Bond In Motion

0990F7B5-D170-4CC7-8A20-1B69BFB17EEF_1_105_cThis weekend Tina and I escaped the incessant talk of Coronavirus and spent the weekend in London.

The main reason we went up town was to visit the Bond In Motion Exhibition at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden, which was displaying a number of vehicles and other items from the iconic movie series.

9BECF3F2-6F72-4BFA-97CD-1DDA501EA0C6_1_105_cHaving grown up with James Bond throughout my life, hearing that there was a chance to see some of the cars and other props that have been used in the films over the years was an opportunity that just couldn’t be missed. Whilst I’m no car buff, it was good to see the Aston Martin DB5 and the Lotus Esprit S1, the car that could drive underwater.

9A23C2C6-350C-42E1-9008-5E25EC384573_1_105_cRoger Moore has always been my favourite so it was particularly pleasing to see that many of the exhibits of the films that he made. I know that many think Sean Connery was the iconic Bond, but for me Roger came along at a time when I really was most impressionable and I loved the comedic element his films brought to the franchise.

His second film, The Man With The Golden Gun, was particularly memorable and when I saw a hand-drawn storyboard of the scene where he jumped the river in a car. 4E4553A2-E338-4EC0-90D0-6C86BA83756E_1_105_cThis has to be one of my favourite and best remembered scenes and to see it sketched out in its original concept was great. Whilst the actual jump was pretty corny, I loved the comedy element of the scene so it was equally pleasing when we continued through the exhibition to find the actual car on display, with the movie clip playing behind it. Great!

After spending a good hour or so in the basement, we then had a browse around the small shop selling lots of Bond memorabilia, and I shelled out for a book called ‘The James Bond Archives’, a compendium of 1000’s of pictures and articles on all 24 films made by EON, the production company responsible for the franchise and putting on the exhibition.

As we walked back to the station to come home, we both agreed the visit was enjoyable and decided that a Bond-fest was in order so we could spot the various cars and other props we’d seen.

Is it real or make believe…?

Whilst glancing through a news reader on my iPad yesterday I was drawn to an article about Petro Viahos, who died recently. Although I had never heard of him before, I certainly had heard of the filming technique he helped to pioneer, namely the blue and green screen system (chroma key) which can superimpose actors on separately filmed backgrounds. It seems that this method of adding actors was developed in the early 1940’s but is wasn’t until Mr Viahos improved the technique for the film Ben Hur, and later won an Oscar for his work on Mary Poppins in 1964 before it became widely used.

Nowadays this techniques is used in most movies at some point and if you watch any news channel, you are likely to be viewing some of the programme with a superimposed screen behind. Weather forecasts are another favourite user of this method. One of the big movies at present is The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey, which relies heavily on computer graphics and blue and green screen filming.

When watching any film such as this, the production is done so well it’s hard to picture what is reality and what is superimposed, so Weta Digital, one of the special effects companies has released a video demonstrating some of the shots, interspersed with the ‘real’ footage with out the filming magic. Definitely worth a look.

I did think about buying a green screen (you can pick them up on ebay for a reasonable price) and have a go myself but then I thought I don’t really have any need to appear somewhere I’m not.

Do the mobot

It was one of my guys at work that first suggested we should give it a go, but it wasn’t until my boss sent a couple of his managers the challenge of participating that I took it seriously.

A link was sent to me to the YouTube site of the Mo Farah Foundation where our Olympic double gold medal winner had created a ‘how to’ video demonstrating how to do his new dance. He was encouraging everyone to record a video of them ‘doing the mobot’ and for every submission Virgin media would donate £2 to the charity. And for the best ones there was the chance they could appear in the final video for the release of the official song by Tigermonkey.

I sent out a text to the engineer who suggested we participate and asked him to gather some willing volunteers. Surprisingly he confirmed back that a few of the guys were up for it.

On Friday six of the team (five participants and a camera man) gathered at the Northampton office and we agreed our dance strategy. I was a bit apprehensive as to my participation as I have often been told by Tina that I have no rhythm and have two left feet when it comes to dancing. Still it was for a good cause and as the boss I had to lead from the front.

