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.


Death of the Selfie?

group NY selfie

Do you remember when taking a selfie meant using the tiny convex silver blob on the back of your phone as a guide?

Well, the ‘selfie’ is so common place now that at the end of 2013 ‘Selfie’ was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries and even the Pope was in on the act.

Such is the fickle world of fame that having reached the pinnacle the only way is down; and, thanks to a gaggle of the movie world’s finest, it may be that last weekend brought about the beginning of the end for the poor old selfie.

Oscars superfly'd

Whereas the Pope came across as obliging and benevolent the Oscars pic has an embarrassing ‘dad dance’ feel to it. And then, with this being the internet, we see the ugly truth – that no one let Liza Minnelli (at the back in the blue dress) push through!

liza minelli Oscars

The one saving grace was that Matt Groening rattled off a spoof…

simpsons selfie

Pop, as they say, will eat itself!

– – – – – – – – – – –

While working on the the Sense of Place project at Dundee’s McManus we were looking at how cinema developed locally in the early 20th century. At a time when only a few dozen people on the planet had access to a movie camera they were filming the most mundane of activities; people coming out of work; trains coming into stations. It took the magician George Melies to spot the entertainment value of the medium.

With the creation and sharing of photography and video being so ubiquitous and democratised through smart phones and social media we live in a constant avalanche of selfies and dinner plates. But surely it’s the same phenomenon.

It’s interesting that many of the people who complain about the number of people sharing their breakfast on Instagram are also glued to the Great British Bake Off; I’m sure there’s some shared DNA in there somewhere.

And of course the Oscar selfie became the most re-tweeted Tweet of all time with over 2  million RTs before the end of the show.

ancient selfieFinally, my favourite selfie. Apparently the picture on the left dates back to the 1850’s (?). Although it could just be an early iPhone using a grungy Instagram filter. It’s so hard to tell these days.

Visual Storytelling Made Simple: Storehouse for iPad


Did you know that the very first version of Instagram (Burbn) was intended as a ‘Swiss army knife’ of an app… kitchen sink included. As development progressed went on, Kevin Systrom and his team stripped out feature after feature to arrive at the simple (but effective) photo sharing app that subsequently sold to Facebook for 1 Billion Dollars only 18 months after launch.

Storehouse is a new digital visual storytelling application for iPad and shares something of the simplicity of Instagram.

Positioned somewhere between Storify and photo book production, Storehouse maximises the intuitive interface potential of the iPad. Bring in pictures and video from your iPad’s photo albums, Flickr, Dropbox and Instagram to create (very quickly) a polished ‘story’ that can be annotated with text (again, limited to ‘header’, ‘quote’ or ‘regular’) and published on the web to the Storehouse community and to the world.


Experienced desktop publishers might see the application as limited. As a long-time Adobe InDesign user the power of Storehouse, to me, is in its simplicity. Within 30 mins of downloading the app for the first time I had browsed some great stories (links below) and had one of my own ready to publish.

Sharing is simple too – Facebook, Tweet or email a link to stories. Click ‘recommend‘ to bookmark stories you might like to return to. I expected ‘recommend‘ to be a ‘like’ but I can’t see that Storehouse display numbers of ‘recommendations’, only ‘views’.


Translation to bigger screens via your web browser is excellent, no need for ‘mum’ to download any pesky desktop apps to see your story. As yet embedding is not an option, but I wonder if that’s an intentional choice for now… YouTube videos can turn up in all sorts of places – Storehouse stories can only be seen on their site.

Developed by a team that includes an ex-Apple employee, the presentation is very cool – limited, but unfussy. As with Storify, the inability to ‘save a version’ of my work is a little disconcerting. I once experienced hours of work on Storify disappear due to a server problem. Once was enough.

Although a PDF would be appreciated, I have to say that much of the functionality and beauty of the ‘story’ would be lost. The Storehouse versions flow and bounce and twist (to close) in the fluid way we have grown accustomed to in well executed iPad apps. And while images can be cropped in the ‘story’, a single tap has the image appear full screen and uncropped.

storehouse application image

While less than a week old the Storehouse community is growing and, like me, they see a lot of potential and room to grow.

