Other Brother Studios Film Fund - 4 months until the deadline!

Other Brother Studios film fund deadline is 4 months away, we have already received some great pitches and looking forward to receiving more as time progresses. 

We have been very fortunate to have the film fund listed on Shooting People's website under their Funding page, something which has undoubtedly led to more interest and submissions. So make sure your idea is a great one as we are expecting more submissions than ever! 

We caught up with 2017 film fund winner, Director Milda Bagiskaite, to ask her about the film fund and what it meant to her:

'Being a young filmmaker, let alone being young, is not easy. There are lots of us out there, trying to get our films made and a lot of us have good ideas too, I believe. The film being a collaborative affair, we need more people than just ourselves believing in our stories to get them off the ground.

Other Brother Studios, first of all, has given me so much confidence in the project, supporting and understanding the story I wanted to tell. From early preproduction until the late distribution stages of 7 Planets, Matthew has given us great advice and provided us with technical support whenever needed. At the same time, our team was given lots of freedom to make our own decisions and creative choices. The challenging budget limitations and a set timescale to produce the film have worked out for the better for us, as any kind of limitations make one think creatively and improvise. With a budget of £500, we managed to have over 20 schoolchildren and a rocket launch in our short. There should exist more creative schemes like Other Brother Studios Film Fund to help and support young creatives make their first steps into the wide, scary and unknown film industry world.'

Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 13.32.46.png

Milda's short film, 7 Planets, is currently being shown internationally at film festivals, we are very proud to support Milda and wish her the best of luck with her film! You can find out more information on 7 Planets at the film's website here: https://7planetsshort.com/

You can see the film's trailer here: https://vimeo.com/248242398

To all 2018 film fund applicants - best of luck and make that idea a great one! 

Other Brother Studios - 2017 year in review

What a year 2017 has been. Thank you to all our collaborators, clients and to you for watching, sharing and recommending our videos and production services! We created 33 films, worked with 24 clients and 6 collaborators, all helping us to create our best content yet. It's always daunting entering year two of a production company; can we capitalise on the first year push, can we sustain and grow in year 2, can we maintain and increase the levels of production for our clients and, most importantly, can we have fun doing it along the way. Well we did and we are mightily proud of year 2 of Other Brother Studios. Here's a little taster of what we got up to:

It all started with an animated video for Nissan to celebrate 10 years of their Qashqai range.

Our short animated film 'The Song of Wandering Aengus' stormed the international film festival circuit, showing at 45 film festivals all across the globe. We picked up 15 nominations en route and won a staggering 8 awards. Which made working on it for 6 months worthwhile!

We had a very successful premiere at Warner Bros Soho Studios on 13th June (to coincide with w.b.yeats day) with friends, family, and crew. It then had an online release that evening and continues to do us proud, having just picked up a distribution deal in Japan. The film is still available in all other territories, if you are a distributor or interested in any aspect of acquisition, then please get in touch with the films producer at Ex-Animo Foundation, Marlena Hellebø: info@exanimo.org.uk

We went on to produce lots of films for various schools throughout the year, working in collaboration with production company School Reel. We made 11 films in 2017 for Andrew and his team and it was fantastic fun, working with great schools and children! Even the school dinners were good (how times have changed).

We made 2x live session films for Ticketmaster, featuring Mariana's Trench and..........STEPS

It's hard to pick a favourite shoot of the year, but just pipping the others at the post has to be a film we made for Cooper King Distillery in Yorkshire. Gutsy, determined and talented duo Abbie Neilson and Christopher Jaume are in the process of setting up the smallest distillery in the UK. We followed them at the start of their journey, meeting lots of their collaborators along the way. We are very excited to see the next steps guys! Cheers! 

We were then asked to make another film for Nissan, this time for their Micra range and a new Colourbot that has been launched! We jumped at the chance.

Towards the end of the year, we made 4x films for Insight, a technology solutions company. We went up to Manchester to film their Technology conference and CXO Summit as well as delve deeper into future technology trends and digital transformation.

We shot a fantastic motion controlled time-lapse video for Tommy Williams, where he assembled the Tower Bridge Lego set in front of, you guessed it, Tower Bridge. The video was featured on Time Out London, receiving over 800,000 views in a week! 

Well, it's been an excellent year for Other Brother Studios! We would like to raise a large glass to everyone who has worked with us, supported us, had fun shooting with us, liked, shared and watched our videos this year! 

Wishing everyone a fantastic 2018!

 

Grading - Other Brother Studios

Grading is difficult. It's not as simple as adding an Instagram filter to something (however popular this approach might appear with so many filmmakers), its nuanced and very technical. I want to get better at it.  And to get better you have to show people work and ask for feedback. So here is a sample of work over the last year that I have shot and graded, using Final Cut Pro X to edit and Koji Advance to grade. I have placed the ungraded image on top of the graded image for easy comparison.

I have split the grades into the following sections: Landscapes, Interviews, Details and People.

Everything shown is lit using available light, with some artificial spill from light in rooms, although that was mostly avoided.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below! 

Landscapes:

GradeComparison13.jpg
GradeComparison14.jpg

Interviews:

GradeComparison8.jpg
GradeComparison12.jpg
GradeComparison11.jpg
GradeComparison9.jpg

Details:

GradeComparison2.jpg
GradeComparison7.jpg
GradeComparison10.jpg
GradeComparison15.jpg

People:

GradeComparison1.jpg
GradeComparison3.jpg
GradeComparison5.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Computer Dreams

In an ever increasing one-person filmmaker environment, editing is an important thing. It's often not enough, at least in my case, to be able to shoot and pass the footage to an editor and most importantly, editing is enjoyable! Well, it can be. 

Recently I have been thinking about upgrading my editing system, increasingly because I want to shoot and edit 4k effectively. Hardly any of my clients ask for it but you need to future proof and 4k is not, in my opinion, far off being the standard delivery specification. It has many benefits within your edit too; punching in on footage to re-frame (ideally you will compose perfectly on a shoot - but we all know that this doesn't always happen on run-and-gun corporate work where you have no time to go to sip a cup of coffee, let alone set up perfect shots). It also looks fantastic! Common sense prevails; 3840 x 2160 pixels is better than 1920 x 1080 pixels, compare footage of the same thing and try and tell me otherwise! 

