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.

– – – – – – – – – – –

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

– – – – – – – – – –

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

– – – – – – – – – – – –

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’.

GENERATION evaluation

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable. Maybe because ‘designers’ believe the impact is obvious – “Look how happy they all are?!” (etc!)

When it comes to using the design process in the context of ‘business’ then the bottom may well speak for itself. However, if design is going to be taken seriously in areas where the bottom line is neither financial nor a product on a shelf then it is up to the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in the things we find most meaningful.

So how DO you measure the impact in a story?

GENERATION:
25 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY ART – Co-production Projects

I ran a workshop in Glasgow last week to demonstrate an evaluation process I had developed. GENERATION have run a series of co-production arts projects across Scotland for young people. We wanted to carry the co-production ethic through into the evaluation and capture meaningful reflections on the process – and capture them in a way that would demonstrate the impact the projects had had.

The process I designed is based on storyboarding methods usually used in idea generation. Instead I used the storyboards as a means of reflection – documenting an individual’s story or journey through the project. I’ll get into the process in a moment but firstly, here’s a film of how it went down…

When evaluating projects the challenge is gathering QUALITATIVE feedback that can be QUANTITATIVELY measured. To achieve this I devised a method of rating stories against their relevance to the impacts defined by GENERATION. The impacts are areas of development and learning that GENERATION set out to achieve through the various projects. The impacts are: Skills, Confidence, Relationships, and Positive Progression).

In addition to these impacts we also agreed to look out for other common themes that were identified as being important to the young people through their feedback.

GENERATION - Big questions

Above: One of the BIG questions – five questions around the room that helped warm everyone up for the tasks ahead.

Below: Time lapse film of the Big Question session.

My evaluation process was to be delivered to the participants (young people) from each of the projects by the artists and educators (practitioners) who had worked with them throughout the project. But first the practitioners needed to be experience it for themselves – this was the purpose of my workshop. I would help GENERATION evaluate the practitioners experience by using my process and at the same time they would experience it in preparation for delivering it themselves back at their own projects.

The Process
It was important to me that the rating didn’t devalue experiences that didn’t appear to meet the impacts – it was important that the young people shared their story in their words, in their language. It was up to us to find what we were looking for.

For example: If a young person told us that they had made friends as a result of attending one of the programmes and that they enjoyed making things for this exhibition that they had never done before, then we tagged that story with relationships and skills.

During one of the project evaluations several young people told us that having somewhere [the studio where we met] away from school to be creative was important and this was identified as an additional impact.

So the young people were not made aware of the impacts before we gathered their stories because it was important that the stories were authentic and not influenced by the targets of the project.

We wanted their story, from their perspective and in their words.

GENERATION partners

ABOVE: TO IDENTIFY WHO-SAID-WHAT WHILE STILL HAVING THE FREEDOM TO HAVE FEEDBACK GATHERED TOGETHER WE GAVE EACH PARTNER PROJECT THEIR OWN COLOUR OF PEN. PARTNERS INCLUDED ‘THE NATIONAL GALLERY’, ‘MCMANUS’ AND THE ‘DUNDEE CONTEMPORARY ARTS’.

I devised a simple matrix to gather impact summaries of the stories. This was simply a grid with the person’s name and a box for each of the GENERATION impacts and another box where we recorded additional impacts and notes. We graded the tags using three sizes of dot. If, for example, a reference was made to relationships (either explicitly or in the participant’s own words) then we marked a dot. If the story made more than one mention of relationships we made a larger dot. If the whole story was about relationships then we filled the box with a dot. In this was, we could see at a glance, which tags were most significant.

As in any evaluation of this kind there was a level of subjectivity. For this reason it is recommended that the people who cary out the project evaluations are the people who have been companions on the learning journey with the young people – the youth workers and practitioners. They are best placed to interpret the stories (of a year or more) most accurately through their knowledge of both the project and the young person.

GENERATION at Glasgow CCA

Above: Inside the CCA, Glasgow

At the end of the day the practitioners left the CCA with a tool kit under their arm and experience under their belt – along with the confidence (fingers crossed) to evaluate their own projects with their own young people.

