“Commonwealth Social” Video Shoot Birmingham

GB Commonwealth Team 2020

On Wednesday the 27th July 2022 the Commonwealth Games comes home to the UK, in Birmingham to be exact. It seems a long way off but like most of these events, it’s here before you know it. 

Working with the most excellent DMA Media in London, I helped to document the “Commonwealth Social” event. A two day shoot making a time-lapse of the outdoor commonwealth logo, interviewing the England team, various important stakeholders and also Nicky Morgan, The Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport.

Day One

Adrian from DMA was the producer/director on this shoot and we left the hotel pretty early on the first morning of the shoot to climb the stairs to the roof of the fantastic Birmingham Library. Down below in centenary square, the support team for the event were building the new logo. First job was to shoot a time-lapse of build. 

Once we got up there the weather was pretty changeable, sun was in and out and the wind and rain was intermittent. My umbrellas for the camera stood no chance in the wind, so we were lucky it stayed pretty dry. For the time-lapse I used my Canon 60D paired with a Satchler S2, Canon 18-55 with ND filters and intervalometer. Interval was about 10 seconds with a 5 second exposure.

DMA Media had also commissioned the services of some excellent drone pilots to capture the ariel footage. Unfortunately we had a problem… seagulls.
Now I’ve plenty of experience with these lovely things stealing my pasty/scotch egg/ice cream but no experience of them attacking drones. the drones could not take off.

Someone made a call to the cleaning company and about 40 minutes later a woman appeared with a huge bird of prey. Now that’s what I call a cleaning service, none of this new-fangled naked/lingerie options.

Now I thought that the Falcon was going to be let loose, fly up and pick a few seagulls off, but that wasn’t to be the case. It just sat on the arm of it’s owner while more and more seagulls came to join the seagull party. Then they started dive-bombing the Falcon. Not the reaction I had expected.

The Falcon stayed on the arm and about 20 minutes later, there wasn’t a seagull in sight. – Success!!

With the super-bird having done his job, the drones could fly so after a couple hours everyone had what they needed.

Later on that day we set about capturing the first set of interviews. We shot some of the Team England Athletes and Ian Reid, CEO Birmingham 2022. Luckily I spotted a really colourful dance group practicing, so that made a nice background. We had to cut it a bit short though as The BBC were going live on Central News as we shot(and they’d nicked my angle after setting up elsewhere – but we won’t go into that ;))

My rig for the interviews consisted of a Canon C200 coupled with the L series 24/105/Sachtler support. Adrian from DMA Media took care of the questions with a Sennheiser hand held radio mic, a SKM100 G4

Day Two

The second day of the shoot was the day of the event. We needed to shoot serveral interviews with the Team England Athletes, coaches and also Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State. We also need to get some B-roll. The footage needed to be up and ready for DMA’s news-feed immediately. So as soon as we had shot an interview, the lovely Isabelle Laperouse from DMA whisked the card from my camera and up to the low temperature dude, and editor extraordinaire Paul Mills who had set up an edit station in the library.

Great to shoot with DMA again, links to press release, images and footage here:

https://www.thenewsmarket.com/news/birmingham-2022-celebrates-three-year-countdown-to–the-games-for-everyone-/s/89d77410-f719-46a3-ac1c-5912cf7bdbb5?FromPromoPanel=yes

Tribute to Andy Weatherall – The Legend That Left an Imprint

I received the sad news this week that Andy Weatherall had passed away. A true legend of my time. When I say my time, I mean the 90s. The time of being relatively young in the middle of probably the biggest music revolution since the time of the Stones and Beatles.

What do you call the early 90s? I’ve no idea. It was “rave” “techno” “chillout” all that stuff but it doesn’t really matter what it was called. If you were there you remember it as a feeling really. The clubs, the friends, the parties and of course the thing that bound it all together – the music.

I think Screamadelica came out about 1991(?). I was a student in Manchester at the time and my first introduction to Andy was at the International 2.

He was the warm up DJ for Primal Scream. I remember his love for bass. It shook my throat so was quite painful. Little did we know at that time just how much his influence was to shape the next 1/2/3/4/5/6/ years and beyond. Found a shot of this ticket online, this may well be the gig.

