Timeslice GIF for IKEA #wonderfuleveryday Facebook and Instagram campaigns
Friend London, the production company, approached me to build a camera rig capable of shooting timeslice GIFs to capture frozen moments for IKEA’s #wonderfuleveryday social media campaign.
The idea was inspired by a modern interpretation of a Nimslo 3D, an unusual 1980s camera, that created 3D photographs by shooting four simultaneous images. These would then be developed into a lenticular print with a 3D effect. Nowadays you can scan the negatives and create animated GIFs which are engaging and mesmerising to watch.
Instead of using a film in a Nimslo 3D I scaled up the quality by using multiple DSLR cameras to capture the images. I commissioned bespoke software that automatically created GIFs live on set for the client to view. The job was ideal for me as I have shot timeslice before on Alastair Siddon’s ‘Turn It Loose’ film and I also love a technical challenge.
My first test was to attempt to digitise the original Nimslo camera, purchased off Ebay, by capturing the image off a ground glass screen mounted to the film plane in the camera. This created some interesting results, but the resolution wasn’t high enough and there were some complicated rigging and vignetting issues that I didn’t have the time to resolve in the timeframe. Another option was to create a digital back for the Nimslo but time, money and practicality were factors that made this a route I didn’t pursue.
The option I settled on was to place four DSLR cameras side by side and rig them so that the main unit camera, an Arri Alexa Mini, could be mounted on the same rig. Testing was very successful and even though I couldn’t place the cameras as close together as I would have liked, it was clear that using professional DSLRs was the right choice. Using smaller cameras would have allowed a closer lens spacing but issues with tethering, synchronising and lens choices were critical.
Bespoke software for instant client feedback
For the software I asked Will Gallia to write a script to tether and control the four rigged cameras. When a series of shots was captured, the software sorted and created the images into moving GIFs and embeded the file names into the GIF. This allowed post production to recreate the animation using the full quality Raw files during the edit.
The final rig was constructed by Daniel Essex using some discreet slimline ‘L’ brackets engineered by Justin Pentecost.
Behind the scenes
Shynola’s new video for Joe Goddard featuring Jess Mills
Shynola approached me in October 2016 to help shoot some interesting elements for their new video for Joe Goddard. The challenge was to capture 20 singers including Joe and featured artist Jess Mills from 24 cameras simultaneously which encircled the singers.
Each camera was set up identically in terms of height, focal length, capture settings, distance and then locked off for the day. It is so easy to encapsulate that in one sentence but believe me, the set up was an extremely complicated affair. Sourcing the cameras, lenses, tripods, cards, etc was a challenge that the production team at Black Dog took in their stride and I don’t know how they managed it so efficiently.
We had previously chosen an ideal focal length to shoot the talent based on CG pre-vis that Shynola had put together. This gave us a head start on the set up as we knew the expected radius of our circle and the distance between each camera. Marking the centre of the set with a vertical pole with three markers to assist with framing made the process quite straightforward, but it was still a slow and steady process to go through.
We had a regimented sequence for each take to ensure each camera was recording correctly and to try and assist with the post production clip syncing, but I don’t envy the person that had to do that.
We had time to shoot one test which the Shynola guys rendered a quick test of and then we were off.
I’m pleased with my small role in what has turned out to be a stunning visual and emotive triumph.
Artist | Joe Goddard
Track | Music Is The Answer
Director | Shynola
Live Action DoP | Dan Lowe
Production Company | Black Dog
This 60-second commercial sees TransPennine Express’ renewed mission to connect the North to make it greater than it’s ever been. TransPennine Express is a vibrant and modern rail operator for the north of England and Scotland.
Anthony asked me to shoot 2nd unit hyperlapse sequences and architectural stills in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle. These were then woven into the commercial to fit amongst some stunning footage captured by Ben Fordesman.
Client | Transpennine Express
Campaign | Where Next?
Director | Anthony Dickenson
DoP | Ben Fordesman
Production Company | All Mighty Pictures
Agency | WCRS
360º timeslice for Rag N Bone Man, Human, music video
Director, Charlie Robins, and production company, Forever Pictures, approached me to shoot a 360º timeslice section for the music video for Rag N Bone Man’s track Human.
Timeslice, is a technique made famous by The Matrix film where the subject is shot by multiple DSLR stills cameras in fixed positions. When the frames are combined they create the illiusion that the subject is in suspended animation. I have filmed timeslice previously for the World B Boy championship in Soweto, sponsored by Red Bull, using 70 cameras positioned around the circular dance floor.
For the Rag N Bone Man music video I shot the timeslice with only one handheld camera. This was possible because the director wanted the characters to hold their poses meaning I could step in to predefined camera positions and capture each frame that would make up the 360º animation.
For each character I captured two rotations each with a different focal length and camera height providing the editor with a choice of shots.
The end result was great for the edit, but terrible for my knees and back!
As part of Habitat’s Voyeur campaign I was asked to take stills behind the scenes in fashion blogger Freddie Harrel’s eclectic south London home.
Freddie was born and bred in Paris, but now runs her business from a sunny, double-height loft space in south-east London. It’s rammed full of artefacts and furniture that she and her husband, Tom, have picked up on their travels and from around town.
The stills and interview were picked up by the Metro for a double page spread in their Property + Interiors sectionHabitat .
Client | Habitat
Campaign | Habitat Voyeur
Agency | Portas
I am quite messy. In fact, the flat is too, in the way the colours are mixed. But that reflects me. It’s how my brain reacts to things – everything white and clean makes me a bit anxious, actually.Freddie Harrel
New London Architecture (NLA) asked me to take a panorama shot spanning from Liverpool Street to the London Eye for an article in The Architects’ Journal.