Few people own a 4k TV, and no-one owns a 4k viewable phone right now (this will be undoubtedly the biggest game changer for 4k filmmaking) - the iPhone 7 plus is only 1920x1080 pixels, so editing in 4k is frankly a tiny bit pointless and seriously data-heavy right now. However, as I say, future proof! I'm not in a position to re-buy a complete edit 'suite' just yet, but I thought it would be fun to come up with my dream editing set-up as a build from scratch computer. The only rules are that it needs to be vaguely achievable financially, ie. not £100,000 of computer - there's no point in that! It also needs to be able to edit 4k video with ease and I want it to be able to edit 8k video at some point. So future-future proofing. 

A couple of disclaimers; I'm not sponsored by any of these brands, the items listed are just what I like the look of / feel works best within my hypothetical criteria! I currently edit on 2x macs, but I think that apple has completely lost the plot. They hiked up the price of their already over-priced products and are far from a decent bang-for-buck company. I was allured by the little apple logo once, but no more! PC is where it's at people. I will also do my best to give brief explanations of what each component does and why it's important for video-editing. I don't know a great deal, the basics perhaps, and I am learning as I go and I hope this blog post will develop my understanding as well as yours. Ultimately, I really want to build a computer from scratch, I think it's a much cheaper way to create a seriously good system! So, here goes...

 

CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT:

Your computer's Central Processing Unit is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output operations specified by the instructions. It's pretty key and generally speaking the most expensive component of a computer (other than potentially the graphics card).  Most importantly, the processor determines the speed at which you can edit. No-one likes a slow computer. The CPU does the computational work like running programs. But the cores of a CPU can only perform one task at a time per core. Here is where hyper-threading and multi-core CPUs come into play. Now, you can add multiple CPU's to your computer via the motherboard (if there is more than one CPU socket, however, this level of power is reserved for supercomputers, servers, etc - where serious computational power is needed. Essentially 'cores' are CPU's, so, for example, a quad-core processor has 4x CPU's. The more cores, generally speaking, the more powerful the computer. But the clever thing is that as multiple cores are within one 'CPU' then there is only need for 1x socket, which by and large is the number we are looking at when it comes to motherboards and therefore there is less latency (the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer) because the cores are on the same chip, so they communicate faster. This is good, this equals processing speed! 

Now onto threading, or hyper-threading technology. Intel chips use hyper-threading to speed up your system. A single Intel chip with hyper-threading reads as 2x CPUs to an operating system. It's actually confusing the system, the chip only has a single set of execution instructions per CPU, however by essentially confusing your operating system and making the CPU think it has more cores than it really does, you speed up program execution. Excellent! Side note: this is not technically as effective as having 'real' multiple CPU's. Intel CPU's all use hyper-threading, so, for example, a quad-core processor with hyper-threading will appear as 8x cores to your operating system and an octa-core processor with hyper-threading will appear as 16x cores! Wow. 

So, as the operating system needs a seriously decent CPU and really it's probably the single most important element, I'm going big and fast, let's worry about the cost later! Therefore the natural place to look is Intel and at their best processor:

                                                                                 Intel Core i7-6950X

                                                                               Intel Core i7-6950X

The Intel i7-6950X is a BEAST. It has a massive 10-core CPU with hyper-threading, which means it has 20 threads! The speed of the processor (CPU clock speed, or clock rate, is measured in Hertz — generally in gigahertz, or GHz. A CPU's clock speed rate is a measure of how many clock cycles a CPU can perform per second. For example, a CPU with a clock rate of 1.8 GHz can perform 1,800,000,000 clock cycles per second) is 3.0-4.0 (turbo) GHz. That's fast. Really fast. 

 

GRAPHICS CARD:

If it wasn't for the fact that DaVinci Resolve is the best bit of (free) grading software out there, then the graphics card would not be too important. But I grade with it so a graphics card is really important. A graphics card, or graphics hardware to be exact, is computer hardware that generates computer graphics and allows them to be shown on a display. Usually, the graphics card is used in combination with a device driver to create the images on a screen. The GPU, or graphics processing unit, is the unit that allows the graphics card to function. It performs a large amount of the work given to the card. The majority of video playback on a computer is controlled by the GPU. Once again, a GPU can be either integrated or dedicated. Video playback is, of course, pretty important when it comes to editing. The choice of graphics card is a little easier than the CPU as there are only 2x real competing manufacturers of graphics cards: NVidia and AMD. SO naturally you look for latest high-end released by either company, which happens to be a few months ago by NVidia; The Gigabyte Aorus GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB.

                                                                                                                                                                 Gigabyte Aorus GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB

                                                                                                                                                               Gigabyte Aorus GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB

The max digital resolution is 7680x4320 (that's 8k future-proofing sorted) and this graphics card is just incredible and packed with some serious horsepower.

 

MOTHERBOARD:

A motherboard is the main printed circuit board (PCB). It essentially allows connections between everything, ie the CPU and memory, and provides connections for other peripherals. Most importantly you need the motherboard to have the right socket for the CPU chipset that you are using, in my case the Intel i7-6950X uses the LGA 2011v3 socket, so this (thankfully) narrows our options with what is available. The motherboard does not affect the performance of the computer, as long as the key components fit within it; CPU, graphics card, RAM etc but you do need to think about additional elements like connector ports that will be provided (USB 3.0 / FireWire / Thunderbolt ports). Most modern motherboards will also always include heat sinks and mounting points for fans to dissipate excess heat. Because this machine will get hot! Obviously when editing video then the size available on your computer is a key thing, so you could look at multiple trays for additional memory, however using a Sony Fs7 camera (that I own and operate) is like running a cargo ship when it comes to data size, so I always use external hard drives. So I want space but not gigantic amounts on the computer. One very important extra thing to think about is sound, this is not a separate thing like other peripheral elements and does come from the motherboard. The quality of sound is more important than visuals to me, so this thing needs to have a seriously good sound potential. I also want to future-proof it somehow, so any new ports that I haven't seen yet, that would be a bonus. A quick look at reviews online, all point me to the ASUS X99 Pro/USB3.1 - which ticks every box imaginable.

