My new Taiwan spectacular aerial film

I just got back from an interesting adventure in Taiwan. One of the interesting parts was taking my DJI Mavic drone with me. Before I set off I wasn’t quite sure what type of short I was going to make . Due to certain circumstances which have been discussed in my previous post the film took shape in a way I wasn’t expecting. It became an aerial journey . I wanted movement and a feeling you were traveling across the land , of the beautiful country.

The first stop was Jiufen and incredibly popular town built into the side of the mountain. It used to be a gold mining town and some of the shops and actually burrowed into the mountain itself. It has an amazing food and handicrafts culture and wow that view its pretty spectacular.

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Taking of from the town itself really wasn’t an option. It is a very dense space with narrow footpaths and closed in buildings. So we drove further up the road and I flew it over the town, complete with some eerie looking clouds and flew it up the mountain from below which you see in the film.

I had been practicing quite regularly back home for about 7 months to do the shooting in Taiwan. It takes a level of confidence to be able to do the camera moves, that I was able to achieve. You need to practice manually flying it home for when the  automation on the craft fails, which it did a couple of times.

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On such occasion was in this valley , featured above , I got very low on battery and the return to home automation wasn’t working. It started to land about 30 feet away from me in a rice field. This would of been an issue as the rice field was full of water. I quickly manually took it over rose it out of the field over a big stone fence and onto the road. Little did I realise whilst I was concentrating on my flying a tourist had walked and sat down on the afore mentioned fence and I nearly gave him a buzz cut as I bought the drone back to safety.

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Featured above is the home of the Lidao aboriginal tribe.

This location was a 2hr drive north west of Taitung. The drive through valleys, fallen rock slides into mountains through mountains was utterly spectacular . There is one road in and one road out. This is where tourists don’t come this is real Taiwan to the core.  The village is perched on the side of the mountain. Whilst utterly breath taking, this has its own issues. Taiwan is famous for its typhoons and being so exposed leaves them cut of from the rest of the world when the storms hit, as they do every year. But what they do have is pristine land and fertile soil. They grow rice , which by the way is sublime like nothing I have ever tasted. They grow cabbage and various other vegetables. They then trade there crops for medicines and other essentials to keep the village running.  We got to have lunch at there local store, they were a bit wary of white people. Our guide got very cranky when some of the locals denied there was anywhere to eat. So we had this hime cooked lunch wild boar with this yummy rice.The boar is still hunted in the forrest as it has been done for over 1000 years. The dish was very simple but ridiculously fresh and flavourful. I then did all my shooting. I literally got to fly my drone of the side of the mountain, it was so exciting . You can’t even fathom standing there on the ground watching these pictures come in. It was really exciting.

You will notice in the film the sequence in the rice fields and in the village is very smokey. The reason for this is , on the day they had started the harvesting of there rice crop. The first part of this is to burn it. This is because they they have a worm that feasts on the rice and the fire is to kill it off. At times the fires were very close to the road and we had to close the vents . But the upside is it created a look to my pictures that I really love and I think you will agree adds something to the film.

Lastly I wanted to touch upon the stunning music in my film. The music is all from local composers and performed by the Taipei philharmonic orchestra. The music sets the tone of the visuals. I plowed through quite a bit of music to find the pieces that I ended up using. Without it, somehow I don’t feel its would of been as authentic. The music closely resembles how I felt when I saw the imagery and enhances it with local flavour.

I wanted the music to sell the visuals and the visuals to sell the music. If they didn’t work in tandem the piece would not of worked. The music should almost be invisible .

My Taiwan adventure Part 1

Last year, I was planning a trip. I wanted a bit of a challange , to go somewhere where my fellow country man didn’t go. I choose Taiwan. I have often being asked why Taiwan . Well its untouched by western tourism. Its absolutely beautiful , rugged and full of culture . The people are incredibly giving, friendly and respectful. Yeah I know everyone says that about different countries they visit but here it is the truth.  So fast forward to this year. I decided to return for a second visit. I took my mum with me. We first visited Hong Kong for a few days which was fascinating. But here is a tip , don’t go in June it is insanely hot, coming from a Australian winter.

So were at Hong Kong airport and were delayed hours flying out of Hong Kong, then we board the plane and we sit on the tarmac for another 30 minutes. A 6pm arrival into Taipei becomes a 10pm arrival. So mum goes to get out of the tarragon in Taipei. Tired affected by the heat she puts her foot down , twists her leg and wack. She has wrecked her knee.  We didn’t know this of course at the time fast forward to the Friday so two days later, I decide its time to get her to a hospital. So here obviously that is an easy task. When you are in a non english speaking country , its quite a task indeed. So I had to research international clinics, and I even found one which had reviews.

