustrating the passing of time (clouds rushing by, sun-down, etc)

The possibilities go on and on…

muvi x-lapseWhat Muvi brings to this is X-Lapse, a clockwork turntable which turns 360 degrees over an hour (manually adjustable to anything between one and sixty minutes).

The movie below was capture over a couple of days on the west coast of Scotland at a place called Ratagan (Glenshiel, Ross-shire) and includes a shot of the nearby Skye Bridge (toll free bridge to the Isle of Skye) and the ferry terminal at Sconser, Isle of Skye.


muvi x-lapse pic 1X-Lapse has standard tripod screw (¼” screw thread – male on top for mounting a camera; female on the bottom to mount X-Lapse to a tripod); it’s a great companion piece to my Joby Gorilla Pod. It also comes supplied with a ‘shoe’ to hold your iPhone (illustrated above) but again, I use my Joby Griptight for added security (left).

So let me know what you think of the film. For about £15 (from Firebox) I recommend X-Lapse as a solid purchase! I also recommend you check out iMotionHD here.

 

Skye Bridge from Kyleakin

skye bridge