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Creative round-up

Here's a collection of recent creative work, which arrived too late for our August issue.

The first is a well-made 16-minute documentary called The Last Resort, made by three students from the University of Portsmouth – Russell Oastler, David Kinnaird and Lucas Way. The doc centres on the decline of Southsea, Portsmouth through interviews with the owner of Southsea’s model village, a sea-front café manager and a group of die-hard swimmers who swim in the Solent every day of the year.

The film manages to capture the fading spirits of those interviewed and is poignant but not entirely lacking in hope. It deservedly won the ‘best documentary’ award at the Inspire Film Festival.

Next up is an art-related video painting competition called The Open Prize, which aims to find a new video artist to work with London’s Open Gallery in an ongoing commission for video paintings. The prize is being judged by Ben Lewis (BBC), Ziba de Weck (Parasol Unit), Marc Valli (Elephant and Magma Books) and Hilary Lawson (Artscape Project).

Over 500 submissions of video paintings were received during the competition, with 10 shortlisted entrants exhibited at the disused Nicholls and Clarke warehouse on Bishopsgate.

You can see the work and find out more about the 10 finalists at

Finally, animation production company Lightparade emailed over a 60-second spot for NSPCC’s Childline, directed by Jake Mengers. Real Call is an animated representation of a call between a child and a Childline counsellor.

Two waveforms are shown with a fluttery, nervous, jittery waveform depicting the voice of the child caller, and the supportive, calm voice of the counsellor shown as a smooth, controlled line. It’s a very effective way to get across the work of the charity.

Posted 23 July 2010 by Jake Bickerton

Toy Story 3 in 3d on 4K

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a preview screening of Toy Story 3 last week - strike that, just checked the diary and it was the week before, damn, how time flies. It was not just any old preview screening but Toy Story 3 in 3d on 4K no less, numbers fans.

The 4K bit is something Sony is getting quite excited about as a 4K projector is apparently capable of four times the quality of a standard digital projector. And this, in theory at least, means crisper, better-looking images.

Added to this, 4K has specific benefits when related to 3d as the higher resolution makes it possible for both the left and right eye images to be projected at the same time, instead of alternately. This again should mean a more comfortable viewing experience when sitting through a feature-length 3d screening.

One of the few UK cinemas kitted out with a Sony CineAlta 4K digital projector and RealD 3d is the Apollo Cinema on Regent’s Street, so that's where the screening was held. Problem was, I foolishly assumed Regent’s Street ended at Piccadilly Circus so struggled for a good 15-20 minutes to find the place.

Unfortunately, arriving late meant all the better seats, and even the merely mediocre seats were already snapped up. I ended up stuck in the front row, some way to the right of centre of the screen, which was far from an ideal spot to make the most of the supposedly superior image quality.

From this not so auspicious location, the images looked ok, but weren’t noticeably better than any other 3d screening. On occasions the left and right images didn’t manage to accurately create a single 3d image, but this was almost certainly down to being seated in such a dodgy location.

Having since read the reactions of other journos at the same screening, who weren’t fashionably late and were sat in prime locations, their experiences sound exactly in line with what Sony’s hype would make you believe. So...if you get a chance to see Toy Story 3 in 3d on 4K, be sure to arrive in time as it sounds like it’ll be worth it.
Either way, what a cracking film; it even tops Toy Story 2 in my opinion.

Posted 21 July 2010 by Jake Bickerton

Is the post industry in trouble once more?

The Farm Group's Nicky Sargent and Envy's Dave Cadle talk about whether the post industry is in trouble once more in the current issue of Televisual (p.21). This follows the closure of Welsh giant facility Barcud Derwen and The Club, based in Covent Garden.

The piece was edited to fit quite a small space in the magazine, so if you'd like to read Nicky and Dave's full, unedited comments,
here they are, via the wonders of a blog...

Nicky Sargent, md, The Farm Group

It is very sad to see more casualties in the post production market; Barcud and The Club as recent examples. However, to many of us who have survived in this volatile sector for nearly 100 years, it is not that surprising.

Without looking specifically at the casualties named or other recent companies that have gone down or gone down and bounced back, some of us get on with running pretty successful companies by adhering to a few simple rules:

1. Be in a location kind of near some work
2. Don’t be too big and too small
3. Try and make some money by charging enough to cover the overhead
4. Do that on a regular basis and then collect the money

We think that, in fact, the post production market is more stable now than it has been for many years. There are 10+ “big”, “stable” companies. The ownership of these companies seems to have been constant for several years; each has some form of definition against their competitors; each has a key core of management and creative staff; each has a pricing structure that continues to attract some work.

I am not surprised that, despite the push to the regions and nations, in the main all of these companies are in Soho. It now seems that us old post bores have left the Mucky Duck and grown up!

Dave Cadle, md, Envy

Post production isn't in trouble. In fact, there exciting times ahead. But in these recession times it's even more important to get your company to work together.

Post production companies have always been oversubscribed and of course it's never nice to hear people losing their jobs when companies go under. It's easy to drop rates and try and win work, which massively affects your margins and thus restricts any future investment.

Embracing your clients' workflow is so key considering budgets at the moment. Clients want a safe haven for their work. They want it to be delivered on time, correctly and within budget and this in turn creates repeat business, which is so important for any facility.

It goes without saying that cash flow is key to any successful company and business plans must be very robust and realistic in these recession times. They must be set and tailored to your own margins considering the issues of rates at this moment.

It's all well and good trying to win a job by lowering your rates but it devalues your facility's brand. In my opinion, clients will pay the best rates when they know they are going to be guided through their project. Mastering their workflow is key.

Posted 05 July 2010 by Jake Bickerton

Making art of architecture

MPC and commercials production company Gloss Media are amongst the companies creating dramatic, interactive window displays for the London Festival of Architecture 2010.

Gloss’s commercials director Simon Burrill has teamed up with The Hospital Club’s “creatives in residence” House of Jonn, “visual artist in residence” Alex Shepherd and aberrant architecture to create an installation for Selfridges’ window display.

The installation, Welcome To Your City, is based around conversations with members of the public giving their take on London, each of which is “turned into customised shoebox housing units.

These “micro-homes” are placed together in the window to create a model city that grows throughout the two-week residency, as more and more interviews are shot. The footage in the windows is a mix of lo-fi phone video clips and a performance-based studio shoot.


MPC’s installation, Urban Prairie, which has been created by its digital department along with architecture firm in square lab, also centres on public interaction. The ambitious project sees MPC’s window turned into a virtual prairie, covered in a “sea of grass” that sways in the breeze. Images on 42” screens set behind the ‘real’ grass further intensify the visual effect of the prairie.

The movement of the grass is controlled by the speed and location of passers by. Optical sensors and something called arduino boards capture the movements of people walking past the window, which are then translated into kinetic responses via a series of servos, creating the effect of a swaying sea of grass.

The wind effect then travels to the grass on the large screens before eventually fading off into the horizon.

I’ll put up some pictures of MPC’s window display as soon as they arrive in my inbox...

Posted 01 July 2010 by Jake Bickerton
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