BBC R&D project at the Commonwealth Games – video overlay

BBC R&D have a cool project called IP Studio, which is looking to ditch the direct wiring of live sound and video equipment, and allow programmes to be produced using all the flexibility the internet has to offer. The technology was showcased using a super-high-definition broadcast of coverage from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, via a sound desk and presenter in London.

This short video of interviews with IP Studio team members was produced by Alia Sheikh, and shows in their own words why they think that this is an important and exciting project.

I was tasked with enhancing the impact and clarity of key points. Once I received a cut of the interviews, I had a few days to transcribe the contents, plan and produce animated overlays. I created a distillation of the interviewees’ words, then manipulating the layout and timing with which they appeared to echo the speakers visually. With the addition of a few basic animated diagrams, the overlay was added to an Ultra High Definition version of the interviews, and become one of the first pieces to be broadcast at this resolution.

It was fantastic project to work on – self-contained, with very tight deadlines, but incorporating elements of technical communications, layout and animation design. I was delighted to get great feedback from the folks at the BBC involved.

Watch the video over on the BBC R&D blog here.

Film challenge – Message from Mumbai

Tortoisebutler’s entry into this year’s Sci-Fi London 48 hour film-making challenge.

The given mandatory criteria:
Title – Message from Mumbai
Prop – A handful of ball bearings is passed from one character’s hand to another
Line of dialogue – “These things come full circle. Why do you think it’s called a revolution?”

We shot up in Manchester this year, camping out on an empty floor of a converted cotton mill – oodles of space, not much in the way of power sockets or chairs, but it was a fantastic weekend and great to work with the team again.

The film stepped away from our usual time travel and action staples, working instead with a single location, a ‘talking heads’ focus, and working to build a world and a mood. I’m too close to it to assess it clearly, but although watching it felt slow and un-dramatic, I think that the feelings of love, loss and hope we were looking for came across, without resorting to manufactured conflict or blame. The actresses did a beautiful job of conveying brittle, forced cheerfulness over a crushing inevitability.

I helped out on the writing for the first time, including creating more ‘Science Bits’ at the start to help it make sense, although it was too late to tweak the rest to match, alas… I learned a lot, and it’s conquered a lot of my long-seated ‘I can’t come up with stories’ blind spot.  The experience also made me more aware of how much a story turns into a graphic novel in my head, so next time I’d like to add storyboards, if I can!

I also aided Ms Costume and did the credits sequence, which I love so much I’m going to do a separate post on them.

Oh, and one of our actresses turned out to be an operatically trained singer, so I wrote some lyrics to match our composer’s original score (in about two minutes flat). Alas we only had time to record three lines (hold on ’till the credits to hear it!) but there’s talk of turning it into a proper song!

One day, one day…

PS. Hammocks are absolutely fantastic, I’m absolutely taking one next time!

Copper Etch film – a beautiful process

Working with members of the great Tortoise Butler (Alia Sheikh and Andy Vine), I was filmed making a sample etched copper piece, and the whole thing set to a lovely piece of music by Roger Paul Mason.

As always, I’m stunned by their arcane mastery over lens, lighting, camera and editing, and this time was proud to add my own touch in the text and credits.

If you can watch HD and full screen – it’s worth it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired! I use the technique (along with a little sterling silver magic) to create some of the jewellery in my Etsy shop.