Monday, June 15, 2015

'Needlecraft' FGM Awareness Short Film Released (Updated)

During most of my twelve year stint at TANDEM Films (2002-2014) I worked on many television commercials and promo films in the service of all manner of products and services. I often worked on ads for breakfast cereals, fruit-based drinks, travel websites and even once a TV-based dating service, but towards the end of my time there, an altogether different project came in...

Female Genital Mutiliation (FGM) could perhaps be on of the most difficult and complex issues of any that one could ever imagine making a short film about. Ruth Beni of Animage Films had previously made several pioneering short films using animation to bring attention to important social issues and campaigns. Ruth's idea was to make a film that principally could be shown to school-age children to raise the issue of FGM, promote awareness and further discussion as well as provide links to supportive agencies working in the area. One of the main areas of concern was the extent to which the practice of FGM can happen within 'diaspora' communities, even after migrating from the countries where the practice is known to be most prevalent.

Ruth had worked with TANDEM Films before and approached Director Daniel Greaves to help put-together the short film. Dan pulled-together a small team at TANDEM to work on the project, and I was fortunate enough to be called-on to animate,composite and edit the piece.

Ruth and Daniel especially wanted to achieve a 'hand-stitched' aesthetic for the film. So in as much as would be possible they wanted to create the work using 'practical' (hand-made) techniques. A small team of embroiderers and artworkers were called-on to craft most of the artwork. Stop-motion animator Tobias Fouracre came in to animate as much as possible in-camera using traditional techniques. There was also a live-action shoot required too, bringing-in DOP Simon Paul to light and shoot.

Due to the many complexities of making such a film, the production period was fairly extended and there has been quite a few months passed before the film could be released, but I'm pleased to say that 'Needlecraft' has finally been officially published online.

Although it's been almost a year since the TANDEM Studio has closed its doors, I hope at least this work we did there will go on to to have at least some ongoing positive influence in the world at large ...

And now Ruth Beni has posted a short making-of video about the 'Needlecraft' project on her Animage Vimeo page. I think this shows quite nicely the craft and effort that went into this production.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New Video for Vanderpump & Sykes Solicitors

Well a couple of posts ago, I showed some still frames from a new motion graphics video I delivered for Vanderpump & Sykes Solicitors.

I've now added some stock music (from and got this down to a snappier two minutes in this new edit. The video is designed to play on a loop and run silently on a large screen at the firm's head office.

The video is mostly animated type with some simple 3D elements too. I completed the project using Cinema4D and After Effects.

These days I'm making a lot of short promos and web videos directly for all kinds of clients. Please see to find out more.

Here are a few stills from the video too...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New Title Sequence for Thomas & Friends YouTube Content

On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, the 70th anniversary of Reverend W. Awdry creating the first of his 'Railway Series' stories for children was featured.

Growing-up as a child of the '70s, and something of a train-nerd, I loved these books, especially the rich and detailed illustrations. Long after I'd 'grown-up', Thomas the Tank Engine (and his friends) came to television and then became something of a merchandizing phenomenon too.

And now Thomas comes to the interwebs. Commissioned by Hit Entertainment and Produced by Spider Eye Ltd. , a new series of 'comic book' episodes is now arriving at platform YouTube.

I'm pleased to say I was asked to make the title sequence for this series (The first 20 seconds!) back in December and am now engaged in some background artworking for a few of the later episodes too. The first of the new webisodes 'Thomas Goes to New York' is online now, so I'm sharing a link to it here.

My bit is the motion graphics title sequence up until 0:20. Happy Birthday Thomas (& Friends).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Four New Product Videos for Nevion

I'm proud to now reveal the four product videos I have just made for new client Nevion which the company have just published on their YouTube channel. It was also great to be working again with my old colleague Philip Pepper as my Agent/Producer on these.

Nevion produces tech equipment for the TV & Broadcast industry. Nevion's innovative systems are used by content broadcasters worldwide to transport media streams from one location to another and to ensure the quality and reliability of such links.

I was asked to make four product videos highlighting key features for three hardware products and one software product in the Nevion range.

First up, here's the Nevion Sublime X2 Router for switching audio and video signals in tight situations...

For these videos the client had already written the Voice-Over Script. I sourced suitable VO recordings, and meanwhile set-about storyboarding the visuals for each video.

This is the TNS4200 Monitoring Probe for ensuring the quality of video streams...

