Jumpcut Crew

My old keyboard player, Michael Hines, pointed me at Jumpcut. It’s not feasible for you this year (as you’d be working full-time right through the exams!), but it’s definitely a site to check on and they run regular projects.

Clicking on the poster will download the application pack which gives further information. If you are serious about a future career in the media, this could be just the thing for you!

Click on the Poster to download the Info Pack/Application

Sunset Song

Right, we’re going to the cinema. To see this…

It’s the long awaited film of the greatest Scottish novel, Sunset Song.

It’s been made by Terence Davies, who is an outstanding British film maker you have probably never heard of. It will be slow paced and will likely require you to concentrate on a film more than you have ever done before. And it will look gorgeous and likely break your heart. It opens on the 4th December, and I’ll let you know which showing I plan to invade as soon as I get word from the Playhouse.

The last of the Peasants, the last of the old Scots folk. A new generation comes up that will know them not , except as a memory in a song.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: October Workshop – THURSDAY 22nd!


Hi everyone… There’s a new date for the workshop. It will now take place on THURSDAY 22nd OCTOBER. The plan is to start at about 9:30am with a session on cameras and filming. There’ll be some simple exercises for you to carry out that should improve your filming. Then, we’ll break for a bite of food at about 12. The afternoon session will start about 12:30 and will cover basic editing skills. I’m aiming to finish about 3pm.

filepicker-vawFINbnQJ2Szh0ngW4t_movie_cameraYou will need to sign in and out at the desk next to the janitor’s office in the main concourse. 🙂

While I will be able to provide some cameras and lights, you would be advised to bring your own equipment as much as possible… and this is especially true for the basic editing in the afternoon. Ideally, you should bring your own laptop with some video editing software on it. Leave me a comment if you need help with this… preferably sooner rather than later.

I’m looking forward to a useful day that should set you up nicely for the actual filming.


What Does A Foley Artist Do?

If you watch the credits at the end of a film, you may have wondered what a Best Boy, or Key Grip is*. Another of the more obscure technical jobs is that of Foley Artist. The foley artist has one of the most important jobs in ensuring that we suspend our disbelief and accept the film as being ‘real’. He or she adds sound to the final film… not the dialogue, but the ambient sound that makes what we see sound real: footsteps, cars, weather, and so on.

As you will find out (if you haven’t already done so), recording decent sound on location is challenging. As a result, it is sometimes easier to add the sound later and this is the job of the foley artist. And, thanks to someone somewhere making a mistake, we can now get a glimpse into the art (and it is art) of the foley artist.

Someone from Universal who made Everest, sent the BBC a clip with the ADR track rather than the final sound. As a result, the clip looks spot on, but the only sound is the dialogue. Here it is:

What they should have played is the final version complete with the foley artists contribution… so here it is again with all the effects…

Watch both clips two or three times and listen to just how much has been added for the final film: wind, the sounds of the ladder, the rumble of the avalanche, and so on. Foley work is crucial, and fascinating… and essential in creating ‘reality’. Enjoy!

*Best Boy: Is in charge of the lighting or grip department. Key Grip: supervises and coordinates the ancillary camera equipment such as cranes, dolly tracks, and so on.

Visions of Light

So… taking a wee break from the intensity of the bits (signs, signifier, signified, anchorage, polysemy, et al), it’s time to remember why we love media, and in particular, film.

I showed you a wee clip from the 1992 documentary Visions of Light. (Available to buy on Amazon) I showed you an extract where Vittorio Storaro talked about some of the decisions to do with colour made when filming The Last Emperor. These included yellow as the colour of the sun, orange for family, red for birth and green for knowledge. There are many other colours with definite connotations, and we will address these in due course… but for now…



Sit back, relax, and sink into one of the most glorious musicals ever committed to film. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darned close to it.


Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952

Singin’ in the Rain is cinematic magic, bouncy, charming, joyful, and exuberant; just the kind of fun-loving movie it’s so hard for audiences to love today. If you’re not accustomed to 1950s Hollywood musicals, Singin’ in the Rain is the best place to start. It’ll make you smile, even if you think you don’t want to.

Essentially, the story is built around a film studio that must adjust to the coming of sound in motion pictures. It’s a story all too common to the history of Hollywood, but here it’s used as a useful excuse for MGM to showcase some of their own song and dance numbers from their musicals of the 1920s and 1930s. If this sounds like an MGM slight-of-hand, it’s a trick worthy of our attention. The film clip for the title number is perhaps the most often shown piece of film in the history of cinema. But as great as this number is, the rest of the film and, in particular, the Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse “Broadway Ballet” number, are also wonderful. As Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and eventually Debbie Reynolds help the studio to adjust to the new era of movie making, a beautiful, jubilant, and exciting masterpiece unfolds before our eyes.


Bring donuts/popcorn/coffee/etc for tomorrow. 🙂

Cinematography 101

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 10.50.01Quick recommendation: I’ve just finished reading Cinematography 101 by Film School Online, and it’s an excellent, easy to read and understand, overview of the role of the cinematography in the film making process (It’s also a quick read… only 41 pages! 😉 ) . It covers the people, the technical considerations of film (and digital), lighting, and much else. The one downside is that it is a Kindle book and costs 99p…

I’ve bought it, so if you want to read it in class just ask and I’ll bring my Kindle in… but bear in mind, I have a Paperwhite (Thanks, Santa!) so the photos are all in Black & White which is a pain when discussing colour!

Some posts coming shortly on codes & conventions. Just writing them now. 🙂