I personally had the opportunity to use the method in Nov/Dec last year to evaluate the projects at The McManus and the Dundee Contemporary Arts and it went very well.

Through design, testing and training, the whole evaluation has been an extremely rewarding and valuable process for me and I’m looking forward to seeing results from the other five centres over the coming months.

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable which results in qualitative feedback and stories being viewed as less valuable than other more obvious forms of measurement. It is therefore the responsibility of the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in what we believe to be meaningful. In this way we will only add value to the process and more meaning to the impact.

I would love to hear from you if you have come across qualitative measurement that has impressed you.

Location: Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts
Film and editing: Jon Gill © 2015

The Battle of Camperdown House

camperdown house with SPK

There’s a report in today’s Dundee Courier that the A-listed, neo-classical Camperdown House, centrepiece to Camperdown Park, Dundee is not going to be accessible to the public anytime soon.

I understand the problems that this must bring to Dundee City Council (DCC). So often cultural projects are criticised for being a waste of money in the face of other, more pressing issues. In this particular case DCC are saying Camperdown House is not as important as other things they have planned and therefore not a priority.

camperdown house dome

You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes you can’t please any…

However, I have a little insight into why people would want this building accessible. In October 2013 I was one of a small group who were granted access to the building as part of a collaboration between the McManus Youth Action Group (YAG) and SmallPetitKlein (SPK) contemporary dance who were interpreting our contribution to the National Museum of Scotland’s ‘Sense of Place‘ project.

View more Instagram images from the day here (you will need an Instagram account)

The purpose of the day was for YAG to work on a dance sequence with SPK that would be performed at the opening night of the McManus ‘Sense of Place’ exhibition. I can’t remember why Camperdown House was chosen other than us ‘arty’ folk like to be inspired. Given that it has been closed for so long there was definitely a ‘haunted house’ vibe which also contributed to another SPK production ‘Cut’ – see more below.

The ‘Sense of Place‘ session in Camperdown House went so well that, at the end of the day, I was able to direct a piece of film that captured the dance as well as becoming a template for another film shown in the exhibition.

So, if you would like to see inside of Camperdown House I hope that, to some degree, you can be satisfied by what follows. First you will see the camper down film, followed by the final version filmed out-and-about in Dundee. That film is then followed by scenes from our opening night at McManus where the dance was performed live, leading our audience through the museum – a stunning building in its own right.

Links:

SmallPetitKlein’s production, Cut

Dundee Courier Camperdown House article

Here’s to the Imagineers!

I was invited to speak at the second Think Different Dundee which took place last night at Drouthy’s, Dundee. It was a great evening with a broad range of disciplines, minds and sensibilities in the room – all with a desire to think differently. What follows is a (slightly) more articulate, (hugely) less shambolic interpretation of what I said…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I’m a little concerned about this talk of mini-TED talks. The first TED talk I ever saw was the JJ Abrams talk which he starts by explaining how he was asked to do the talk. When asked by Abrams what he should talk about the rep said “don’t worry about it. Just be profound”. So then Chris asked me to do this and I said “Great, what should I talk about?” “It’s up to you,” was the reply, “We’re aiming for 4/5 minute TED talks.” In my head that sounded like, “It’s up to you. Just be profound.And in a quarter of the time.” So, though I’m told you should never make apologies before you speak publicly, I’m going to make two: 1) this won’t be profound, and 2) nor will it be 5 mins.

So, as this is Think Different I thought I would bring along a copy of an original Apple Think Different advert from 1998. Along with the campaign was a piece of text written by Apples ad agency  – I’m only going to read the first section but I thought it would be appropriate: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

As a title I suppose Crazy Ones is fine for an advertising campaign but not so good on your ID badge! And so it got me thinking about a title that I’ve had my eye on for some time now, Imagineer. Imagineer. If you’ve heard the title before it’s probably because of the Disney Imagineers who come up with interactive stuff, the animatronics and theme park rides for the Magic Kingdom. But I discovered recently that while Disney have used the title for some time they didn’t originate it. Imagineer was defined originally in the 1940’s by an aluminium (or Aluminum) company in the USA called Alcoa. They even put out a statement at the time to explain it:

For a long time we’ve sought a word to describe what we all work at hard here at Alcoa… IMAGINEERING is the word… Imagineering is letting your imagination soar, and then engineering it down to earth.

