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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The POV FAQs OK



So recently the whole POVCam experience has been coming together. Almost the final stage has been bringing together the helmet design with the 3D Mic Pro. In previous clips I was using the helmet with no sound.

Now, here, I brought them together. See and hear for yourself. For the best results wear headphones.

The 3D Mic is mounted above the helmet so that it is vertically slightly higher than where your ears really are, but not by a noticeable amount.

This test used my smaller Sony camera without the wider and more stable lens. This was so I could concentrate more on getting the sound right. Self shooting in this way is just about possible, but I would need to think about using in-ear headphones in order to monitor the sound, something I didn't do here. Overall, I think shooting with the POVCam is a two man job, just to have one person monitoring technically and also as a second pair of eyes to make sure you don't trip over.

The big lesson was the best results come from trying to forget you are wearing it and just be in the situation. This takes a little while to get used to. Once are in that frame of mind you feel okay to throw yourself into situations such as climbing trees!

Next up, is the shooting of a 6 minute short called "Everyone's Alright With This" using the same technique.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Podcast 19: With James Moran



As you can see from the silly image, this podcast is about writing horror. In fact, it is slightly wider than that covering genre writing in general.

This month's guest speaker is James Moran who talks about his career, how he started and his current projects. A very candid and very grounded talk. Have a listen and be better informed for it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

BAFTA Games Awards


Last weekend I was at the BAFTA Games Awards. 

This was to support my good friend and fellow scriptwriter (and games developer) Rudolf Kremers who was nominated for his debut game - Eufloria. Now out for the iPad too! Get it you fools.

The big winner of the night was Portal 2, including best story. And I think rightly deserved. This is a kind of story that couldn't really be told in other formats / media. Those to me, are the best kind of games, ones that really do what games do well and don't try to be something else.

I thought it was one of the best awards ceremonies I've been too. Relaxed atmosphere, yet professional. Original retro games to play. And EVERYONE in the after party, none of this two or three tier nonsense. Good stuff - even if Rudolf was pipped to the post on the night.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


The guys over at 3D Mic Pro have done an initial short write up on how their device works with the POV Cam. They have a small group of interesting "3D Micers" and as you will see I am in good company, with camera legends Vincent Laforet and Philip Bloom also in the list.

Don't forget, you can follow the details of how this technique all unfolds at www.friendreque.st

Monday, March 19, 2012

Here is another technical test for the whole POVCam style.

This one is about 3D motion tracking - or how to add or remove objects from a point of view shot.

When you have complex motion - a camera moving in every direction and facing anywhere - it can become hard to do even the most basic of post production. Some effects, such as matting out an object, are easy when you are on a tripod. But when the image is moving everything is much harder.

This test was an effort to put something false into a shot. Again, super easy if this had been a locked off shot.

For you technie fans here was the process...

  • Film at 50 fps to get more motion information
  • Use "Icarus" to reverse engineer the motion
  • Icarus can only use non-HD footage so I give it an downscaled version of my master to work with
  • Export that camera movement data and import it into After Effects
  • Now the virtual camera in After Effects moves the same as the real camera did
  • As Icarus used a downscaled footage I bring in the HD footage again but have to adjust the virtual camera lens angle to compensate. I know my cameras field of view is 59 degrees so I enter that myself.
  • Add a 3D layer for the object that is needed in the scene. In this case the big comedy Google Maps arrow
  • Put it in the right place in the virtual world
  • Render the footage, but back at 25 fps to match other material


The render is quick fast, the Icarus part very slow, perhaps a couple of hours.

I quite like it in the end. I may try and sneak something like it into the feature film.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Everyone's Alright With This


As some blog readers will know I am directing a rather lavish short called "Everyone's Alright With This".

As well as being a fantastic story in its own right its aim is to explore how to get the best from the POVCam. It's written by Natalie Barthel, with Johnny Griffith helping to get us all in the same room together for some excellent script discussions.

Working together in this way is great. It is drawing together different views, all aiming towards one goal of a good script. Although we have the same skills we approach things slightly differently. I like working together like this.

But now, as we move towards production, I am finding there is another way of working together. This is about working with people who have a totally different set of skills to you. There is no overlap.

I met up with costume designer Sally Winter yesterday. It will come as a surprise to none of you that costume design is not a strength of mine. There isn't a need for a full on costume designer in this short, but that doesn't seem to be the point. Working with someone like Sally actually gets you thinking about the opportunities generally in that field. Someone with that skill level opens your eyes to other ways of showing character and telling stories. They inspire you.

The same for location really. Here is our location - the Print Room. Lastly, the call for actors is still live if you fancy joining this great collaboration yourself.


Sunday, March 04, 2012




In this test I wanted to check the POVCam helmet was up to the job of being thrown around a little.

What is key to notice is that this test doesn't feature the final camera or lens. It is using the Sony NEX5N with kit lens, so isn't as 'wide angle' as the proper POVCam lens. The full and proper set up uses an 11mm lens on a Canon 550D.

The camera was set on full auto and I deliberatly made it work hard by featuring a variety of lights, indoor and outdoor and lots of different focus distances. As you will see it only just keeps up, but even at this low technical quality it is surprisingly good. The footage is pretty much unaltered. I pushed it up 1 stop in post.

A few early pieces of feedback on the Facebook fan page have been around the idea of simulating how your real vision works more closely. That means cutting out a lot of whip panning around - your eyes take this out naturally.

In my mind this is partly how the film would work - with time-based cuts. But for the tests I've kept it in.

Extra nerd points if you spotted the music was from Skyrim.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The 3D Mic



I've teamed up with the guys at 3D Mic to add binaural sound to the POV Helmet. If you don't know what that means then check out the clip above, with headphones if possible.

Getting that rich sound is important in my view, for an immersive experience that POV shooting brings. They have adapted a mic especially for the helmet - the results will be on here as soon as possible.

And also on the Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/friend.request.the.movie - pop over a give us a 'like' if you can.