Q: What do you do when you dig up a few old Lego Star Wars toys from the attic?
A: Immediately start story boarding a stop motion film, obviously.
For no other reason than to see if I could, I set myself the challenge of making a ‘Microfilm’ – A small but perfectly formed animation that was as filmic as I could manage. After a bit of testing and a few hours of shooting and editing this is the result.
If you’re wondering how this was made, here’s a shot to illustrate just how low tech the setup was. It’s all about cunning placement of cameras, macro lenses and very careful planning and measurements when it comes to tracking shots.
I used a Nikon D750 with a 35-70mm macro lens, a printed background of Liverpool docks and an assortment of paper clips and blu-tack to position the models. Whenever an object is thrown (or forced) in the film it has been shot with a paperclip support that is then painstakingly edited out of each frame. It’s a labour intensive task but I’m super happy with the results.
If you enjoyed this and want to see more then say hello! If you have any thoughts or suggestions leave a comment and follow jonhallphoto to see the next installment.
Fact: Fighting is not cool. Fact: Stage fighting is very, very cool.
Recently I’ve had this recurring thought. A nagging idea about filming epic fight scenes that do all the things I want them to do in the movies. I used to choreograph fights for a touring theatre company in my distant past. Now I’m taking those skills and the pool of talented performers I know to make fight scenes like this one.
It all started with a promo video for Off The Ground’s – Musketeers. With no preparation I joined a rehearsal and watched a set of fights choreographed for stage before capturing the footage in the video below.
I’d recently bought a DJI phantom and the stabilized Gopro footage it provides proved way better than I could have hoped. After a little thought and some more equipment I’m now using a new rig (see below) light enough to get right into the action so after rounding up a couple of actor friends we set about choreographing the fight and camera at the same time.
I knew I wanted everything to work as one shot so each hit must be positioned in terms of the camera and each move planned out. In reality, stage combat is much closer to dance than it is to fighting.
‘Fight Club #1’ is the result of about 3 hours of preparation, rehearsal and filming. The plan is to get together regularly, produce these mini scenes and with your feedback, improve and expand the project
A while back I was called to film some fight scenes for a promo video. I love films like ‘Kingsman’ for the feeling of camera mobility during fight scenes and I wanted to recreate that feeling. Filming action with a DSLR is difficult because if you want to stabilize your footage it makes focus control very difficult. There are solutions available such as the DJI Ronin M but these add bulk and weight and are too expensive for a lot of amateur filmmakers. Instead I used the Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal attached to my Phantom drone to stabilize a Gopro solving two problems at once. Stable footage and no focus adjustment needed.
Using a drone is a great solution if you already own one but it has it’s disadvantages. It uses the precious battery power of the expensive DJI cells, offers no stabilization in the vertical plane and there’s nowhere to put a monitor if you want one.
Instead I looked for a solution that would stabilize a Gopro like a drone gimbal does but mount easily to my Flycam 5000, a handled stabilizer for DSLR’s. After researching various possibilities involving ebay stabilizers and RC battery packs I bit the bullet and ordered the Feiyu G4 handheld electronic stabilizer for Gopro. The G4 does everything the drone did but is still susceptible to hand movement. It keeps the Gopro level but that’s it.
Black pearl reciever live view
Feiyu G4 Remote
Side view of the setup
Fortunately, mounting it to a Flycam 5000 transforms the Gopro into a silky smooth cinema camera. The addition of the Boscam G20 transmitter allows a live feed for monitoring on the move and the remote control unit lets me control the pitch and follow mode on the G4. This really is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts.
See the super stable results from this setup in the new fight video and Bikes and Boards promo:
The extra advantage of the Flycam kit is it’s ability to keep the camera level with minimal ground clearance. Lowering the head of the stabilizer allows you to film right from the floor up to about a foot higher than your reach, which is excellent.
A complete parts list for the kit is below:
Boscam G20 Transmitter
Black Pearl diversity Monitor
Feiyu G4 3-axis stabilizer
Feiyu G4 remote and cable
Gopro flat surface mount
Gopro Handlebar mount
If you’re building this kit or maybe have a better one I want to hear about it. Leave a comment or follow JonHallPHoto to stay updated.
That’s an average of 152 photos per day or just over 7 photos per hour, which makes me only slightly less trigger happy than the average teenage girl. Considering that much of a photographer’s time is spent prepping, editing and delivering images I can say in all honesty, it’s been a busy year.