                                                                                                                                                                                  ASUS X99 Pro/USB3.1

                                                                                                                                                                                ASUS X99 Pro/USB3.1

It has a LGA 2011v3 socket, that will work with my Intel i7-6950X chipset. Next it has unbelievably fast 10Gb/s USB 3.1 ports built into the board (which is 2x faster than USB 3.0 which I currently use). As a side point though, if you did want to use USB 3.0, which I will at times to revisit old edits, then it has 6x USB 3.0 ports. Slightly excessive but you never know! 

 

RAM:

Having enough RAM is critical with video editing, especially if you are pushing 4k or even 8k editing. Most professionals recommend at least 8GB for 1920 x 1080 full HD editing, and at least 16GB for 4k editing. Servers can be limited by in-sufficient RAM, and we don't want that, so we are going to go (a little over the top) with a 64 GB DDR4. It actually consists of 4x 16GB DDR4 server modules, operates at speeds of up to 2133 MT/s (Mega transfers per second) and CL15 latency (the lower the latency the faster the response time). The general consensus seems to be that video editing is one of the few applications that makes good use of large amounts of RAM, so it's good to invest in as much as you can.

                                                                                       64 GB DDR4

                                                                                     64 GB DDR4

 

STORAGE:

Computer data storage, often called storage or memory, is a technology consisting of computer components and recording media to retain digital data. The CPU manipulates data via the storage. There are two viable options when it comes to storage; SSDs and hard drives. The later are slower but the former more expensive! Now, as a rule I use external hard drives, I like them as they are seperate from the computer (incase anything disastrous happens with the computer, my footage is safe), I can also use multiple external hard drives to back-up and store in seperate physical locations. However, you do need storage space on a computer and sometimes it is good to have files readily accessible (finished film files for instance are useful) and it's a bit of a pain if you have a client sitting beside you and you are searching on various external hard drives for that exact clip you want to show them. Currently external hard drives with USB 3.1 ports, to match my motherboard ports, are really expensive - but they will go down with time. Really the storage on the self-build is good for installation and the capability to store on the computer if necessary, and of course applications - notably editing software. We could look at 2x storage units, technically 3 as the second comes in a pair (and perhaps get all of them). Firstly the Samsung 960 Pro 1 TB M.2 SSD:

                                                                                                       Samsung 960 Pro 1 TB M.2 SSD

                                                                                                     Samsung 960 Pro 1 TB M.2 SSD

The Samsung 960 Pro 1 TB M.2 SSD is designed for high end workstations, the read/write speeds are huge (up to 3,500/2,100 MB/s) and it has enhanced bandwidth and lower latency than SATA SSDs. This is the 1TB model, but there is also a 2TB model, which is unprecedented for these kind of SSDs.

                                                                                               HGST 6 TB hard drive

                                                                                             HGST 6 TB hard drive

The HGST 6 TB hard drive, holds up to 6TB storage, is great for power efficiency, and works great with everything I am looking at. There is not a huge amount to say about hard drives really, they need to have fast read and write speeds and be able to store enough data, both of the above do that to a very high level. 

 

POWER SUPPLY:

It's very important to get a high quality power supply, especially as if something goes wrong then a cheap supply could be the cause of a disaster. It needs to obviously work with the motherboard to power it. A quick look online points to the EVGA 1000 P2 which ticks all the right boxes.

                                                                                     EVGA 1000 P2

                                                                                   EVGA 1000 P2

CPU Cooler

You need a lower CPU temperature to provide stability, efficiency and reliability. You want something that improves air flow as well as reducing noise drive, which results in a cooling-to-noise ratio. These things ultimately are important if you are over-clocking your CPU (essentially making it work faster than the original manufacturer intended) and whilst this is not really likely with the set-up we have created, this is after all a dream build (within a vaguely realistic financial limitation), so let's allow for potential overclocking and go for the Corsair Hydro H110i.

                                                                                  Corsair Hydro H110i

                                                                                Corsair Hydro H110i

It is designed for extreme performance and is an all-in-one liquid CPU cooler for cases with 280mm radiator mounts (we will have to bare this in mind when looking at a case). It has dual SP140L PWM fans for heat dissipation. You can also change the colours of the LED lighting (it's the little things). The fans are PWM controlled, which means that you can control the speed they operate at, which is good for future proofing the cooling of any additional elements that you may add in the future. 

 

KEYBOARD AND MOUSE:

The keyboard and mouse are obviously important, you use them to death. I'm not personally a fan of all the crazy controllers that you can get for editing (perhaps because I am not a good enough editor to have need for the speed capabilities that they provide. The most important thing for me is shortcuts, so a Logic keyboard pro is my best bet and the Razer naga chroma mouse looks nice and has great reviews!

                                                                                  Logic keyboard pro

                                                                                Logic keyboard pro

                                                                             Razer naga chroma mouse

                                                                         Razer naga chroma mouse

 

MONITOR:

There's no point building a dream PC and not having a good monitor. I have had my eye on the LG 38" curved 21:9 monitor for some time (thanks Philip Bloom) and this would make a lovely addition to the dream build. Resolution is 3840x1600 QHD, which makes it 3x that of a full HD (1920x1080) space. It replaces the need for multiple screens, which makes this a much more practical and neat solution. There is also a 14 option screen split, which I would find very useful, needing access to email, internet, editing and (I can't help it) video platforms at the same time. I am constantly flicking between them via hot corners and it is a nuisance. 