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So we go down stairs to get a taxi to the hospital . Upon leaving the building mums knee completely gives out and she collapses . We later learned this is when her meniscus is torn completely of its bone.  Two complete strangers who were locals came to our aid. One flagged down a cab telling the Taxi what hospital we wanted to go to in Chinese and the other helped me get mum up into the car.   The kindness didn’t stop there. Once we arrived at the hospital the attendant ran and got her a wheel chair.

That day was both one of the most unluckiest and luckiest at the same time. She saw a GP who wanted her to see a orthopedic surgeon. As luck would have it a orthopedic surgeon was in an office next door and could see her. The luck didn’t end there there were also cancellations in the MRI department so she could have a scan. Normally a scan could take up to 2 weeks to be done. Upon reconvening to view the scans it was decided she would have surgery as her knee could go again at any time. Just to show how quickly things move. She entered hospital on the Saturday night and had it done Sunday morning and was walking 3 or 4 days later. It was incredible how quick such a nasty event was corrected. There care, attention and quality of surgery was amazing. Now 3 weeks later back in Australia she is walking without any aid .   Lesson here always make sure you have insurance . We were covered and her medical costs alone we in the $10,000 range which were paid before she even left the hospital.

 

 

 

Singapore a place of treasure and adventure.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending a week in Singapore. What a place!!

Most people consider it a stop over on there way to the more fancied Europe. To those who do, you don’t know what you are missing. If you love architecture , food , shopping and insane amounts of fused together cultures crafts and colouSome notes aboutr Singapore is for you. If you drink , smoke like dropping litter or using drugs best not to go or you might end up in deep s**t.

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Singapore has a lot of everything, malls are huge retail is like a religion . One famous story in Singapore called the mustafa centre is a prime example of this. Go to any supermarket in australia you might find 10 different toothpastes but at the mustafa centre there is a whole wall of toothpaste.

There jewellery floor is an example in to much is never enough giant cases as far as the eye can see of gold.

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The electronics section was equally as incredible with every headphone , phone tablet , computer you could imagine. The surprise for me was that while not overly expensive a lot of the goods weren’t much cheaper than Australia.

For anyone going there a few no go’s. First of all China town was totally over rated. It has a 7 day a week market that happens there it is totally full of tat. Basically cheap mad manufactured trinkets. There is no hand made crafts in the centre for that you have to go of the main drag.

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The food was exceptional my favourite dish is definitely the chicken rice. Which is so simple but rascally varies depending on where you get it.

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It is basically steamed chicken then put into ice and hung up to room temperature. The rice is cooked in a chicken broth. As you can see it also comes with a little bowl of warm broth as well. When done well its so yum its indescribable. The mango slushi drink pictures is so sweet so rich and so nice. The whole meal was about $9 Australian.

The big problem I had.

The heat is insane like a sauna. Do yourself a favour go sit in a sauna with yr cloths on and thats pretty much it. Singapore is really hot really muggy and uncomfortable. If we westerners walk to far without drinking you will inevitably suffer heat stroke. The best way to do things is to get the MRT train where you want to go and get a taxi from there. Everywhere is air-conditioned which greatly helps. To live there you just couldn’t be outside for large amounts of time in the middle of the day.

The MRT train is quite something to. Firstly it is incredibly cheap is barely a few dollars at most to go across town. There is no graffiti no rubbish, no torn seats and surprise it turns up on time. I know the Singaporeans are incredibly proud of the mass commuter system they have every rite to be. Just don’t drink a bottle of water or munch on your favourite sandwich as that to will bring a $300 fine.

I know there are people out there who will say. Singapore is unfair Singapore is this and that. But I look at it another way. Any country where you can walk home in the middle of the night without be hassled. Anywhere where there is no graffiti, drunks on the street and very minimal crime overall . How can you argue thats a bad thing. Yes alcohol is ridiculously expensive as are smokes . Its really pricey to get drunk but I am all for it. I never felt unsafe. Everyone was very giving. There was a story I read where a thai couple left a million dollars in a cab in Singapore , guess what the cab driver handed it back. Did he get a reward I can’t say.

One of the highlights of the trip was going up to the top of the hotel complex Marina Bay Sands.

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The view is just astonishing, sitting up there on a warm day with a nice fruity cocktail was just wonderful. The complex itself is a major marvel of engineering and western ideology. It has 2000 hotel rooms that are never empty as well as countless shops a casino for very high rollers and some of the most amazing restaurants I have come across.

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Next on the agenda was gardens by the bay. It is a man made garden on reclaimed land housing 2 of the most spectacular domes in the world. Evidently the 2 indoor domes are the biggest non supported glass domes in the world.