Letting your imagination soar, and then engineering it down to earth. So, to Alcoa Imagineering is a combination of imagination and engineering. Imagination is key, obviously… and hopefully everyone arrived with their imagination intact. But what about Engineering? Alcoa were using the noun and thinking about traditional engineering (which is fine), but we could also read it in the sense of the verb, to skilfully arrange for (something) to happen. I like the sound of that. So, this combination of imagination and engineering is a powerful concept… but… I think we could also throw in something else, and if we’re going to tell an interesting story then we need three things anyway, right..??!

So lets throw in Pioneering, as in, forging a new path. imagineering venn diagram I think that when you bring those three things together – Imagination, skilfully arranging for (something) to happen, while forging a new path – you have something pretty amazing. And hopefully this is summarises the intent behind Think Different Dundee. So I thought that we should have a think about what this could look like, because these ideas in isolation are not new, these ways of thinking have always been there…

Imagination
A big part of what excites my imagination these days is how widely attainable technology is to us and the possibilities and opportunities that that accessibility presents us with. A lot of my freelance work is spent teaching digital media you young people (of all ages) – and typically I use mobile devices for filmmaking and animation. What we can achieve on an iPad today is amazing. I could have made the same films 20 years ago but to take to edit and share on the go would have taken a Volvo Estate to carry all of the kit – the VHS top-loaders, huge cameras, a generator for the power source…! You just wouldn’t do it. But today it’s in our hands – for most of us it’s in our pocket. So it’s accessible! And that’s exciting to me. It fires my imagination.

Engineering
To apply skilful arrangement to products or services is valid and amazing in itself, … but another aspect to it, what I value most, is when the person I work for enables or facilitates the environment that allows this kind of thinking – a space that allows me to think different. That’s the kind of skilful arrangement that I really appreciate. A big reason for working freelance is that I can try to enable that for myself – but I’ve also been lucky enough to experience in my day job as well. Again, this thinking has always been there – did you know that the Post-It note came about because the company 3M allowed employees 10-15% of their work time to develop their own ideas? They had to be pitched to the company at some point but the space was there to experiment. So recognising the need for this way of working and enabling it is a huge responsibility for leaders. Roselinde Torres in her TED talk, What it takes to be a great leader, says “Great leaders are not head-down. They see around corners, shaping their future, not just reacting to it.” So if you’re in such a position, take the opportunity to thinking differently and enable an imagineer.

Pioneer
I work in public services. More than ever public services need imagineers. There are fewer resources but we need more out of them. And so the smallest change can make all the difference. My enthusiasm for Service Design comes from the difference that I have seen it make when people for a wide range of disciplines come together and this video is a great illustration of what the service design approach can do.

Let’s ignore the fact that the unfortunate chap is a bit drunk… the fence and the space on the other side represent the service, but hit’s not clear to our hero how to access it. Rather than enabling him it restricting him. It makes no sense to him. This is what happens when public services don’t think about the people who are using them – it’s frustrating. But what I’ve seen service design achieve, through observation and investigation (in this case it’s the camera man) is identify the people who have discovered a work around (the young boy). Looking at how people use services is a great start to fixing them in a more substantial way but it means getting in a ground level, asking questions, and putting ourselves in their shoes. I hope that tonight you will leave excited and imaginative. I hope that you will be better prepared to make things happen, skilfully. I hope that you will be inspired to forge new paths. Here’s to the Imagineers.

Thank you for listening (reading). TED Talks to look out: JJ Abrams,  Roselinde Torres
See also: Why I am NOT a service designer

Steve Jobs talking about the ‘Think Different’ campaign:

 

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

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…

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.