                                                                                                                                                                              LG 38" curved 21:9 monitor

                                                                                                                                                                            LG 38" curved 21:9 monitor

 

CONCLUSION:

Well that's it. Apart from the operating system, which would be Windows 10. This list, as stated, is a dream list, it's a bit over the top for what I need to do. But there was a key thing here which was to create a PC that came out as more powerful and less expensive than the mac that I would be getting otherwise with an upgrade to my editing set-up. So here is a comparison list, with costs to illustrate:

 

MAC Editing:

 

LG 38" curved 21:9 monitor £1,170

Mac Pro: 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache 

64GB (4 x 16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC

1TB PCIe-based flash storage

Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each £6,697 

Keyboard and mouse £300

Mac Post-Production Total £8,167

 

 

PC Editing:

 

LG 38" curved 21:9 monitor£1,170

CPU: Intel i7-6950X  £1,549

Graphics Card: GTX 1080 Ti  £690 

or Titan Xp  (£1,159)

Motherboard: ASUS X99 Pro/USB3.1  £340

RAM: 64 GB DDR4  £912

Storage 1: Samsung 960 Pro 1 TB M.2 SSD  £415

Storage 2: 2x HGST 6 TB hard drives  (£430 for two)

Power Supply: EVGA 1000 P2  £200

CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H110i  £100

Case: CM Cosmos II  £305

Operating System: Windows 10  £180

Keyboard and mouse £300

PC Post-Production Total £6,591

The Song of Wandering Aengus - A making of.

 

Embarking on a short animated film production is anything but a short process. It took me 6 months to create 4 minutes worth of animation. Thankfully, all that time paid off and it screened at 45 International Film Festivals and won 8 awards. It was an unbelievable personal test of motivation and willing to make something that ultimately only I knew exactly how it would look and turn out at the end.

 

Step 1: The Commission

 

In 2012 I created a short animated film for The Roundhouse Online Film Fund called 'Emma'. The film showed at 10 film festivals internationally and managed to earn me a nomination for Shots 2012 New Director of The Year, which was a nice surprise. The film fund was funded by the Ex-Animo Foundation. I knew little of the foundation, other than it was headed by Marlena Hellebø and that she funded multiple shorts a year through the Roundhouse platform. 

Fast forward a few years, and I received an email from Marta Sala Font from the Roundhouse asking if I would like to meet Marlena as she had an animation project in mind. I obliged and found out that she wanted to make a short animated film based on her favorite W.B.Yeats poem 'The Song of Wandering Aengus'. 

It was a very ambitious project from the outset and I knew it wouldn't be a light task. However, something about the poem struck vivid imagery in my mind, and it was too good not to at least explore via an animatic.

An animatic, for those who don't know, is an animated storyboard. Boards are brought into editing software and are cut together with the correct timing and pace of the intended film.

Here are the illustrated stills from the animatic that I drew:

Drawing has always been a big part of any creative process for me, but I'm not much for small basic sketches, it's all or nothing. It really helps me to visualize something, make an idea more dynamic and then work with the drawings to create a pacing in an edit, that I feel lends itself well to the film. Crucially the biggest thing is that sketching allows someone else to see your vision and understand what it is that you want to create for them; cast or crew.

This is how I pitched the idea to Marlena Hellebø and Marta Sala Font. They loved it and production started! 

 

Step 2: The Voiceover

 

The next main item on the agenda was to find an actor to do the voiceover. I knew I wanted it to be an Irish actor as W.B.Yeats was born in Ireland and a lot of his poems (including this one) are set against an Irish backdrop. I wrote down two names; one of which was an Irish actor called Liam Cunningham and showed them to Marlena - thinking that there was no chance of being able to get either of them - but hell, if you don't ask you don't get! By some stroke of luck, she happened to know Liam and we approached him and asked if he would be interested in lending his voice to our film. He obliged and suddenly I found myself in a room with the one and only Liam Cunningham (who incidentally is in my favorite scene of all time in one of my favorite films of all time; Hunger by Director Steve McQueen). 

 Michael Fassbender (right) with Liam Cunningham (right) in Steve McQueens Hunger

Michael Fassbender (right) with Liam Cunningham (right) in Steve McQueens Hunger

I was a bag of nerves before Liam arrived from Ireland to a recording Studio at The Roundhouse to record his voiceover, supervised by Joe Bulmer of City Sessions Studio. As I mentioned before the man is in my favorite scene of all time. The scene is a 30-minute set shot (madness) where Liam (playing a priest) is trying to convince Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender) not to go on a Hunger Strike. It's incredible - and such a gigantic part of that is because of the acting. It's not every day you get to meet, let alone work with one of your heroes. So you can understand my nerves. 

As it turned out Liam was a lovely guy and incredibly interested in what I was trying to create. He was, of course, a true professional and nailed the VO with time to spare which meant that we got to sit down with him after and talk about the film and what he was up to. Genuinely the favourite day of my (all be it short) film career to date. As soon as he started speaking the words in the poem I knew that we had made the right decision. What a voice!

 

Step 3: Puppets and Armatures

 

I started drawing the characters in more detail. I went into detail on arms, faces, proportions, muscle definition etc. 

Simultaneously, I was trying to find a puppet maker who had the right level of creativity to bring the short to life. I wanted someone who could create other-worldly figures but also someone who had a real creative stamp of their own to bring to the production. It took me weeks of searching online until I stumbled across a puppet maker called Olga Lunina on Pinterest. Her work was incredible; detailed, other-worldly, fantastical and above all else mesmerisingly beautiful.  I contacted Olga and found out that she had no formal training (a trait I see a lot, which I love) and was very excited to get involved in the project. 

Here is Olga's website, I urge you to have a peek: http://www.olluna.com/

The first stage was to get the armatures ready for Olga to work over the top. So I set to work making them:

I was working at two scales for this film, the first (seen above) was 1/6 scale which allows for full bodies and the second scale was a 1/2 scale to make certain elements much larger so that instead of zooming in on an image or not being very accurate with a specific bit of animation (a hand for example) I could animate those parts separately. The challenge for Olga was to not only create incredible models, but to replicate certain parts in different scales. She did this with ease, an unbelievable feat! She also created a Fish and a Moth on top of all the other things that I had asked her to create! Thank-you Olga!