I think Storehouse would be great learning tool for schools. My daughter loves creating Keynote (Powerpoint) slides about her favourite subjects. On an iPad I could see the simplicity and intuitive nature of Storehouse being really popular with children creating home or class projects – but for that to happen I would want the ability to create private accounts, maybe even private groups where stories could be shared with the class, youth club, etc.


I can also see me using Storehouse as a presentation tool – particularly for image heavy and Pecha Kucha style slides; particularly for the cropped images that then appear full screen.

But, I’ve kept you for far too long – you should try it out for yourself.

Have a browse through the stories I’ve linked below, including my own ‘SuperFly’ exhibition retrospective… (read more about SuperFly here)

Remember where you heard about Storehouse first – if it was here then come back and tell me what you think. If you make a ‘story’ (or you already have one) link to them in the comments below or Tweet me @OnTheSuperFly



I hadn’t done much Photoshop work for a while having adopted Snapseed on my iPad and phone for most colour correction and editing. But I’ve been thinking about what my next ‘Fly‘ avatar might be and while running through town in the rain on Thursday I had an uncomfortably wet stop at a road crossing. That was it!

The Crossing

Below are a couple of the original pics and then the Instagram‘d versions of the final pieces. Time seems to be ever more precious so I haven’t spent a long time on these – I can see a few things that I’d like to fix but think of them in the ‘sketchbook’ category.

Hope you like them!



Get a ‘Grip’ for Yourself!

Joby gorillapod video and grip tight

Earlier this years I blogged about a Joby Gorilla tripod and how impressed I was with it.

Shortly after that I was directed towards the new range of tri-Pods by someone at Joby themselves. They very kindly sent me a couple of items to try out and having used them for a month or so this is what I think…

I’ve created a hybrid Gorilla tri-pod, for my iPhone 4S, consisting of ‘GorillaPod Video‘ and ‘Gorilla GripTight‘.

GorillaPod Video is designed for palm size video cameras and digital cameras. It has the standard screw mounted attachment with quick-release plate. It has several other features too but I’ll get to those in a second.

The GripTight comes with its own tripod (which for me is now surplus). Given the quality of the GorillaPod Video it would make sense to make the GripTight a stand alone product as I’m sure many users, like me, will want the best of both worlds. However…

Joby gorillapod video and grip tight

GripTight, as you would expect, grips your phone – but it is also extendable. It extends to widths between 54 and 72mm. Of course this future proofs your purchase to a degree – no worries about iPhone changing size in the future or converting to another device altogether!

So, GripTight does just that. There is only friction keeping your device in place, so exercise caution, but it’s surprisingly strong and i’m always confident that my iPhone is genuinely secure!

Joby gorillapod video and grip tight

So far, so ‘really’ good.

Back to the GorillaPod Video pod then.

Apart from the trade-mark Gorilla grip legs – that wrap around just about anything – this tri-pod, quite literally, has improvements from the top down!

Starting at the top we have the pan and tilt arm. Again, you can feel the quality in the build and it provides a very smooth pan. If the tripod is free-standing then it will need secured by your freehand while using the pan arm as there is a reasonable amount of resistance – but such is the quality.
There is a handy button that, while depressed, allows the tilt arm to move freely – once a suitable position is chosen then release the button and the arm remains locked in place.

At the neck of the tripod, just below the arm is an additional ball joint not found on other GorillaPods in this range and it allows for greater flexibility in positioning. (see below).

Joby gorillapod video and grip tight

See the video captured here, below.

Finally, probably the most surprising feature – surprising because they work so effectively!
The feet on the Video tri-pod are magnetic. I honestly didn’t think I would trust my iPhone to three small magnetic feet. However, they are very, very strong. (Over 7lbs of pulling force – if that means anything to you?!) I would happily attach the tri-pod to something metal, 90 degrees to the ground, and be happy that my phone was secure. Even stood upright on a metal surface provides extra peace of mind that the device won’t be blown over. (Been there with a iPad :\)

Joby gorillapod video and grip tight

So here (above) I put the magnetic feet to the ultimate test by dangling the camera upside-down from the metal housing of a projector screen. I filmed a time-lapse over 15-20mins, and, just in case, prepared a soft landing below. However, there was no need! The tripod stayed in place happily until I removed it!

