Twenty Fourteen…

Hi there. Happy new year. I hope you all had a good one! Things have been rather quiet on here of late (this is by no means a reflection on the rest of my life – more on that shortly). I have a confession: I was thinking of not writing this, due to time constraints among other things, but I was called out by my literally ones of fans so that sealed it. No dodging this bullet for me, no matter how embarrassing it may be. So here goes…

Oh, just before that however, I should probably add a small caveat: After the wedding, (double) house move and-lots-of-other-stuff filled 2012, I had high hopes for a quieter 2013 with more time to dedicate to all the things I had planned for the year. Then in January my wife told me she was pregnant. So, like the Fresh Prince of North London that I am, my life got flip turned upside down and some things which I had planned to do were not attended to in the timely manner I was hoping for. We are now proud parents to a little boy who is astromonically cute and entertaining and everything is great! So please, just bear that in mind when you read how badly I’ve failed.

Seriously though, look how cute!

Noah playing with his Mum

On with the blog post!

 

  • Watch more films

2013 started off well on this front. Snoo and I were having regular film nights with friends and getting to the cinema pretty regularly too. I even kept a list of what I saw across the year. Things did start to tail off a bit come the summer though and especially as the iminent birth approached. Still not a bad list, but by no means staggering. This is the problem with these open ended goals though; they are very tricky to gauge.

However, before we write this one off, let me bring this to the table: One of the main points of this goal was to expose myself to more beautiful cinematography and to study how and why DoP’s and directors do certain things. I may not have watched as many films as may have liked, but one thing I did watch a lot of was TV. Breaking Bad, The Wire and House of Cards (the new, Kevin Spacey version) all got watched in their entirity in 2013. If you add that up, that’s a lot of time watching and studying. And study I did.

BREAKING BAD TANGENT ALERT: YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ THIS. I’LL TELL YOU WHEN IT’S OVER.

All three of these series were excellent, but Breaking Bad by far grabbed me the most. Everything about it was/is superb. The direction, the cinematography, the script, the acting, the music (both the original score and the additional music choices) – all top notch. It’s not without it’s faults, but they are small and nit-picky and in no way detract from this magnificent series. I have an obsessive personality at the best of times, and Breaking Bad was what I focused it on for the best part of 2013. We were up to date (the end of the first half of season 5) a couple of months before the final episodes aired so despite being pretty later to the BrBa party I still got swept up in the anticipation, speculation and excitement of how it was going to end (not least the incredible Ozymandias teaser which I watched so many times I can now recite the poem from memory). Aside from the 60 odd hours of actually watching the series (actually, it would be more than that now as I have since re-re-watched it), I spent a lot of time reading about various aspects of the show, interviews and different people’s takes (my favourite of which had to be Seriable’s Breaking Bad Observations which went into huge detail about the visual semiotics, similarities, call backs, theories and other minutia of the show. There was a lot of stuff in those articles which I didn’t pick up on at the time, but which heightened the enjoyment even further for me. If you’ve watched the show, I would thoroughly recommend reading your way through that archive link – it is, naturally, very spoilery though so be careful how you click if you haven’t seen it all yet). I also listened to a lot of podcasts, both official – which fed my interest to find out more about the technical aspects of how the show was actually made, and unofficial which just fed my need for crazy speculation and obsessive breakdown of scenes.

Aside from being a throughly entertaining story, the cinematography was really great. My friend Steve convinced me to watch it on this basis alone, enthusing about all the unusual and interesting shots and use of timelapse photography (you created this monster, Steve! I hope you’re happy! You have no one to blame but yourself. And possibly Vince Gilligan). The series really made me rethink how to shoot and light things, and made me push myself to think how to get more interesting images. I have found myself on several occasions unable to get to sleep while thinking of ways of how to attach a camera to various objects etc to get a cool shot. This, while slightly frustrating at the time when it’s 2am and you’re still very much awake, can only be a good thing! 

The argument over which is the better show of recent years, The Wire or Breaking Bad still rages on, but I would say having watched both, I personally think Breaking Bad edged it for me, mainly because of the very cinematic and unusual look it has that The Wire doesn’t have (although to be fair, having a BB aesthetic wouldn’t have been true to the much “realer” story that The Wire tells, in my opinion).  The simple solution is to just watch both of them.