Olga initially crafted the figures out of Super-Sculpey on top of the armatures and then for the larger head/hand details of Aengus she made the figure out of clay. Then, it came to the difficult task of creating molds and then from the negative imprint creating silicone characters with the armatures inside them! In steps, Kerry Dyerhttps://kerrydyer.wordpress.com/

Kerry has worked on lots of animation productions, including Fantastic Mr. Fox. She is a seasoned professional and someone who knows a lot about created molds and casts, and therefore a really integral part of this short film's success! For some parts of the smaller 1/6 scale models I didn't need all the skin showing, so for these bits, we saved on silicone (and costs) by replacing the portion of the body with foam, wrapped tightly with a bandage to replicate body shape. This also allowed me to tighten the armature rig if it came loose, being able to gain access via the looser foam, as you can see in the middle picture - an Allen key is sticking out of the armatures left knee! 

Massive thanks to Natasha Lawes and Ruth Pease for painting the large silicone 1/2 puppets head and hands!  

Step 4 - Sets and backdrops

 

The sets were constructed over a period of 3 months and were without doubt the longest part of the production. A set rack was constructed to store sets that weren't being shot on during production, however by the end of the set making process I had a small 1.5ft by 1.5ft square of clear space to stand in the studio, it was completely insane! It became a bit of a rabbit warren to manoeuvre around to animate various things and operate the camera and rig. The bases were constructed in wood, 6" insulation was stuck on and carved away to form the landscape (multiple insulation layers were used at times). Real features like dried plants, logs and branches were used to decorate the sets, with small dried flowers dotted around. A colour scheme was also created to differentiate the forest (blue tints) from the hollow lands (orange tints). Backgrounds were created to be put behind the sets to create a much larger landscape than was afforded in a small studio, which were painted by Phoenix Finlayson-Pugh.

Step 5 - Animation

 

This was the toughest part of the entire production; 1 animator, 21 scenes, 6 puppets and movable sets. I used lots of tricks that I have learned from animators and people working in the industry, including small things like Ikea tape to measure increments of movement. Every scene was a new set-up and most of the time a new set. Every set-up required a different homemade animation rig, as well as programming a motion-controlled shot with the Kessler Second Shooter and then, of course, animating the puppets! 

One key thing that was implemented in the early test stages was tying down the puppets to the sets using tie-downs, which connected the 1/6 scale puppets to the ground via pre-made holes. Thanks to Elizabeth Day and Matt Day at Clapham Road Studios for telling me about this ingenious method, which freed up a lot of post-production time painting out rigs! 

One person to give huge thanks to is Elizabeth Jane Winstanley (http://www.elizabethjanewinstanley.com/), who create the inside of a fishes mouth out of acrylic. She not only created something visually striking, she also managed to rig it so that it would fit my rig - incredible work Liz!

Step 6 - Post-Production

 

After a week off from the studio, I started the arduous process of post production. This included compositing eyes onto the puppets (they had dots in their eyes as a tracking reference that I used when shooting), removing any rigs as well as compositing lots of extra things; like underwater elements, apples on the tree, a misty look across the entire forest as well as the task of compositing hundreds of moths bursting from the girl - not once but twice! I couldn't do this alone, so I enlisted the expert help of Felip Docolomansky and Valeria DiClaudio who did a frankly amazing job compositing everything. It was really special to see all of this come together and the first time I saw one of Felip's early shots I left his studio feeling pretty elated. Especially after such a long process, every day on my own in a dark studio for nearly 6 months - I finally felt as if this film could be something really special. Thank-you Felip! 

Step 7: Music and sound

The sound was mixed at Jungle Studios in Soho by James Cox. 

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The soundtrack technically came after step 2 and meeting Liam. After our voiceover recording we sat down and talked about music and it's importance in pacing a film. He mentioned that his friend David Holmes might be interested in creating the music for it. David Holmes is a legendary producer and musician. He's probably best known for his music for Oceans Eleven / Twelve / Thirteen, but he also did the soundtrack for Hunger (did I mention that I like that film?) It wasn't a done deal and I had to pitch my idea to David, which frankly was terrifying. My pitch to him was a success and he agreed to do it (one of my proudest moments). 

Fast track 4 months later and he had enlisted the support of Keefus Ciancia, to create the most wonderful track that not only fits the poem and film perfectly but made the pacing even better than before! I can't thank David and Keefus enough for lending their talents to this film - it's not every day that a young filmmaker can work with such giants in the film industry!

 

Step 8: Film Festivals

 

Once the film was finished there was no time to waste, we wanted to get it out to cinemas via film festivals and try and get into as many as possible internationally. We submitted most of the films via Withoutabox. It's difficult to judge what kind of film festivals to go for, there are giant festivals like BAFTA and the Oscars, as well as festivals that specialise in certain things (animation for example) - ultimately we went for 'animation categories, preferably under 5 mins' but we put a lot of effort also submitting it to the bigger sized festivals. We were incredibly lucky to be selected by 45 film festivals, which meant the film was shown in 12 countries and to thousands of people in cinemas across the world! We were incredibly lucky to receive 15 nominations at various festivals and we won 8 awards en route. 

 

Step 9: Online Release

 

On Tuesday 13th June 2017, to coincide with W.B.Yeats 152nd birthday the film was released online. I truly hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it for you. 

 

 

 

We made BAFTA Crew!

We have some very exciting news, our Director Matthew Lawes has been selected by BAFTA, to be part of their initiative; BAFTA Crew! 

From BAFTA's website: 

'Our professional network and masterclass programme connecting emerging talent to BAFTA-winners and nominees.'

BFI NETWORK X BAFTA Crew is an enhanced version of the popular professional development program. For the first time, it is connecting emerging 'below-the-line' talent with writers, directors, and producers, providing a rare opportunity for peer to peer networking and development across all key roles within production.

