Tag Archives: DIY

Gopro stabilized footage – building a smooth fight scene rig

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.

Gopro Glidecam-1
Feiyu G4 on Gopro mounts

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.


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:

  • Gopro Hero4
  • 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.

Destination Ibiza – Rory and Jade’s Island wedding Pt.1

Destinations weddings are the perfect solution for some. Getting away from the English weather and escaping to the Ibizan sun is one way of ensuring perfect weather for your outdoor celebrations so that’s exactly what Rory and Jade did.

They met while working as club promoters and fell for each other instantly. Not long later I was sat in Rory’s house discussing the logistics of producing and album that spanned 3 days of preparations and celebrations. They loved my style and wisely chose to secure the photographer they want rather than take a gamble on someone they hadn’t met who operated in a different country.

The couple had organised a villa for the week big enough to house 20 of their best friends and planned to take with them a huge array of DIY decorations and wedding extras so after going through all the details, sorting flights and checking my gear countless times I was on a plane and headed for the party island.

On arrival at the villa work was well under way on the details for the wedding. Huge floral decorations sprung up around me and one hall was filled with a petal covered aisle runner. Everyone was doing their bit to prepare and I settled in for a few days of getting to know this great bunch of people I would be staying with for the duration.

After a good night’s sleep during the pre wedding night party it was all go at the villa in the morning. As Rory sorted some last minute details Jade was treated to a wedding makeover as the gang cooked breakfast in the sun. I’ve got to hand it to these guys on the style marks. Rory looks awesome in his bespoke suit and Jade could not have looked more beautiful.

To see the images from the ceremony and party, follow the blog and look out for Pt. 2 soon.

How do you improve an already awesome sword fight? …Lightsabers.

You may remember the Musketeers stage combat trailer from my last post. That was a video completed in one editing session to try to get it selling tickets as quickly as possible so I thought “how could I improve this with a painstakingly long and tedious process that will shut me away from the outside world for nearly a week?”

The answer?   Lightsabers.

It turns out that adding a bit of Jedi flair to your videos is pretty labour intensive work, requiring you to individually animate every frame of your light sabers. It takes forever.

I won’t go into too much detail here. If you want to have a go yourself I’ve added some useful links to the bottom of this post.

The effect is achieved using Adobe After Effects. Each saber is created by animating a mask across a coloured solid. Once all of the movement is complete, clashes and sound effects are added.

If you want to try your own, take a look at these tutorials and post your work in the comments section.

The Purple Wedding: Kevan and Jenni geek out on their big day.

No, not THAT purple wedding. This one is an altogether lighter affair don’t worry.

When I met Kev and Jen they had seen my work and were interested in my more unusual work, they wanted someone who could really tell their story and capture all the many details they had planned for the biggest day of their lives.

I knew straight away it would be a good one after hearing tales of homemade dresses to follow the super-purple theme, bespoke table centres, custom card boxes and samurai swords. It turned out I had underestimated the level of geek chic we were talking about…

The wedding was held at Hothorpe Hall, Theddingworth and I arrived to find Jenni putting the finishing touches to her dress as the girls readied themselves around her. Jen was keen to show off her shoes, a pair of Julian Hakes heels that defy logic and look fantastic. I get the feeling that when started planning the wedding these were top of the list.

Downstairs in the venue, Kev was busy organising the table centres that represented the various loves and hobbies. I particularly like the Lego Stargate, tiny Tardis and the amazing card box made to look like a fantasy potion kit. Bonus points if you can name every space ship!

Final preparations were made, guests were rounded up and the wedding went without a hitch. Jen looked stunning in flowing purple and you can see it in Kev’s look. I love capturing that first moment when a groom sees the bride, that’s happy right there. After a lovely ceremony we took advantage of the good light and organised a group photo outside. For me this means dangling precariously from a window whilst my second photographer captured one of my favourite shots of the day. The confetti shot from the ground would only be possible when using a second shooter as the group is looking up at me, not at him. Great shot Chris, what a result.

As guests filed inside to enjoy a snack we took the couple to get some candid and posed key shots. I like to make sure the couple get a break from the camera and use longer lenses whilst they spend a few minutes just enjoying the day. Inside we used multiple lights to show off the dress once again (and don’t forget the shoes) as the wedding breakfast was prepared.

