New #Filmmaking Freebies!!

I just added a new Film Making page under the ‘freebies’ tab above. They are typical of the kinds of resources that I produce for all of my classes and workshops.

Mobile Journalism (#MoJo) is at the forefront of democratised media and content production. And with video consumption going through the roof and consumer mobile devices being amongst the best available for point-and-shoot photography and video, then there’s never been a better time to find out what they’re capable of.

If you are interested in learning about more for your business, organisation or club then please get in touch. Clients so far include, Children and Young Person’s Commissioner Scotland, NESTA, Dundee City Council Leisure and Communities, Perth Council, Fife Council, Fife Youth Arts, The Young Foundation.

 

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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’.

A wide angle on 2014

roads

So here we are, 2015 – the fabled year of Marty McFly’s journey into the future. Apart from the blessing that in our universe Jaws sequels didn’t see episode 19, the reality of 2015 in the Back to the Future context remains largely underwhelming.

No hover boards, no flying Delorean’s (no Delorean’s of any sort on my driveway for that matter…), and no fortune-securing almanacs.

But the downbeat attitude ends here! My intention is to point out some faves of the last 12 months while looking forward to amazing developments in the year ahead!

So here goes, five highlights of 2015 (excluding family of course, cos’ they would take up three slots straight-a-way) in no particular order, as they appear in my head at this moment (while I also reserve the right to change my mind later…)

GoPro: I’ve always loved taking pictures and have a history of digital cameras that goes back to 2000 and a 3.4MP Fuji. Things have moved on considerably of course and despite the current convenience of a very powerful camera on my phone I’ve had a lot of fun with this camera over the past eight months – not least of which was taking 240FPS videos of sycamore leaves (helicopters) and slowing it right down.

Pixies: The new album did not disappoint and neither did their live set at T in the Park (Scotland).

 

Gairloch: …is a small town on the west coast of Scotland. We went as a family for the first time this year (my wife had been before) and what a location. We took a trip 30 miles out to sea on a RHIB and saw dolphins, a Minke whale, seals, puffins… it was a stunning morning, some of which you can see in the film below… I also got to try out my sea kayak (I’m going to cheat and include here as another fave of the year) in some serious surf. Can’t wait to get back…

Games: This year has been a real eclectic mix of games in the family. The kids really got into Monopoly and love using my Star Wars original trilogy edition – they both beat a couple of times. We also downloaded Need For Speed: Most Wanted which is a huge guilty pleasure for me. And then on a short break to Edinburgh I introduced my boy to Games Workshop which he got quite interested in so we are currently painting Warhammer 40K figures and learning the game. Finally, my boy also had a chess set for Christmas which he has now taught me to play… so despite the number of devices available to play games on in the house we have a pretty healthy balance of non-digital interests too…

University: 2014 was the year that saw my wife graduate with the same Masters in Design for Services that I completed in 2011. IT was like a refresher course for me, which was great, but also it’s given us the opportunity to collaborate on some great projects together and moving forward I’m sure there’ll be lots more – exciting times!

So, what hit the spot for you in 2014? While you think have a quick squiz at my 2014 in wide-angle, mostly courtesy of my GoPro. Watch out 2015!

Instagram HyperLapse

 

A new movie capturing app from photo sharing platform Instagram promises to bring powerful ‘steadying’ capabilities to your iPhone (and Android phone very soon).

Ordinarily steadying or ‘anti-shake’ software maps every frame in a clip and tracks constant elements to determine the movement of the camera and use that information to fix unwanted movement. This takes a lot of processing power which is fine on a pro setup but no so much on a phone.

So rather than scan the film and drain your battery, Hyperlapse uses the phone’s gyroscope data as reference and fixes the movie up from that. This is by no means a simple process but, despite adding much more functionality to the Instagram app recently, Instagram Inc. are confident enough in Hyperlapse’ ability to put it out as a stand alone app.

I can’t wait to give it a go – how about you?

Read more on on the Instagram blog.

Instagram Victoriana

victorians - actors

Fun times were had at The McManus, Dundee’s Museum and Art Gallery last Saturday evening (17 May) as we presented Victoriana Dundee as part of the Festival of Museums.

The Museum, opened late for a special evening and, with the help of Artemis Scotland, brought Victorian Dundee to life once more as the various galleries were hosted by local Victorian celebrities – amongst them, Bessie Maxwell and Marie Imandt told us about their ground breaking journalism for DC Thomson seen here:

My job was to ‘channel’ the spirit of Peter Feathers Jnr who just over 100 years ago was a photographer an filmmaker in the city. The Youth Action Group at McManus had found a lot of inspiration through his work for their Sense of Place project (currently on display at The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh).

victoriana props

Above: Victoriana selfie with my Victoriana props. (I’m not quite that portly) This pic was taken with my GoPro super wide angle camera :/

Bringing some of our ideas from the project together for last Saturday’s event we decided to have a Victorian Photo Booth where our visitors could dress up and we would photograph them and post to Instagram. Given that Peter Feathers has been remembered for his films more than photographs I opted to use an app called Vintagio. Equipped with my authentic Victorian clockwork iPad I took 5 second shots – similar to the moving newspaper images seen in the Harry Potter films. You can see the results on the McManus Instagram page or arch a montage of snippets in the Youtube video below.

victoriana - dressing up

We were very busy for the solid two and half hours – the continual posting to twitter (check out the has tag #FoM2012) didn’t go unnoticed:

So, I heartily recommend any opportunity to encourage folks to dress up and have their picture/movie taken – adults and children alike, I’m sure we could have stayed open for another two hours!

Were you at McManus last weekend – or any other Festival of Museums events? Tell us all about it below…

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.