// www.chrisgavin.com: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

THE FUTURA GOLD : episode 01

Okay, here it is, my first new animated film in a while. This is the first episode of what may become a new epic series. The Futura Gold develops the ideas and techniques of my short film TXT ISLAND a little further, but this one has an open-ended storyline which I hope to add to if there is sufficient interest in this.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Animated Film (Coming Soon)

For anyone still waiting for a follow-up to my 2009 short film TXT ISLAND something animated is coming soon just for you... The new release wont be a new short film; rather a pilot episode for a new series of shorts!*

The tantalizing two minute first episode of The Futura Gold is pretty much ready apart from a few sound tweaks, so should be coming soon to an online video platform near you...

Oh alright then, here are a few stills from the new work...

* Potentially.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

3D Printing The Future...

3D printing seems to big news at the moment. 'One day...' they say, 'we'll all be downloading our shoes from the internet.' The idea of little domestic robots manufacturing stuff for us is certainly intriguing, so yesterday I made a trip to the London 3D Print Show to find out more...

Makerbot were promoting the UK launch of the Makerbot Replicator 2, and had four of the machines in action. This device (like most of the entry level 3D printers) uses extruded molten plastic to 'draw' the image layer by layer. The Makerbot 2 uses PLA plastic which has a lower melting temperature than other plastics, PLA is sourced from corn and is claimed to be biodegradable too.

The UK price of the Makerbot 2 will be £1800. Makerbot seem to be the most-established of the pro-sumer level 3D printer firms, and this could be the release which begins to capture wider public awareness of 3D printing. 

Around the halls, there were many other 3D printers on show of course, and there are many smaller operators in this field hawking their contaptions too. It'll be interesting to see if the larger printer manufacturers (HP, Epson, Canon etc.) ever decide to bring this technology to the mass market, or if it remains something of a niche technology served by smaller specialist suppliers.

Many exhibitors had 3D printed samples on display and in some cases it was great to be able to pick up and handle the objects.

 Most of the exhibitors were showing plastic objects, but certain machines offer the possibility of working with resin materials with ceramic or metallic finishes too. 3D printed models can also be used as moulds, so even bronze sculptures can ultimately be cast from your 3D data.

For those looking to get something printed but not ready to buy into the hardware, there are many online service facilities available, and these were represented at the show too. Companies such as  Sculpteo will take your 3D .stl files, print them on their machines and send you back your model through the post. You can even create your 3D model using simplified online software like Tinkercad and Sketchup.

As well as 3D printing, some vendors were showing 3D scanning technology; the ability to scan people or objects and instantly create detailed CGI models from the captured data. Europac 3D had a scanning tent which included four DSLR cameras for capturing human subjects from every angle simultaneously.

Another impressive scanning system comprised of a laser scanner mounted on a jointed robotic arm which could capture 3D data and instantaneously add this to a CG model in real time; great for scanning hands and car tyres :)

Combining the 3D scanner and 3D printing technologies obviously leads us to the 3D copier; a device for replicating things...

3D printing is already proven as an invaluable prototyping tool for product developers, architects and model-makers, but will this ever become a consumer-level technology?

I got the impression that this is an industry on the cusp; offering interesting creative possibilities to design professionals, whilst not quite ready for mainstream use just yet.

Like personal jet-packs and moon holidays we could be waiting a while longer for the promise of 'home manufacturing' to fully materialize... But I can't help thinking there is potentially something in this for some of my projects.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Modelling The Old Cinema

Here's the old cinema building again; but this time a CGI model of the façade I've built in Maya.

For reference I used the architectural plans I found in the CTA archive and some photos I took on-site. This is early work really, and the model certainly isn't as accurate or detailed as it could be.

I've not got into any materials or texturing yet either, but next I'd like to try projecting some photographs of the real building onto this model.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DVD 'Extras' for Simon's Cat Ltd.

As of today, YouTube phenomenon Simon's Cat is now available for the first time for purchase as a DVD release. The DVD Das Beste von Simon's Cat has received its first distribution in Germany and is available from Amazon.de as well as other good retailers of course.

Simon's Cat is the creation of Simon Tofield, the UK-based animator whom I've had the pleasure of working with for several years now. The DVD includes all 23 of the Simon's Cat animated short films and inevitably quite a bit of 'DVD Extra' content.

