When Secret Cinema recreated Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budepest Hotel inside a disused warehouse, we took care of the outside. Working with projection designer Nina Dunn, we re-created the hotel frontage from the film and projected it over the warehouse.
To bring it to life we added live action of characters in the windows, a snow storm, ZZ banners blowing in the wind and lights turning on and off in various rooms.
This frontage served as an introduction to the amazing rich world Secret Cinema had created inside the building.
We made a video with a proper film star and a bloke off the telly! This project was for a partnership with EE and Google. EE wanted to promote watching video on 4G while Google wanted to promote watching longer videos on YouTube – so we decided to make a genuine piece of YouTube video content that illustrates this rather than your usual advert.
I wrote and Creative-Directed it, with some writing help from Mark Bushnell who came up with the “no this is a bacon sandwich” line, much loved by the YouTube comments. We worked closely with Jamie’s team to design the 2 sandwiches, and make sure the content we were creating felt like a genuine Jamie Oliver Food Tube episode – the video only exists on Jamie’s channel after all, not EE’s.
It was a pretty hectic half day shoot, but Kevin is of course an absolute pro, and Jamie did a great job getting Kevin and crew excited. It’s hard to believe but the chainsaw was actually Jamie’s idea, not mine.
For the close-ups, we worked with a great chef who’s hands and arms (after some shaving and hair dying) matched Kevin’s perfectly, we even got a double for Kevin’s wedding ring for him. My proudest moment was stepping in as the stunt man (or the only person stupid enough) to hold the loaf while it was being chainsawed in half.
The video reached 2.5 million views within 2 weeks, and is Jamie’s most watched YouTube video by quite a margin. I know we’re not supposed to read the YouTube comments but it’s great to see so many like “First ad on YouTube I haven’t actually skipped”.
We got a Pizza oven! …and this time-lapse film of us building the stand for it is made using a little dolly unit I built for our GoPro. We’ve always wanted to have a simple small unit to plonk on a table during breakfast and slowly trundle forward, but such a device simple doesn’t seem to exist. So making one seems to be the only option.
Here’s a few prototypes:
First I tried building a little winch with a super geared down motor, and a trolley for the GoPro made of Lego. It worked, but it was cumbersome, and tricky to set-up.
Then I put the winch on the trolley and used it to power the wheels. Much better, but it was too fast and a bit noisy.
For the final design (although I’m sure I’ll tweak it again), I rebuilt the motor and gears using an old Lego motor and all the cogs I could find in our Lego box that’s sat in the cupboard since we were kids. Now it’s super slow, and the Lego motor runs almost silent. Oh Lego, is there nothing you can’t do?
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “But what does it look like if you strap an infrared filter to the GoPro and set it off on it’s jolly way down the garden path?”. Well it looks a bit like this:
While we were in San Diego recently, we visited our pal Nat’s mum for a BBQ. Nat’s mum has an awesome view of San Diego Airport’s runway from her balcony, so we strapped a few cameras up there and proceeded to enjoy the most intimidating pieces of meat we’ve ever had plonked down in front of us. A good time was had by all, even the jets.
Does what it says on the tin really. I’ve popped a mobile friendly version up on Vimeo, in case you need it.
UPDATE: I’ve been asked how I put this video together. Well, prepare to witness my geekness…
I love little photo projects people do. Martin Parr (a hero of mine) has many collections, including parking spaces, people on mobile phones, or even the simple self portrait. His sense of humour tickles me.
I’ve never found what I wanted to collect, at the end of each year I regret not having set myself a witty brief at the beginning of the year. So this year I thought what if I’ve sub-consciously collected everything? Which I have, on my phone. Just as a silly experiment, I wanted to see what would happen if I dumped all the photos I’ve taken in a year into an image sequence, no editing or cutting bits out. Would it be a mess? Would it be kinda OK, I think it’s… kinda OK. It helps that I tend to take many photos of the same thing, so the object is allowed to hang for a fraction of a second over a few frames. I was inspired by this excellent time-lapse of a road trip… I’ll be ripping this idea off soon.
To do this, first off, I have an app called DropSnap installed on my Android Phone. It automatically backs up every photo I take to Dropbox. You can do this using the official Dropbox app (on iPhone too) but DropSnap gives me some more filtering options, which means I can sync more than just the regular camera roll (Instagram, Snapseed, etc). So that’s been busy stuffing photos up into the clouds like a weird hoarder’s heaven. This made it easy to find every photo I took in 2012 and dump them in one big folder.
The tricky bit was preparing them for the video. All the landscape and portrait photos needed to sit central and have the extra black space on the top and bottom or the sides (depending on their orientation) to make up the space in the video. In steps the work horse that is Photoshop Image Processor! After a bit of head scratching and swearing I created a workflow that did the job. First, I made an action that puts any image into the middle of a black 1080p sized canvas. You can download mine here if you like. Then I ran the Image Processor to resize everything, combined with my action to centre them on the black background. The settings should look like this:
Then I opened my old friend After Effects. To create an image sequence you just drag the image folder directly into the project window. I dumped the sequence into a 1080p composition, added some Tom Waits and Bob’s your Mother’s brother! I hope that’s of some help if you want to try it out yourself. It’s a nice collecting project you can do without having to even think about it. Which is good for me as I’m very poor at thinking.
To show how much better watching YouTube videos is on 4G from EE, compared to 3G, we took Fenton (the UK’s favourite viral video), and remastered it.
We worked with Passion Raw and David Allen, an Emmy award winning wildlife director. It was a full 2 week wildlife shoot across 3 locations with a huge range of wild and trained animals. Then another month of post production work back in London to add in some of more fantasy special guest stars for the big ending.
Diesel asked us to promote their new range of sunglasses, so we put them on some dogs and filmed them. We had our reasons though – there are 4 hero styles in the new range, each is designed for a different type of lifestyle, we thought it would be a bit cheesy to show these lifestyles with humans, so … dogs then. This project is part of our work to help shift Diesel’s brand to be more female orientated and a higher quality experience, so with this in mind the video was shot with all the production values of a high end fashion shoot, including a sweet Phantom camera shooting at speeds of up to 2,000 fps for maximum water droplet and fur flowing action.
So our stars didn’t have to stand around on set for too long (they told us the Doberman would savage us if we laughed at it, his sister is an attack dog), we used stunt dogs to set-up the lights, they were my favourite dogs.
The old “never work with kids or animals” thing seemed to be a bit of a myth, when working with human actors there’s a lot more explaining and directing and sobbing between takes – with dogs it’s all about the frankfurters.
We made this little video for the Monster Supplies Store working with excellent Terry Saunders who wrote and performed as both heads of the 2 headed presenter. It’s a short excerpt from the Monster Supplies shopping channel, viewed by many bored monster security guards working the day shift, or insomniac vampires.
In our first time-lapse of one of American raodtrips we stuck to our guns and showed the whole thing warts (boring bits) and all. This year we deliberately shot things from different angles and at different speeds so we can make a more entertaining edit, which I think we achieved? What do you think?
This trip took 17 days and when through Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and California. Stick around for the thrilling 360° finale – which is a journey to and from Disneyland, of course.