So, while Joby Gorilla pods don’t come cheap I would suggest, given the value of the device you’re likely to be putting in it’s ‘grip’, the investment is valid and reasonable. This is a great portable product that I carry constantly with me. I found plenty of uses for the older model, (see the review) and I’m finding dozens more for this one, simply because it’s so versatile.

For ‘mobile’ film-makers then this is an essential tool! I say go for it – get a ‘grip’!

With Joby you’re literally in a good ‘hand’!

Totally Recall

smart phones

Philip K Dick already had some ideas up his sleeve on memories and what ‘they really mean’ when he wrote ‘We can Remember It For You Wholesale‘ which later became Paul Verhoven‘s 1990 movie Total Recall. (Remade in 2012 lest we forget!)

In the vein of my blog post from last summer ‘Is anyone Watching?‘ (which draws on a couple of posts from 12 months before that – link are in the above post) the BBC today are asking if ‘smartphones are killing memories?‘!

It’s worth a watch, if a little mellow-dramatic!

I don’t think it’s a good idea to live life watching through a 3 inch view finder – however, I’d agree with the chap in the BBC report from the National Portrait Gallery (Sandy Nairne, Director of NPG (very Scottish sounding name!) ) gets the balance just right…

What do you think? Are you or members of your family missing out on experiences through a need to share what’s happening through your digital devices or do they help you remember more vividly in a way that you can share time after time?

Joby iPhone GorillaPod

Just in case you haven’t found anything useful to do with your iPhone and you’re looking to give it a new lease of life then you might find this little gizmo interesting. [UPDATE] Please read this review by all means but it has been superseded by a review of the latest Joby products! While this review covers how I use the tripods the newer review looks at the improved functionality of Joby Gorilla Grip Tight and Gorilla Video.


I’ve no idea how long this has been around (so this post may be very old hat!) but I do know that over the past few weeks several iPhone wielding friends have been suitably impressed that I thought it was worth sharing further afield…

The Joby GorillaPod is well known in photography circles and has been produced in various sizes to cope with the most sturdy of cameras for many years. I came close to getting one for my SLR many times… however, they can be pricey. However, this one I couldn’t resist. Firstly, it was less than a tenner (£10) on Amazon. Secondly, I use the iPhone ‘a lot’ in workshops and general day-to-day photography, film/animation so I knew I was going to get a lot of mileage out of it.

The things is, apart from all the creative stuff, the time-lapse and having somewhere safe to prop my phone for outdoor camera stuff, I’m using the GorillaPod as a stand for when I’m Skyping/Facetime, watching the iPlayer or listening to Podcasts… and the thing that I was most paranoid about… leaving the phone lying around in the kitchen while cooking or washing up! ‘Now’ it’s wrapped around a cupboard door handle out of harms way!

I even tried wrapping it around the handlebars of my bike this week – it was pretty secure but given the wind I didn’t trust the frame to hold (see below) – otherwise it’d be a great way of capturing time-lapse or video on the bike.

Te GorillaPod legs are very light-weight yet incredibly sturdy and I have no fear of losing or damaging my phone while wrapping it around the branch of a tree! The stand also comes with the necessary (screw fitting) attachment that would allow you to use the tripod with a (Phone sized/weighted) digital camera. The frame that fits around the phone is detachable from the legs so you can very quickly set up for shots with out having to walk around with a tripod in your pocket! It feels less substantial than the legs but appears to be made of very flexible plastic, fits very snug and I’ve no reason to doubt its durability as yet.

So, heartily recommended by me… but what about you?! Have you used a Joby or anything similar? What’s your gizmo of choice for doing the same job? Let me know below…