Friends and family were met with chocolate Lego, a sweet bar, an amazing cake including three pet cats and the one of the best wedding favours I’ve seen, keyring bottle openers presented in a style that reminds me of Bioshock which let’s face it, is cool.

So, what could finish up this evening? A ceilidh band that’s what. This was inspired and made the dance a real event. Instead of the usual pop songs and golden oldies this group whipped up a storm and kept everyone on their feet and laughing. It was here I snapped another of my favourites. I know that’s the bride getting ready to cut the cake in the silhouette shot but it has a Tarantino feel that tells it’s own story.

Later I took the couple outside to capture some stunning shots with the venue lit up at night. Admittedly those stars don’t really belong there but a little artistic license is allowed I think.

Kev and Jen are a perfect couple and I loved spending the day with them. If you’ve been inspired by their geek chic check out their custom invitations and just wait till you see what I did with their wedding album.

Home made wedding invitations – How to do it right.

Wedding stationary follows a theme. It’s nice I’m sure but it’s all largely the same. It’s a white postcard with flowers, hearts, bells and possibly an old photo from when the couple first got together.

Very nice.

And then there’s Kev and Jenni, two self proclaimed ‘sci-fi geeks’ whose wedding I’m fortunate enough to be capturing this year.
Chatting to them in our consultation I knew it would be quite an event. From the cadbury’s purple dress to the spacecraft table centre pieces this is truly a wedding to represent the lives and personalities of the couple.

On that theme I was thrilled to receive this invitation to the big day. Kev and Jenni slaved away to design, print and assemble every one of these individually at home.

Upon opening this gem I faced a personalised seal in the chosen colour of the day. Once broken this fold out masterpiece is full of little details about the couple. Winding text takes us from graduation point, past the sea of separation (around which their stories briefly split) and into the kitty archipelago, each illustrated with it’s own picture.

Telling the story of their relationship so far, these are more than just invitations. They are just the first pages of what I’m sure will be a long, interesting and impressively documented life together.

It’s a lovely thing, and beautifully made. It’s great to see a couple doing it their own way rather than sticking to ‘traditions’. I believe that a wedding should be everything that YOU want. And that’s all.

On another note, it is wonderful to be considered a guest when shooting a wedding. It’s rare that I receive a formal invitation to a wedding I’m working, I’ve only spent a short time with Kev and Jen and they already feel like friends. It’s so important that a couple are comfortable with their photographer and I know we’re going to get lovely natural images for them to cherish.

Here’s the story that winds around the invitation, shared with the kind permission of Kev and Jenni:

Kev and Jenni met for the first time at uni, they got on really well, laughed lots and watched TV until the early hours. They appeared on every hall photo that year, the only time Kev was willingly photographed.

After graduation Kev stayed in Leicester and developed his geek skills – online gaming, quiz creation, website design and spreadsheets. He  also discovered the greatest chinese take away dish ever served and even managed to pass his driving test. Jenni moved back to Liverpool and refined her scouting skills – camping, knot tying, navigation and ale drinking. Jenni found Kev’s website and sent him a message. Much chatting and a few visits later they agreed to try this courting malarky. When Jenni moved to Leicester they found they had complementary hobbies, Jenni Knits and Kev plays with an Xbox.  They were adopted by a pair of cats so Marmite and Dotty joined their family. They battled a vengeful water sprite who attacked everything from the dishwasher and water pipes to Kev’s right kidney.

They discovered they both possessed a passion for avoiding gardening. After four years together they decided to make the ultimate commitment and agreed to donate their duplicate books to charity. Oh, and they bought a little house in ________ near where they first met and they adopted another cat, Charlie.  Jennie dropped the tactful hint that if Kev wanted to propose she had already chosen an engagement ring. Kev sneakily got the ring and planned his romantic Venice gondola proposal, which would have one better had Kev not been scared of falling in the water.

Jenni said yes.

Thank you Kev and Jenni for allowing me to share this unique piece of work. I can’t wait to share your big day!

If you have an invitation idea you want to share don’t be shy. Leave a comment.