Thinking in video

“I keep telling Anne that I need to think in video, so let’s have a go…”

A short video sketch, full of mispronunciation. It took just under an hour to write, film and edit – plus rendering/exporting – which I’m told isn’t at all bad (it usually takes about an hour to get a minute).

Much more useful for me than it has any right to be. More soon.

This is my GPO

It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that the creative team at GDS occasionally refer to people like Jennings, Mass Observation and the GPO. I’m not saying that our week notes are the modern-day equivalent of Fires Were Started, but…

These films cropped up a lot during my degree and A-levels, but often only a very narrow selection made it onto the projector. I’ve probably watched Night Mail eight times, for instance, while Britain at Bay never made it into the classroom, and as for everything after 1950 – forget about it.

I’ve been meaning to correct that for ages, but making a weekend of it felt a bit arduous. I needed an excuse to watch a couple every week. And I realised, picking my latest Jam, that the excuse was sat there in front of me.

This is my GPO screen shot

This is my GPO: a short film every week from the likes of the GPO, MoI/CoI, BTF and others. I’ll try to stick to the shorter ones for now, and to the ones with the best soundtracks.

First up it’s Snow by Geoffrey Jones, a great bit of pure cinema showing how British Rail staff coped with the winter of ’62. Brilliant soundtrack too – a cover of “Teen Beat” remixed by Daphne Oram.

(And, yes, I know it smacks of hubris to link to something you need to commit to updating, but if I blog about it I’ll force myself to do it).

Well done, London summer

Little bit of yesterday evening. Faint background noise is a snippet of William Adamson‘s ‘Under an East Coast Moon’. Plus, you know, me clattering about.

After last summer’s ‘LYMPICS I was pretty sure this year would feel like a slog, but it’s actually been a lovely month or so. Between Paris, Østmarka and a lovely little burst of direction/creativity I’d have to say that the second quarter of 2013 far outstrips the first.

Part of that’s why I’ve given up on week notes – I’m having a lovely time, and it feels like work to document it. The other reason was that I’m just not working on enough different stuff for it to be worth my while. That started to stress me out, until I realised it probably shouldn’t. That time is far better spent doing The Other Things.

Bokeh NASA Spacemusic

A while back Jonty set up a shared Spotify playlist to listen to while watching the feed from the ISS. I’ve had it on today while the SpaceX docking takes place, and it’s brilliant. As Jonty just said in IRC “Sometimes this aligns so perfectly I’d swear NASA and spotify were collaborating.”

I just got exactly that thump of sound and vision watching a few minutes of mission control while Johan Johansson’s “The Cause of Labour Is The Hope Of The World” played in the background, and it was beautiful.

Screengrab from the Nasa.gov livestream

Related; there’s a cinematographic language – and an associated mode of storytelling – being denied to current technology, and the building of that technology, and that is starting to unsettle me.

Bokeh photography (a.k.a. every film on Vimeo) is reserved, by and large, for artisanal production, for romanticising industries and techniques now thought of as quaint or in decline. And that feels squiffy. There’s a kind of visual longing and love in that style that I’d like to see applied to emerging technologies and practices, one that enables short and lively stories so that people, well, so that people feel happy to hit ‘like’.

Basically, I’m bored of promotional films for high-end coffee shops being retweeted into my stream. I want more things like this by BERG, or this by VOY, or this by Lonelyleap.

Talking it out with Anne has helped get a sense of the kind of thing we’d both like to see, so now we’ve got to find time to start doing it. We might not get Johan Johansson to score them, but if it gets even a tiny bit closer to that Spotify/NASA combo then it’s a win.

* I’m acutely aware that there’s a bunch of stuff I’m missing, so please do fling them @mattsheret when you find them.

Buzzing and clattering

On Sunday I spent a few hours playing sound-man for Anne as she shot some interviews at the London Model Engineering Exhibition. It was exactly the kind of show you’re picturing in your head; finely detailed replicas all measured with laser precision (they actually use lasers to measure the parts) and presented by chaps (and a few chapettes) clutching cups of tea.

It was wonderful. Alexandra Palace was filled with buzzing and clattering as trains, planes and ships, displayed with pride and… well, just lots of pride actually. The good kind.

I realised wandering round that the setup was incredibly familiar; it shared all the smells and murmurs and chatter of a comic convention. But the beaming faces and eagerness to talk about work with new people felt a world away. Very few were tucked behind tables and those that were were busy making things whirr about, delighting people.

Maybe it was a generational thing; by and large the exhibitors were in their 50s and 60s, a lot more confident of their abilities than the (generally) younger comics crowd I’m around so much. But I got the sense that it wasn’t just that.

Speaking to Mitch from SMEE was a treat. He beamed about the work of his friends and fellows, proud to show the work he’d spent many thousands of hours on. He was humble about his achievements as a model maker, but not entirely self-effacing, understandably proud of work he’d contributed not just to the show, but to films like X-Men First Class, Lost In Space and Harry Potter. He was brilliant. Even better, he was brilliant while wearing a SMEE-branded workshop coat.

It was a welcome reminder that it’s not impossible to talk about print and storytelling with that kind of passion.

Anyway, I didn’t get many good photos but Anne’s film will make up for that when it’s ready.