As I look back through my 2015 catalog there are some images that jump out at me immediately. Some for their pure form and impact, others because of how they take me right back to the moment they were captured.
This year JonHallPhoto has taken a distinct change in direction and I’ve moved away from weddings and more towards commercial images and video production. It’s a move I’m enjoying and leaves me looking forward to the year ahead.
So in no particular order here are a few of my favourite images and memories from the last year.
I love this shot of Andy and Annika at the end of the night. It’s just such a genuine moment. Shot from afar to give them as much privacy as possible, they didn’t disappoint.
The first of two favourites from the incredible Sophia Carmen. A dancer from the Hammond School. As an ex dancer myself I’m amazed by the strength on show here.
A more personal shot here as this is my little nephew Sam. This wasn’t a photo shoot but a family get together and those piercing eyes just found the lens.
This is the moment a party of Groomsmen decided to attempt their version of The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’album cover. Unfortunately one groomsman just couldn’t march in time. As it turns out that one groomsmen just happens to be the only soldier in the group.
Here’s a wedding party that knows how to have fun. I became tired with seeing guests queuing up for cramped, automated photo booths to be rewarded with low quality snaps they could have taken themselves. This is how a photo booth should be done. This was a fun night.
The Little Black Dress shoot – iConquered. The brief was to show the clients of a personal trainer getting ‘Little Black Dress’ ready and these were empowered women at work, in one image. I think we nailed it.
Another gorgeous image from Sophia, this time with partner Liam. The pure dance shapes they were producing were amazing but lacked an emotional element. After a little direction they pulled out this gem. I think it’s just wonderful.
Ok so the image may not be all that special but it represents my move into commercial product photography. These ‘ghost’ images look simple but the difference it can make to a professional website is profound. And these are just the still versions…
This family beach shoot produced a whole series of great images but I love this shot as the boy leads his little sister through the sand.
I love this shot for the magic of lighting. This was a pretty dull day, windy and a little cold but with a little thought and strategic speedlight placement this sunny summer day was born. Nice.
If you’re new to photography or looking to expand your skills not join me a night walk along the stunning Liverpool waterfront? This course is designed to be an introduction to the basics of DSLR photography, taking you from auto snapper to manual master in 3 photo filled hours. Learn about exposure modes, when and how to use manual settings and how to get the most out of your DSLR as well as meeting like minded photographers in your area. There’s something for everyone whether you’ve just picked up your first camera or are a more experienced photographer looking to try something new. The walks start with the basics of camera operation and move on to more advanced techniques such as light painting and capturing traffic trails.
With over ten years experience in leading and teaching groups, I’m thrilled to be able to share my experience in education and passion for photography. Each walk features group and one-to-one time to help you with any specific questions or image styles you want to achieve.
Walks last for 3 hours per evening with a maximum of 10 per group. All you will require is a DSLR camera (ask if you’re not sure), a tripod (essential) and suitable clothing. For light painting a torch or LED light is required, external flash units can also be used if you have them.
The workshop is hands on, you’ll be snapping continuously and receive constant feedback on your work. The friendly group atmosphere is a perfect setting to make new friends and learn new techniques.
Last years night walks proved very popular and workshops have limited availability. Register now to avoid disappointment. To keep up to date with all the latest info ‘like’ and follow the jonhallphoto facebook page now.
Evening night walks cost £75 for a 3 hour session.Here’s what previous clients had to say about the walks:
Thanks for the course last night on Night Photography, it was a great boost to my confidence at getting to grips with using my DSLR outside of the “green” automatic mode. I have always been interested in the Light trail photos and I am please with my first attempts. I can’t wait to get out on my next evening photography walk! – Alan D
Despite the weather (on the nightwalk) I found it terrifically interesting and it made me aware of the kind of images that I could get even from my humble G9. I learned a lot, enjoyed it and thought you did a cracking job of informing and teaching without being in your face or stand-off ish. Thanks again for a great course and giving me the enthusiasm to learn more and keep exploring my camera. Cheers! – Jim R
Many thanks for the course last night. I thought the course was great and I really liked your teaching style, which gave just the right amount of information without being over technical. I really enjoyed the lighting effects you showed us with the torches / mobile phones. Please keep me informed of any other courses you run. – Helen D
Just a note to say how much I enjoyed the recent Liverpool Night walk course. I wasn’t sure if I’d be out of my depth but as a beginner I found it very helpful and feel much more confident about the use of my Camera. I thought you did a great job to guide everyone whilst providing individual attention where needed. The 3 hours flew by and it was nice to experience the Albert Dock area on such a lovely night. I will look out for other courses as I can now appreciate the benefit that these may bring. – James H
Just thought that I would say how useful the course you ran last night was for me, and I believe the other people who attended. My son and I both picked up a lot of information and the way you put it over was very simple and easy to understand. Considering the weather was so cold it was down to you that everyone stayed to the end. Hopefully you will run some other courses in the future as it is obvious to me that you have plenty to teach us. Once again thank you for your assistance. – Keith C
The Boscam G20 is a 5.8GHz 32 channel composite video transmitter for the Gopro Hero 3 and 4 cameras. It uses the accessory port on the rear of the camera to send video to a compatible receiver and is the best thing since sliced bread.