If you were a student or in your teens/20s in the 90’s then one of two things happened. Your mates came round and someone put on Screamadelica or Portishead, or you went round to your mates and someone put on Screamadelica or Portishead. There was a third thing we all did but because I’m old with kids, I can’t talk about that anymore with my boys reading.

I cannot really explain the brilliance of both of these two pieces of work, that’s research that you would have to conduct on your own steam. But what is undeniably evident, is how Andrew Weatherall took a rock band and created a journey of sound. A trip that sucks you in, twists you around and then gently lets you down the shoot the other side. There has not been many contenders since.

Andy’s work was far reaching and I could not begin to dissect all of what he has accomplished in his career. Two pieces close to me are Sabres of Paradise “Deep Cuts” and Weatherall’s remix of Flowered Up’s Weekender. Both played a major part in my electronic journey. Both still sit on my shelf. Both still frequent my record player. Along with a few others,

weatherall weekender

Years later my mate Jay put on techno nights in Aberystwyth. I wasn’t there, but he told me a great story of when he got Andy to play at one of his nights. After the gig he took Andy to a local hotel where he had booked a room for him. Whilst he was booking Andy in (and trying really hard to be cool) during the early hours of the morning, a rather large women came along, picked up my mate Jay (he’s only little), and carried him away under her arm whilst bashing him on the head with a wooden spoon. Sheer class.

Andy, from all the children of my time and place, thank you for the music, thank you for the nights out, we salute you. May you rest in peace – legend.

Cot Mattress Review of The “EasyChange”

EasyChange Cot Mattress Review - The Cotmattress Company

We’ve been working with The Cot Mattress Company, producing product videos for a number of years now and it’s always a pleasure and a great laugh to work with Roger who runs and owns the company. On our last shoot he asked me which mattress we used on our kid’s beds and we shamefully admitted that we went the “el-cheapskate” route and bought them from Amazon for about £50. In a cry of utter dismay Roger insisted that we try one of his. I agreed and promised a cot mattress review of the EasyChange.

Cot Mattress Review

The Cot Mattress Company sent the package yesterday and it arrived today – super efficient service. I told Roger that one of our boys suffers from hay fever so he kindly sent us This Mattress and some bamboo sheets as apparently bugs and dust mites etc cannot live in bamboo sheets. Image of the label below so you can read the details..

Image of cot mattress company bamboo sheets review

The mattress arrived in a sturdy box that even Hermes managed not to damage, so that was a bonus.

Easychange mattress in box ready for cot mattress review

I’m not a huge fan of memory foam as I find it very hot. I’ve always had a pocket sprung mattress on my bed and it’s super comfy.
I decided to get the same for my little boys as I think breath-ability will be a lot better with a pocket sprung rather than solid foam.

One of my children has been in his toddler bed (John Lewis Boris Bed) for 2 or 3 years now, it’s a 140 by 70 so he’s ok for another year or so. Just the other day though, I thought I’d give the mattress a good press to see how comfy it was for him now he is bigger and heavier. Shock horror – I could feel the springs quite easily. This was not good and so time for a change.

As mentioned previously, we went the cheapo route originally on Amazon and got this “Katy” mattress.

Katy swapped for easychange

It’s been ok, it came with an extra cover so we could easily swap them over when needed, but once I’d felt the springs through the top is was time to go. On closer examination the topper foam on these is very thin and soft and here lies the problem. Also, I don’t think it has much in the way of waterproofing properties.

Un-boxing

Upon un-boxing the Easy Change Mattress we found the mattress, a spare cover, pack of sheets and an information sheet.

image of easychange mattress un-boxing

Taking the mattress out of the plastic cover there was no chemical smell whatsover. I have read many reviews on Amazon of other cot mattresses and found this to be a common complaint. I believe it’s the glue/foam and manufacturing techniques that cause this in some mattresses.

