Open Close Movie is #MadeOnAMobile

Mobile film making is fine for making social media shorts – but what about a full length feature? Sean Baker, Michel Gondry, Steven Soderbergh – all of them Hollywood directors who have made films using an iPhone camera for a cinematic release. None of them, however, edited their films using the same device.

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” – Orson Welles

The schools, museums, public sector organisations I work with don’t always have lots of kit, if any kit at all. Tablets in particular are easier to come by and most have film editing apps. So, the limitation I gave myself was inspired by the people I’ve been training and working with. Capture and edit on a mobile device.

And if it’s okay to edit a minute or two of video on a mobile device then why not 10 minutes, 25 minutes, 45 minutes?

By most standards (British Film Institute, the Academy Awards) is “feature” length and so that was the target.

The subject of the film, Open/Close, is:

“BRINGING STREET ART TO DUNDEE, OPEN/CLOSE IS INJECTING LIFE TO THE ALLEYWAYS AND FORGOTTEN CORNERS OF THE CITY CENTRE. WORKING WITH LOCAL ARTISTS.”

Learn more about the project on the website

Open Close Movie was projected at the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre cinema on 19 May 2018. 130 people turned out and generously signed my lobby poster with lots of nice comments.

The plan now is to release the film online later in the year with additional footage of a spin-off Open/Close project (in partnership with Dundee City Council) called Waste of Space; where industrial waste bins are being painted up by local artists.

So watch this space – Open Close Movie is coming to this screen soon!

 

 

 

#MadeOnAMobile @ The National Museum of Scotland

2018 hit a high point and it was only March – invited to deliver a #MadeOnAMobile workshop at the National Museum of Scotland!

It’s fair to say I’m a fan boy when it comes to NMS. It’s even in my profile pic on Twitter! The building is stunning, the collection is amazing and entrance is FREE.

My first visit was in 1998 and I’ve been a regular visitor ever since – the kids know it inside out and yet no one ever complains when we suggest ‘another’ visit. We’re due to get across soon to see the new “Rip It UP!” exhibition which charts the Scottish Pop Music scene.

So, back in March I was there to support staff in making videos to promote the exhibition and while also taking their social media audience behind the scenes of the nations largest collection of… “stuff!”

Here’s what they had to say…

So, it’s great to hear that people enjoy the training, but what really matters is when they go away, refine an idea they came up with on the day and the training becomes part of there day-to-day duties… check this out:

And if that wasn’t enough, they even wrote a blog about me… have a read here. 

I couldn’t have been more excited to be working at NMS and it’s doubly as satisfying to see the results of embedding what I taught them into their day-to-day. I’m expecting great things from NMS and really looking forward to delivering more training with their Egyptian Collections team later in the year.

Thanks to  for the cool short of my back:

#MadeOnAMobile NMS – my back

 

 

 

#MadeOnAMobile – what do the people say?

I’ve been to enough workshops to have had that experience where you walk away feeling none the wiser.

Yes, there’s a great reason for using that software/methodology/process, but I still don’t feel confident or skilled enough to do whatever was suggested.

So when I designed film making workshop of my own I was adamant that people would leave having actually done the thing that I’m teaching them. In this case, using their mobile device – smart phone or tablet – to make a short film.

Capture, edit, share. Simple as that.

So here’s a short film that I made of my #MadeOnAMobile workshop in Stirling for the College Development Network with quotes from people captured on the day…

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.

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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’.

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…

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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: