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Their Mag

JLS behind the scenes for Their Mag

I shoot and edit the video content (interviews and behind the scenes montages) for Their Mag, the sister publication to Rio Ferdinand’s #5 Magazine. Each edition features a different celebrity guest editor or editors, with the first edition starring JLS, and Alexandra Burke to follow early in 2012.

I shot: Brother and England at Wembley

Due to my commitments on GoalMouth and also to the fact that he’s got more staff now, I haven’t done much for Sheephead at FATV recently. In fact those who knew Channelbee will be happy to hear that Joe’s not only got Jon Dyson but also Tony ‘the Hammer’ Watson on board now which is great news as he’s a top bloke who knows his football even if you can’t understand what he’s saying most of the time. So naturally I was happy to get the call to do a day with the team up at Wembley covering for Dyson who was on U21 duty.

FATV seem to be growing as an operation and now have tv giants Endemol behind them so I fully expect them to go from strength to strength; think of the assets they have at their disposal (England players/footage, FA Cup) and the huge fanbase (pretty much anyone who’s interested in football) and you can see I’m hardly going out on a limb there. Joe and his team have the access, they have the creative experience and vitally they have the trust of the hierarchy at the FA and the end result is a great example of what branded content should be; it engages the audience whilst promoting the product. They’re not taking it easy either; on Saturday at various times I think I counted 8 pieces in production. That’s a lesson to any brands seeking to get into video; one glossily produced corporate or brand promo does not a digital audience make, unless you get lucky with one of those elusive ‘virals’. In my humble opinion little and often is the key to building brand awareness and eventually loyalty through video.

8 pieces on the go in one day also meant I was in for a pretty full-on day’s graft. First up was a 3 camera acoustic set and interview featuring Brother, hosted by ESPN’s Richard Lenton. Lighting conditions weren’t ideal and it was a fast turnaround in edit so it’s pretty rough and ready but we prioritised getting the piece out before kickoff rather than making it look and sound prettier:

Channelbee trivia point about Richard Lenton: he appeared as a guest in the original pilot show for the project. Back then he worked at Sky but not on camera, and came to us with a brilliant clip he had of him when he blagged his way onto an African channel as a presenter during the World Cup. During one game his co-presenter was caught short whilst he was on air…cue a lot of jiggling in his seat and an eventual panic dash off camera whilst Richard tried to hold the fort. Wish I could find the clip on YouTube…

Back to Wembley, and Brother duly edited and uploaded, next job was pitchside to pick up whatever I could for a low angle perspective on the game. I may have been 10 feet away from the Swiss keeper but I can tell you, crouched behind the goal isn’t the way to watch football. Stuck without a stool, hunched over a tripod just high enough to peek over the hoarding but low enough not to attract the wrath of the fans in Row A, sweltering under the mid-afternoon sun wrestling with temperamental kit…so I couldn’t tell you how we played but it was certainly a buzz. Then a mad dash into the tunnel for half-time, a desperate swap of cameras and off out onto the pitch with the England Women’s team for their official send off to the World Cup. Back into the tunnel for interviews with some of the Women’s team, back pitchside for midway through the second half, another mad dash upstairs after full time and another hurried edit to get the pitchside cut up on the site for 10pm. Again, priority for the edit was to get it up as soon as possible rather than creating a masterpiece, but I think it’s always interesting to view action from a different angle and here it is:

Today I edited the interviews with the Women’s team so that’s up now:

A pretty full-on day but as I say, I really believe in what FATV are doing and it’s a pleasure to put the hours in with them. Looks like I could be heading out to Germany to be the videographer for the Women’s team at the World Cup which if it happens would be a real honour.

Arcade Fire and Google get it on

As you might have guessed by now, I’m embracing new technology because I’m excited first and foremost by the prospects it offers those of us in the creative industries and also as a viewer.  And when a new bit of tech is combined with music from one of my favourite bands it’s bound to go down really well.  So like millions of others already I’ve been enchanted by the new interactive video offering from Google and Arcade Fire.  Called The Wilderness Downtown

The Wilderness Downtown

and featuring the band’s “We Used To Wait”, as I understand it it’s a showcase for Google Chrome and the possibilities offered by the new HTML5 web standard and its video, audio and canvas capabilities.  My techie knowledge stops right about there; I’ll certainly be doing some more digging into what we can expect and moreover exploit from HTML5, but for the moment like everyone else I’m sitting back and marvelling at the genius involved.

