Sunday, March 27, 2011

iPad2, DSLR wars and 'Making films, not messing with cameras...'

So, after not buying into the iPad1, i went and did the proper nerd thing and queued up for an iPad2. I've never felt more of a geek in my life...i won't be doing it again. But, all that being said, in the last 24 hours i have come to love the iPad. It's already replaced my trusty MacBook Pro for Facebook, Twitter and email duties... on top of that, i'm also using it for my calendar/diary, for notes, for news and pretty much everything else apart from actual work like Final Cut, Photoshop, Logic or MS Office. Not bad for a little tablet thing that most people use to play Angry Birds on. (I must admit i've had a go on Angry Birds...strangely addictive)

This weekend has seen some interesting debate online about the usefulness of the new breed of large sensor video cameras like the AF101 and new Sony FS100. The argument goes, 'Why should we pay £4000 more a camera that doesn't give a better end result than a £1000 DSLR?'. Fair point. I get that and it's a tricky one to argue against. I guess my point of view is this: I love my Canon 550D, but i will definitely upgrade to one of these other cams when i come to shoot my next big movie. Why? Because i want rid of moire, i want rid of the H.264 hassles and i want better connectivity for monitors and for external recording devices. I'm not bothered about audio connectivity... i will only ever shoot with separate audio.. on camera audio is nearly always crap and completely useless for drama. But... and it's a big but...

I would be just as happy with a DSLR that solved these issues. I would choose a Canon 5D Mk3 if it solved the issues. I don't care if it's a stills camera.

The DSLR backlash...and film maker or camera man?
Some old skool camera people still look down their noses at us DSLR types... and these people are now shooting with the AF101 or F3... they love the shallow DoF style but they feel that a real camera should have XLR audio inputs, ND filters and solid, chunky buttons on it. Now that's fine, they are entitled to their opinion. But, suddenly some of them are back on the war path slating DSLRs again. Seriously boys, this isn't the playground... all that matters is the end result... and even then, most punters don't give a shit what you shot your latest movie long as it's good.  Some of the blogs i read are presuming we all work on corporate videos or tv spots. We don't. I don't come from an ENG background...never touched a betacam... or a 35mm film cam for that matter. Does that make me an outcast? I made my first pop promo on DV and i've only worked with digital since...usually the low end of the market. DSLR gave me the chance to up my game without getting too financially fubar.

The thing is, i don't spend all week wrangling with my rig and shooting stuff for the sake of it...although, i think shooting a lot is good practice. I'm a film maker, not a camera man. I'm also a writer and a producer. I spend my time evenly distributed between script writing/editing...location sourcing....promoting what i do and meeting people who can help. Making films is all about getting people fired up to believe in your idea...and luckily for me, i've got a big mouth and i know how to use it.  I really enjoy the banter on twitter and the blogs, but at the end of the day, most of it just a distraction and very little of it actually helps me advance my career. That only happens when i get off my arse and talk to people in the flesh...meetings/networking...whatever you want to call it.. it works.  I've met 3 people from the film industry in the last 12 months that have seriously helped push my career forward and none of them came from twitter, facebook or the blog. That's not to say i'll never make a connection that will help in some way, i just haven't so far.

Anyway, i'd better go... i've got 25 un-read tweets to work through...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Sony FS100 is here...

Sony's FS100, the cut down F3...or if you like, the large sensor finally revealed. I'm not going to go into detail, every video blog on the planet is writing about it. For a detailed look, head over to  

There's some strong opinions on Philip's site about the FS100... mainly about the lack of ND filters and HD SDi output. I don't see the issue personally. I use a mattebox for my ND filters and so will any serious film maker. ND wheels are more of a ENG thing as far as i can see....not a deal breaker for indie film makers. The HD SDi  is a little more annoying, but with a clean HDMI output and so many new options for capturing that way, i'm not overly bothered about it. This thing outputs 4:2:2 via the HDMI and with a super35 sensor, that's gonna be more than enough for most people at this end of the market.

I also don't get the criticisms about the form-factor. I like the small brick style body... it lets me build the the camera rig i want...and the multitude of mounting holes is great.. well done Sony.
Ok, so the £5k price tag puts it slightly behind the AF101...but i have a feeling the sensor will more than make up for the slight price difference. 

It's certainly made my shortlist for the camera i should be looking at for my next feature.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who's in and who's not?