I presented the client with a fairly thorough storyboard for each video within the first four days of each production to enable discussion and feedback.

This is the NX4600 Media Gateway for encoding and decoding media streams across IP networks...

This is the VideoIPath software solution for monitoring and controlling video networks including Nevion's hardware and 3rd party products too...

I particularly enjoyed making these videos and always love the challenge of presenting complex or highly technical subject matter with maximum precision and clarity.

The Nevion team are showing their products from their booth at the NAB Show for the TV industry in Las Vegas this week. I wish them an enjoyable and productive time at the show.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Stills from New Video for Vanderpump & Sykes Solicitors

Here's news (with a few stills) of a video project delivered for a new client.

I have just completed a six minute motion graphics video for Enfield-based law firm Vanderpump & Sykes.
Visitors to the firm's Windmill Hill office will be able to see the video running on a large HD screen situated in the firm's reception area.

The video is 'modular' in form,comprising of nine sections presenting a menu of the extensive legal services and specialisms on offer.

The video has been devised to run silently to maintain the serenity of the office environment.

With a six minute running time, the video has been designed to loop seamlessly: the content can be run continuously throughout the working day.

The animated typography is set in the 'Agenda' typeface. The warm and autumnal colour palette has been chosen to complement existing print and web material from the firm.

I offer my video production services under my own name, trading as I am available to work for agencies or clients directly and always very keen to take on new projects. Please email if you'd like to discuss developing video content for your business too.

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Video for 'Sofreh: The Art of Persian Celebration' Book Launch event.

I was very happy to be invited recently to attend the launch event for the new book 'Sofreh, The Art of Persian Celebration' held at the English Speaking Institute in Mayfair. Throughout January, I have been working on video content to be screened at the launch event and possibly other occasions in the future.

I worked with the book's author Maryam Khosrowshahi and publisher (Hali Publishing Ltd.) to create two videos to play continuously for the guests. Sofreh is the art of table presentation for celebratory occasions and practiced in Iran and by Persian communities elsewhere around the world too.

The book is presented in two sumptuously bound volumes; book one 'Nowruz' details Persian New Year celebrations whilst Book two 'Aqd' explores the use of Sofreh displays in Persian weddings. The book explores Sofreh as an artform, including detailed studies of its historical and cultural roles.

Find out more about this fine publication at the book's website here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Promo Video for

Here's a new app demo / promo video I have just delivered for The video is now being used online to promote the new smartphone app and raise awareness for a crowd-funding campaign now taking place on Indiegogo here.

The video is quite a mixed media piece, combining footage, photography and a little stop-motion and CG work too. I wrote the script and completed all of the video production work on this one. The video was delivered in around a four week turnaround from initial briefing.

For anyone interested in how I create this kind of work, the client has also uploaded my rough animatic to Vimeo. This is a very crude version of the video I made early on in the development process. So in the interests of 'showing the workings' here is my animatic (rough version) of the same video.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Simon's Cat 'Vet Visit' - Half a Million Hits!

Here's the latest video I made for Simon's Cat Ltd. It was uploaded to the Simon's Cat YouTube channel just before Christmas and has clocked-up over 500,000 views already. In this video we follow Simon Tofield on a reserch visit to the UK headquarters of the Cats Protection charity in Sussex.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Further Adventures in 3D Printing: 16mm Film Scanner Parts.

So a while back I spent a lot of my 'spare' time building a DIY Film-scanner for 're-photographing' the tiny frames of Super8 film. Suffice to say that now I'm starting to dabble with a 16mm film camera, I am ultimately going to want to digitize this larger film too.

This could be a long and possibly fruitless endeavor, but I'm making a start on it. This time I'm thinking about making a film gate with a claw action to pull the film strip through one frame at a time. As before, I'll probably use my DSLR camera with some macro rings to re-photograph the frames as digital stills.

First of all I found the specifactions for 16mm movie film online, here's the dimensions I am working with.

Here's a first look at my prototype film gate mechanism. I'm designing this in Cinema 4D, outputting .stl files and sending these off to Shapeways to have them 3D printed from black 'detail' plastic.

This version of the mechanism is made of 3 parts, a film channel (shown in yellow), a moving bar with two claw teeth (grey) and a top plate (green) to apply some downward pressure to the film. This is probably the simplest kind of mechanism to go for, although more complicated (and precise) mechanisms than this tend to be used in proper film equipment.

