Goodbye UniTV

I have been part of the University of Sussex’s Student Television Station, UniTV, for four years, mostly working as a Director and helped out on over 80 of UniTV’s videos!

UniTV has been a tremendous outlet of creativity for me. Studying a degree in Physics, followed by a PGCE, my life has been crowded with mathematical and endless deadlines, not allowing my creative brain to immerse itself in my emotionally driven film work. UniTV helped me to find the time to escape from the monotony of scientific education and work in large teams to create fun and entertaining content!

 

Skills UniTV helped me develop was the ability to direct large teams, up to 55 on a single project; learn about livestreaming, where I helped sort out technical issues and vision mix several hour long live shows; support others with their creative projects; experience incredible events such as the National Student Television Association (NaSTA) Awards where I got to meet incredible people from other universities and in the industry and most importantly, I met some of the best friends I will ever meet in UniTV itself.

 

Every June was sad to see my friends finishing university and moving on to greater things, but every new year gave a chance to make new incredible friends too. Definitely need to do more meetups with older members when I get the time.

 

UniTV is the end of an era, more so than the end of my education for me (I will never stop learning), however I shall greet the next with open arms!

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Lastly, I would like to say thank you to UniTV and all the members who I had the pleasure of meeting. We’re a funny bunch, not media junkies that aggressively push others aside to rise to the top, but subtle, resourceful, inciteful and caring. To me, these are the qualities that make you a true member of UniTV.

Thank you UniTV, and goodbye. I really am going to miss you ❤
Seb

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We Won The Media Content Award 2018!

Our collaboration short film co-produced with UniTV, ‘Transient‘, wins the University of Sussex’s Media Content Award, rivalling all the media content made by the University over the year from the news paper, radio station and TV station.

35841631_2108712939156091_6235209911450468352_n.jpgThis is the last project we will work on with UniTV, and hence is a monumental short that will leave a resonance at the university and in my heart, I’ll talk more about this in a later blog post.

As appreciation for the incredible people who helped make this short film in the space of a few days (editing and all), here is a full list of the amazing people involved!

John Black, Stefan Chanyaem, Chayanee (Nink) Niljianskul, Seb Cox, Olivia Symonds, Teodora Preda, Chareen Wu Ching Cho, Eimontas Jankauskis Rebeka Rimkute, Andrew Diack, Miran Güler, Vivien Cox, Richard Cox, Naomi van Geelen.

You can watch the winning short right here

DIY Lights to Digital Paint Strokes

s-l1600For the past few months I have been imagining what I could do with a massive softbox like this one. Since then I withheld spending the hefty £100 on a cheap one and instead started thinking of a DIY version.

I already own my own collection of softboxes, but the light I was getting was never subtle and soft enough to get the desired effect.

As a result, I took my wonderful Aputure LED Al-M9 and sellotaped it to the inside of my softbox!

Aputure Light inside SoftboxThis stroke of genius meant that a subtle and controllable intensity of light could be diffused within the softbox and not overwhelm the natural lighting already in the scene, giving a much more natural colour in comparison to the fluorescent lights normally found in the softbox. Oh, and now the light is portable and can be taken anywhere!

The photos that we got looked great, in fact, they have the nicest lighting I have worked with.

From these shots, which I was incredibly happy with, I wanted to learn another skill! I’d been meaning on learning how to make digital paint brush strokes. With the help of this handy YouTube video, I was able to have the super easy technique in the skill box in minutes!

Paint Lettering Tutorial

art inspirationWith this and inspiration from the incredible Aykut Aydoğdu, I had an idea in mind to test what I had learnt.

 

 

 

I started by selecting the photo I wished to use for the effect.

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The head was then cut from the image and a curves adjustment was used to boost areas needing contrast.

4Using the pen tool, a ribbon looking shape was made around the head.

This ribbon is the base of the brush stroke, showing me the line that I wish it to fill.

Once I had the base mapped out, I then took to the brush tool and painted different values of the hue to create depth and shadow based on where the light in the photo was.

These brush strokes were then dragged out to look more like realistic brush strokes using the mixer brush tool. 7

As a result we get this

8The edges then were cut away using brush textures.

After this details like shadows on the face were added before a colour change.

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Finally, the mixer brush tool was used to morph the face to give a paint stroke look and drips were added with suited background to give the final product.

Final Piece: ‘Soft Swept’

Soft Swept

UniTV Win BIG at NaSTA 2018

UniTV is the University of Sussex’s Television station, which I have helped run over the past 3-4 years.

Last night the team went up to the annual national award ceremony and won a borderline ridiculous number of awards. What amazes me the most, is how such a small team can hold its ground against such well established stations across the country who have over 100 members! UniTV has been struggling for numbers this year, dwindling on an average of around 6 active members.

Some might say that too many cooks spoil the broth, and who knows, that might be right, as UniTV sweeps up 20% of the awards against 42 different stations! How crazy is that!?
Answer: Very.