We relocated to the meeting room and were soon going through the ‘complex’ moves that Mo was demonstrating on his video, with the camera phone recording our efforts. Fifteen minutes later we gave up practicing as a lost cause and went out into the car park to make our video.
We rearranged two Virgin media vehicles to give us a good backdrop and then started to dance. Well, when I say dance I mean, five grown men trying to co-ordinate themselves into following five simple moves, in time and without corpsing. It wasn’t pretty. After about ten takes we were finally getting it together and there was a semblance of a dance video in the can, so to speak.

I then went to task in creating our masterpiece. It was whilst I was editing the video I had the sudden realisation that I really can’t dance. It was the first time that from a distance I had ever seen myself dancing and it was clear that co-ordinating my hands and feet into any sort of order was an impossible feat. After the shock of seeing my moves in reality and after stopping the tears from running down my face from the laughter I got on with the task of editing and adding the signature backing track. I then uploaded it to Mo’s site, happy in the knowledge that we had contributed £2 to his cause via Virgin media’s donation, even it was at the expense making fools of ourselves.

I then shared the video with the rest of the team and my peers and immediately got some great feedback (and some cutting comments about my dancing, all in jest I might add).

Later that evening I received a mail from the Mo Farah Foundation stating that our effort had been considered for possible selection in the official video and could I send them a copy of the original. I emailed my fellow participants and got an agreement that it was OK and sent it off, not really expecting it to be chosen.

But it was!

Yesterday, the completed video was released and incredibly we are included, albeit for a second or two. Other participants include Tom Daley, Example, Jack Whitehall, Joey Essex, James Corden, Jermain Defoe, David Haye, Boris Johnson, Richard Branson and many more.

And so here is the official final cut version of the ‘Do the Mobot’ video (we appear at 1:28)…

Dont’ forget to download the song from iTunes too as all the profits go to the charity. And you never know if it becomes a hit it might even make the Christmas number one!

You can view the full version of the team video by clicking here.

Someone told me yesterday that I was in time and it was the rest of the guys that were out 🙂

Enjoy!

It sure snows fast in Thrapston…

I have always been fascinated by video and in particular stop motion photography and watching how things change by small amounts over time. Whilst watching the snow come down last weekend, I remembered a video I saw last year that was shot in someone’s back garden in America that showed a table with no snow on it at first and then the snow falling over time.

I love the way the clock has to be cleared of snow to allow the viewer to see the time going past.

And so earlier in the week I happened to be listening to MacBreak Weekly on twit.tv when they mentioned a new app for iPads and iPhones that allow you to do time lapse photography on the cheap. So I thought I’d give it ago. And I am quite pleased with the results.

I can therefore exclusively reveal my first time lapse video from a couple of hours of recording last night when we had the snow downfall (the video only lasts 12 seconds so don’t blink!). Not quite the same as the American version but a bit more time would have had better results. You may also spot a fleeting appearance by Rio too.

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For those that want to know the details it was created with iStopMotion and photos were taken at 1 minute intervals. The only error I made was that I should have recorded it in Landscape rather than Portrait as unless you watch it full screen it is difficult to see the changes. Next time I will remember.

PS – Matt woke up this morning with a text from his mate saying he’s better leave for a work a bit earlier this morning…

That is some clever snow drift...

The old and the new

‘How about the cinema?’ I suggested after we realised we would be on our own on a Saturday night again as both kids were away for the night, ‘that film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy looked good’ I added.

Tina agreed and so I booked tickets on line and then suggested we try out a new Indian restaurant in Kettering that I’d seen had good reviews on Trip Adviser. In fact the restaurant, The Exotic Dining was the best rated restaurant in town and it didn’t disappoint. The quality of food was excellent, with service to match. I think we’ll be making it a regular haunt in the future.

Off next to the Odeon where we collected out tickets and settled down to watch the movie version of the John le Carre’s TV classic spy thriller. It was noticeable that most of the audience were of the older generation, many wanting to see whether Gary Oldman’s portrayal of George Smiley was anything on Alex Guinness’s effort in the 1970’s.

Although the film was no Spooks, it was authentic and well acted and kept you guessing as to who the Russian ‘mole’ was. I didn’t remember the ending having not seen the TV series since it was first broadcast 30 years ago. I’m not sure whether I’ll get the DVD when it comes out, but will certainly watch it again when it is shown on TV.

