Archive: December 18, 2015

Christmas films: Our top 10 picks for the festive season

Hopefully by now you’ve done most of your Christmas shopping (if you still need some ideas, check out our 12 stocking filler ideas for filmmakers post) and you can put up your feet, grab yourself some mulled wine and put on the telly. Christmas is a wonderful time for catching up on the latest blockbusters, seeing the ones you missed and reliving the classics. Here are some of our favourite Christmas films we’ll be watching this festive season, in no particular order. Have you seen them all?

1. Jingle all the way (1996)

This is without doubt one of the best Christmas films to have ever existed. Period. What’s not to like about it? Arnie plays a struggling father as he tries to get the latest trendy action figure ‘Turbo man’ for his son after repeatedly disappointing him. But when every single action figure in town has sold out on Christmas eve will he be able to make it up to him? If you don’t like this film, well, ‘GET OUUUT!’

2. Die Hard (1988)

OK so you’re seeing a familiar theme here. Action heroes in Christmas films! Yes this is a Christmas film, whether it was intended or not, and it’s one of the best! Anyone who has ever watched TV at Christmas knows that this is always on, so there’s no chance that you’ll miss it. Bruce Willis plays John McClane, a tough New York cop who has to save, amongst all others, his wife from a bunch of German hostage takers at a Christmas party in LA. Move over Professor Snape, this is one of Alan Rickman’s finest performances as the particularly wicked leader of the group, Hans Gruber.

3. Home Alone (1990)

A Christmas film list wouldn’t be complete without this title. Amazingly I hadn’t actually seen it until a couple of years ago. How on earth did I grow up in the 90s and miss this, I hear you ask? Obviously my childhood was deprived. And I was probably watching Die Hard. Even still, no matter what age you were when you first saw this, it is undoubtedly a classic.

Macaulay Culkin plays the 8 year old Kevin who is accidentally left at home alone (as if the title didn’t give it away) when the rest of his family go on holiday without him. After the initial fun of having the place to himself he discovers two burglars are trying to rob his house and so he sets up a series of booby traps to stop them. A bit of fun for all the family. It’s particularly awesome because it obviously inspired Skyfall.

4. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

We do like our 90s films at Flycreative. This one is another absolute gem retelling the popular Charles Dickens Christmas Carol story but with a Muppet twist on things. Starring Michael Caine as the bitter Eberneezer Scrooge and all of our favourite Muppets including Kermit, Gonzo and of course, Beaker! The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future visit Eberneezer (did anyone else find it a bit scary in places as a kid?) and try to stop him from being such a miserable old git. Brilliant stuff.

5. Black Christmas (1974)

Talking of scary, here’s one for the horror fans out there. Black Christmas (the original, not to be confused with the 2006 remake) is a terrifying and suspenseful slasher film that supposedly inspired Halloween. A sorority house is terrorized by strange phone calls over the Christmas period and things quickly becomes much more sinister when one of the girls goes missing. With shots from the point of view of the stalker and some of the creepiest maniac rambling I’ve ever heard, this film is certainly not for the faint hearted!

6. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

If you don’t fancy having nightmares this Christmas then perhaps this classic will probably be more up your street. This version is actually a remake of the 1947 version (we’re a little biased when it comes to 90s films though!) and is a classic in its own right. It’s about a little girl called Susan who thinks she has found the real Santa Claus and it stars Mara Wilson as the girl, Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle (or is he actually Santa?), Wilma from the Flintstones and that guy who would’ve made a great James Bond. Magical and heart warming, it’s one of our faves.

7. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-3)

We couldn’t possibly choose one Lord of the Rings film, they’re just all too damn good. So we chose the entire trilogy. Now they may not be very Christmassy but every year the trilogy seems to be on and I make a habit of watching it every time. These films are pure escapism and fantasy with some of the most gorgeous landscapes and epic battle scenes ever to be shown on film. It’s difficult summing up these films in a small paragraph because they are just that grand, so if you haven’t seen them yet (and if you haven’t then I would like to know where you’ve been hiding all this time) then maybe this Christmas is the time! Indulge yourself!

