High Speed Rail: Creating Sustainable Transport and Jobs?

The Birmingham City Council House held a lively public debate last March, which considered the issues surrounding the plans of High Speed Two (HS2); the development of a new high-speed rail service between London and Scotland.

The debate was chaired by the BBC WM and Radio 5 presenter Adrian Goldberg and the guest speakers where as follows:

- Christian Wolmar, writer and broadcaster
- Mike Geddes, University Professor
- Jim Steer, director of Greengauge21
- Martin Dyer, vice-chair of the West Midlands Business Transport Group.

The debate was very informative and gave considerable time to Q&A, open to the audience. It was a great chance to hear the arguments for and against the HS2 plans and what the various economic and environmental implications might be for the Birmingham region. If you missed the opportunity to attend, fear not, as we have now uploaded unedited footage of the entire event. The video is in 7 parts, all of which can be watched below, and feel free to have your say by leaving a comment.

Alternatively, a more compressed version of the video in its entirety can be viewed on our Vimeo channel.

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Wheel chairs and digital tricks

When I imagine a typically filmic shot; grand, smooth movements come to mind. These might be achieved on a budget by using a make-shift dolly. A dolly is a cart, often on rails, that allows the camera to track smoothly along the ground. Unfortunately rental of these can be very high so being inventive is essential. This look can be achieved with the deployment of a wheelchair. What I feel is key to this effect is to ensure you use very slow, subtle movements and ensure you’re tracking along a very smooth surface. A tiled corridor is ideal for this but thick pile carpet or grass, even grass on a putting green is going to stuff this effect. Keeping the angle wide also adds a grand nature to this type of shot and helps reduce any shake.

What is not often done but has worked well in the past for us is to shoot slightly wide in 1080 resolution and then zoom in slightly at the post stage and keyframe the movement. Clearly this is only going to work if your project is for standard definition export but if it is then it’s quite easy to calculate how much you can zoom in without degrading the quality. The image above shows the difference between a 1080 (HD) frame and a 576 (SD) frame, the space highlighted is the area in which you can zoom in. A top tip when achieving this effect is to enable ‘ease in’ and ‘ease out’ on the keyframes. This will better replicate a dolly’s natural movement. These controls are often referred to as Bezier handles. These aren’t hard and fast rules and they might not work in every situation but we have certainly employed them in the past and to great effect.

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Wheel chairs and digital tricks

Right so I thought it might be nice to write some posts about how we go about getting the types of looks we do; a common one being the elusive ‘film look’. This is of course a hot topic but is often one that carries a little confusion. In my eyes you can achieve a look that is either ‘filmic’ or ‘shot on film’, and these can be very different. If you are simply after something filmic, which we often are, this can be achieved in a multitude of ways. The next post will cover two very simply techniques, one physical and one digital, that I think can add to the filmic look, guerrilla style.

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Snakes and Ladders

This excerpt is from a music video for the acoustic artist Matt Prosser. His song Snakes and Ladders inspired the story and imagery behind this video and looks at the inner workings of a complex relationship.

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This is an excerpt from a music video we produced for the artist Sweet Boy Candy. This video was conceived and directed by Alexander Igbanoi

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As you may or may not know, and for those that care, EditShare are releasing the industry NLE Lightworks! Basically, in April this year (2010) EditShare decided to be very lovely. They got their hands on the program Lightworks and are allowing developers from all over the place to…develop it. This is big news because EditShare are already a technology leader in cross platform collaborative editing and media storage solutions so the ability to tie this into a professional NLE is very exciting. A wonderful statistic, since the start of this project they have had 200,000 editors sign up (including us..obviously) and 170,000 developers! now there’s some tantalising statistics. Here at Pufferfish we are always looking to trial the latest tech, and lets be honest, the fact it’s free hardly hinders the appeal. Do not fear, we are in-line to get our copy and will keep you posted with our opinions.

Anyway, here’s what they think.

Academy® and Emmy® award-winning Lightworks was introduced in 1989 as the first and most advanced non-linear editing system on the market. Used by editors such as Chris Gill and multi Oscar-winning Thelma Schoonmaker, Lightworks offers intuitive controls, advanced real time effects, 2K native support with DPX or RED, and multi-camera editing features that remain unmatched. With wide support for codecs, including EditShare’s Universal Media Files, Lightworks achieves a level of unsurpassed interoperability by offering seamless media sharing with Avid and Final Cut Pro. This new workflow enables Lightworks artists to collaboratively edit projects with a much wider group of editors.

We’ll let you know what we think when it get our hands on it, very soon

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We recently went along to an ‘Endless Nameless’ gig at the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham and filmed (amongst others) the band Bombers. Well, we’ve cut together the footage and finished the DVD. It’s raw, lively and (we think) really encapsulates the night! Listen out for the Bombers, great live performers.

I must say a bit thanks for keeping the team so well hydrated throughout the course of the evening! Thanks

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Smiley Mic

So post on our latest work is well underway. Smiley Mic is a loop artist who we are producing a series of web episodes for. It’s very engaging music and Smiley Mic is a great performer. We’ve got some nice ideas to jazz up these videos and we’re confident you’ll like them. We will try to get them up here as and when they are released but no guarantees. Check his site at http://www.smileymic.co.uk/.

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Free Love

This week saw Pufferfish head along to the Yardbird in Birmingham to start work on our video promo for the Sunday event ‘The Free Love Club’. Being a fan of the night myself I could hardly say that working there for the evening was an un-enjoyable experience. We got footage of some fantastic acts and although the setup was less than ideal I think we managed to get some real nice footage out of it. Big thanks to Dave and Mike for sorting this and giving a wonderfully warming piece to camera. Will post the video as soon as complete (let’s be honest will probably be a bit later than that).

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We have a green screen!

Our new green screen has been put to use on a music video for hip hop artist Frankie Namesakes, part of the K-Lectv. We’ve got some crazy idea for this one, floating rabbit heads, CGI birds and a handmade carboard GUI….sound interested? Watch out for this one

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