Winner – Best Drama
UniTV Does Black Mirror: Transient

Winner – Best Post Production
UniTV Does Black Mirror: Transient

Winner – Best Dramatic Performance
Stefan Chanyaem in Transient

Winner – Best Comedy
Hello Student Parody

Highly Commended – Cinematography
UniTV Does Black Mirror: Transient

Highly Commended – Animation
Mental Health Transparency

Highly Commended – Title Sequence
News Hit

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You can watch the winning videos below:

UniTV Does Black Mirror: Transient

Mental Health Transparency

Hello Student Parody

News Hit

Tide of Ghosts, that’s a wrap.

After a year of production, our latest big short film project, ‘Tide of Ghosts’ is now wrapped!

‘Tide of Ghosts’ has been one of those projects that fills the reason why I make films. With the occasional project, you can feel the creative inside of you yell “lets make… THIS”, where your brain resonates the tones of the project no matter where you go, filling your head space… Tide of Ghosts is undoubtedly one of those.

The Crew

There have been so many people that have helped out with the project, from it’s pre-production, backing the project on Indiegogo to being a hand on set to the very last day! Everyone that has been a part of it has been nothing short of amazing.

Letting us film in peoples’ homes and swimming pools has been life savers in allowing is to complete this mammoth of a project, not to mention those who were willing to carry an entire door and frame down a cliff side set of dangerously steep stairs (and my dad for building the door setup for that matter)!

The Cast

John Black and Benjamin Taylor have been incredible cast members, diving in to dangerous and freezing waters with strong currents, knives and netting. These two are truly unstoppable, I tried to stop them… honest…

In amongst the adverse conditions these two, held their profession high and showed their ability to present such realistic characters with true moving emotions, utterly incredible.

Summary

The team at Bubble Light Productions can not wait to show you this project in its completion… for now we must push on with the post-production! We shall keep you up to date.

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360 Film Making… but without the 360…

I recently purchased a 360 camera, the Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere 360, and have been testing out the filmmaking possibilities I could use it for.

My main inspiration in purchasing a 360 camera, is not to have the audience look around in a 360 space, but to provide the option for super wide imagery with the option to animate the camera and its field of view in post production. This technique is called over-capture.

GoPro demonstrate this technique very well in their promo for their 360 camera, the GoPro Fusion.

Despite the impressive quality of the GoPro Fusion, I do not need such a high quality camera to make the 360 content. I myself am not a “pixel counter” director, and find myself caring a lot more about the content of the image, rather than the camera quality.
In addition, the GoPro Fusion requires a blend of two SD cards to function as well as multiple camera accessories that add to the turn around process being inconvenient.

To avoid the £600 price tag, I checked out a load of options from LIFE in 360, who gave great comparisons between multiple cameras. As stand in the beginning of 2018, the Mi Sphere 360 seemed like the best option.

Using GoPro’s Adobe plugins allows easy editing of 360 footage, and with plenty of experience working with key frames, the process allowed for smooth camera movement to get a result like this:

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In the end the effect looks super smooth and I’m looking forward to experimenting with this super wide effect!

In addition to the 4K video, the camera also supports 6.5K photos that look great!

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… although you have to be careful what angle you choose in post… result vary…

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Self Portrait: Reflecting a System

‘Reflecting a System’ is designed to portray how a system wishes to see someone to fit in in comparison to who you are underneath.

Here is our self portrait and breakdown, I hope you find it interesting/inspiring/useful.

I began by noticing a soft light in my bedroom and wished to capture it. Sometimes you can see the greatest contrasts even when there is very little light… this was the original photo…

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Thankfully the Sony a5100 is a superb camera and I left the ISO and RAW settings appropriate for this shot, therefore the photo could be corrected to look like this by increasing the exposure and playing with the shadows and highlights.

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Next I got the appropriate orientation and removed the background using the quick selection tool and refining the edges.

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Next I selected different values of the image and adjusted their curves using a brush to select the desired areas.

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Next shapes were drawn using the pen tool. Each was given a skin tone gradient appropriate for the area of skin it covered, a noise effect was applied and the saturation was removed (set to soft light).

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Finally, the shapes were used as alpha mattes (ctrl + alt + g on a windows) so that the fringes of the shapes could be painted to give them a glass like look. Finally, the curves were perfected to amplify the image.

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There we have our finished piece.

I hope you found this interesting/inspiring. If so, be sure to follow our Blog/Instagram to keep up to date with our latest projects.

For more inspiration, check out our self portraits collection.

Transient Short Film Released

Our latest short film is now online! The short film is the second in the ‘UniTV Does Black Mirror‘ series, this time looking into the normalisation of isolating ones self from reality and in turn becoming something else.

Playing on the idea that we use our phones to escape into social media, where we tend to become an embodiment of who we present ourselves online, we brought the Seb Cox themes and added in layers of afterlife, guilt and drama.

We made two trailers to highlight the drama and cinematography of the film, feel free to give them a watch before getting settled into the full film, if you fancy.

