Tuesday, 27 May 2014

New video "Star Trekkin."

I just recently completed a video for a bit of fun and to try out some After Effects and green screen. Here is the finished result. This is a remake of the classic Star Trekkin video made by The Firm in 1987.

I have started clearing space for a dedicated full-time studio so that I can create more videos like this. I'm sorry, but it's true. :-)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Allowed to sleep.

Oh hello, internet. Where have you been?!

The plan is to update this page with videos I make from now on, and links to any short stories and essays I write. But first, a brief update -

Things are getting much better now, after a period of uncertainty! I have a brilliant job, which I like a lot, at a magazine in St Albans, and not only is the pay excellent, but I also get to skip off work at 3pm, which is awesome. And furthermore, I don't have to work weekends. This is incredible. For the first time in ten years, I have a weekday job and weekends off. Yay.

So, this is giving me the ability to concentrate on making videos with some local videomakers I know and also the Potters Bar Cine and Video Society, and also work as a post-production consultant on an as-and-when basis. I should also be starting my degree in Psychology in 6 weeks, which I am looking forward to.

In short, things are pretty good.

I have lots of half-finished short stories and several versions of the first hundred pages of The Faintest Whispers book that I started writing last October, but not a lot finished off. I hope to add finished short stories and essays to this blog when they are done. The videos I make should end up here as well. There should be a Doctor Who spoof coming, but who knows with these things?!

So this is just a short update. More soon, I hope.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I thought I would go and see this film today, after only watching an hour or so of the original around six months ago. I'm a bit slow to see new films at the moment, but this film is an appropriate one for me to watch this week after seeing Monkey Theory in action for the past seven days. More about that soon, I think.

This film might just make it into my Blu-Ray collection. While this isn't a film for everyone, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The action is stunning and the story just about makes sense if you excuse a few moments of clunkiness throughout.

This is not a review. I'm too tired for that. I just wanted to say "Hey, World, I've been to see this film." Chufty badges should be sent to the usual address. Thank you.

Monday, 5 April 2010

iPad Vs HP Slate

iPad is out in the US. Yay.

OK, bored now. Years of hype leads to natural disappointment when reality sets in.

I'm actually more excited about the HP Slate than the iPad now. Being able to use a full operating system (Windows 7) rather than the scaled down but stable iPhone OS, and being able to use USB devices like hard drives and printers, is going to make the HP Slate much more user friendly in the business world than the iPad. But I'm guessing that the iPad is really meant to be a leisure device for media consumption.

I'm much more interested in media creation, though. The thought of being able to use an HP Slate with Adobe Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas Pro editing software, while still on the set of a shoot, would be amazing. The ability to do quick edits without having to find a seat and being able to follow camera operators around during shooting would be very useful, and a great help to the workflow of small video production companies. The HP Slate seems like it will be powerful enough to handle video editing applications too - with a rumoured 1.8 Ghz Core Duo cpu and 1 Gig of RAM, it would be able to handle SD video at least. That's OK for an offline edit.

It would have been great to have been able to use Apple Final Cut Studio to do this editing work on location, so hopefully Apple will be bringing out a kind of iPad Pro which would feature the full-blown OSX and the abilty to run FCS.

The closest thing we have to that at the moment is the MacBook Air. Oddly enough, the release of the iPad is making me more likely to consider buying a MacBook Air in the future....

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Wedding Industry and 3D TV.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2010 there were two main technologies being showcased - tablet computers like the Apple iPad or the HP Slate, and 3D TV.

While I am interested in the iPad for various business and personal reasons (I'm sure I'll blog about this soon) I'm going to focus on 3D for this blog post.

So, the facts are -

1. Regular HDTVs won't be able to show 3D. You need to upgrade your set.

2. You have to wear 3D glasses to watch 3D TV.

3. The main players in this market are already Sony and Panasonic. Other companies such as Samsung have already began producing 3D TVs. Here are links to their blurbs - http://www.sony.net/united/3D/ http://panasonic.net/avc/viera/3d/

4. The Sony Playstation will be able to play 3D Blu-Ray movies, following a free firmware update. Other Blu-Ray players may be able to be upgraded as well, in this way.

5. 3D videos can be easily edited in Final Cut Studio, which is the most popular video editing suite in the world, without the need for any updates to existing code or external plugins, making content creation very affordable already.

6. Panasonic already have the worlds first 3D video camera available for sale for only £16,000, which is incredibly cheap for a professional camcorder.

7. Major Broadcasters have committed themselves to producing 3D content from this year - ESPN will start airing 3D content from June 2010 and Sony, IMAX and Discovery have committed to a joint venture to start a 24 hour dedicated 3D channel by the end of the year. Japan has had a 3D channel since 2008 and in the US and the UK many TV shows have already been produced in 3D.