If I’m being picky, for me there’s a certain element of style over substance (or is it the other way round?); whilst I’m excited by the technology involved and I get the whole interactive thing and the fact that you can customise and share the experience, as far as a music video goes it’s no Bohemian Rhapsody.  I don’t know if my browser settings aren’t optimised for it (although I’m running it on a 17″ Macbook Pro 1920×1200 screen) but I found the window sizing and placement distracting rather than an enhancement to the video.  Could the sequence have been cut into one window?  Would that be defeating the point of the whole thing and regressing it to a traditional, linear video experience?  I’m being picky; I’m sure the point was to showcase the technology rather than create the perfect video, and I for one certainly couldn’t do any better.

If you haven’t had a go on it yet, you’ll need to download Google Chrome first and then go to The Wilderness Downtown where you input the address of where you’d like the video to take place.  Towards the end of the video you get your chance to get all Tony Hart and to create your own postcard which may be used on Arcade Fire’s next tour.  I’ve done one for Oxford United fans featuring the 3-sided majesty that is the Kassam Stadium if you’d rather see that than your own:

Wilderness Downtown – Oxford United’s Kassam Stadium

If you can’t even be bothered to run the video, here’s my poor but United-spirited attempt at a postcard message:

Arcade Fire/Google Interactive Postcard

If you’re geeky like me and you want to know more about the technology involved in making the vid, you’ll find it here:

http://www.chromeexperiments.com/arcadefire/

So what do you think of the whole idea?  As a viral campaign I’m sure it’s already assured of victory judging by the Twitter traffic generated by it, and I’d be interested to see how it affects Google Chrome downloads…

I shot: Kasabian

Welcome to the first ‘I shot’ of the site.  I’m still undecided about the title but I’ll go with it for now.  Sure you know what I mean anyway; one week it’ll be ‘I shot…muffins’ which doesn’t have the same ring about it but that’s the beauty of my job at the moment; there’s no shortage of variety!

So yeah, Kasabian.  I was tasked with shooting and editing a few very quick bits to use at V Festival this weekend; their intro and outro messages, basically.  An early start and flight to Belfast to catch up with Serge and Tom before their gig in town that night.  Myself and two P.A. guys got settled in the very swanky Malmaison where we were shown to our rather well-appointed suite where we presumed the shoot would happen:

Waiting for Kasabian in Belfast

All very dark, moody and perfect for the shoot.  Trouble was, the shoot wasn’t happening there.  But it’s a lovely hotel, especially if you like black and purple, so I’d recommend it if you’re in town.

The actual location was an even swankier country hotel outside town, the Culloden.  Lovely place; according to our cab driver it was where England stayed when they last played (and lost) there.  Trouble was it wasn’t nearly as evocative for the shoot as the Malmaison but that’s life.  I’ve realised over the years that just when you think something’s sorted, you often have to resort to Plan B and get over it.

Tom and Serge were top blokes as always although understandably preoccupied by a poltergeist which they (or Tom, at least, if I remember rightly) had witnessed at the hotel.  Anyone who’s about to see them at V are in for a great night (nothing new here because they’ve always come up trumps whenever I’ve seen them, I’d say the best British band of the last 10 years); I’m paraphrasing what they said to P.A. but it was along the lines of ‘it’ll be like everyone’s Christmases, New Years and birthdays all rolled into one’.

The shoot done (I’ll stick one of the vids up after V)

Kasabian's Tom and Serge in Belfast, August 2010

and conversation briefly turned to Soccer AM and Gordon Smart’s recent car park effort:

Gordon Smart's Soccer AM effort

Can’t embed the video, you’ll have to watch it via The Sun here

Pretty impressive by anyone’s standards, but I’m with Serge, it wasn’t a patch on this:

I haven’t watched the show since I left but I doubt anyone’s going to knock Serge off that particular perch; he did it in his rockstar shoes and all.

I digress, but that’s about it.  I’ve since been editing the videos in time for them to get them ready at V, although I won’t be there to see the fruits of my labours as I’ve got a big job on Monday so can’t risk it; I’m off to see the boys tonight in Brixton instead.

For those who are interested in kit and stuff, I used my Canon 7D with the Canon f2.8 17-55mm lens, and recorded sound via a Sennheiser shotgun mic into my new Zoom H4N recorder.  We couldn’t use lights as we had to travel…light…but as you’ll see from the vids when I post them, we could just about get away with it.

Channelbee

Tim Lovejoy presenting Channelbee
Channelbee was Tim Lovejoy’s entertainment, comedy and football video site, a joint venture with Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment.  I was asked to join Tim and some of the old Soccer AM gang to help set up what was to be an exciting new venture for all of us.  It paved the way for what I’m doing now, and I believe we were on the right lines in many respects, but it wasn’t to be(e).  Had YouTube been where it is now at the time I think we would have been on to a very good thing!