8. Elf (2003)

After growing up at the North Pole, Buddy is distraught to find out that he’s not really an elf and goes to New York City to find his true identity and hilarity ensues. Will Ferrell has us roaring with laughter here as Buddy and stars opposite the brilliant James Caan who plays his quite serious father and has trouble accepting his childish son into the family. If you’re up for a bit of silliness and a giggle then this flick’s for you.

9. The Lego Movie (2014)

Oh my word, a fairly recent film?! Well yes, everything is most definitely awesome here. This film was a big surprise to me when I first saw it and I can safely say it will become a Christmas tradition. A family friendly adventure about Emmet, a construction worker who becomes destined to save the world from the evil Lord Business who is trying to glue the Lego universe into eternal stasis. Behind this concept is a very clever script, some of the best animation ever seen (supposedly nearly every piece of lego in the film was real), an all star cast (including Morgan Freeman’s first ever role in an animated film) and more references to those special moments from a lego lovers childhood than you can shake a stick at. This film is undeniably a Christmas classic and it’s not even Christmassy.

10. Die Hard 2 (1990)

Because one Die Hard isn’t enough. And it snows again. Delightful!

So, there you go. When the weather outside is frightful, stay in and put on one of these classics. But if we have made a mistake and have forgotten to include your absolute favourite Christmas film in this list then do let us know in the comments!

So from all of the team here at Flycreative we would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and we’ll see you next year!

12 stocking filler ideas for filmmakers

Every Christmas I’m told that I’m difficult to buy for (usually by the missus) and that I’m fussy and/or everything I want is expensive. Well, yes the A7S mk ii is expensive, I explain, but it really is such good value for money because..*rambles on about techie stuff again*

Filmmaking and video production, whether just a hobby or your career can be an expensive thing to get sucked into, however there are so many smaller, less expensive items that are so incredibly useful that might not necessarily be at the top of our shopping lists, yet when we get them we wonder how we ever survived without them. So to all the partners and families of the filmmakers and techies out there, here are some big hints for stocking filler ideas – 12 to be exact – one for each day of Christmas. Some are practical, some are a bit more fun. Now you’ll never be stuck for prezzie ideas ever again!

 

  1. Step up and step down rings
IMG_7048

Tip: Make sure you buy the filter the right way round. The first number will be the thread size of the lens it attaches to and the second number will be the thread size for your filter.

Nothing is more annoying as a camera operator than being out on location setting up the perfect shot when you decide you need to use a filter but it doesn’t fit the lens you’re using. Step up and step down rings allow camera ops and photographers to adapt their filters for use on other lenses with a different thread size. It’s a much cheaper option to buy these little rings than buying the filters a second time. The trick to this though is knowing what size filters and lenses the person you’re buying for has, so a bit of investigative work is needed here!

 

 

 

Where to find them: Amazon, eBay

2. Camera cleaning accessories

camera cleaning kit

Tip: Camera cleaning accessories often come in kits

Inexpensive yet invaluable, having the means to clean a lens out in the field is essential, no matter if it’s a camcorder or DSLR. Rain, dust and fingerprints all provide unwanted artifacts and blemishes in images and every shooter should be prepared.

There are several options here for the buyer including lens pens, lens tissues and cleaning fluid and blowers. Essential items for your film making friend that won’t break the bank.

Where to find them: Camera stores, Amazon, eBay

3. The Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook

Guerilla filmmakers handbook

Tip: This book also includes forms, documents and software on a CD, making it exceptional value for money.

If the person in mind is serious about film making and hasn’t already got this book then let’s just say you’ll be doing them a big favour. Packed full of interviews and information about pretty much every role in the film industry from pre production to exhibition, this book is a goldmine for tips and invaluable advice for those looking to make independent film.

Where to find it: Waterstones, Amazon

 

 

 

Love film

Tip: Love Film and Amazon Prime Instant Video claim to have over 70,000 titles available, old and new.

4. Love Film or Amazon Prime Instant Video gift subscription

With probably the biggest selection of films out there to rent, treat your loved one to a bit of film catch up. If they’re planning their next film then believe it or not, this would actually help them do some work and with options of 3 month, 6 month as well as 12 month subscriptions it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Where to find it: Amazon

 

5. Multi tool

multitool

Tip: If you can’t afford a Leatherman then have no fear as there are some great multi tools out there at very affordable prices.

