The Panasonic DMC-GH4 arrived today! After the briefest of glances at the manual and a few minutes of faffing with the camera settings I was raring to go and film something, so here is my very first slice of test footage: a completely unedited micro-interview with the resident feline, Kira. She was as expressive as always.
It feels like ages since my last blog, the last month has flown by… Anyway firstly I just want to briefly sing the praises of arts networking events – you hear a lot of different views as to how effective or useful these things are, but the reason my last few weeks have gone by so quickly is because going to all these local gatherings has led to new collaborators and a new job 🙂
I ran into the lovely folks at jam-av several times at various events organised by Creative Enterprise, who do really good work providing many different training and networking opportunities for people working in the arts across the West Midlands that are often free to attend. We got to talking and I ended up helping out as an extra camera bod for an interesting project called Peace Through Unity, in which young people are given the opportunity to meet and talk to war veterans, hearing their stories and working together to explore the meaning of peace while celebrating it with creative projects including making a short film, writing poetry, etc. I found it really interesting to observe the respect and fascination the students held for the veterans, and they had many interesting questions for them. They were often clearly moved by the stories they heard and I think that everyone involved seemed to take something positive from the experience.
I am now also teaching the film and TV module at the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts which also came about through jam-av, who knew the principal well and put me in touch. It has been a while since I did any teaching on a regular basis but I’m having a great time with it, it’s nice to get my teeth stuck into some new projects and I’ve been impressed with the students’ capabilities. It’s only been a few weeks but we already have a complete film, a fun little horror from my oldest afternoon group called ‘Rocks in the water’; as soon as I get it uploaded to the PQA website I’ll post a link. We will be working to produce a number of films to screen at the students’ showcase towards the end of the year so watch this space!
Documentary video by Nick Fogg featuring some behind-the-scenes footage of the animation workshops I led in Wales in July and December 2013 for Theatr Brycheiniog’s ‘In a New Light’ project – my bit’s at 2.15 🙂
Carlito would like to tell you all about his magic hat, which he found at a charity shop.
This is a short video I created for a contest on Zooppa entitled ‘Bring a Child’s Imagination to Life’ where the rules dictated that I had to recruit a child aged 9 or under to be the brains of the operation, only helping them to shoot and put the thing together into a film no longer than two minutes long.
The idea, spoken word content (none of which was scripted or even really planned) and most of the props were all Carlito’s; he turned up all ready to go. I just pointed the camera at him, chipped in to the dialogue where I was prompted, and edited the footage – as you can see it is heavily edited as the talent kept insisting we had a ‘few more minutes’… these film stars can be right divas eh? At some point I’ll do a longer edit so you can see what else came out of the hat. 🙂
A few days ago I found out that my micro-short What a lovely way to burn was one of five winners in the IdeasTap Takeover:Love competition, the brief for which was to submit short films about love with a duration of up to 60 seconds. The IdeasTap Takeover is a five-day festival taking place at London’s Rich Mix from Wednesday 12 February to Sunday 16 February 2014 (sorry, only just got around to blogging about it now but you can still catch the end of it!)
As I only found out I was a winner at the start of the festival I’m sadly unable to attend, but if you are in London or can get there this weekend maybe you can check it out for me and tell me what I’m missing! Read about the event and book tickets here – ‘burn’ and the other winning films will be screened at 7.45pm Thursday-Sunday in Venue 2, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 1LA. If you’re keeping the Valentine’s spirit going over the weekend then going to see some new films is a bit more interesting that the usual mushy stuff no? :p
I took a wander through the vaults of my NAS recently and ended up watching through a bunch of old workshop videos – while I have unfortunately produced more workshop material than I ever kept, I am still in possession of some of my favourite videos and animations created by and with young people and thought it was time that some of them had an airing!
Moviedrome was a weekly filmmaking workshop I led for young people at the Hive Music and Media Centre, Shrewsbury from 2004 to 2010 (pre-HD, hence the low resolution). Although I have led numerous other film and animation activities both during and since, those sessions were some of the most fun I ever had running a workshop; the films the participants made still make me chuckle now 🙂
Here is a small selection of some of my favourite videos – the surf guitar track at the beginning and the end is ‘That’s Right’ by Pirato Ketchup, check em out here.
And yes, we did use that dodgy Youtube-ripped clip from ‘Knowing’ twice – we ain’t even sorry.
In November I found out that the silly little film I shot on my desk one afternoon had been accepted into a film festival, and I was delighted that it was such a lovely one – my partner and I went to Filmwinter two years ago when he had an art installation there, we had a great time at the festival and loved Stuttgart. It was my first trip to Germany and I’ve been itching to go again!
What a Lovely Way to Burn will be screened as part of the 2 Minutes Short Film Award category on Friday 17th January. Yay!
