Sunday, 27 December 2015

Student Print Exchange Exhibition: Concept

I have been invited to contribute to an international student exchange exhibition between the University of the West England, Bristol UK and Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore USA. The exchange exhibition has been developed alongside a larger exhibition entitled Just Press Print curated by UWE Lecturer / Researcher Paul Laidler. More on that exhibition.

The student exchange brief will adopt the printed artefact approach from the Just Press Print exhibition, and borrow from one of its underlying themes. Participants will therefore be asked to explore the development of today’s technologically informed scene as a maker of physical artworks, and respond to one of the following quotes / ruminations (that are central to all the artists works in the Just Press Print exhibition) by the American author and futurist Bruce Sterling.

‘Looking through the eyes of machines as humans’. 
‘Eruptions of the digital into the physical’. 

The visual responses to one of the above quotes will be produced as a printed edition of 6 in any 2D print process.

Concept and limitations
I'm keen for my contribution to tie in with my current pinball related project and explorations into the presence of digital objects in the real world, as well as push my work forward and of course, answer the brief.

I've been contemplating how to embed something digital into the prints - my initial reaction would be to embed a tiny screen into the print, or project onto the print. There's obvious technical barriers, it's to be an edition of 6, it's overseas and will be setup by exhibition staff at the location.

However keeping with screens, there's some relatively cheap and smallish screens for microcontrollers. Basically all it will be doing is playing a video file on loop using a Raspberry Pi. When powered on, the Pi would automatically load up the video so no user setup is required. I think it is achievable but it would mean the prints would need a built up area on the reverse or could be cleverly disguised in a frame. They would need to be powered, ideally from mains.

Cost is going to be an issue I think, and it may be the one thing that stops me being able to go ahead with this. On one hand I want to do this as an investment into my own work, but on the other hand there is no funding or budget for this exhibition, so I will be spending lots of money on electronic parts which I am effectively giving away, from what it seems work is likely not to be returned.

Screens I've found lowest of around £10, Raspberry Pi's around £25, plus some other parts, building a custom case, producing the print... and... and... an edition of 6. Quick maths... £40 x 6 = £240.

Anyway, I'll at least be making one and will devise a plan B.

Using a spare proof from my Mini Print, I put together a quick mock up to show the idea, just using my computer monitor. The final will use a small screen concealed behind the print.

Quite simply there is a section cut from the screenprint to reveal the screen below, that section is replaced with a video of a pinball playfield being played, the video is warped to fit the section.

The playfield video is taken from a YouTube video. It's a little observation into people that are posting gameplay videos on YouTube and live streaming on Twitch of themselves playing games (including pinball). People are watching them rather than playing themselves. It's kinda weird when you think about it too much.

Housing design
The Raspberry Pi and screen need to be housed within an extruded section to the rear of the print. Luckily microcontrollers are really small and are getting even smaller and cheaper - have you seen the Raspberry Pi Zero.

Overall it will be 1" deep. The initial plan is to make a laser cut plywood mount which conceals the Raspberry Pi behind and gives a flat surface to adhere the screenprint to on the front, including the window to show the screen below.

Below is a quick 3D sketch/mockup of a possible and simple case design. The Rapberry Pi and screen is represented by the green box and the plywood is the beige colour material.

That's all for now, over the coming weeks I will be putting together a more refined prototype, working out a final budget and possibly working on plan B!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Miniature Print Exhibition

The 30th Anniversary of UWE’s annual Miniature Print Exhibition featuring final year MA Print students and staff. My edition of prints are all signed and delivered and ready to go, please come along for a look! 

24th November 2015 – 1st January 2016
Private View: Thursday 3rd December 5 - 7pm all welcome!

The 30th annual exhibition of 30 new miniature prints for 2015, is at Arnolfini shop from 24th November 2015 – 1st January 2016.

Please come along to the Private View on Thursday 3rd December from 5-7pm (Arnolfini bar is open until 10pm). Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA, UK.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Loft 6D + The Art of Ping Pong

Friday 6 November 2015
The Art of Ping Pong at Loft 6D Open Studios

+ Featuring some new collaborations with Loft 6D studio members.

Exactly 3 years to the day since my first opening night of the first Art of Ping Pong exhibition (at Bonhoga Gallery in Shetland) - for one night The Art of Ping Pong will be at Loft 6D Open Studios in Bristol...

Loft 6D, The Old Malthouse, Little Ann Street, Bristol
Hosted Lacuna Crux
More info: Facebook event

The Art of Ping Pong players - Jono Sandilands

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


(20150 Seriously, what is Post-Internet Art? Elephant

(2015) Revive, Neural

(2016) Robert Gagno is the new pinball World champion. Pinball Magazine. Available from:

Armitage, T. (2014) A Lamppost is A Thing Too. Available from:   [Accessed 29 April 2014].