Now in its fourth year, BAFTA Crew provides exclusive live and online masterclasses, as well as networking sessions with BAFTA winners and nominees. This year 517 people will take part from across the UK, split roughly 50/50 between crew working in film and television with at least two years' of broadcast or feature credits and writers, directors and producers on the way to making their first feature films.

Participants, selected by leading practitioners in film and TV, include individuals who worked on BAFTA-nominated films such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemThe Hard Stop and American Honey, on BAFTA-nominated television shows such as Game of Thrones, Black Mirror and The Murder Detectives, and on projects screened at film festivals such as Berlin, Sundance and Tribeca. 

BFI NETWORK X BAFTA Crew is part of BFI NETWORK's UK-wide talent development scheme.

Nissan Qashqai: 10 years of design

Performance Communications agency came to Other Brother Studios with an exciting but challenging brief: 

'Nissan would like to take a look back at a decade of innovative design to celebrate 10 years of the Nissan Qashqai.

By combining the best features of an efficient family hatchback with the high seating position and strength of an SUV, Nissan created an entirely new kind of car in 2007 - the crossover. Ten years on, Nissan still leads the crossover market, with Qashqai, Juke and X-Trail.

We would like to see the story of Qashqai's development, showing the original Qashqai, Qashqai+2, the 2010 update, and the 2014 Qashqai second-generation model, including the Qashqai Black Edition.' 

A hugely exciting brief for Other Brother Studios to receive, the main challenge was that we could not shoot any of the footage for the video and it had to be told through existing design sketches and photography, not exactly an easy task. However, always ready for a challenge, Other Brother Studios set to work designing storyboards which we believed would be best presented as animations. Animation would allow movement within these flat images and we were hoping that we could get hold of some of Nissan's technical CAD drawings and bring them to life. We pitched with the following images, which displayed timelines to specify and highlight the 10-year journey, as well as strikingly-bold key images for each milestone Qashqai car model, as well as further smaller images around the outside of the frame, which were highlighted as animated segments. These would be animated in a manner that would indicate the images being sketched out, like a time-lapse of development of each sketch, almost as if you were seeing the artist sketch it out in real life!

We also explored the option of creating a 'blueprint' style background to the piece, in order to relate more closely to the engineer's drawings and sketches that were to be incorporated in the piece. These were images that we pitched this idea within our mood boards:

We also looked at options of bespoke text, related to the overall look of the film, which ultimately were not used but would be great for another Other Brother Studios project:

Other Brother Studios were also asked by Nissan to create a large mosaic incorporating hundreds of images of the Nissan Qashqai over the 10 year period. There are a whopping 896 images within this larger mosaic:

Onto the animation itself; the key animator and editor on this project was the very talented Chloe Rodham and animation assistant Maxine Davies. Chloe did a marvellous job animating all of the segments and made many great suggestions along the way, including adding more movement to the still key images. Over to Chloe, to explain the technical aspects of the project:

'The animation for the Nissan brief utilises a combination of Adobe applications to achieve the visuals. Existing promotional photography is brought to life by splitting it into numerous different layers in Photoshop to replicate depth planes. Foreground elements are separated from background elements with gaps created in the process filled in using a combination of cloning and content-aware filling. This allows the layers to be placed in a 3D environment in After Effects in order to create a parallax when combined with a camera move.'

'The concept sketches are animated with help from a drawing script that converts individual brush strokes into Alpha Track Mattes. Each line was drawn over by hand in AE so that the line work, shading and colouring could be animated to appear over time, making it look like the blueprint sketches, concept art or wireframes are actually being drawn.'

'Getting each mosaic tile to change opacity for the 2016 image made use of expressions and a variety of different colourful layers to create a flickering effect without animating each tile individually.'

All in all, it was a superb project for Other Brother Studios to work on. A challenging brief but one that Other Brother Studios relished. Here's to another 10 years of the Nissan Qashqai! And here is the video, premiered on Nissan Europe's YouTube channel:

Other Brother Studios: Film Fund 2017

In 2011, I was a 2-year post graduate from a BA degree in Architectural studies at Newcastle University. I did well and managed to get a 1st Class Hons degree in a subject that I certainly wasn't naturally gifted at. Whilst my degree in Architecture allowed me a steady income in a full-time job, it wasn't what I ultimately strived for professionally. It wasn't creatively fulfilling enough for me and I was insanely passionate about a well-known 120-year-old medium called film!

To backtrack momentarily; Never let anyone tell you that a part-time or full-time job to fund your real passion is not a good idea or 'giving in'. They're wrong. Personally, it gave me the freedom to take on and make films without having considering whether the job would pay my rent or bills. This freedom allowed me to be creative and at that early stage, make valuable mistakes without it having a long-term impact on my career. 

Back to the story; When I graduated from University I started making music videos. My first music video was for a musician called Fyfe Dangerfield from a popular band called The Guillemots. I asked Fyfe, after one of his gigs If I could make a video for him, as I had been making plasticine sets for a non-determined project, it seemed like a perfect pairing. He said yes (much to my surprise), and therefore I was then faced with the daunting task of creating an animated music video for not only one of musical heroes but in a medium that I had never worked with before. Suffice to say, it was a difficult and time-consuming process. Thankfully I discovered coffee at this point in my life, as if not, I probably wouldn't have finished this music video:

This music video went down a treat and I quickly managed to secure a few music video 'jobs' (I put this in inverted commas because I didn't earn any money out of any of them). I also started putting the word out that I wanted to make adverts for companies for free. This may sound like a ludicrous idea but I needed content to sell my talents properly. I will go into much more detail about these things in future blog posts but here is an example of one of these adverts that I made for free:

After making many small music videos and a couple of free adverts for friends who owned companies, I decided to look into broadening out into the short film format with animation. I had no idea what I wanted to make but I had heard about grants that were given to select filmmakers to make their short films. I had a quick look online and much to my surprise found one straight away! It was available to filmmakers aged 11-25, through the Roundhouse in Camden and supported by the Ex-Animo Foundation. You had to submit a proposal (otherwise known as a pitch) to The Roundhouse and if they liked your proposal then you were invited to come into the Roundhouse for an interview. You would receive £400 to make your film and you had 2 months to make it. Sold! 

