Three Days In Mexico

We went to Cancun mexico over thanksgiving. I didn’t take the phantom as it was a short trip. Making a film without it is more challenging – but I used a handheld 3axis gimbal for the gopro which allows for some really great shots (youTube vid of 3 axis gimbal for gopro camera)

I wanted to make this vid like an old 70′s home made vacation film – the type you would play on a projector back in the day.

The music for this was pretty simple and quick to record – just two martin acoustic guitar tracks and a electric guitar track done with a gibson es335

Kettells Family Owned Resort, Table Rock, MO

Every summer we go to Table Rock typically a few times with our neighbors who have a boat. We always stop into this small dock that has great Pizza & Icecream.

The owners are super friendly – and I had the drone so did a bit of footage with the intent of making a 60 second “commercial” for them that they could use on their website. Something that hopefully captures the general feel of what they have going on there.

I didn’t record the music for this one – I found some music that seemed to be the perfect fit.

Stein Street, St Louis – 160 Summers

This was footage filmed when doing the shoot for the 48hr film festival film. The run down house we filmed around and included in the backdrop of that film is very interesting – it was built at some point in the 1850′s from locally quarried limestone.

The part of south St Louis (off Broadway) seems close to downtown now (its about 7 miles south of downtown), but back in the 1850′s this area was a separate city called Carondelet. Carondelet was a french settlement founded in 1767 (originally called Louisburg) that was known for it’s poverty and lively entertainment activities.

Carondelet was incorporated in 1832 and grew rapidly with immigration of German, English and Irish residents. During the civil war Carondelet was a thriving industrial area.

In 1870 Carondelet was annexed into the City of St Louis.

The house still stands structurally but is missing its roof and other things like a door and windows – it is likely that it had a cellar at one time and later the area was filled with dirt. It is currently undergoing restoration and it is planned to turn it into a small art gallery.

It’s definitely a building that stands out and harks back to a time when St Louis was a very different place – over the years the many stories of the city, the hardships people endured and the gradual building of what the area is today is easily forgotten. This building is a rare reminder of times gone by.

The music for this 2 min film was quick to record. The start was taken from Google maps and then a sepia tone filter added over before the footage of the house begins.

Destin, Florida, June 2014

Was able to fly the phantom on the beach every day while in Destin and got a lot of footage. The amount of footage made it harder to edit – the final film is just under 4 mins. The music took longer than earlier vids – more or less a whole day to record and mix the music.

In addition to the Phantom I had a gopro in a waterproof case mounted on skim board and also on a gooseneck clamp – which I used to hold the gopro by hand.

Lots of interest in the phantom by random people at the beach – no “drone rage” that seems to be in the news a lot of late.

It used to be not too many years ago that people who went on vacaction came back with 35m slides that went into a projector. They were more or less done with when I was a kid – color photos being the norm for many years, then digital photos – but it’s amazing that it’s now pretty much at the consumer level to be able to make a movie with amazing footage using a drone. Amazing times.

48hr Film Project 2014 St Louis

The 48hr film project is a really fun thing to be involved in. Past couple of years I have been involved with the ShadyRow 48hr team by writing & recording music for the film – but this year I got to help with the story writing friday night and did some drone filming (plus recorded some quick music for the closing credits).

The premise of the 48hr Film Project is on a friday night registered teams get a prop, a person (with profession) and a line. Genre’s (like Comedy, Horror, Western etc) are then picked out a hat and assigned randomly to the teams. 48 hrs later you have to hand in a finished film that is around 5mins long – so that means writing a script, finding actors if needed, filming it, editing it, scoring it and getting it completed and handed back in to the judges by Sunday night at the same time.

All the films are screened at a movie theatre (in St Louis they are screened at the Tivoli Theatre) over 3 nights. 59 teams entered in St Louis and 15 were picked as “best of” to be re-screened the following week and winners announced.

It’s really a wonderful example of constraints. Constraints can often force creativity and are a really amazing way to potentially create some magic.

