Mixed fortunes combined a winter trip to the frozen north, frustrating tender processes and behaving like a drug dealer in Market Deeping. It’s all in a year’s work for NorthLight Media's Martyn Moore
THE recently purchased Sony FS5 4k camera was still being used as second camera as I learned what it was capable of; the video editing laptop hadn’t seen much action either, so a winter trip was called for.
I had been reading about the NC500, a 500-mile route around the very top of Scotland, for about a year. It had also featured on TV once or twice. My appetite was whetted and with the campervan in need of its next big adventure, I set off for Inverness just as the first snows of January arrived in Peterborough.
I’d given myself a week to properly learn the new camera and produce a series of short films on the road. The last of them wasn’t edited until I’d returned home but I got fairly close to a film a day. This page of the blog at campervanfilms.co.uk has all the films collected in one place:
Back in Cambridgeshire, a series of meetings with clients filled the rest of January, meetings to plan the two biggest projects of the year. One meeting led to the commissioning of two films for the Wildlife Trust. These would be shot during the spring and summer. The other film was for the Mears construction company, which wanted a time-lapse film making of a major building renovation.
I hadn’t done a huge amount of time-lapse work in the past, so this required some research, planning and the purchase of new kit. The kit was installed on-site and we began to create a film that would cover 18 months of building work. You can see a test film here but the finished film will not be available until summer 2018:
During the last week in January I filmed a series of video blogs for the Peterborough law firm Greenwoods in first of a series of shoots that ran all year. You can see the films here:
February started with a fun evening filming a performance poet in one of the city’s coffee shops. Suzanne Tuck needed a short film to send to event organisers, showing what she does. This is what she does:
lThe rest of the month was a bit frustrating, and set a pattern for the year in some ways. A training company got in touch about some film production and said they were interested in working with me and my colleague Steven Booth. Steven is a photographer and graphic designer. I had two meetings with them, Steve had one. Then we never heard from them again.
This is happening more often now, as new film producers join the market and more commissioning decisions seem to be made on price. Another change is the more frequent use of the pitching process, where a client invites me and several other film producers to pitch for a project. Preparing a document is very time-consuming and risks giving away your best treatment ideas, which the client can then share with the successful applicant.
I spent far too much time in 2017 filling in forms and proposing creative ideas, only to miss out on the gig. When I’ve asked for feedback I’ve been told the job was awarded to film-makers they’d worked with before, or who presented the proposal in person over lunch, or they were £1000 cheaper. Some of those films have now been made and, having watched them, maybe the client got what he or she paid for.
These days I’ll only submit a pitch for work if I really want the job. New clients approach me every month and regulars seem to come back for more, so my preference now is to let the quality of my work speak for itself. I’m a lot more cheerful when I’m making films than I am when I’m filling in forms.
In the middle of February I went out to Thorney to film metal craftsman Bruce Macleod at Contour Autocraft. I had filmed two of Bruce’s sheet metal skills courses in November last year and it was time to interview Bruce for the words that would stitch the films together. Here are the finished films:
Some school prospectus photography and a couple of shoots for construction companies meant most of March was spent doing stills photography. I don’t put my work for schools online and the building work was for the companies’ internal use, so there’s nothing to see here.
I filmed an awards ceremony at the end of March at the Peterborough Arena. Originally I was asked to supply footage only and the client would edit. Later in the year the client asked me to edit the film and as I write this at the end of December, that film is being revised.
Spring weather arrived at the start of April and I was despatched to Yorkshire to film the 2016 Arable Farmer of the Year for my lovely agri client Mzuri. Here’s Guy Shelby:
I had a weird experience in mid-April, filming a covers band at a recording studio. The initial plan was to shoot four or five songs but the lead singer insisted they do 11. Before the end of the week he wanted to see the edited film and was expecting a running time of at least 20-minutes. Because they were just starting out as a band, I’d agreed a special rate for a simple finished product that didn’t come close to the expectations of the lead singer. He lost it big time and even sent me a threatening text message. Time to hand over the camera footage for the agreed fee so I swapped a memory stick and invoice for a wad of notes outside a biker bar, looking to the shopping public of Market Deeping like a drug dealer. Time also to ask myself whether I want to do any more films for musicians.
My second book, You Can Be A Film-maker, was finished in April. Buy it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06ZZ62LRY or from any of the other popular e-book services here: http://www.beafilmmaker.co.uk/
In May I filmed a football match at the ABAX Stadium, London Road home of Peterborough United. We filmed the whole match with three cameras, plus post-match interviews and created a DVD for the players. The game is also online:
Work on the Great Fen took over most of May and June. The first film had to be finished in July and it was for internal use at the Wildlife Trust. I got permission to recut the film to enter it in the St Neots Film Festival and this is the version that was seen at the event in November:
I did find time in June to shoot this for a new financial services client:
June’s other big film projects were the Big Rail Diversity Day, which you can see here:
and the video prospectus for Beaulieu Primary School, which is here:
I love working at Beaulieu because I get to stay at the fantastic Roundhill Campsite in the New Forest and it doesn’t feel at all like work.