I am proud to say that I've Directed/Edited the extra video content on this DVD release, that's 12 episodes (12x3:00) of Simon's drawing tutorials Simon Draws, the 5 minute documentary Simon Talks and a charming 2 minute photo montage Simon's Real Cats. Much of this video content is exclusive to the DVD release and not available on the web, so order your copy now!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My First Muller Scans: Super 8 Looking Great!

It's always an exciting day getting super8 footage back through the post, and today is one such day... I've had another reel of cine film processed and then telecined for my ongoing Enfield: My Kinda Town project.


I sent this roll to a different transfer facility this time, I wanted to try out the Muller HM73  film-scanner, so sent this film (and a 16GB USB stick) over to 18frames in Bielefeld, Germany.

The service was very fast, they turned this around within a day, it's just the UK/Germany postage that takes time (around 4-5 days each way). They put a 15GB avi file onto my memory stick, a lovely 1440x1080 sized image with the correct 1.333 pixel aspect ratio for my anamorphic footage. So I effectively get back my super 8 reel and a 1920x1080 16x9 file to work with. Kudos to Frank for getting these settings right, because anamorphic super8 footage is a fairly unusual format to be dealing with.

I have to say I am hugely impressed by the quality of the work, especially as this is a reasonably priced service. I'll definitely be sending a few more films this way in the future; maybe even getting a few re-scans of earlier films by way of comparison.

I've been sending my last few films off to Sweden to Uppsala Bildteknik for scanning on the FlashScan HD machine, from that system I was getting a 1024x720 4x3 scan, pillarboxed within a 1280x720 image size.

The new scans from the Muller machine are obviously clearer and higher resolution; the files seem  to be hardly compressed too. When ordering the telecine from 18Frames, I opted for their '2k look'; quite a heavily post-processed image which is highly-stabilized and sharpened to look more like larger film formats. For this project, I'm not looking for a wobbly grainy 'home movie' image, I'm trying to make my images look like a glossy cinema travel documentary or a commercial from the 1970s, and these would typically have been shot on 35mm film.

The thing is... the first couple of reels I had scanned for this project now have a very different quality to this new one, leading to the costly possibility of getting a couple of those earlier reels scanned again.

I'm not showing any moving footage from this project just yet, but here are a few stills (from the new Muller-scanned footage) just to give an idea of the new look.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Cinema Theatre Archive

Last week I made a special visit to the Cinema Theatre Association archive in Walthamstow. The CTA is dedicated to preserving and documenting Britain's Cinema architecture.

I've specifically been researching the old 1930 Carlton Cinema building in Islington; a huge 2400 seater with a very impressive Egyptian style façade. The archive certainly didn't disappoint, with folder upon folder of photographs, clippings, documents and posters etc. relating to this grand old picture house.

The archive holds an impressive (if slightly chaotic) photographic record of the cinema from its opening in the early 30's through to the Bingo Hall era of the 70s and 80's,

Amazingly, there's a plan chest containing the original architects plans of the building from the architecture office of George Coles. There were about 8 sheets, each around A0 in size showing plans, elevations and cross-sections of the building.

As part of my ongoing project, I'm considering making a 3D model of the cinema's façade: I can see these scale drawings being a pretty useful thing to have access to.

As for the archive itself, it's a truly unique and fascinating resource,  the CTA is run on donations and entirely staffed by volunteers. The collection is housed on an industrial estate in unspectacular surroundings, and visits are by arrangement only.

  This place is fair-crammed to the rafters with bulging box files and cinema ephemera.

I'd especially like to thank CTA members Richard Gray and Rachael Marks who have both helped me a lot with my enquiries so far.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Lana Del Rey and my home movies (again)

Lana Del Rey has licenced some of my Super 8 film footage again.

Back in 2008 I shot this short film whilst on a family trip to California...

Then last year, some fragments of my footage appeared in the official promotional video for Lana Del Rey's breakthrough track Video Games. As it turned out, this song became a huge hit with millions of viewers worldwide.

I am pleased to say that the makers of the video did make contact with me and we came to an amicable agreement for this usage. I can add that Lana and the folks at Polydor have just re-licenced the footage for use in a live concert recently held (Sept 26th 2012) at the London roundhouse as part of the iTunes festival.

Who'd have known that the first test footage I shot with my Nizo S800 cine camera 4 years ago would make the big time?