Each city has a winner plus some awards. The winner gets to compete at the national level and then national winner competes with winners from other countries.

The props (all teams get the same props) and genre for our team were

Genre: Time Travel
Character: Ted or Tess Brookings, Building Contractor
Prop: a Ball
Line: “It’s not what you think it is.”

Our film (10:51) won Best Cinematography and the team was one of five chosen to make another 48hr film for New Amsterdam Vodka weekend of June 20th that is also a national competition.

Below are some photos from the day of shooting. It was a lot of fun and the team worked together really well to end up with a great end result – all the team members are listed in the film credits.

Dan’s (Darkside) parents own a 1850′s house in South St Louis that is undergoing renovation – it has no roof and was a perfect backdrop given the building contractor prop.

The total budget for the film? – zero$ – film was shot with Nikon D800, a Nikon D7100, GoPro on DJI Phantom 2 (with 3D Gimbal). Editing in PremierPro.  Audio in credits – just acoustic guitar & bass – recorded real fast in ProTools.


St Mary The Virgin, Norton, UK

This church is over 1000 years old and is both Norman and Saxon in it’s history. The day was very overcast – about to rain and windy. Very typical UK weather and I like that it captures the generally drab feeling of the UK most of the time.

I lost my phantom drone while filming which was somewhat of a nightmare (I got it back 2 days later and will post a blog post about that later) – so although I had planned to film from all sides I essentially only was able to film from one side of the church.

St Mary’s is about 10 mins walk from where I grew up and is 4,069 miles from where I currently live.

I spent a lot of time in and around this church as a kid (sang in the church choir from age 7 until 18) – was baptised there, my sister was baptised and married there as well. Below is a photo from 40 years ago (1974) stood outside on the same side I did the drone footage from – probably 20 feet away from where I was stood flying the drone. I’m the 4 year old with blonde hair on the right – stood next to cousins – the baby is my sister (my aunt is holding her).








This link About Norton has more information about the village (Norton) that St Mary’s is in. The inventor of friction matches (John Walker) is buried in the graveyard.

I remember when I was a kid talk of lead on the roof being stolen – not having seen the roof I could only imagine the lead – it was great to finally see the roof in all it’s glory.


Bike – A 1 Min Short Film

filmed using 3 gopro Hero3 cameras (at 1080p 60fps, protune raw ON) – thanks to Chris Hammond for the loan of 2 extra gopros – that made filming a lot faster.

I wanted the short to be no longer than 1 minute – but wasn’t sure what to make the “story” – in the end I decided I just wanted it to at least try to capture the whole ‘kid riding your bike in the sun’ memory that almost everybody shares. Also – for it be something that Nathan can watch years later and remember his childhood more clearly.

It was fun and pretty quick to shoot with the extra gopros. It was all basically shot over a very short section of street – nathan just riding up and down. First we put a gopro on the back by the wheel and on his bike helmet using a sticky gopro mount. Few takes of that, plus moving one gopro to the handlebars looking up.

Next up phantom quadcopter footage. It was a pretty windy day and it wasn’t easy to follow him riding his bike – it’s the first time I have tried to use the phantom for that kind of filming and I need a lot more practice.

Several times Nathan got upset when I urged him to ride into the propellers with the promise I would in fact raise it up above him at the last moment. I don’t blame him for being dubious about that and wanting to avoid losing an eye.

It really is amazing what kind of shots you can get using a drone. Right after the slow motion middle part I clipped the phantom props on a lightpost and broke a propeller so the drone filming was cut short but I had enough footage – I just wanted to keep flying it..



I recorded the soundtrack (in pro tools) a few days earlier – wanted something upbeat that Nathan could listen to a few times before we filmed him on the bike.  Track has drums, bass, 2 strat electric guitar tracks and 1 les paul track – basically just messed around with guitar until I found something that seemed like it would fit and then added the rest of the tracks.