Not just useful at home but invaluable on a film set. Whether they need to cut their gels or change camera plates a multi tool is so useful that it doesn’t just make your loved ones’ job easier but makes them look more professional too (plus if you live with them, they might help out with DIY more often!). A perfect practical stocking filler.

Where to find it: DIY stores, Amazon

 

 

 

 

bond poster

Tip: If you decide to get a poster, make it a goodun’!

6. Film posters

Everybody loves a poster of their favourite film and your loved one is no exception. Just hope that their tastes aren’t too obscure! If you’re feeling extra nice you could always get it framed too. A perfect present for home or office.

Where to find it: Online, HMV

 

 

 

7. Intervalometer

intervalometer

Tip: Of course you’ll get the right one so it fits the lucky person’s camera, yeah? Do a little homework first.

Intervalometers or remote switches can open up a DSLR to the wonders of timelapse photography. By being able to set intervals between shots and not shake the camera when taking stills you’ll be giving them a whole new range of creative opportunities. Branded ones can be expensive but there are a host of third party offerings online at much friendlier prices.

Where to find it: Camera stores, Amazon

 

 

 

 

8. Roll of film

Pentax and film

Tip: Check which format they shoot on first. 35mm and medium format film are most common.

Yes, some of us still shoot on film. Not because we’re not up to date with technology, but because we love the aesthetics and the grain that film gives us. It’s pretty expensive to shoot everything on film nowadays in this digital landscape, but a role of 35mm film only actually costs a few pounds and can usually allow for 24-36 photos. Save them a few quid, and if you’re feeling extra generous look out for online deals where processing is included.

Enough to show you care, not too much to make you poor, but if your loved one shoots analogue they’ll be forever grateful.

Where to find it: Camera stores, Boots

 

 

9.  Subscription to a magazine

Tip: Hint hint, if anyone reading this knows me, I wouldn't mind this! Err, a tip..the ASC magazine does a greener digital edition too..

Tip: Hint hint, if anyone reading this knows me, I wouldn’t mind this! Err, a tip..the ASC magazine does a greener digital edition too..

Whether it be a trade journal or an amateur film making publication there are a host of magazines out there that would make a creative very happy indeed. Which one would suit your loved one best?

  • American Cinematographer (print & digital)
  • Videomaker
  • Sight and Sound
  • Total Film

(These are just a few examples)

Where to find it: A good old Google search (as with everything else really)

 

 

 

10. Multi hot shoe adapter

Tip: Adapters with 3 hot shoes are also available

Tip: Adapters with 3 hot shoes are also available

One hot shoe just isn’t enough. What’s a hot shoe I hear you ask? It’s a little slot on top of a camera where you attach accessories for your camera. The thing is, there are many incidents where a videographer or photographer might want to put on more than one item. A flash and a transmitter, or a light and a radio mic. I have no idea how I ever survived without this. Now, go help a brother out!

Where to find it: Amazon, camera stores

 

 

11. Grey/white balance card

grey white card

Tip: As with most things these cards come in sizes big and small.

Getting an exact exposure and perfect white balance should be the highest priority for any aspiring DOP or photographer. These cards are inexpensive, portable and scream professionalism. Buy these to brush up their skills and make them look good. A perfect little stocking filler.

Where to find it: Amazon, camera stores

 

 

 

 

12. Thermos flask

flask

Film making often involves getting up at the crack of dawn, hanging around on location for hours on end and battling the elements. If your loved one loves their hot drinks then this is probably one of the best items you could buy them. Keep them going through those dark winter months and they’ll never forget how awesome you are!

Where to find it: Supermarkets, Google!

 

So there you have it, now that you have a few hints for stocking fillers go and get that Christmas shopping done!

 

 

Video Production Companies London

How to choose the right camera for the job

The C100's form factor and weight made it the perfect choice on a recent trip to Gibraltar

The C100’s form factor and weight made it the perfect choice for a day trip to Gibraltar

I’m terrible at making decisions sometimes. When presented with a multitude of options for anything in life it’s so easy to spend too much time overthinking which options to take that you end up wasting unforgivable amounts of time being indecisive and not actually getting anything done. The process of deciding on a camera to use is one of those tasks that I, and I’m sure many others in this field, have been guilty of in the past for spending far too long on. Many hours can be lost to Youtube comparison videos and the forums if you’re not careful. Sounding familiar? There are so many options available to us that it’s understandable why it would take so long to decide, but time is money after all and we’ll get left behind if we ‘oom’ and ‘ahh’ for too long.