I've already got the first couple of parts back from Shapeways (from a slightly earlier design), Here they are.

These parts do seem to fit the film quite well which is encouraging. As I've found before, getting things 3D printed is very much an iterative process, you design, you make you test; then you do it all again... it's not exactly cheap either.

I've now ordered some more parts to make the mechanism shown above, so maybe in a couple of weeks time when the parts come back I'll have a little more to show here.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

First Still Frames from my 'new' 16mm film camera.

I've had my Krasnogorsk K3 camera since Summer this year, but not had a chance to shoot anything with it until now... Just before Christmas I took the camera on one of our family trips to Cornwall and shot 100 feet of Kodak 2210 'Surveillance' BW negative 16mm film of the kids larking about on the beach at Constantine Bay.

Last night I developed the first half of this roll using my DIY spiral developing tank. I mixed up some of the same Caffenol C-M developer I've used before for Super 8 film processing.
I'm happy to say I got pictures! This is always a joy and never to be taken for granted when dabbling with old Soviet-era camera equipment and DIY processing techniques.

Here are a few still images from the film...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Vet Visit: New Video for Simon's Cat

Just released online, here's the new video I made for Simon's Cat Ltd. In this film we see Simon's Cat creator Simon Tofield going on a day-trip to the UK Headquarters of the Cats Protection charity in Sussex. I wrote a short blog post about the trip here.

I shot this video using the Canon C100, Canon 24-105 f4 lens and Senheiser G3 lav radio mic. kit. For support I used my Manfrotto monopod.

You can read more about the visit on the Cats Protection blog here or at the Simon's Cat website here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'Simon Draws' Great ASMR Video Content

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning covered the phenomenon of 'ASMR' video content.
The definition of 'Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response' is somewhat nebulous and pseudo scientific but seems to cover any video content that induces a 'tingly' sensation in viewers.

The BBC website article goes on to cite the Bob Ross painting tutorials as an example of ASMR-rich video content. Here in the UK, I don't remember seeing Bob Ross, but we did have Tony Hart. As a child of the 70s/80s I lapped-up Tony Hart's art shows and yes, these were certainly something of an inspiration for the Simon Draws format.

In the Simon Draws videos, Simon Tofield draws various characters from his popular Simon's Cat cartoons whilst simultaneously dispensing his drawing tips and wildlife wisdom along the way.

Over the last few years for I have recorded twelve episodes of the  Simon Draws for Simon's Cat Ltd. I had no idea these would score highly as ASMR video content but they were intended to provide an informative and relaxing viewing experience. If these videos appeal to a new audience seeking an ASMR video experience (whatever that really is) then ... welcome aboard ; )

Monday, November 24, 2014

Out Shooting With the Canon C100

Vet Emily Billings, Simon Tofield and me (Chris Gavin) with the C100 camera. Photo by Emma Burch.
Last week I was out for the day shooting for Simon's Cat Ltd. The plan was to follow Simon's Cat creator Simon Tofield on a visit to the Cats Protection Headquarters in Sussex. The visit has been documented already on the official Simon's Cat website.

I travelled with Simon and producer Emma Burch by train to Haywards Heath, and we spent a good day being shown around the site and meeting the very dedicated staff there.

My role was to shoot documentary material there which will appear shortly as an online video. I knew we would need to be pretty nimble at the location and we would be shooting some interviews too, so I took along a rented Canon C100 camera and not too much other gear. I needed a very portable system for one-man shooting and capturing usable audio too.

This was my first time out with the C100 and I really enjoyed using it, especially compared to using DSLRs like my Canon 600D. We hired the C100, the 24-105/2.8L Canon zoom lens and a Senheiser lav radio mic kit from Cameraworks.

I ended up shooting everything with my Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 monopod. I find this one (with its tiny fold-out feet) gives pretty good stability while being quick to deploy and move around for this kind of rapid shot-getting. The Canon 24-105 zoom lens turned out to be a real time-saver too, so I never did use the tripod or three other lenses I brought with me 'just in case'.

The camera turned out to be a real star. It was possible to get good pictures under difficult indoors and subdued lighting conditions: having proper tools to monitor focus and audio whilst recording was such a joy too. I'll certainly be using one of these again soon.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Digitoids: A Work in Progress #004

Well, in my 'spare' time I'm continuing to find my way around Cinema 4D. Keen readers will remember I bought the full 'Studio' edition earlier in the year and that I recently upgraded to the latest r16 version too.