The Gopro Hero 4 is a pretty serious piece of kit for film makers. It’s sharp, light, relatively cheap and shoots 4k and 2.7k footage with usable frame rates and a flat colour profile. That’s a great start but using it to produce professional looking footage turns out to require much more in terms of hardware than you might think.
For capturing action sports the super wide view of the Gopro is perfect as a ‘fit and forget’ camera but when using the more cinematic narrow or medium fields of view, knowing what you’re shooting becomes more important. If you need live view when filming (and you do) you have a few options:
The Gopro App – Streams video to your phone or tablet via WIFI and offers full control over the settings. This is awesome for framing up your shots but rubbish for actual filming. The lag between moving the camera and the display updating is just too much to be useful. You’ll go insane trying to film anything seriously like this.
The LCD Bacpac (yes it’s spelled ‘Bacpac’) gives a lag free preview and adds touch control but is tiny and stays on the camera at all times. This means if you want to put your camera on a boom arm or stabilizer you won’t be able to see it. so it’s really no better than the app.
HDMI Out, this is the ‘pro’ choice offered by Gopro, assuming that anyone using their Hero4 for serious use will use a large rig and can trail cables to monitors with no problems. This is undoubtedly the best quality available but rather defeats the object of having a tiny mountable camera. Especially when the weight of an HDMI cable will prohibit the use of any handheld stabilizer.
The answer? The Boscam G20 transmitter. A self contained box the same size as a battery or LCD Bacpac that sends live video straight to a wireless receiver. No wires, no uneven weight distribution and perfectly designed for anyone using a handheld stabilizer such as the Feiyu G4 or G4s.
The Thing itself.
The Boscam G20 is a cheap, lightweight transmitter that plugs directly into the Gopro Hero3 and Hero4 cameras using the rear connector. With a 500mAh internal battery it charges via a micro usb socket and is supposed to last for 2 hours per charge. (I’ve not tested this fully yet but I’ll get back to you.) At 28g it’s extremely light and mounts perfectly into any Gopro mount or case designed for use with the Bacpac accessories. Importantly, it does work perfectly with the Feiyu G4 series stabilizers which is the whole reason I bought it. The specified range is 300m though for film making use that will be more than enough.
To see the video you’ll need a 5.8Ghz 32 channel receiver. I use a Black Pearl diversity monitor that does not require a separate receiver and it works beautifully.
To set up your G20 you’ll need to power it up before fitting it to your Gopro, then select a channel using the mode button on the side of the unit. A long press cycles through the bands A, B, E, F and a short press cycles between channels 1-8.
Before buying the G20 I could find no information, no reviews, nothing. If you’re looking for a wireless live view solution then this is it.
If you’re still not convinced here’s a quick and rough video to show you it working.
As always, if you have and questions just leave a comment.
If you’ve seen Kev and Jen’s wedding in an earlier post you know that this geek chíc wedding was full of creative ideas and little nods to their favourite pastimes and shared hobbies. With many elements based in comic books I knew before I started editing their images that I could create something a little bit special for this unique couple.
With a little research and patience ‘Serjenity’ was born. I surprised them with this comic book version of their big day, named for a prominent space ship in Joss Whedon’s Firefly series (and one of their table centrepieces).
It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste but that’s the nature of the ‘bespoke’ in Jonhallphoto Bespoke Photography. Each package or service is designed with the client in mind. In this case that meant creating this suprise book layout for the couple to print as thank you comics.
They love them and so do I and that’s all that really matters.