Tennis Star Max

A Tennis Star in the Making

I recently had the pleasure of returning to my home town of Frinton-on-Sea to work with a young and very talented tennis player called Max.

Any parent whose child is seeking a career in a sport like tennis will tell you, having ability is only part of the equation. Another crucial element is having the financial backing that gives your child access to the best facilities.

After meeting Max and his Dad, we decided to make a short film, featuring him and his coach Chris Harris at Frinton Lawn Tennis Club. They wanted the film to illustrate where Max is now and where he needs to get to, with the help of a much needed sponsor.

BMD Production Camera 4K

Motion Controlled Photography

One thing that’s always frustrated me, is that moment when you’re looking through raw video material and you find what looks like a promising slow relaxed pan. You let the shot play along and observe its beauty, and then halfway through you see a little ‘blip’ that ruins it! This is one of the problems when you work with human camera operators, they make mistakes and they’re not perfect.

Motion control solution

I’ve looked at several motion controlled photography systems over the last few months, but the one that really appealed to me was the Genie from a company called Syrp. When I first saw that it used a rope to pull itself along, I thought it seemed a bit of a Heath Robinson contraption, but then I saw some sample footage and realized, this was no toy. You can even set ease-in and ease-out for perfect complete moves.

We now have our own Genie which we initially used in conjunction with a Kessler Stealth slider and although the results were good, usability was an issue. Part of the Genie’s rope pulling system requires that you fasten two metal clips at either end of the slider, which is a problem with the Kessler slider because there’s not enough space. It’s entirely my fault because both Syrp and Kessler offer complete solutions. Kessler have a motorized solution called elektraDRIVE which is great, but it is bound to the slider. The Genie is more flexible because it can be used in other ways, as demonstrated in their promotional film where it’s used on a skateboard among other things. To complete the Syrp solution and get the most from the Genie we have ordered their modular Magic Carpet slider which will make life easier (we hope).

The video below shows our first batch of test shots from my garden.

P&A Wood Coachworks

P&A Wood Anniversary Open Day

P&A Wood Rolls-Royce & Bentley heritage dealers asked Motion to provide two camera units to follow the events during their 50th anniversary open day celebration.

This fantastic event at Great Easton saw the launch of their new showroom and coach work facilities. The unique parade of vintage Rolls-Royce & Bentley cars and flying display topped a wonderful day.

Boy reading a book

Sharpening the Saw – Typography

I find myself in the unusual situation where several current projects have been delayed, in some cases for weeks and in others months. So, this perhaps is the perfect time to ‘Sharpen the Saw’, a concept I recently came across reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. My equivalent is my editing software and in an effort to keep up with the very latest I signed up with on-line learning resource Lynda.com.

Now you might be thinking, that as a professional in the video production field, shouldn’t I already have a very high level of skill to do my job properly? Of course the answer is yes, but as somebody who spends a lot of time editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, I should be looking at ‘complementary’ skills.

One thing I always spend too much time mulling over during an edit is the typeface. I tend to favour sans-serif variations, mainly because a simple font such as Helvetica seems to fit the nature of the work. So I felt it was time to have a look at Lynda’s Foundations of Typography course. Immediately I can see that it will not only improve the quality of my work, but also help me explain to clients and colleagues why I have made particular typography choices. Sharpening the saw is now a regular activity!

Canon EOS 650D Video Test

Many freelance camera operators now offer a DSLR acquisition solution to their clients for beautiful cinematic footage that was unobtainable with their traditional video camera. We have used the Canon EOS 5D (Mark II and III) on several shoots over the past few years and the results have been pretty good and the clients very pleased.

On a personal level, this got me thinking that I should stop taking both a Canon EOS 350D and Canon HV30 camcorder with me on holiday when one of Canon’s new EOS models can take care of stills and video. I’d bought an EOS 650D as part of a time-lapse recording project a few months back and decided to try it as an alternative solution to carrying two cameras.

It didn’t take very long to identify a big problem with using this camera for video, at least with the EFS 18-55mm kit lens. Have a look at this clip and you’ll see what I mean.

So, unless I wanted an odd whizzing sound on my personal videos I had to look at getting a different lens. After a little Googling it seemed like the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM was the obvious choice as it had the new stepping auto-focus motor (that’s the ‘STM’ bit) which is quieter and optimized for video recordings.

Three days and £269 later I had my new lens and I’m pleased to say it’s almost silent and I couldn’t hear it at all on the video recordings. The speed of the focus is pretty good too, in a test at my wife’s fashion show it coped well in most situations, but struggled to focus on the models as they walked straight toward the camera.

I can stop carrying two cameras on my travels now. The 650D may not be as quick and easy to use as my trusty old HV30 camcorder, but having just one camera (with one set of batteries and cables etc.) that can produce great stills and video has made life much easier.