After a short family holiday in July (Greece) the rest of the month was spent editing the Great Fen film and shooting and editing more vlogs for Greenwoods.
August’s traditional lull didn’t happen this year with Cross Keys Homes keeping me busy shooting the series of films that would feature at its end-of-year residents’ awards ceremony. Each summer we film previous award winners and this year we shot five films and a promo for Cross Keys Care. They are intended for showing at the event but sometimes they appear here, alongside my other work for Cross Keys Homes: https://www.youtube.com/user/CrosskeyshomesUK/videos
Construction companies helped to fill up September, including the start of a special project featuring the building of a house for an internationally acclaimed movie star. More about that in 2018, I think. I also shot two films for a neighbour who is launching her Indian cookery lesson business online:
Warm sunshine hung around long enough for a final location shoot on the Great Fen before I was able to deliver the second of their films for 2017, a promo film that was mostly made up of clips from the earlier production. I loved creating a showcase for the brilliant photographers who support the Wildlife Trust:
October brought a third set of video blogs at the law firm and a very exciting meeting with a publisher that would like to ‘white label’ my video production services to offer corporate films to its advertising clients. And in November the hugely impressive Made in Britain campaign said it would like to do the same.
I judged the documentary category in the St Neots Film Festival in November and was delighted to award ‘best documentary’ to my fellow Peterborough film-maker Jay Gearing for his beautifully shot interview with singer-songwriter Kerry Devine. It was a great honour to judge the category I won last year with my Great Fen Spitfire film. My 2017 entry wasn’t an award-winning film, so I was happy for it to be screened at the festival as a non-competitive film to allow me to be a judge.
Also in November I produced my first video for stills photography client Princebuild. The original edit was to be shown at a live event and had commercial music as the soundtrack, but this version uses royalty-free production music so it can be shown online:
The first of my corporate video shoots for the publisher took place in Manchester at the beginning of December and the first edit is now being reviewed by the client. I’m told there are plenty of these to come in the new year.
The Cross Keys Homes Awards night in the run up to Christmas got into gear with this fine compilation:
The first of the Made in Britain shoots is in post-production now and another shoot has been booked for mid-February in Aberdeen. I feel another winter trip to Scotland coming on!
YOU can be a film-maker: getting paid to shoot great video by Martyn Moore has been published by NorthLight Media. The book is available as a download from all the popular e-book providers and has its own website at beafilmmaker.co.uk
The book describes Martyn's 30-year journey from film-maker to photographer to journalist and then back to film-maker again. It's full of funny stories and practical advice for budding video producers.
There is also a chapter dedicated to people thinking about commissioning a film, with lots of helpful advice on how to get the film you need at the right price.
You can buy You can be a film-maker: getting paid to shoot great video from these digital stores.
WE'VE dabbled with timelapse filming techniques for a few years, using a number of techniques.
Simplest are probably the timelapse settings on our Panasonic cameras, which have delivered excellent results over shorter time spans. These work very well for subjects like conference venues filling up and cityscapes at dusk.
Our best results over the sunset period were shot on a Nikon D90 with an app on a phone. We got great day-to-night transition and by shooting big photos before compiling the movie in Quicktime, we were able to move around within the frame in Premiere Pro. This gives the impression of panning, tilting and zooming as we move the 1920 x 1080 frame around within the 3000-pixel wide photo frame.
But this month we have been asked to take our timelapse operation to a whole new level. We've got an 18-month construction project to capture.
Our new camera, cabling, a dedicated computer and its special software are all heading out to the remote rural site this week. We have learned a lot and tested the rig for days. All we need to do now is install it and start harvesting images.
We're very excited and would like to offer this service to all builders. Having built the rig once, it will take just a few hours and an investment of a few hundred pounds to do it all again. We can also offer remote access and security functions if the client needs it. Ideally, we'd like three or four rigs all out on-site and collecting data.
So if you'd like us to come to your location and play around with time, call 07768 261276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS week we are working with the Made in Britain campaign. We are on the road all week, working out of our mobile production facility (posh campervan).
On day one of the Inetrnational Festival of Business in Liverpool we filmed and edited in one day, posting our output films the next day using YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter.
From Wednesday we will be visiting members of Made in Britain cross the north-west of England, filming interviews and production facilities.
FOR almost a year we have been working with the Nene Park Trust in Peterborough to create a film for an oral histories project.