I got another email today asking for advice about getting into the 'industry'. I get quite a few of well as requests for work experience and offers of free help at my studio. That's all great... i'm more than happy to help people out and try and point young people in the right direction when it comes to finding work in music or film related projects. But there's a huge mis-conception that has been flying around for years and it's time it was outed.

'The Industry'. In the case of today's email, it was referring to film....but it could just as easily apply to the music business. Okay...listen up. There is no such thing. I'll say it again if you like...there's no such thing as the 'industry'. There's not a closed shop group of people who run either of these mythical 'industries'.... it's just lots of individuals and companies all trying to make a living. There's not an inside and an outside...there's just an imaginary wall which is only visible if you feel that you're not a part of it.

Up until 2007, i was a sound engineer, record producer and label owner...i worked in the music business. I find all my own work...i don't send out CVs and i don't hang out with lots of other engineers... i just do my own thing. No one said i could be a part of it...i just was.  When i started making 'Shoot The DJ', my first film in 2007, i became part of the film industry. Again, i didn't ask one 'let me in', i just got on with it.

It's the same for kids leaving Uni or school. If you want to be a film maker, make a film. Don't wait for someone to give you the backing and the crew...find it yourself. Then, you'll be what you wanted to be. It's the same with music. Gone are the days when a fat bloke with a cigar signed you to a million pound record deal and you were on TV the following never really worked quite like that, and it certainly doesn't now.

So, my advice for anyone wanting to get into either music of film is stop asking and start doing. I didn't think i'd be in Cannes meeting with producers and financiers who would take me seriously, but that's what's occurring. If i'd waited until someone had picked up my script and deemed to let me be a part of 'the industry', i'd be waiting a very long time.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Keep on Moving... in some wicked trainers.

Might be over-doing it on the trainer department at the moment... After buying myself a new pair of super-converse a few weeks ago... i saw these Nikes last week and had to have them. DJ AM Dunks.
Having size 12 feet means finding trainers is really tricky...they always look great on the shelf in size 8, but when they bring out the 12s, they look like boats. The basketball boots just work better in my size...which is great, cos i much prefer them.

The Cons are holding up well considering i wore them day-in and day-out on the tour, but it's the Nike's that are going to get a hammering now. The Cons are relegated to back-up. (along with the  Duffs, the other Nikes and the Reeboks....errr and the other Converse)

I'm spending this week mixing the Dortmund show we recorded on the tour so that it can be broadcast on German radio soon... it sounds great. On Thursday night we head off to Paris on the tour bus for the last leg of the tour...Paris, Dusseldorf and then Tivoli in Utrect.  It's gonna be good to see everyone again and blast the set a few more times.

It's time to start working on the investment proposal for 'Their Law'. We're going to launch the official website just before Cannes and that means finally showing everyone the trailer.  I've got a great vibe about this project... fingers crossed it all comes together.

This'll make you laugh... i played keyboards for this TV performance in Germany that was shown 2 nights ago...  shame the audio is so out of sync.. very funny though. Nice to get out from behind the mixing desk for once...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nearly there...

The Kim Wilde German tour is almost over...2 more shows, Dortmund tonight and then Hamburg tomorrow. It's been a blast... the shows have been awesome and the fun has been, well, fun.

The German crew have been great. Hannes, my systems tech has got the PA right every single night and not once have i had any issues at all with it. We've had some tricky venues too... Last night in Dresden we had only one available hanging point which was 4m behind the front of the stage, but it still sounded great and i had no problems with lack of headroom on the vocal.

Steve on monitors has done a blinding job with everyone just being able to get on with performing without any problems...he's a real scientist engineer. (who happens to look a bit like Abe Lincoln)

Daz and Cornish on the backline have been flawless as usual... even when Rick's amp blew in the middle of the show in Oberhausen...they changed it for the spare in minutes.

Mark Video's lights have been stunning too. It's really made it a great show to watch with loads of LED lights, some really cool moving lights and lots of great back-lighting.

The best gigs so far have been Munich and Stuttgart. Mainly because of the types of venue...standing and also with great acoustics and a stunning performances by the band. I had an odd one at Munich cos i felt very dizzy during the gig and had to visit the hospital the next day to get myself checked out... no idea what it was, but i'm absolutely fine now. Very strange.

Looking forward to the last 2 shows and really hoping to end on a high in Hamburg in front of lots of friends and the usual great Hamburg crowd.

5 days off when we get back...and then Athens!