And the award for most expensive wedding video ever goes to..

Lets face it – all of us techies would love to have the latest and greatest cameras for all of our projects. Wouldn’t it be great if we could shoot in 4K or 6K (or even greater) every time? Having the ability to shoot super slow motion on a full frame sensor with internal ND in a lightweight body would be pretty amazing right? Why would anyone want you shooting for them if you don’t have the most up to date technology possible?

We’d better stop dreaming I’m afraid.

Not to rain on the parade or anything but the fact of the matter is we can’t always have the most advanced technology every time. Most of the time this is down to money, but even if you had all of the money in the world to buy however many cameras you’d like, you’d probably reach the same conclusion as me eventually:

No camera is perfect. But, for each job there is a perfect camera. 

Think to yourself what your favourite film is. Why is it your favourite film? Did the choice of camera have anything to do with it?

Probably not.

You probably chose it for its story or maybe the acting. Perhaps you chose it for its cinematography, but remember the camera only did half the work. There was a person operating that camera and they would’ve probably made a conscious decision as to why that camera was the tool for the job in their current situation.

The right camera for the job

It’s very easy to get into the gear mindset and only think specs, but really if you want to be taken seriously as a professional then think of the equipment as merely tools. Cameras are obviously much more exciting than other tools in other industries, but realistically that’s what they are.  You are there to do a job and they are there to help you do that. The camera manufacturers want us to think differently, but then they want our hard earned cash! The key is finding the camera that will help you do your job, whatever it may be, as efficiently and effectively as possible whether you are buying or hiring.

So what is your situation? Do you have a short term brief to meet or a long term investment to consider? If you are stuck choosing a camera, here are some factors to consider before your dreaming becomes a money losing opportunity:

  • Price

The most obvious thing to consider. As with any other product the more features a camera has, the dearer it will be, whether you’re buying or hiring. Set yourself a budget.

  • Return on investment 

If you’re buying it’s sensible to think about how long it will take (or – gulp – if) you’ll make a return on your investment. We’d all like an Arri Alexa, but do we all earn that much in a year? Similarly if you’re shooting on a long project, would it make sense to hire a camera for that period when you could actually save money in the long run by buying?

  • Accessories

What do you actually need to make your camera perform how you want it to? Does it work straight out of the box or are there other bits required? Do these additional items cost much or take long to set up? Will these accessories remain useful if you decide to upgrade further down the line? Have you thought about which lenses you’re going to use? (that’s an entirely different subject in itself)

  • Target audience

Crucial, this one. What do you actually shoot? What are your clients asking for? Do you want to move into shooting something different? An Arri Alexa is probably going to be a bit overwhelming for talking heads!

  • Workflow

How quickly do your clients need their video? Do you need to shoot with edit friendly codecs for speed? Or do you require something more efficient for storage? Can your editing system handle 4K or do you plan to upgrade in the future? Do you need flexibility in the grade?

  • Image

It would be lovely to not have to worry about this but unfortunately in the world of business first impressions are made very quickly and this can mean the difference between landing a job or not. Whilst this is mostly attributed to personality, punctuality and presentation, the same can also be applied to the equipment you use. If your clients think you’re using cheap equipment are they likely to pay top dollar? If you shoot on a DSLR have you ever had someone ask you ‘Are you doing stills?’. What impression do you want to leave?

  • Style

OK, so we’re allowed to have a little bit of fun while we’re selecting our tools. Every camera out there has a distinct look and processes colours and skin tone slightly differently from the next. You might just simply prefer the look of one over the other, regardless of specs. Try some cameras out and see what you like. Are you Canon or Sony? Black Magic or Red?

Sony or Canon?

Are you Sony or Canon?