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The strutted are a nice change from the 34 degree temperatures outside. They are cool and only grow cool climate plants. This kind of makes sense. In one of the domes you start at the bottom and end up at the top of this man made waterfall. All the while you are being sprayed with lovely cool water. The orchids are a particular highlight here. The richness of the colour and the odour is quite something.  You end up at the top and you walk your way down a long winding bridge which ends you up at a little film theatre showing a film on how the worlds stuffed and life will end as we know it.

I also have to give a nod to Changi airport. It is no wonder it has won so many awards. It is the most user friendly airport I have ever been through. From leaving the aircraft I was in a cab no more then 15 minutes later. Its absolutely pristine. Very easy to navigate. They even have a little train that travels from one terminal to another for free. I was able to get a shower before coming home and have a great meal there for a very reasonable cost. Checkin was very quick and again there are lots of customer service people around who keep asking where do you need to get to. Then one is pointed in the rite direction.

Keying and compositing onto a non green screen background in Final Cut Pro X

This is a follow up to my previous post about video producing.

I was working  on my footage within Final Cut Pro X and I had an issue.

The background behind my interviewee was white and very bland. So I decided to try and replace the background with something more interesting. I asked a few colleagues I know if that was even possible. I was told it wasn’t without a green screen. Low and behold it can be done. The internal keyer within Final Cut Pro can do it and it it very well indeed. Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 1.34.57 pm

The way I did it was to blow out the background so to make it as pure white as possible. Once I had a solid white the keyer was able to analyse the clip and workout and seperate the foreground from background.

Its just so ridiculously easy once you know how.

This technique allows you to shoot without green or blue screens . You can now do a composite using a white wall.

A few things to keep in mind if doing this. Make sure your subjects don’t wear white otherwise the key can be harder to obtain. The same goes if your shooting green screen make sure there not wearing green. 

Make sure that your background is brightly lit and that the lighting is consistent without shadows.

If you adhere to these rules keying in post production will be quite easy. If mistakes are made there is more work and the process can drag on.

 

 

 

 

My process of being a Video Producer/ Editor and one stop shop

Yesterday I started a freelance job in the role as a Video Producer. I am shooting, editing and doing all the graphics. The job has entailed working closely with the client to realise there vision. The company is a recruitment firm who are wanting to use video as a method to grow and market themselves in a new and innovative way.

Together we are developing a branded online TV product that will be used in an online jobseeker education product.

When commencing a job such as this there a few interesting challenges to overcome. I am shooting in an office boardroom so lighting isn’t fantastic and secondly audio is a mess so my options are limited.

To over come the lighting, I used one big LED light as a fill light and with the audio close miked the interviewees with lapel microphones. I was able to obtain a clear punchy audio track as well as a nice well filled in lighting look.

The next part of the process will be to take all the captured footage to the client and create an edit decision list of what parts fit where and the shape it will take into the final product. 

As part of this I will also be designing lower thirds and graphical overlays to enhance the educational aspect of the points the interviewees are making.

I will post some more thoughts on the process as well as some screen shots in future posts.

Shoreditch Street Art with my X-Pro1 and Xf27mm

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So it has been a funny old week in my new office, not a million miles away from Liverpool Street. We’ve had a dead mouse in a desk, builders playing a girder and spanner symphony across the road and a seemingly endless walk to the kitchen.

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It is however a considerable improvement on a building I worked in about 8 years ago that had rodents, a lethal 1970s filing system (the kind of one you move with a wheel), porn and beer cans blocking the loos, flaky air conditioning/heating and no kitchen!

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Today I finally made it more than 300 yards from the office to Shoreditch. Originally this was intended to be a post about the swift transition from the city to the east end and the industrial/post industrial lanscape of shoreditch. In the event I was sucked in to taking plenty of photos of the really great street art…

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Review The I shoot Grip for the Fuji X Pro 1

The other day I took delivery of the iShoot grip for the X Pro 1. I shoot camera grip

This is a copy of a grip made in europe which is more than double the price of this one made in China.
The camera grip comes in at $69 so what is the quality like? It is quite incredible that this grip is a Chinese knockoff. It is made of well made metal everything is tight and fits wonderfully well. I decided to get this grip after being very frustrated by the official X Pro 1 grip. That grip covered up the card and battery compartment , where this one allows complete accsess to change your battery or card without taking the grip of.

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Where this grip really impresses is the hand grip . It has indentations for 3 fingers and just makes the camera feel more secure and comfortable in my hands.
The Grip really doesn’t feel any more heavier than it did with the official fuji grip.

All in all a really worthwhile purchase they can be found by doing a search on Ebay.