The top of the cover feels extremely soft, and upon giving the mattress a firm press test, I couldn’t feel the springs at all. I think I could safely say that this mattress is in a different league to the Amazon cheapo we had. The Cot Mattress Company use a high quality foam (I believe) which is very firm. This is what they claim on their website and in the specs. Upon feeling the two mattresses (this and the Katy) I’m inclined to agree.

close up of mattress covers from the easychange cot mattress review

When you have kids and you have to buy so many things I suppose we are all sometimes guilty of going for the cheaper option and that’s probably what we did. But when on average we are spending about £200-£300 a month on a car (!!!???), I think it’s probably not too much to ask ourselves to part with £120 for our little uns to have the best night’s kip they can get?

Fabric

The covers supplied with the mattress are made from a fabric(s) called Coolmax and Maxispace. I think the Coolmax is described as a”3D fabric” and is designed to keep your child cool. I would imagine the 3D description is due to the “bumps” in the fabric which can be seen more clearly in this photo…

close up of easychange 3D fabric

Once placed on the bed, the mattress is a tight fit for our particular 140 by 70 bed but this helps with little fingers not getting stuck down the sides. Overall the mattress feels very firm and of excellent quality compared to our previous one. I would definitely recommend checking out the mattresses that The Cot Mattress Company have on the their website. There are lots of options for core types and fabric types. Roger is always available to chat also, and he can give you advice on which one is best for your child if they may suffer from allergies or Asthma for instance.

Test Run

My boy is going to give this one a test run tonight so I’ll report back on how he got on! I hope you found this cot mattress review helpful.

close up of easychange mattress on bed

Also, here’s the latest product video that we made featuring the EasyChange Cot Mattress. Check out our Portfolio page to view other product and promotional videos that we have created.

AA vs RAC, Which is better?… a handy tip to save some cash!

The car breakdown cover that I have for myself, my wife and our two cars is about to run out. A week or two ago I received the obligatory renewal letter so decided to pitch the AA vs RAC…

“Here is your renewal letter (the new price is hidden somewhere on page 6 at the bottom)” from the RAC.

“Last year’s price £114”
“This year’s price £118!”

Now I’ve never been a fan of the auto-renewal system of if you buy something on a yearly basis, you automatically have to agree to let us take your money from your card next year or you can’t buy it this year, so I generally do my very best to beat this system:

1] Because I like getting things cheaper and…
2] I don’t like bottom-dwelling leeches taking advantage of….

a] People like my parents – “The Grey Pound”, because they can’t work a computer, a comparison site, or even know that there are other service providers other than the AA or the RAC and…
b] People who are not on top of their family admin or don’t have the time or the inclination to trawl about looking for a better deal when surely the company that you have already bought from should offer you the best deal that they can anyhow?

Firstly let me point out that I don’t really aim the bottom-dwelling leeches comment at either the RAC or the AA, just large corporations in general who don’t reward loyal customers or are rather misleading in how they price their services.

I actually think that both the AA and the RAC are rather good. Not that I have had much interaction with either, but when my Fiat Stilo popped a spark plug attachment type thing on a Bolton retail park whilst Christmas shopping in 2010 at 9 pm I must say that the very nice AA man (or was it the RAC man?) couldn’t fix it, but did call for a long low loader truck thing, dragged it on the back and did get me home for 2 am. So all’s well that ends well.

When the (largely underrated) Stilo which served me well for about 8 years eventually did pop it’s clogs after timing belt neglect and ultimate failure, the very nice RAC man (or was it the AA man?) got him to the nearest graveyard and me to home.

Anyway, back to the matter in hand… I had a look at “money-saving-expert-waste-of-time-not-really-anything-to-see-here.com” and they seemed to favour a company called “Auto-aid breakdown”. Martin Lewis and crew seemed to rave on about great customer reviews yet trust pilot reviewers seemed to somewhat disagree with comments entitled:

“Appalling customer service agent” and “Awful” and “Don’t cheap out” so I decided that I wasn’t going to. I remembered the old adage… “buy cheap, buy twice”. Or in this case it would probably be “buy cheap, wait twice as long on the hard shoulder”. So I decided that I was going to stick with the creme de la creme of roadside assistance, the good old British institution – the AA, or the new kid on the old boys block, the RAC. (“Simply not cricket Marjory, I say… would you mind giving the old AA badge on the Rover a quick polish?)

