Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Dark Side of The Lense

Renowned body boarder and photographer Mickey Smith produces his first short film recently called 'The Dark Side of the Lens', shot on a combo of 16mm and the Canon 5D II. Mickey worked with Allan Wilson from Astray Films who was his DOP, as they travelled the coast line from Cornwall to Manchester and over to Mickeys home of Ireland. He's quoted as saying it was meant to be less biographical, but what it most definitely is, is a very close and personal look at why he thinks he does what he does. The most powerful thing about the film, other than the brilliant visuals, is his narration. His voice is strangely endearing and honest, you can almost feel the cold creeping into his wetsuit.

Radium Audio Ltd - Strange Arrangements

The amazing guys over at Radium Audio Ltd collaborated with Weareseventeen to produce the wonderful Strange Arrangements film that was shown at the onedotzero festival in London, which you can see below. So impressed were they by the visuals that they forced themselves to up their game and create a sound track which included a recording of every thing that is seen within the film. Radium have some serious toys at their disposal & having had the pleasure of meeting them a couple of times and seen their bizarre collection of copper boxes with numerous knobs, switches and antennae (which they refer to as their home-brew hardware) i can imagine the lengths they went to to record the source FX's used. I suggest you take a minute and watch the making of as well (also below), which should go some way to showing the dedication and imagination that Radium put into their projects.

And now the making off:

Thanks to Vimeo and Radium Audio Ltd

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Save Herne Hill Velodrome

I discovered Herne Hill velodrome quite by accident, as I pootled around SE24 discovering my new neighbourhood after moving from Cornwall in 2001. I didn't initially register the importance of the track, as being the last existing 'Finals' venue of the 1948 Olympics, where Reg Harris won the silver medal in the 1000m Sprint.

I've visited the velodrome quite a bit since, mostly for training for long rides and peleton practise, and yeah its a bit run down and greatly affected by the slightest bit of drizzle, but it has heart.

Theres something hugely endearing about turning up, paying my cash and getting a rubber band with a number on, much like it was when i used to go swimming all those years ago. However im not saying it should stay like that, it needs investment and improvement and some serious PR, and more to the point it needs Dulwich Estate to stop being so snooty and let those upgrades happen. Please don't let me read that its been sold off for some more 'desperately needed housing', which will no doubt get bought by bankers looking for a convenient zone 2 flat for their week in town - as im sure Cameron is already thinking (Update - apparently this is unlikely as it may be protected under 'Public Common Ground', phew).

I love the idea of making more of the centre space too, it would be great to see a BMX track (a la Brockwell Park) in the middle, together with some training facilities, how about spin classes and a gym, lets show the posh Tennis club down the road who's boss!

So, if you're in the area, and you too have a special place in your heart for large racing ovals, then make your opinion known, get your lycra clad butts down to the Dulwich College on 6th October @ 7:30pm, and lets persuade Dulwich Estates to give it the shot in the arm it needs, and im not talking EPO either - see you there hopefully.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Lords Pro40 Final - Wickets & Photos

Lords Pro40 Final, originally uploaded by neile2007.

Somerset V Warickshire on Sat 18th, the Pro40 final, what an ideal day for a game of cricket. Tickets came my way via a colleague which i snapped up in hope that my west country brothers could finally do the right thing in getting to a final and not coming second, or indeed last. It wasn't to be, but it didn't stop me taking multiple photos with the excellent camera on the iPhone4 and glueing them together via AutoStich, an excellent little app that i highly recommend. It doesn't care if the pics aren't in a line or you took them at 3 different times through out the day, which also works wonders i might add.

All good clean fun, just a shame about the 20 run over which let all that hard work slip away, Hunter will remember that for some time.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

IBC 2010 - Other Stuff that Caught My Eye

Trying to do the IBC exhibition justice in 2 days is a challenge. 13 halls of broadcast technology, content distribution and everything in-between. I had planned on doing a wide sweep of the whole place aiming to pick out highlights and then return for more in depth investigation. Due to the sheer amount of exhibitors though, I know i was only able to scrape the surface, so what did you see "i hear you ask" well….

Some people (you know who you are) complain that HD isn't all that, well maybe they should take a look at NHK's Super Hi-Vision. Just a meagre 16x normal HD, with a total of 33 million pixels, the 7680x4320 system, produces pictures of clarity that i have never seen before. When i sat in front of the screen, and watched the short film, i was utterly convinced i was there, the 100 degree view was amazing and the 22.2 channels of 3D audio was the icing on the cake.

Apparently 3D is going to be quite big, so watch out for this one…. I think that nearly every 3rd stand at IBC had some sort of 3D technology, wether it be, 2D/3D conversion, 3D software and plugins, new types of TV's and broadcast workflows, some of which were better than others. Nvidia were demoing glasses that are lenticular but the lenses receive a signal via infra-red or RF and then flicker in time with the image to give a smoother 3D picture. It does not work, but 10 out of 10 for effort. Panasonic were showing off the AG-3DA1 3D Camera, which films with dual lenses and saves left/right footage to individual SD Cards at 24mbps in AVCHD codec. It also has a live 2 channel output allowing for direct to monitor 3D display. Makes for a very simple and effective 3D workflow.