I went to work straight-away, slaving over a story which I created by writing a rhyming-couplets poem and then an animatic to better explain the short animated film that I was proposing. Here is that animatic:

It was the first animatic that I ever made but proved to be the thing that won me my first ever film grant to make 'Emma'. Don't underestimate the effort required to win a film grant - even a small one! Here is my first short animated film 'Emma':

This was the first time that someone had given me money to make something and that was an incredible thing. It was more pressure than I had been used to, I didn't want to let the Roundhouse or the Ex-Animo Foundation down. It was, for me at that time, a really big deal. It took me two months to make the animated film and the Roundhouse and the Ex-Animo Foundation were very pleased with the result. For me, this film was the most important thing that I had made to date. It gave me the confidence to know that I had made something on time and in-budget, without any hiccups. 

The film did very well, which was a real bonus. To date; it has amassed over 130,000+ views, received 2x nominations ('Shots 2012 New Director of The Year' nominee for Matthew Lawes / 'Best Animated Film' at Phoenix Comicon Film Festival). It also got into the following film festivals: Frames Festival - Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai), Baranja Animation Festival - Croatia, Phoenix Comicon Film Festival - US, Golden Kuker Sofia International Animation Film Festival - Bulgaria, Rob Knox Film Festival - UK, N4YP Film Festival - Berlin, Basauri Bizkaia International Animated Film Festival - Spain, Cornwall Film Festival - UK.

As my career has progressed and I have run 2x successful production companies, I realise that Emma and the grant that the Roundhouse and The Ex-Animo Foundation gave to me, was the most important step towards what I have now. And because of that, I would like to provide the same opportunity to someone else, once a year. I want to provide the same support, financial input and opportunity that I was given (with a couple of extra things thrown in for good measure).

So with that in mind, do you have an amazing idea for a short film?

Other Brother Studios is granting one filmmaker per year the opportunity to make their idea a reality. There are no rules about your idea, it can be anything from a live action drama to animation. Just keep it under 5 minutes long. 

What will I get?

How do I enter?

You must send a treatment, an idea for your film, to info@otherbrotherstudios.co.uk with the subject header 'Other Brother Studios Film Fund 2017'

Deadline for entries:

The deadline for short film Treatments is, 30th June 2017

Interviews will take place on 3rd July 2017 with the winning treatment selected on 7th July 2017

The winning film must be completed by 4th September 2017

 

Good luck!

BTS: Reuben Hollebon, 'On & On', Music video

After shooting a short documentary for Reuben Hollebon (pictured below) in the summer of 2016, Other Brother studios were asked by his record label, Bright Antenna Records, to make an official music video for his song 'On & On'. 

Other Brother Studios went to work finding a Director who we thought could bring an epic and meaningful interpretation to the production. James Slater was the perfect fit for the brief, which was loosely based on a robot themed short story that Reuben himself had written many years ago. Not only is James an acclaimed music video director, having made videos for artists such as Kaiser Chiefs, Daughter, Major Lazer to name but a few as well as winning an NME award last year for his 'Zombie' video for Jamie T, but he also had the perfect vision for the video. Other Brother Studios spent some time with James, initially choosing a location in Dungeness, well known for its post-apocalyptic appearance. It's quite an eery environment, with a large nuclear power station, old deserted fisherman huts and abandoned ships. 

After choosing the location, Other Brother Studios went to work finding the crew; it was a tough ask for someone to transform Reuben into a robot and we asked the incredible Natasha Lawes to get involved. Natasha is a creative designer, make-up and hair artist, tech-FX costume & mask maker and special-FX & model maker. She's basically one seriously talented individual capable of putting her hand to anything, no matter the task at hand! Natasha initially did a head cast and arm cast of Reuben (after he shaved his hair and beard off - committed to the cause), and then created a number of moulds and subsequent realistic models and robotic details which we used in the shoot. 

  (Left to right, inside Natasha Lawes' studio) Reuben Hollebon, Natasha Lawes, Reuben Hollebon's robot, James Slater

(Left to right, inside Natasha Lawes' studio) Reuben Hollebon, Natasha Lawes, Reuben Hollebon's robot, James Slater

In terms of rigs, Other Brother Studios did a few tests with the Sony FS7 attached to the Shape shoulder rig. We needed a Directors monitor for James so we used the Odyssey 7Q+ (a firm favourite at Other Brother Studios), which sat atop the camera via a magic arm connected to a Shape top plate. This gave us a freeness to the shooting style but James wanted a bit more control so we ended up using a Vario 5 Easy Rig from Feral Equipment hire, which allowed quasi handheld / steadicam feel to the shot.

  (Left to right) Director James Slater, Reuben Hollebon, DOP Matthew Lawes, 1st AC Gregory Nice

(Left to right) Director James Slater, Reuben Hollebon, DOP Matthew Lawes, 1st AC Gregory Nice

Lenses wise Other Brother Studios used the excellent Cooke S4i lens set from Feral Equipment hire (14mm / 21mm / 28mm / 35mm / 50mm / 85mm), which were simply superb. As the Sony FS7 has a super 35mm sensor there is a crop to the image, as it's not full frame, so we had to bare that in mind. At times we would have liked to go even wider, but in hindsight that was probably down to James and I having watched and loved the Revenant prior to this shoot! The lenses are really fast, meaning that we had to stop down with the inbuilt ND filters most of the time at 1/64. At times, mainly at midday when the sun was really high, it would have helped to have a matte box with additional ND filters - a couple of times we had to keep the aperture at f/4. Although mostly these were landscape wide shots, so mostly suited to what we were shooting. 

The shoot day itself was a long one. A 04:00 start for Other Brother Studios in Brixton then travel to Woolwich for 05:00 where Reuben had most of his make-up applied. We arrived at Dungeness at 06:00 and set-up our gazebo and Natasha Lawes and Ruth Pease finished the make-up. We started shooting at around 20:00 and finished around 21:00. All in Other Brother Studios got back at midnight, so a nice 20 hour day.