As you can see there is a lot to consider when choosing a camera and we would all want to know that we are making the right choice. Lets look at some examples, in this case some up to date 4K cameras, and think about when they could be used as effective tools and when they may just be a big fat waste of money:

Arri Amira

arri amiraEveryone knows that Arri is king when it comes to cameras, as was evident when cinematographer Roger Deakins commented that the Alexa was the first digital cinema camera to challenge 35mm film.

The Amira is essentially a slimmed down ‘documentary’ style version of the Alexa. With HD, 2K and 4K options, a range of Pro Res codecs, slow motion up to 200 fps, internal ND, interchangeable lenses and huge dynamic range, this camera really has everything I would love to have in a camera. Most importantly, the images it produces are superb. I mean they would have to be as this camera retails at over £20,000. Would probably be hiring this one me thinks.

20151020_093951

I was fortunate enough to spend some time recently with the Amira. An incredible camera but with the weight of accessories you might think twice about shooting on it entirely handheld.

Best for:

  • Broadcast and high end drama, documentary, commercial etc.

Worst for:

  • Event work and majority of online output (impractical and uneconomical)

 

 

 

Black Magic Cinema Camera

blackmagic_design_blackmagic_production_camera_4k_964119From my experience Black Magic seem to be a bit like marmite. Most people seem to either love them or hate them – there’s no in between. Why’s that? To start with, the specs for their production camera are very good with lots of frame rate options, huge dynamic range and popular lens mount options all within a small body. What’s more it comes at an unbelievable price for a 4K camera at just over £2000 currently. Where it falls short however is in its battery life, impractical screen and ergonomics. It sounds tempting but if you decide to invest in some accessories for it then suddenly it’s not so cheap.

BMPC: Ideal size and weight for a car rig.

BMPC: The ideal size and weight for a car rig.

Best for:

  • Low budget drama, commercials and music videos or 4K on a budget

Worst for:

  • Anytime you have to shoot quickly, as a lone shooter or in low light, i.e. documentaries & travel (impractical)

Sony A7S mkii

sony a7s iiThe A7S took the DSLR world by storm last year mostly due to its incredible low light capabilities attributed to its full frame sensor and it’s affordable price tag. Now the mkii is here and whereas previously you could only record 4K footage to an external recorder this new version offers internal 4K recording as well as some other nice features including frame rates up to 120fps and several variations of S-Log for greater dynamic range in the grade. At £2500 it is certainly an affordable 4K camera, but it may not be for everyone. As a DSLR it still lacks some features associated with professional video cameras including XLR inputs and is limited to recording no longer than 30 minutes. Its battery life is also not great and the Sony E mount offers far fewer lens options than EF or PL for example. If you decide to invest in accessories, then once again, it may not actually seem that cheap after all.

Best for:

  • Travel

Worst for:

  • Conferences, weddings and other long recordings (impractical)

C300 mkii 

canon_0635c002_eos_c300_mark_ii_1134579

A recent offering from Canon, the C300 mkii builds upon the success of the original C300 which became a widely recognised video production workhorse. The original camera was popular for broadcast, news gathering and corporate work and the C300 mkii looks set to improve on this build with new codecs and frame rates on offer, 4K recording, inbuilt ND, popular lens mount options and a form factor that makes it ideal for shooting as a single operator. But with only being able to shoot 4K at 30p, a heavier build than the previous model and a price tag far higher than the spec-tacular Sony FS7 (which is in the same league but does offer slow motion in 4K) this camera may be too much for some at £13500.

Best for:

  • Broadcast and online (anything that requires a single operator)

Worst for:

  • 4K slow motion requirements (non existent)
Video Production Companies London

The original C300 has dropped in price substantially since the mark ii release. Great if you don’t need 4K.

These are just a few examples to get you thinking and of course these are my own opinions, but as you can see it’s a bit of a minefield out there. There are so many factors to consider and what one person needs in a camera may be unnecessary for another. It also doesn’t help that new cameras are being thrown at us left, right and centre all the time and the old models are becoming obsolete quicker than ever (which hurts us financially for sure!). The plus side of this camera boom however is there are so many options available that there is something for every budget, whether you shoot HD or 4K.

Get what you need and concentrate on producing high quality work – remember it’s not just about the equipment but the people and the creativity behind it.