As a videographer, I have to try to predict what the uptake of video technology will be, in order to plan my longterm equipment purchases. Here are my thoughts on the potential uptake of 3D TV.

I upgraded to High Definition equipment in April 2005, within a month of the release of the Sony Z1e HDV camcorder. Five years on, there is still very little interest in Blu-Ray disc among my customers. Uptake of HD over the past few years will undoubtedly have been stunted by the global recession, but this isn't the whole story - the story I hear from everyone I speak to is that they are happy with standard definition and see no reason to upgrade to Blu-Ray or HD TV programming, despite a huge take-up of LCD and plasma HD TV sets capable of showing the content. As a techie, I just find this absurd.

So, people have just spent a small fortune buying great big flat screen HD TVs over the past few years since they came on the market. I foresee a lot of resistance to upgrade to 3D TV sets among average income consumers, due to the cost issue and also because of the already present resistance to upgrade to Blu-Ray.

I think that consumers are pretty much going to have to be forced to upgrade to Blu-Ray by the discontinuation of the DVD format. As a guestimate, I would say this won't happen until around 2017. So that's two years for the cost of 3D home entertainment systems to come down to a price that's reasonably attainable by the average consumer, and then a further five years for the majority of people to upgrade. Blu-Ray Disc players are already as cheap as £130 and the price will surely keep dropping until everyone can afford it in the near future.

Could 3D be the draw that gets people to upgrade to HD? I doubt this. Because of the requirement that the viewer wear a pair of 3D glasses when watching 3D films, I don't see that people will accept this for watching TV in the home. The 3D glasses will need to be low cost and also let people watch 3D TV without having to require the viewer to focus entirely on watching - therefore allowing them to communicate easily with the people they are watching with, or look away to other activities they may be doing at the same time as watching TV.

The electronics companies, the TV channels and platforms like Sky and Virgin seem keen to sell 3D products and services to their customers, and it seems that the technology is relatively easy to produce at at a reasonable price point. I think the sticking point will be that consumers themselves don't want the technology in their own homes. Or at least not yet.

The success of feature films like Avatar and Alice in Wonderland in 3D suggests that people really are interested in seeing 3D films at the cinema. I believe that young men with an interest in home cinema will be interested in having 3D TVs and perhaps a subscription 3D film channel. I don't believe that 3D will be popular for watching regular programmes like Eastenders or the news. Or at least not at first.

For 3D to be successfully taken up in the homes of regular people, the whole market needs to change - it somehow has to be attractive for people to want to watch regular TV shows in 3D and not just films and special events. The price has to be attractive. The aesthetics of the televisions themselves may need to be radically different (thinner and lighter) than existing HDTVs to provide more space in living rooms and to be more presentable. New 3D TVs need to look different to existing HDTVs so that it can be instantly noticeable that HDTVs are "old technology", therefore creating an emotional reason for buyers to upgrade.

Oddly enough, the wedding video industry always trails technology. As late as 2005, I had customers requesting VHS copies from me as they didn't have a DVD player at the time. Even now, the uptake of Blu-Ray wedding videos is extremely minimal, with only two customers opting for Blu-Ray in the whole of the five year period that I have offered it. So, even if 3D did take off spectacularly, it is possible that the effect would only be to make my customers want Blu-Ray and not expect 3D versions of their wedding videos anyway. In which case, I probably wouldn't need to upgrade to 3D technology for around 10 years. This means that I can replace my camera and then replace it again in five years time, before finally having to upgrade to 3D in 2020, or so.

A wedding video is a special video which obviously costs much more than any DVD you would buy from a store, and it is also a film that would be watched many many times more. To my mind, it makes perfect sense for everyone getting married to have a Blu-Ray Disc copy, so that they can sit up close to the screen and see all of the detail. This isn't something you would want to do, necessarily, with a hollywood film. I would also think that it would be more important for a wedding video to be filmed in 3D, so that couples can have the full visual experience of their wedding day video memory. So, this is why I think that the wedding industry should not trail technology, but it should be on the leading edge. After all, a wedding film is something that is going to be treasured for many more years than a hollywood film. I would think that couple would want to buy Blu-Ray or 3D, even if they don't have the technology yet - because they will of course be married for years and they will eventually be able to watch their video in the best way possible.

Nevermind. The wedding industry is a particularly odd industry anyway, with it's obsession for all things old and traditional - Rolls Royce's, top hats and enormous wedding dresses. While I would prefer it came up to date a little bit, I have to accept that this is the culture and the economic climate that we are all in. Maybe things will change. Maybe people will get excited about 3D wedding videos in the future.

For now though, I've convinced myself that the best replacement for my aging Sony Z1e can only be an upgraded version of it - perhaps the Sony NX5e or the Sony EX1R. Maybe one of these cameras will last me for another 10 years of wedding video production.

(And that's another blog post entirely.)