Panasonic also had they're new AG-AF100 Camera on show. The worlds first Micro 4/3's digital single lens camera. Much like a DLSR body, but configured to record without a mirror and onto a sensor not much smaller than the equivalent 35mm. The AF100 will also take the majority of 4/3's lenses and with an adapter, many Prime lenses too. It will also cover off all HD formats and frame rates, but wont go above 1080. Recording at the same bitrate as the 3D camera (25mbps), it wont be replacing 5D, but it will make for a tempting alternative.

And lets not forget Blackmagic, who have managed to work their magic again by buying the DaVinci grading suite which previously retailed for £500K and have released the DaVinci Resolve which can be installed on a Mac Laptop as software only for $995! with an optional $500 upgrade to allow for DNxHD compatibility. And if you want the full control hardware, capture card and a linux box, that will only set you back apron £40K. Amazing, MPC will have to watch out….

And so there it is, just a few highlights, something for everyone i hope, suffice to say technology seems to continue its upwards ride while companies fight to bring the best tech to the consumer/client at reasonable costs.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

IBC 2010 - Finding the digital needle in an exhibition haystack.

Next time I go to IBC I will remember the last 2 days and think carefully about how long I really need to be able to do the Exhibition justice. Arriving early Friday morning and leaving on Sunday meant I very quickly had to condense my visit and attempt to make a plan of attack. 13 halls of various technology and resellers, and I had approximately 14 hours. It seemed not unrealistic to do a quick sweep of the area, make a note of the stands and companies that caught my eye and return to them on the Saturday for more info — simple.

My first port of call was Hall 7, the Post Production Zone. This was for 2 reasons: The first being I'm Head of Ops at the Clipstone office of The Mill in London — which is only 3 months old and entirely tapeless to boot — and I’m rather proud of it. So Post seemed like a good place to start. Secondly, our sister company Beam (formerly has their stand at IBC in Hall 7, which was rather exciting for all concerned and looked very smart sat in amongst other post giants like Blackmagic and Avid, eagerly demonstrating the Beam retail aspects amongst all the services that it offers.

I began to wade through the free blurb that I was handed at registration (events like this make me feel bad for trees) and attempted to draw up a bit of a hit list, but soon found myself still walking around hall 7 by the early afternoon — my great plan already failing spectacularly.

As well as generally trying to get an idea of what is new and exciting for The Mill, I very much wanted to find that one thing that would intrigue me and allow me to effortlessly blog for Post, talking fluently about its technological advances and how it will no doubt excite the creatives. It wasn't initially easy to pick the wheat from the chaff, many exhibitors I had never heard of, and I found myself making very quick decisions of whether to talk to them, based on the look and feel of their space (again, nice one Beam — you can check out images of their stand at

One such company that I perhaps would have initially passed by if it were not for the fact that it had an iPhone and iPad on demo (I'm easily swayed, I'm sorry) is Streambox. Founded in 1999 and based in Seattle, they specialise in a software based platform for live and file based video transport via IP. CNN use their software for video phone reporting for example. Their new toy is AVENIR, an advanced version of one of their standard Streamboxes, designed for video streaming and delivery via bonded 3G/4G networks. A battery powered portable unit that fits on a camera person’s waist and takes in a live HD/SDI feed which is then pushed out over IP, via 8 3G and 4G wireless cards. Through the use of dynamic bandwidth negotiation it can do real-time delivery of HD/SD and near real time file based delivery of the ACT-L3 QuickTime format. The AVENIR has 2 paths on which to transmit so can send live media to a decoder or media player as well transmit the files to a server or data centre for edit and broadcast.

As with all these live stream boxes and devices, I’d very much like to see it in action, but if it does what it says on the tin, then it has effectively rendered OB (Outdoor Broadcast) vans redundant and makes external reporting far more cost effective. From a live TV point of view, your team can now consist of a single reporter/artist and single cameraman, maybe even just the one of them? It goes without saying that cost ramifications would be considerable, however I see it possibly being used in a film or set environment. Beam was initially designed as a quick way of delivering CGI rushes back to Sir Ridley Scott as encoded files while he was filming on set in Malta for the movie "Gladiator," so why not stream the footage from set back to a post house, so they can start work immediately, even if it is rough rotoscoping or prep? It also gives 2nd units, a way of keeping up to date with multiple shoots and the individual sets could (in theory) all be streamed to one place for the editor to work up an offline edit combining all the day’s footage?

This is why I like IBC; it’s not just about the kit that is available, it’s also about what it will lead to. People far more clever than I will glue three of these companies together to create something even more impressive, and that’s when things get really interesting.