As for the subject matter: I was playing around with this Digitoids concept a few years back, possibly as a stop motion / After Effects hybrid, but I'm now trying out this CGI / After Effects technique instead.

Just to try something new, I decided I would post updates of this project from time to time as I go along. So once evry few days I am replacing the file on Vimeo to show a continually evolving 'Work in Progress.' For anyone that wants to see how the work is progressing, click by here again soon and hopefully you will see the clip move on a little.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Documentary Film : Ottoman Art 1450-1600

Now online at the Hali Publishing website, here's the arts/history documentary film I have just made. This film was specially commissioned for an exhibition of fine Ottoman-era artifacts now taking place at The Palazzo Lomellino in Genoa. The film is in Italian with English subtitles.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Ottoman Art: new Arts/History Documentary Film

I'm especially pleased to have just delivered a new film to support a major exhibition of Ottoman-era artwork taking place at the Palazzo Lomellino in Genoa over the next three months. I was commissioned by Hali Publishing Ltd. (on behalf of the Bruschettini Foundation) to create the eight and a half minute film to introduce the exhibition at the prestigious gallery space in Genoa.

The film is an arts/history documentary piece taking viewers through the era 1450-1600, a time when the Ottoman empire rose to become the dominant power in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

The cultural artifacts on display in this exhibition are particularly impressive, encompassing  a stunning collection of silk textiles, ceramics, armour and of course, fine carpets.

The film combines still imagery of such artifacts, archival illustrations and motion graphics to tell the story of the growth of the Ottoman empire and the important role that fine arts and crafts played in this era.

The script for the film was written by renowned US scholar Walter B. Denny and for this exhibition the story is narrated in Italian with English sub-titles. Currently the film is not available online, but I can thoroughly recommend a trip to Genoa to see it, here are the exhibition details.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Another Behind The Scenes film made for Simon's Cat 'Off To The Vet'

Here's another short video I've made for Simon's Cat Ltd. This is quite a simple interview video in which Simon's Cat creator Simon Tofield describes the inspiration behind his new Off To the Vet film project. As reported previously, this video was part of a month-long crowd-funding campaign by the team to raise funding for a major new film project.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Congratulations To The Simon's Cat Team

Regular readers will know I've made many videos for the Simon's Cat YouTube channel. I've made most of the 'extra' video content such as drawing lessons and behind the scenes films etc. I was also asked recently to make a pitch video for their Off To The Vet crowd-funding campaign.

Here's the 3 minute pitch video I made for the campaign...

+++ UPDATE! +++

Well I'm very pleased to note that the campaign has been an incredible success. The team surpassed their funding target of £275k with 3 days left of the campaign. The campaign has just closed, raising a total of £311,084 from Simon's Cat fans worldwide. Apparently this is one of the most successful film crowd-funding ventures in the UK to date. This is a huge achievement for all the team and will enable the crew to work to make a great film over the coming year.

Friday, July 25, 2014

New Behind The Scenes film made for Simon's Cat 'Off To The Vet'

As part of the ongoing Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign by the Simon's Cat team I was asked to make another short film. I really enjoyed shooting this one. This two minute film offers a glimpse into Simon Tofield's working methods showing how he uses sketchbooks, storyboards and animatics to plan his animated films. This was pretty much shot in one day and a one day edit too, so it's been quite refreshing to work on such a very quick turnaround.

I shot this in the Simon's Cat studio space using all my own equipment: Canon 600D DSLR and one lens; the Sigma 30mm f1.4. I really love using my Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 monopod for this kind of filming, it's a really quick way to capture shots with enough stability yet a looser and maybe more 'documentary' feel too. For audio I had my Rode VideoMicPro on the camera, but ended up using all the double system sound I had also recorded on my TASCAM DR07 MkII recorder with my newly-acquired Rode Lavalier microphone.

I edited in Premiere CS6.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

New promo film made for Simon's Cat

Here it is! Above is the 3 minute promo film I've just delivered for Simon's Cat Ltd. I'm really proud to have been asked to work on this; multi-tasking as writer/director/camera-person & editor! I wish Good Luck and Best Wishes to Simon Tofield and his team and wish them every sucess with their campaign.