Rather than explain every detail of the day at length, here is a BTS (behind-the-scenes) video shot by Jenny Broad of the day:

The edit was completed with James Slater and Reuben Hollebon at Other Brother Studios studio in Brixton. It was edited on FCPX with a Koji Advanced grade applied. The Cooke S4i lenses were beautiful to grade with. Here are some images from the grade and finally the video itself:

Staring - Reuben Hollebon
Director - James Slater 
DOP - Matthew Lawes
Production - Other Brother Studios
Camera Assistant - Gregory Nice
Editor and Grader - Matthew Lawes
Makeup and Tech-FX - Natasha Lawes
Makeup assistant - Ruth Pease
Runner - Joe Bulmer
Production Assistant - Jenny Broad
Audio mix - Ben Hillier

 

 

 

Other Brother Studios - 2016 in review

Everything I read on the internet at the moment is doom and gloom… so screw that, I’m going to blow a big fat celebratory trumpet (in the key of Emaj7)! What a year 2016 has been for Other Brother Studios!

Technically speaking, our London based production company officially launched in March 2016, but before that we were wrapping up post-production on our short animated film The Song of Wandering Aengus. After an intense 6 months working on a 4-minute film, it was time to think about the film festivals we thought could love our little short. Thanks to the Ex-Animo Foundation, run by Marlena Hellebø, we were able to submit to a huge number of festivals. More about that in another blog post but needless to say 38 official selections, 15 award nominations, and 8 award wins, across 12 different countries, has been a fantastic start, and we still have 6 months of the international film festival run to go! Before the public release of The Song of Wandering Aengus in 2017 you can view the trailer, which features narration by Liam Cunningham and original music by David Holmes & Keefus Ciancia:

Other Brother Studios' first official film was with Lenny George, an old pal who wanted us to film a piece by well-known Cornish comedian The Kernow King for their event 'Kernow in the City'. We also made the promo film for the night, which you can see here:

We then embarked on an incredible job for Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Art Links, in collaboration with Director / Producer Lewis Wickwar, to make a charity film ‘Talking Care’. The film focused on carers in Norfolk and aimed to raise awareness of the Carers Assessment that all carers are entitled to, which can help to support them. Meeting these brave and extraordinary people was a real honour. They all spoke candidly about their experiences and what benefits had arisen from the Carers Assessment. The full 10-minute film can be seen here:

We then launched straight into production on a couple of really interesting architecture films for Cullinan Studios, in partnership with Warrick Manufacturing Group, Innovate UKHolovis and The Hyde Group. We used a mix of live action and animation for the first film to explain BIMspace, an idea developed by Cullinan Studios for clients, architects and contractors to collaborate effectively on projects within a space designed specifically to accommodate for BIM and everything it offers. We incorporated talking heads into the BIMspace, along with drawings, flythroughs and pixilated animation silhouettes of people to illustrate the use of the space.

For the second film we interviewed four individuals from various stages of the construction process and added in supplementary b-roll to the footage to explain 'Immersive Visualisation in Construction'. Initially, the film looks at what WMG's history is in immersive visualisation, then how the IVIC project came into being, then we look at how immersive visualisation is used in construction and at the next 10 years for immersive visualisation! VR is the future, embrace it! 

Around this time I heard from a friend, musician Reuben Hollebon (in photo below), who told me all about his new album 'Terminal Nostalgia'. We decided to travel to his hometown in Norfolk to make a short documentary about his upbringing; where his album had essentially come from. This was a really unique experience, at times often very revealing and sad but ultimately it was a chance to capture someone at an early stage of their career who I think is going to have a lot of success. The documentary is not available online just yet but will be out very soon. 

The documentary was met with such a warm response from Reuben's label, Bright Antenna Records, that we were asked to produce the music video for his track 'On & On'. We put together a bit of a super team; including NME award winning Director James Slater and creative designer and make-up artist Natasha Lawes. The video was shot in Dungeness on our Sony FS7 with Cooke S4i lenses. We will cover the video in full in another blog post, the video is available to view here: 

There was a first this summer: we shot a wedding film. There was an air of trepidation, but if there is one thing that we love it's a challenge! Filming on Alex and Sami's big day went flawlessly in the end and the edit was great fun. One happy bride and one happy groom later, do keep us in mind as your wedding videographers as we loved making this! You can view the wedding trailer below to get an idea of our style:

We got another call in August from Director/ Producer Lewis Wickwar who asked us to be involved in producing a new film with him in conjunction with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester and Ipswich museums, Gainsborough's House and the Museum of East Anglian Life. The film highlights a course called 'Creative Heritage in Mind', taught by artists at galleries and museums in Suffolk, which allows adults with mental health issues to explore therapy through art. Lewis always offers great filming opportunities and this project was a real honour to be a part of. You can view the edited film below:

In October we started working with Andrew Mills of School Reel, who make promotional films for private and comprehensive schools around the UK. With our experience of teaching in schools, this seemed like a perfect opportunity. We ended up making two films with Andrew this year, both of which we are very proud of: 

Two very exciting commissions came to us in December, one for Nissan (which we can't show you yet) and one for Volkswagen, who were launching their new brand Moia at TechCrunch London. A 5am start and a midday turnaround the next day for a highlights video was quite a challenge and it was a great film to make. We love the idea and can't wait to see what happens next!

If you've made it this far, then you've either scrolled to the bottom (fair enough) or you have watched all of these films (well done)! It's been quite a year for Other Brother Studios and we couldn't have had a better start to our new venture. In total, we have made 32 films this year, not all of which are shown here, and we've worked with some incredible clients, agencies, brands, schools, charities and individuals who we would like to thank very much for these opportunities! 

We'd also like to thank our tirelessly, talented crew who have worked their socks off to contribute to all the content you see here at Other Brother Studios.

Wishing you all a happy and fulfilling 2017! We can't wait to see what happens!