Penguins!

So, this is my first blog post for a while! It’s not that I’ve not got anything to write about, it’s more that I’ve not had the time to write about it. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

One of the biggest things that’s happened to me recently has been a trip to South Africa (an AMAZING trip, I might add). In the words of The Tragically Hip, it’s been a long time coming (we booked it in January), but it’s well worth the wait! The main focus of the trip was to climb (which we did a lot of) but we also did a fair amount of sight seeing too. Unsurprisingly, I was shooting photos and video like they were going out of fashion, and there’s already another B² Productions film well underway (which covers some of the sight seeing, but a hell of a lot of the climbing) which I’m excited about finishing. Eventually.

Anyway, before all the climbing started, we had a few days spent in and around Cape Town. That part of South Africa was really amazing for a variety of reasons, and not really what I was expecting (although, to be honest, I really didn’t have a clue what to expect). On our first full day in Cape Town, we headed out to try and see some wildlife. We drove to a town called Hermanus and managed to see some Whales, and on the way back to Cape Town, we happened to stumble on a sign for a Penguin colony. We had no idea what it would be like, but we thought as we were passing we’d give it a try. It turned out to be a good choice! There were hundreds of Penguins, and you could get right up close to them which was great. I shot a load of footage that day (and again when we visited another colony a few days later on Boulders Beach).

I decided at the time that I wanted to use some of my new footage in the full film that I was planning on making, but I ended up with so many clips which were so good (and cute) that it seemed a shame to waste it. The answer seemed obvious: they needed a short film all of their own. And here it is. If you like Penguins, I’m guessing you’ll probably enjoy it…

Ben very kindly lent me his Canon EOS 7D for the trip, and I got a hell of a lot of use out of it. This video, all my stills and the huge bulk of the Rocklands film that is in the making was all shot with the 7D and a Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens. I was really pleased with the quality of the results. Definitely an excellent camera if you’re interested in shooting video. There’s plenty more to say and show you about the trip, and will do so pretty soon!…

A day in the life…

A couple of months ago I was invited up to The Castle to spend the day shooting the route setters (for those that don’t know, they the people that put up all the problems and routes in The Castle, which is a full time job, believe me!) as they reset the Mezz area. The Mezz reset is always a bit of a big deal at The Castle. It’s the biggest of all the bouldering areas, and often has the highest concentration of problems in the centre. Because of this, it also takes the longest to set. All the holds from the previous set have to be stripped, cleaned and dried before the new set can begin. When I got to there (around 11am) the walls were bare and ready to go.

The initial plan was to shoot mainly stills, but when I got there, I thought video might be the way to go. I had the seed of an idea in the back of my mind that it would be interesting to make a short film about the whole process. This would also give me a great opportunity to get some interesting time lapse shots (as the route setting process lends itself pretty well to time lapse footage). So, that’s what I did. I had my Canon EOS 40D pretty much on constantly shooting time lapses from various positions, and I used my 5D-MkII (with a selection of lenses) to shoot some interesting pick ups and details of the guys at work. The final video looked like this:

After a very long day of shooting (and then an evening of trying out the new set!) it took me quite a while to edit the video. It was an enjoyable and frustrating process in equal measure! I set up the project, and roughly cut the intro sequence together pretty quickly, but then totally hit a wall. The main issue was finding the right music track to hang the whole thing off. The music choice changes the feel, pace and style of the video, not to mention the way you actually cut the footage. I’d spend hours clicking around Spotify trying to find the right thing. I had quite a clear idea in my head about the kind of track I wanted; this can be a blessing or a curse. On one hand it’s really good to know how you want the video to look like, but at the same time nothing is ever “quite right”. Over the course of the next month or so, I’d open up the project, push some footage around, try a couple of different music tracks and then ultimately decide it didn’t work and ditch the whole thing. Then, finally, I found what I’d been looking for! Ben suggested to me that I try some Pretty Lights, and after a few minutes of working my way through the back catalogue, I finally found the track I’d been looking for! Having found this, the whole project shifted into high gear! I went from having hardly anything done to, a mere six hours later, having a rough cut of film pretty much done! It was quite a fiddly process, as much of the clips used are only a second or two long, but I think it’s got a pretty good pace to it, and gives a pretty decent overview of about fourteen hours worth of work squeezed down into four minutes.

The film seems to have been received well too, which is nice. The route setters seem to like it, and I’ve been getting lots of nice comments, randomly, from people at The Castle. At the time of writing, it’s had a little over 1,200 views on Vimeo (thanks in part to Brian from ClimbingNarc) and has been featured on the Castle’s website too.

I was really glad to get it finished. The footage was sat on my hard drive for ages, taunting me, but I knew that I couldn’t just delete it! I’m very proud of what I’ve produced, and I’m really inspired to get involved with more video projects with Ben again. Hopefully our imminent trip to South Africa will provide just what we need to make something cool! Not long now…