The purpose of the film is to encourage viewers to seek out and enjoy elements of Nene Park - the untold story. This is a lottery-funded initiative that combines a guided walk, 13 oral histories and our film.
We took four of the oral histories and made the film around the audio recordings. We then interviewed the oral historian and the former general manager of the Peterborough Development Corporation, which created Nene Park.
This material was then turned into three films: a short trailer:
A four-minute 'taster' to show in the visitors' centre:
And the 20-minute main film:
THIS morning we posted some text copied from an online course that director Martyn Moore is studying. He helped a fellow student with some specific technical questions that the course didn't cover. Already we've had some questions sent in to Martyn on other aspects of film-making. Feel free to comment on these posts or send in your own via the contact page.
Martyn would like to help other film-makers in the way he got help when he was starting out. Send in your film-making questions and he will answer as many of them as he can. He might not be able to answer all of them and not everything will be published on the blog.
In the meantime, here's another conversation from the online course.
Email me, Tony: email@example.com or if you have specific questions that will benefit other students, what do you want to know?
Thank you Martyn, that's kind of you to offer to help.
Basically for straightforward interview situations (single subject) with an iPhone or compact camera, what are the pros and cons of using a) external mics and b) external recorders? I don't own either but I should make the investment...
(I've posted this on the forum as maybe your advice is useful for other students).
Thanks again! Tony
Phones and small cameras have to compromise on sound. The lens and recording components fit well into their bodies but a microphone can't work well as part of the camera.
The aim in an interview is to get as much of the spoken sound as possible and as little of the background, or ambient, sound as you can. The best way to do this is by getting the microphone as close as possible to the mouth of the speaker.
We do this by using a tie clip mic, sometimes called a lavalier (lav) mic or a shotgun mic pointed straight at the speaker. Microphones have different types of 'capture' fields, or shapes. Uni-directional capture a thin beam of sound from a limited direction; omni-directional mics capture sound from all around; cartoid mics capture a heart-shaped field from around the front of the mic's head. Google the words for diagrams.
So I have lav mics that are uni- and omni-directional and I choose the one that suits the situation. If I only had one, I'd choose uni-directional. If your camera or phone has a mic input socket, simply connecting an external mic to that will make a massive difference.
Most mics require a small power supply from the input socket of the device, so check what type your device needs and buy the right one. Devices that don't provide mic power might need a mic with on-board batteries. You will need to check out the options.
I am constantly on the verge of buying a new separate sound recorder but haven't taken the plunge yet. All my cameras have professional mic inputs but I think an audio recorder will be useful. I keep looking at this TASCAM: http://tascam.com/product/dr-40/ because it has all the right input sockets and can be used as a 'sound only' interview recorder. Alternatively, there's this: http://tascam.com/product/dr-60dmkii/
The ultimate combination is a sound recorder with external mics. Everything I wrote about lavs and directional mics applies here too.
So far we've only talked about hard wired mics but there is also the world of radio mics to consider. A radio mic set usually consists of a lav mic, a transmitter unit, a receiver unit and a cable to suit your camera/recorder input. The transmitter/receiver should have lots of channel/frequency adjustment to prevent interference from other systems and local taxis.
I currently use this set-up: http://en-uk.sennheiser.com/wireless-clip-on-lavalier-microphone-set-presentation-ew-100-eng-g3 but expect to replace it with something like this: http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/product/broadcast-products-professional-audio-portable-microphone-packages-uwpd/uwp-d11/overview/
On a recent trip to America I also bought this but hesitate to recommend it until I've used it more: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1007208-REG/polsen_ulw_16_pl4_uhf_eng_wireless_system_16.html
I hope this is useful. That's a lot of typing. I need to lie down...
Martyn- that's a wealth of info and advice: thanks so much. I've got my eye on a Tascam...
Thank you again, on behalf of myself, and the group.
The Tascam looks great but there are lots of cheaper options. A £40 Olympus recorder with a £20 lav mic will be miles better than your phone/camera's built-in mic.
If you use a separate sound recorder, remember to clap your hands on camera and on mic at the start of each clip. This makes it much easier to sync the tracks in the edit.
NorthLight Media director Martyn Moore made a new friend while taking part in an online course. Malcolm was a bit disappointed with the technical information in one part of the course, so Martyn invited him to ask specific questions. We thought the exchange might make an interesting blog update.
Ask me a question, Malcolm. I'll try to help.
Hi Martyn which software would you recommend for simple video editing on a PC? Am I right to think that if I buy a Macbook Pro it will come packaged with video editing software and if so is it fairly easy to work out? Can you recommend the best way to record sound separately and edit it in or use as voice over, AT2020 mic and Audacity or something like a Zoom H4NSP? I have a Boya Mic on top of my video camera is it likely to work (particularly outdoors) with a boom and an extension cable or would I be better recording sound separately? Can I use something like the Zoom on a RODE micro boom for example? Trial and error could get expensive, so its these kinds of practical considerations I'd have liked to get help with, although I imagine Futurelearn would be reluctant to recommend certain brands, nonetheless which types of equipment and how best to use them, for professional looking results on an enthusiast's budget.
PS thanks for any help!!
OK. The MacBook will give you access to iMovie, Apple's free video editing package. But iMovie has dumbed down over the last few years and is very much targeted at consumers rather than the hobbyist/pro user. It is good but I think you will find it limiting.
For people like us, Apple has Final Cut. The entry-level version was Final Cut Express and that was a cheaper, reduced-feature version of Final Cut Pro (FCP). Apple stopped developing it in 2008 but it can still be bought online. Support for Express will dwindle quickly.
The current version of FCP is X. It costs £300, which is good value. It's used by lots of professionals, partly because of creatives' love for Apple products.
I'm in both the Apple and Windows camps and appreciate the qualities of both brands but my main editing PC is a powerful Windows 10 machine with Adobe Premiere CC 2015 on it. I subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, which costs me £50 a month but 90 per cent of my income comes from film-making and the cost goes through the business.
Adobe PP CC 2015 works on both Windows and Mac computers and the online support is excellent. The software applications are regularly updated with valuable new features and I get access to Photoshop, Audition, After Effects and lots of other apps that I probably won't ever use.
That's just me justifying my commitment. I remember it was a big decision when I took it. The general drift among professionals seems to be away from FCP towards Premiere Pro.
Both FCP and Adobe have taken users away from Avid - the number one pro choice for many years. Sony offers Vegas editing and Panasonic hooked up with Edius - both powerful programmes. Also consider Corel's VideoStudio at just over £50.
The thing is, Malcolm, all the software programmes work in the same way. Learning them is like learning to drive and it's relatively easy to switch from one to the other, just like changing cars. But the longer you use a programme, the better you understand it and the more committed to it you will become. Your editing will improve as you get into your software.
Now, another cup of coffee and maybe some toast as I think about microphones for you...
Two hours later...
I took the dog for a walk.
Your Boya microphone is from the budget end of the market, and there's nothing wrong with that. The fact that you are thinking beyond the in-built sound means you will get better results. You don't say which Boya you are using, so let me know.
The AT2020 is a studio mic, really. It will be fantastic indoors with sound-deadening surroundings. On location it will be difficult because of its cartoid pick-up pattern.
My first mic was a Rode NTG-1 and I still use it almost every day. It is a shotgun mic with a very narrow pick-up pattern, very good at pointing towards the speaker and cutting out lots of ambient sound. The Boya equivalent is probably this one: http://www.amazon.co.uk/PVM1000-Condenser-Shotgun-Microphone-Cameras/dp/B00MTJZS7A
This would be the mic for the boom pole, or extendable pole from your local DIY store if you're keen to keep down costs.
I wouldn't have thought of fitting the Zoom H4NSP to the boom pole, but you should try it. The Zoom recorder looks good and has positive reviews. This machine from Tascam is on my Amazon wish list: http://tascam.com/product/dr-40
The thing about the Tascam, the Zoom, the Rode NTG-1 and the Boya shotgun is that they use XLR sockets and plugs. These are the professional sound connectors. The microphones require a 48V power supply, which the Zoom and Tascam provide.
Some video cameras don't supply this power and use only 3.5mm jack sockets for an external mic. You don't say which camera you are using, so I don't know if XLR connectors and 'phantom' power, as it's called, are possible with your machine.
If your camera does accept XLRs and gives the power supply, then I would be tempted to try the Boya shotgun on a pole with a five metre XLR cable. You should also get a furry wind protector, also known as a 'dead cat'. This will give you the potential to get great sound.
If your camera doesn't accept the XLRs, then you need to look at either using adaptors and solving the power supply requirement, or investing in the separate recorder. Try the Zoom or the Tascam on a pole and see how you get on.
The shotgun mic with furry cover, on a pole with five metre cable running to the separate recorder is the professional destination. How you get there will depend on your camera's connectivity and your budget.
Audacity is a great free sound editing programme: http://audacityteam.org/
I used it for years until I bought into Adobe for Soundbooth, then Audition. Audacity used to be a bit ugly and clunky (it might be much better now) but it gets the job done and you can't argue with the price.
Our production staff are constantly learning new skills and perfecting existing ones. Some of the training is conducted by the National Film and Television School, one of the most respected educators in the industry. For this exercise one of our film editors had to assemble a sequence using clips of real footage and sound recordings from a feature film. We think he did OK, don't you?
NORTHLIGHT Media creates corporate film and video, press releases, articles, features, photographs, podcasts, website content and advertising.