I do a lot of filming and some photography for Clifton High School in Bristol, the most recent being a video to promote their sixth form to potential parents and students. Filming these school videos is always a challenge because we have to work around the existing classes and student/staff availability – luckily most of the logistical problems are handled by the school’s PR department but we always have to be ready to change plans at the last minute and work around the unexpected. Filming is further complicated because there are always some students who are on the “no photo” list so I have to keep them out of my shots.
Most of my school filming is done with just a camera on a tripod, sometimes hand held. For interviews I use a battery powered LED panel setup, usually combined with daylight from windows. I capture audio either with a lapel mic or a pencil mic on a boom, whatever makes most sense in the given room and time constraints.
When possible I do the edit with the PR person because only they know all the internal needs and constraints. Even so these videos always go through multiple versions until everyone who needs to sign off is happy.
This video was presented during the school’s annual open day as well as being used on their website (as are several other videos I have created for them).
One of the nice aspects of working with musicians is that they always introduce me to other musicians – in this case Ben Please of “The Bookshop Band” recommended me to Sam Sweeney of folk trio “Leveret” and I got to film three songs for them while they were recording their new album at Real World Studios on Box.
They had already been recording and were set up in a circle in the Wood Room so I had to work with that and find a way to light and film them. In addition they would be playing ‘live’, i.e. the music on the videos is what they were playing not a previously recorded track. Luckily I have plenty of LED panels and fresnels so I could light each player separately and I used five cameras (one on each player, one from above and one hand held so I could pick out details of instruments and faces). I made minor changes to the lighting for each song so that the three videos wouldn’t look identical. We filmed for about 4 hours to get all three songs covered as it took a two or three takes to get each song right.
I did a multi-camera edit for each video then applied a different colour grade to each to help make them individual.
A local section of a multinational company asked me to film a mannequin challenge for an internal video competition highlighting health and safety improvements across the company. Their idea was to film workers in a packaging facility: once demonstrating bad practice and inadequate equipment, and once showing off both good practice and the equipment they had acquired in order to protect their workers from injury. They wanted motion graphics to highlight equipment and postures.
I used my Panasonic GH5 on my Steadicam Merlin for the quick move through the facility – the combined image stabilisation of the GH5 with the floating affect from the Steadicam gave us a smooth move, which not only looks good but helped when tracking the objects to which motion graphics were applied. I filmed at 50fps so that I could get smooth slow motion while passing certain workers but the entire video could be no more than 2 minutes so I also had to speed up sections – there is a limit to how fast I can walk around a crowded space while carrying a camera smoothly!
I created the rotating text and arrows in After Effects with a unique mask for each to make them disappear ‘into’ the object they point at because that looked nicer.
I’ve been working with the Bookshop Band for more than four years, as they have progressed from playing in one bookshop (Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights) to concert halls and bookshops all over the country. They have written so many songs now that this year they are releasing one album per month for ten months! Below is one of my favourite recent songs, “Thirteen Chairs” which I filmed for them at the Micheal Tippett Centre in Bath. For concerts I use multiple cameras – a wide to set the scene and provide safety, and one or two more depending on having places to put them which have a good view. Clearly I can’t operate all of those so it’s just the close up camera which I man, trying for intimate shots of the musicians. I use my own audio recorders for quick turn around but at a gig like this the band were making their own recording so I was able to use that for later videos (such as this one).
Back in December I was hired by Green Buzz agency in Washington DC to film interviews for an award given to architect Richard Rogers. I put together a team (me as DP, a producer/interviewer, and a 2nd Camera Op) and provided all the camera, lighting and audio gear. We filmed the interviews with Richard Rogers and Mike Davies at the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners office, and Lucy Musgrave at her Publica office. We also shot B-roll of architectural models at Rogers’ office.