Free night at the flix…well almost

“How about going to see Super 8 tonight as I think it’s now out.” Tina said whilst we were waiting for our breakfast to arrive in the Morrison’s Supermarket Cafe at Kettering yesterday morning.

“Hold on” I said, I have an App for that and I proceeded to fire up the Odeon application on my iPhone and soon confirmed it was showing at our local cinema that evening. I then used the App to order the tickets. When it came to the place where I had to pay, it gave me the option of using my Odeon Premier Club card, as I had collected enough loyalty points to pay for the tickets and for us to get superior seats too.

And so last night we arrived at the Odeon and collected our free tickets and then decided we better stock up with some refreshments before the film started. Tina grabbed some sweets and I ordered a small popcorn and drink.

“Would you like to go large with that order as it works out cheaper?” the counter assistant said. I looked at Tina and we agreed we would so he filled a large tub of corn and a huge 7Up cup and handed them over.

“That’ll be £9.75” he said and so I duly paid.

It wasn’t until I sat down in our seats that it dawned on me that I’d been duped. How could me ordering large of both instead of smaller versions be cheaper? I think I got caught good and proper by some clever marketing there! Still, we managed to eat and drink our way through the lot.

Anyway, on to the film.

Having seen excerpts on the TV and the preview at the Harry Potter movie and heard good reviews, I was full of expectation as I was led to believe it was the modern equivalent of ET. The special effects were excellent, the train crash at the start was superbly done, but the storyline really did let the whole film down. It was extremely corny in places too.

And the ending was poor, to say the least. It was almost as if the writers ran out of ideas and couldn’t be bothered to write anymore. Still on the whole it was a reasonable film, especially as it didn’t cost us much to see. Don’t think I will bother buying the DVD though.

End of another era

Last week the Shuttle and now the Harry Potter movies, when will it end?

OK so the Harry Potter franchise of films is unlikely to move forward the scientific knowledge of the universe, but it has made a mark of a different kind on the population of the Earth. And judging by this weekend’s box office numbers there are certainly plenty of people who have flocked to see Harry and his friends defeat Voldermort for the final time (sorry if I have just spoilt it for anyone!) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

And Tina and I were included in those that went to see the Dark Lord’s demise.

Having read the books and seen the previous movies, the finale, as expected,  lived up to the hype and we both thoroughly enjoyed it (and judging by the applause in the cinema as the credits rolled so did the rest of the visitors). The special effects were superb, we watched in 2D, but I could see that watching the 3D version would be equally as good.

As we left the theatre and the credits rolled, I wondered how many of the actors, many British, would get a chance to star in such a long-running series of films in the future; not many I thought.

Tina said she now wanted to read the whole series of books again so we are in the hunt for a box set; I personally will call it a day on HP and his adventures, unless of course JK Rowling decides to write another book then I might just be tempted…

Father’s Day

20110629-041854.jpgWhat do you get a dad who has everything?

Well from Matt I got a bit of a surprise in the form of a gnome. But it was no ordinary gnome; it was a Watford FC Hornets gnome. It now has pride and place in my study.

From Abby I got something a bit different; a iTunes voucher. And with the iTunes voucher I purchased a copy of the latest version of a application from Apple called Motion 5. This editing software allows you to create special effects for videos. And it is fantastic. It is so flexible you can create some excellent clips to use in your movies. In fact I believe many professionals use a version in conjunction with Final Cut Pro, a high end video editing package.

So armed with iMovie, Motion 5 and a few photos and videos of Tina I remade the classic part of the film in Love Actually where Mark creates a video of his secret love Juliet, played by Keira Knightley.

A bit soppy but a great way to show my newly made titles sequence made in Motion 5 🙂

I did try to upload it with the Eva Cassidy track ‘Songbird’ as that was the song used in the original film but it looks like YouTube’s copyright policy wouldn’t allow it.

So you will just have to hum it instead!

Another trailer to savour…

On to San Francisco and another video. Again I’ve used an iMovie trailer feature which does allow some creativity and produce a different feel than the normal run-of-the-mill home movie.

Ideally it would be good to spend hours and hours on editing shots to produce a blockbuster but it’s not until you start to review the video footage then you realise much of it is of the same views. I guess I need to train myself to think ‘angles’ and ‘closeups’ when filming but I tend to just point and shoot and therefore get poor results.

Anyway here is the first showing…