TANGENT ALERT OVER

 

  • Improve my After Effects skills:

I think I did pretty well with this one. I’m a lot more familiar and comfortable with After Effects now which is great! I even created a few pieces created entirely (more or less) in AE like this Breaking Bad related (see above for obvious reasons why) piece of Kinetic Typography:

Like most things done in AE, this was a huge learning curve and that’s part of what I enjoy about it so much. It’s been nice to being able to take on different challenges with it and from there plan more and elaborate projects. I can definitely see a notable improvement from a year ago and I know where I want to take my skills with it and I can hopefully create a really interesting style to my work.

 

  • Do more cooking and improve my diet:

I am the pizza master now! Ok, maybe that’s a bit much, but I’m bloody good at them. Snoo and I eat a lot of pizza (Friday night is pizza night!) and we now routinely whip up ours from scratch now (the dough and the tomato sauce). Sadly we don’t have space for a proper wood burning pizza oven, but we bought some pizza stones which are great! There have been a few other additions to the repertoire as well include Eggs Benedict which I make fairly regularly (I poach a mean egg!). I think our diet has improved a lot, if not from just cutting out a lot of the bad things but from making a lot of our favourite dishes from scratch. It’s nice to know exactly what’s going in to these meals.

Having Noah has helped to focus this goal for the future. I’m really hoping that he isn’t a fussy eater (I never was as a child, and I’m still not now) and I want to be able to make a lot of really nice meals for him when he’s older, but without him feeling like he’s missing out on fun stuff. I was always given what my parents were having and I think that’s a good approach. I think tackling curries is the next step!

 

  • Train for Hueco trip/Tick ‘Dragonfly':

Well, this one certainly didn’t go as anticipated. I was in pretty good, strong shape when we left for Hueco and despite getting to my high point on my first attempt, Dragonfly remains unclimbed by me! On our only trip to that side of East Mountain I got a bit carried away trying Hobbit in a Blender (which, annoyingly I didn’t manage to do either despite getting very close) so by the time we got to Dragonfly I was totally shattered. It was also warmer and drier than we hoped/anticipated so my skin was getting shredded pretty quickly! I sincerely hope it’s not the last time we make it out there; there’s still so much I want to do out there.

 

  • Get a bike:

Nope. Still not gotten around to that. Storage is the big bottle neck at the moment with that, but I’m still really keen to get it sorted out. Let’s see if 2014 is the year for that.

 

  • Finish outstanding video projects/Cut together a 2012 showreel:

At the time of writing this, I am up to date on my editing (although, having said that, the showreel is still outstanding — those things are surprisingly hard to cut!). This will all change in the next couple of weeks when I will be neck deep in footage (loads of stuff happening at the Castle which I’m covering over the coming weeks for  starters!). My editing workflow is getting quicker but I feel it could still be a lot slicker. I’m sure a huge quantity of footage sitting, mocking me on my hard drive will be a good motivator.

 

  • Catch up with friends/family more:

Snoo and I did pretty well at this across the year. We made a fair few family gatherings and weddings which was nice and managed to catch up with a lot of people. Many of our/my friends all seem to be having children around the same time which is has good reason to get together and with Noah coming along it has meant that Grandparents and Aunties/Uncles have been making more frequent visits!

—–

So, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag of success and failure, and to be honest, I think most – if not all – of these goals from last year will roll over into this year. There’s been a real up turn in business over the last year which is great! I’ve had a real mix of work (a lot of it coming from Liquid Crimson who have been amazing to work with! Never a dull day there!) but I’ve also made a lot of new contacts as well. It’s reminded me how fortunate I am to be able to make a living doing something I love! My big goals for 2014 are to build this client base even more, and to try and work on as many inspiring projects as possible.

I also want to be as good a Dad to Noah as I can be. Snoo has really taking to being a Mum incredibly and if I can be even half as good a Father as she is a Mother then I’ll be happy!

Hope you all have a great year! I have a good feeling about this one.