Benford, S., Magerkurth, C. and Ljungstrand, P. (2005) Bridging the physical and digital in pervasive gaming. Communications of the ACM. 48 (3), pp.54-57. Available from: [Accessed 29 March 2014].
Berry, D., Dartel, M., Dieter, M., Kasprzak, M., Muller, N., O'Reilly, R. and Luis de Vicente, J. (2012) New Aesthetic, New Anxieties. Rotterdam: V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media. Available from: [Accessed 3 March 2013].
Bridle, J. (2014) The New Aesthetic. Available from: [Accessed 1 April 2013].
Bridle, J. (2013) Surveillance Spaulder. Available from:      [Accessed 29 April 2014].
Bridle, J. (2012) #sxaesthetic: Report from Austin, Texas, on the New Aesthetic Panel at SXSW. Available from:[Accessed 1 April 2014].
Colson, R. (2007) The Fundamentals of Digital Art. Lausanne: AVA Academia.
Davies, H. (2007) Place as media in pervasive games. Proceedings of the 4th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment, p.1-4, Melbourne, Australia Available from: [Accessed 23 March 2014].
Drachen, A., Nacke, L.E., Yannakakis, G. and Pedersen, A.L. (2010) Correlation between heart rate, electrodermal activity and player experience in first-person shooter games. Proceedings of the 5th ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video Games, Los Angeles, California. Available from: [Accessed 19 March 2014].
Feireiss, L., Klanten, R. and Ehmann, S. (2011) A Touch of Code: Interactive Installations and Experiences. Berlin: Gestalten Verlag.
Giannachi, G., Rowland, D., Benford, S., Foster, J., Adams, M. and Chamberlain, A. (2008) Blast Theory's Rider Spoke, Its Documentation and the Making of Its Replay Archive. Contemporary Theatre Review. 20 (3), pp.219-257. Available from: [Accessed 14 March 2014].
Haun, D. (2016) Presenting for Geeks [online]. Kindle ed. : Lean Publishing [Acessed 15 April]

Hjelm, S., (2003) The Making of Brainball [online]. Report number: CID- 235.Stockholm, Sweden: CID, Centre for User Oriented IT Design. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2014].
Huizinga, J. (1955) Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Boston: Beacon Press.
Kotsia, I. , Zafeiriou, S. , Fotopoulos, S. (2012) Affective Gaming: Beyond using Sensors. Rome, 2-4 May 2012. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Communications, Control and Signal Processing, ISCCSP 2012, Rome, Italy, 2-4 May 2012. Available from: [Accessed 26 April 2014].
Kotsia, I. , Zafeiriou, S. , Fotopoulos, S. (2013) Affective Gaming: A Comprehensive Survey. Proceedings of 2013 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops, Portland, OR, 23-28 June 2013. Available from: [Accessed 26 April 2014].
Kunzru, H., Newell, L.B. and Salazar, L. (2013) Memory Palace. London: V&A Publishing.
Li, K. , Counts, S. (2007) Exploring Social Interactions and Attributes of Casual Multiplayer Mobile Gaming. Proceedings of the 4th international conference on mobile technology, applications, and systems and the 1st international symposium on Computer human interaction in mobile technology, September 10-12, 2007, Singapore. Available from: [Accessed 26 April 2014].
Magerkurth, C. , Engelke, T. , Memisoglu, M. (2004) Augmenting the Virtual Domain with Physical and Social Elements. Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in computer entertainment technology, p.163-172, June 03-05, 2005, Singapore. Available from:  [Accessed 29 March 2014].
Magerkurth, C., Cheok, A., Mandryk, R. and Nilsen, T. (2005) Pervasive games: bringing computer entertainment back to the real world. Computers in Entertainment (CIE). 3 (3), pp.1-19. Available from: [Accessed 19 April 2014].
McGonigal, J. (2003) 'This Is Not a Game': Immersive Aesthetics and Collective Play. MelbourneDAC, the 5th International Digital Arts and Culture Conference. Available from: [Accessed 26 April 2014].
Montola, M. (2007) Tangible Pleasures of Pervasive Role-Playing. Situated Play, Proceedings of DiGRA 2007 Conference. Available from: [Accessed 23 April 2014].
Montola, M. (2005) Exploring the Edge of the Magic Circle:Defining Pervasive Games. Copenhagen; Digital Arts and Culture. Available from: [Accessed 23 April 2014].
Montola, M., Stenros, J. and Wr̆n, A. (2009) Pervasive Games: Theory and Design [online]. Amsterdam; London: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann. [Accessed 13 March 2014].
Nieuwdorp, E. (2007) The pervasive discourse: an analysis. Computers in Entertainment (CIE). 5 (2); