Super Bok, the Spiderminator

It was bound to happen sooner or later – an original video of our pet dog, Roxie. Produced, at the prodding of my daughter, this is a trailer-type video of our dog’s favourite past time which is catching spiders. Whenever we’re moving garden furniture or clearing fixtures, she would be there ready to pounce on any spider that would come out of cracks and crannies and gobble them up. Luckily for this video, this is just implied and not shown, in deference to those eight-legged creatures.

A hot summer day in Zurich

We had the misfortune to visit Zurich on what were probably the hottest days of the year in that city. With daily temperatures averaging in the mid-30s (centigrade) and humidity to boot, it was truly a “searing” experience to be walking the city streets and exploring the sights and sounds of the Old Town. However on days like these, Zurichians head off to the lake or sit outside in shaded sidewalk tables to enjoy what is probably those few days in the year where residents feel they are in the tropics.

One morning in Hallstatt

A short video travelogue to the ancient salt mine village of Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut area of Austria. Hallstatt is a small quaint village along the Hallstatt Lake surrounded by towering mountains and glaciers. A UNESCO Heritage site, teh village is a popular tourist destination. Lately it has become a “must-go-tp” place for thousands of Asian tourists – mostly Chinese and Koreans – who flock in huge numbers through its narrow streets. The village is so popular that the Chinese have created an exact replica of Hallstatt somewhere in mainland China.

One drone to outfly them all

If you’re an avid videographer, chances are you either have one or thinking of adding a drone into your arsenal of “cool tools” that can  add some pizazz to your video production.  I don’t blame you. For a long time, adding bird’s eye-view perspectives to video was only possible for big budget production. Enter the drones and this visual effect has come within easy reach of independent moviemakers and hobbyists who, with a bit of investment, can now add swooping aerial shots into their repertoire of visual effects. No wonder then that many have taken the plunge, diving deep into their pockets to purchase the various variety of quadcopters available in the market today.

In fact, drones and high definition video footage taken by drones have become so popular that almost every wedding videographer out to make a name for him/herself has at least one among his/her standard gear. Drones are also more and more a staple in TV journalism, with CNN and BBC regular using them in their reports from the field.

But it’s one thing to watch smooth, overhead footage from the sky and another to actually make one. These drones are not easy to fly and I speak from experience.

My first foray with a quadcopter (which I received as a gift Christmas) was a disaster. I diligently pored over the manual and did some preliminary test inside the house, scaring the dog and scarring my wife’s house plants in the process. Then off we went to the park where I figured the wide open spaces and lack of barriers like electrical wires would lessen the chance of tragedy ever happening.

It was not to be. That drone had a mind of its own and I spent the next seven minutes proving how complete of an idiot I am, well at least when it comes to flying drones. It would not hover, nor bank left or right. Then it would just soar really high beyond my control and crash and get tangled in the trees. All in all, I spent more time chasing and searching for it in the bushes than actually flying that darned thing. And then the battery ran out.

But do not let my unfortunate experience with an entry-level model dissuade you from getting that drone you always wanted. More expensive models are definitely more maneuverable, some coming with features like “take me home” and can be controlled via a smart phone or tablet.

And then comes Lily

While newer drone models are coming out with ever-smarter technology, none have come as close as the Lily camera in its promise of ease of use. Lily’s mantra is “just throw it and it will follow”. What could be easier than that? On top of that, it flies itself, is waterproof and comes equipped with high quality optics.

Lily is not out yet. You can pre-order now but delivery of the first units will not be until January 2016. But this has not prevented interest from growing. On the contrary, a blog post on Lily’s web site claims that, since the first announcement, the video featured above had gone viral and millions have visited the Lily web site.

Ready to join their numbers?

MediaStorm use motion graphics to highlight deforestation

At one time forests dominated Earth’s landmass. Today, less than half of forests remain. Deforestation is a real issue affecting not only our environment, but our survival as a species. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/clients/guardians-of-the-forest-for-gef

Motion graphics – animation-heavy video production – is currently taking centre stage at MediaStorm.

Long a recognised name in visual story-telling, the multi-awarded, New York-based production company is showcasing an animated short, “Guardians of the Forest” on its web site.

Commissioned by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the 3-minute video aims to “convey the multifaceted issue of sustainable forest management and to reach people on an accessible level and get forests into daily conversation. Its goal is to bring home the message that “forests fulfill a diverse range of functions; they include some of the world’s most biodiverse habitats and they are disappearing at an alarming rate.”

Changing the face of Indie filmmaking

Released last Christmas, the 38-minute short film ANOMALY, continues to create waves among independent film-makers and as regarded as THE model to follow. The short film produced by Jens Jacob of Sypher Film, is a Nativity story centred around the modern, intertwined lives of the characters during an astrononmical event.

However what makes ANOMALY intriguing is more than just the story but how it was produced and distributed. Financed largely from a 60K Kickstarter campaign, it nevertheless delivers superb cinematography and effects on par with million-dollar productions. And everyone can watch it for free on Vimeo. The producers have opted to admirably offer it online for free rather than go the film festival route.

Watch it and enjoy.

ANOMALY from ANOMALY on Vimeo.

In Measured Tempo

The week of the IAEA General Conference is normally a busy, hectic week with very little time to sit back and take it all in stride. This video is an attempt to relive the week in a slower, more measured pace with a generous use of slow motion effects courtesy of the Lumix Gh4.

How We Spent Your 50 Euros

This video documents our gift-giving efforts at Barangay Roma, Barangay Bungol, and the GK Fiat Village in Silay CIty, Negros Occidental, Philippines for the benefit of victims of super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) whcih devastated the country in November 2013. This was also made as a sign of appreciation to the many friends and supporters who contributed generously to this fundraising campaign.

Cruisin’

An Eastern Mediterranean Cruise aboard Costa Magica to Italy, Greece and Croatia in early spring of 2013. All shots taken with a Canon 5d Mark 2. Some timelapse sequences are with the Go Pro Hero 3 or the 5d mounted on the Syrp Motion Genie.

14 Churches, 14 Stations

Every year, on a Saturday just before Holy Week, members of the VIenna English SPeaking Catholic Community visit 14 churches in the inner city of Vienna to pray and commemorate the Way of the Cross. This tradition is now on its 17th year.