In September Mario Di Maggio – planetarium manager and dome-based art enthusiast – parted ways from Birmingham’s Thinktank Science Museum, taking his awesome Dome Club project with him – Dome Club is now based at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, and has an exciting programme of forthcoming events; I had my first taste of the portable dome experience at the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend (where I ended up sharing in the presentation duties – I thought I was only coming to take photos!) so I highly recommend it as a great way to experience visual content. Many visitors found the experience relaxing, mesmerising, and the dome environment itself strangely womb-like (in a comforting rather than scary way – I think). Many have predicted that viewing films in these sort of immersive environments will be the future of cinema; Steven Spielberg and David Lynch are among the most famous advocates.
When Dome Club started in early 2013, it was an opportunity for artists, filmmakers and musicians to explore the fulldome medium and experiment creating work specifically for immersive environments; it was also an attempt to draw a different audience to the planetarium dome, demonstrating that such environments can be used effectively for content other than science or astronomy-based shows.
My partner and I first met Mario a few years ago (I met one of Thinktank’s directors at a Museums Association event in my curating days; he introduced me to Mario and I introduced him to Michael), and they collaborated several times to bring art to the science museum – Michael showed a number of art installations at Thinktank starting with Data_Sea in 2009, a fascinating piece about the radiosphere. When Mario started up Dome Club, this encouraged me to experiment with fisheye photography – something I had never tried before – and I submitted images and animations to a couple of events, the last being my Pecha Kucha presentation at the 10th Dome Club (read my blog about it here). I was glad to hear that Mario wanted to keep the event going even though he was going freelance, and doubly so when he asked me to design some publicity material for ‘Dome Club 2.0.’
Mario first asked me to redesign the logo, keeping it similar enough to the original to still be recognisable as the same brand, but different enough to reflect Dome Club’s ‘reboot’. Here’s what I came up with (check out the old programmes on the Facebook page to see the difference):
So still very similar in terms of font, style and structure, but cleaner and (I think) a better visual representation of the portable dome’s shape.
I also knocked up a couple of flyers, here’s the one I did for the Pink Floyd events – tickets are still available so get ’em while they’re hot!
Back in July I did some stop-motion animation workshops with groups of young people at Ysgol Tryfan in Bangor and Galeri in Caernarfon for Sblash o Olau, a project culminating in an evening of moving 3D animation and shorts projected onto a 10 metre high wall of water on Victoria Dock, presented by Theatr Brycheiniog, Galeri and Fallon Films; check out the video of last year’s event below. Unfortunately I am unable to attend, but the screening is tonight at 6pm so if you’re in the area (or can get there in time) you should definitely check it out, admission is free!
Back in September I was one of the presenters at Birmingham Pecha Kucha‘s 10th event, a special edition of Dome Club at Thinktank (edit 16/11/2013 – Dome Club is now based at the Custard Factory). If you are unfamiliar with Pecha Kucha – Japanese for ‘chit-chat’ – it is a simple presentation format consisting of 20 images, each appearing for 20 seconds; the images advance automatically and you talk along to them. This method of presentation was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public (presumably to cut down time and unnecessary waffling)
As I had recently started to explore fisheye photography, when I was invited to take part it gave me an opportunity to really explore what scenes and subjects work best with the medium and also to try out some more animated sequences (I had shown a short fisheye animation of clouds moving over my parents’ garden at a previous Dome Club event). However what I didn’t have was a theme for my presentation, and I had been just about to go on a trip to the US… initially I was wracking my brains over what to photograph (landscapes? Food? Americana?), then one morning my other half pointed out some rather impressive cobwebs on the lawn in front of his mother’s house that were large, dense and illuminated by the dawn light and heavy dew (jet lag meant that we were up before the sun during much of the first week) and this got me started; I took a series of images focusing on different strands of the web and made them into an animation. From there I began to take photographs of whatever caught my eye (or occasionally the eye of my partner and his friend David, who deserve the credit for some of the subject ideas for images taken in the US) and I decided that the experimental nature of my image-hunting quest could be a theme in itself rather than anything more specific, dubbing the collection ‘Life Through a Fisheye Lens’.
I still needed a few images once I got back home, so I went on a mad dash around Coventry city centre days before the event, snapping some of the more aesthetically interesting buildings in the area, mainly the cathedral and the transport museum.
On the evening itself, thanks to a couple of relaxing pints with one of the other participants beforehand and several practice runs (pro tip: never attempt a Pecha Kucha without first making notes on what you plan to say, and timing yourself saying it) my presentation seemed to go well and I managed to (more or less) keep up with the image changes – I was really pleased with how my photographs looked on the dome and would definitely be interested in taking part again.
As some have asked me if the presentations were recorded/available to view online, I will look into it – they weren’t when I last checked, but at some point I’ll probably upload the rest of my content and the descriptions of the images so watch this space…