My images alongside CGI by Visualhouse, have been used to visualise the number of tall buildings earmarked for the London skyline according to research released by NLA and property adviser GL Hearn.
The data shows that plans for 119 new towers have emerged since this time last year, increasing the total number of proposed skyscrapers in the capital to 436.
Client | New London Architecture
Images | Dan Lowe and Visualhouse
A political installation by Chris Cairns and Is This Good? where candidates’ heads get bigger and smaller in realtime depending on how they’re doing in the General Election 2015 race.
Featuring the seven candidates who appeared in the first televised debate. Balloon head size is driven by the latest polls and twitter activity, before displaying live election results.
Go and see the installation on the 4th and 5th of May at the Hoxton Gallery, 9 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch and 6th – 9th May in the window of Partizan, 40-42 Lexington Street, Soho.
Director | Chris Cairns / Is This Good?
Hardware and Physical Build | Dave Cranmer
Software | Will Gallia
Additional Physical Build | Katy Hopkins, Maz Staruch, Jamie Durand and Justin Pentecost
DP | Dan Lowe
Editor | Dan Lowe
Grade | Simone Grattarola at Time Based Arts
Sound Recording | Andy Hewitson
Audio Post | Nigel Manington at String and Tins
Last month I was asked if I could create a perfect 360° photograph of the inside of the new Audi A3 for an iPad app.
“Of course I can!” I replied and set about a hectic day of pre-production with the help of Ivory getting together everything I would need.
With a motion-control head and my trusty D700 under my arm, we set out to the studio thinking it would be a breeze.
Setting up the kit, tethering the camera using Dragon Stop Motion was elegant and easy, lighting the gorgeous car was an honour, shooting the images was pain free… stitching together the panorama…
In total we combined roughly 50-60 images [I know, I know, I could have gotten away with 8 shots with a fisheye, but who wants to shoot on a fisheye. I wanted quality, detail and to do the car justice].
Master retoucher George McLeod spent hours carefully aligning the photos into an equirectangular composite which the app would wrap around a virtual sphere, it was difficult, but the result was worth it.
I highly recommend downloading the iPad app to view it in its augmented reality glory.
Paul Raftery and I have been working hard again creating an architectural timelapse document of the Leadenhall Building in the City of London.
Affectionately known as the ‘Cheesegrater’ the 48 story skyscraper has been designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSH+P) , an international architecture practice, for developers British Land and Oxford Properties. RSH+P have commissioned Paul and I to document the construction by contractors Laing O’Rourke. The building has been under construction since early 2011. It is due to complete in summer 2014 and will comprise 610,000 sq ft of office space over 47 floors.
This film is the first 6 month edit of our two year long project to film the entire construction period and follows on from our successful Shard arhcitectural timelapse film (below) that we made last year.
The 6 month edit
Stills from the project
A timelapse film of the Shard
Chris Cairns was recently was asked to build an orchestra from redundant old technology and instead of faking it he did it all for real.
While some would throw away their old computer junk, Chris Cairns went on a rummage expedition to assemble a motley bunch of retired electronics, re-wiring them to build a 100 piece MIDI orchestra, with programming by Is This Good? (isthis.gd) Who needs post-production effects when you can reverse-engineer photocopiers, modems, scanners, fax machines and hard drives to simulate rhythms and tones that together play a very apt rendition of Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ for real?
I was asked to film the macro intro sequence and I was astonished at how everything was achieved and how much fun it was to play.
Directed by Chris Cairns
Produced by Bonnie Anthony
Production Company: Partizan
Director of Photography: Denzil Armour Brown
Programming & Electronics: Is This Good? (isthis.gd)
Sound Design: Will Cohen
Editor: Ross Hallard @ Trim
Colourist: George Kyriacou @ MPC
Post-Production: Time Based Arts
Agency: Grey London
Creatives: Sam Haynes & Lee Trott
Agency Producer: Tom Pearce
Stills from the shoot
We, and by we I mean isthis.gd, built a MIDI orchestra for Grey London and Brother from old computer junk. Photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, printers, hard drives, modems and the like. We thought it’d be most fun to do it for real. We were really inspired by Tristram Cary, James Houston, BD594 and other radical tinkerers. Making cold stuff warm is fun. We found loads of old machines destined for landfill, took them to bits and reverse engineered them to make noises that we could control via MIDI. Badman Will Cohen made an arrangement of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ but the orchestra can play any MIDI arrangement, or indeed be performed live. Maximum respect to Neil Mendoza, Marek Bereza, Will Cohen, Stefan Dzisiewski-Smith, Justin Pentecost, Mike Harrison, Mat Holloway, Jason Oakley and all at Partizan, Liat Wassershtrom, Ben Joffe, Tim Leask, Jack Ellis, Ozzie Pullin. Awesome cinematography by Denzil Armour-Brown and Daniel Lowe. Tight edit by Ross Hallard. Post and psychotherapy by Sheldon Gardner and time-based-arts.com.From Chris’ Vimeo page
BROTHER ‘Printer Orchestra’ film
RAC’s new winter campaign this year features two adorable kids playing the roles of a stranded driver and his best mate/motoring saviour.
On a mild Autumn Day in Uxbridge, the Guard Brothers from Smuggler put together a winter wonderland in an unexpecting residential neighbourhood.
The TV commercial can be seen here, and captures the kids playacting the scenario of a frozen and broken down car, stranded in the snow.
With a quick phone call, an RAC serviceman quickly comes to his rescue, and with a swift fix under the bonnet, sets him on his merry way.
I was asked to capture stills for all of the RAC’s online and print winter campaign, and I’m very pleased with the results.