I had remembered that I had insured one of our cars with the AA in March, and that I had received an email offer of discounted breakdown cover. I dug it out from the depths of Yahoo Mail and clicked on it, filled out the online form; two cars, two people, roadside assistance, nationwide recovery, home-start, yes, click for quote…..  £60! – bargain I thought compared to my RAC offer of £118.

Armed with my newfound saving opportunity I rang the RAC to cancel my renewal.

RAC Lady “can I ask why you are cancelling?”
Me “I’ve got a cheaper quote”

RAC Lady “I see, who’s that with?”
Me “The AA”

RAC Lady “How much is it?”
Me “Sixty pounds”

RAC Lady “That is a good deal, was that part of an offer?”
Me “Yes, I’m insured with them”

RAC Lady “You are getting actually a great deal with us at the moment, as it’s already discounted, so you are already receiving a discount of £80”
Me “That’s great but it’s still £118 which is twice as much as the AA”

RAC Lady “Let me speak to my manager and see what I can do….. ba ba da da ba ba bada da da dadada ba ba da da the girl from iponema blah ba”
RAC Lady “I’ve spoken to my manager and the best we can do is £90 for 15 months of cover, so that’s a really great deal”
Me “But it”s still not cheaper than the AA, I think I’ll go ahead and cancel”

RAC Lady “Let me speak to my manager and see what we can do…ba ba da da ba ba bada da da dadada ba ba da da the girl from iponema blah ba”
RAC Lady “I’ve spoken to my manager and the very best we can do is £81 for 15 months cover”


Me “Ok let’s do it”

So I managed to save about £60 of my renewal price. Moral of the story? basically these two will bend over backwards to grab you off the other in my humble opinion, so go renew your car insurance with whichever one and fill your boots. Can’t guarantee you’ll get the same email offer, but they never even asked me for proof… none at all. Stand your ground, grow Kahunas and lady Kahunas and fight for your rights. Tell your mum and dad and help the grey pound to sustain our economy. Make Britain great again.

What’s this got to do with video production? absolutely nothing, it’s just another of Woody’s great money saving expert tips, and with the £60 saved you could by a cheap camera battery? maybe.

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Driverless Bus in Manchester – Shooting with Auto Futures

Had a great day yesterday shooting with Alex Kreetzer of Auto Futures. We were reporting on the new driver less bus being developed by Stagecoach and Fusion Technologies. Due to be trialed in Scotland sometime next year, you may well be seeing these vehicles on a street near you relatively soon.

We managed to grab a chat with the CEO of stagecoach and the CEO of Fusion Tech, with Alex doing a thoroughly successful job of collecting the necessary information.

Here’s a link to Auto Futures and the video:

https://www.autofutures.tv/2019/03/18/autonomous-bus/

 

Plaid at Schizm @ The Park, Manchester

Pretty sure that this night was held at what used to be the Man Alive club down Grosvenor St in Manchester. We used to go there a lot in the early days with DJ Trafford Love Thang on the funk n soul decks.

Must have changed it’s name to The Park I guess, but we always called it the Man Alive. Just up from the dirty old Flea n Firkin student pub.

5 quid in to see Plaid eh? – that was a great night.

SCHIZM @ The Park Grosvenor St, Manchester, M1

PLAID (Live) GLITCH & VERSIVO DJs Saturday 2nd May 1998 10:00pm ’til Late, ££5.00 Plus Booking Fee.

Ritchie Hawtin at Planet K Manchester 2000

This old ticket that I dug out is a little bit worse for wear. It was Ritchie Hawtin doing a live gig and I do remember going to this one! I think it was about the the time he’d done his first two albums as plastikman and was doing the rounds with the 909s decks and efx thing I believe. Might be wrong though of course.

54-60 Oldham St Manchester. Sat 22nd Jul 00 10pm-3am

THE REBEL ALLIANCE Presents… HEROES

Featuring.. RITCHIE HAWTIN & CHEMICAL SOUP DJs

NO entry/pass-outs after 2:00am

Planet K was in the Northern Quarter, on Oldham St. I managed to find a pic of the outside of the club on the web, this is not my pic so thanks to whoever took it.