Transient [Official Trailer #1] – Drama

Transient [Official Trailer #2] – Cinematography

Now, without further adieu, here is the full short film, we hope you enjoy!

UniTV Does Black Mirror: Transient

Production

On the 12th of December we came up with the initial film idea, and 3 minutes later, we had a producer, 1st AD, lead actor and production crew on board and ready to film… one week later we had filmed the entire piece… our fastest turn around from idea-to-team-to-shot we’ve ever had!

With an insane work ethic and incredible team, we managed to shoot an 8 minute short film for the most part in one day, guerrilla film-making at its finest.

Here is a short video showing some before and afters of the post-production to the film.

Transient [Breakdown] – Post-Production

Music
Gabriel Introvini – Quando Comincio a Dimenticare
Dunkirk – (Unofficial) No Escape by Stijn van Kralingen
Magna Ingress – The Wanderer
Magna Ingress – The Hunt Timegate
Mix Magna Ingress – Super Blue Bloody Moon
Sergey Cheremisinov – Sleepers
Chris Zabriskie – Cylinder Two
Kai Engel – Touch the Darkness

Mindful Seas – Street Photography

When I get tired of work and need a creative stretch with little time to hand, I often turn to street photography. No need to arrange models, lighting, plan ideas… let that all fall into place as you move around the environment.

When approaching my street photography, I often feel like doing something different, trying out a different editing technique. So I like to collect a range of images and see what I feel inspired to do.

Building Ground

When I start, I tend to work with a variable zoom lens, my favourite for this kind of versatile photography is my 28-210mm lens on a full frame Sony camera, occasionally Micro 4/3 for days I want that extra zoom.
With equipment ready to go, I put a piece of music on loop and work with it playing throughout. That way it keeps my thoughts and approaches to each photograph consistent, as my work is often very heavily affected by my emotions.

In this particular example, I was listening to ‘Daughter – Glass

Looking at a range of imagery before starting any project is obviously important. Instagram, DeviantArt, Anime, Fantasy, Steampunk, Commercials, Short Films and Colour-pallets are some sources of inspiration to name a few. This particular effect was mostly inspired by Studio Ghibli and how they present evil, such as in ‘Howl’s Moving Castle‘, ‘Princess Mononoke‘ and No Face from ‘Spirited Away‘. All of which, present evil in dark, inky, sticky looking textures.

Image Approaches

When approaching each image, I like to walk around the location first and see what I might have missed before, considering the environment at different heights and perspectives. Can I show any patterns? Do any colours contrast each other appropriately? Where do the shadows fall? Can I see any leading lines? Are all examples of questions I am asking myself constantly whilst doing street photography.

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Picking and Choosing

I find myself getting to a point where I take a photo and it feels like it represents the tones I was feeling and looking for. Sometimes at this point I stop if I have many things to do, if I don’t, I keep going and explore different approaches.

Whilst I take the photos, I can often see what I am going to do with them before I even push the shutter button, blending the reality with what my imagination sees. Other times, it’s a matter of exploring in the editing process.

Editing

Building ideas in steps helps solidify the final work, practising the idea before finalising it. Hence, I find using sketches on top of the image an important process before delving into the final piece.

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Once I’m happy with the look of the picture, I wanted to bring those shapes into the real world. 3DS Max was the software of choice to construct the shapes and generate the appropriate lighting.

3D Screen Shot V1

Finally after some Photoshop touch-ups, we have ‘Mindful Seas’

Mindful Sea V2

Once I know an idea works, I’ll most likely find myself looking to further the effect and try it out in different locations and situations, I’m looking forward to it!

Guerrilla Film-making with UniTV

Over the past week, we have been working closely with UniTV to create and shoot their latest short film project: ‘UniTV Does Black Mirror 2’.
Watch the first one here:

It was around this time last week when we came up with the film idea, and 3 minutes later, we had a producer, 1st AD, lead actor and production crew on board and ready to film… our fastest turn around from idea to team ready we’ve ever had!

Over the past two days we have shot most of the film, bar from a B-roll, voice overs and foley.

With an insane work ethic and incredible team, we managed to shoot an 8 minute short film for the most part in one day, guerrilla film-making at its finest.

Usually I spend a lot of time story boarding the layout of every light, lens, actor placement, object placement and camera movement. However, this was the first shoot in a long time where I worked it out as we went. Sacrificing the 180 degree rule occasionally for prettier lighting took priority for me, working with the natural lights found on location, placing coloured plastic bags over lamp posts and finding Brighton’s neon and fairy lights to start to create the colour scheme inspired by ‘The Last Night’ trailer.

I was very aware that the lights we were working with, did not match the colour scheme for the film. However, I have great confidence in my colour grading ability, and made sure to have distinct lighting colours that could be adjusted later in post production for the desired effect.

Before
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After
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So far, the film is looking prettier than expected thanks to the incredible team that helped us to light and shoot all day long in the freezing cold. We are looking forward to finishing the project and sharing it with all of you!

For now, here’s some screen shots to whet your appetite as to what’s to come!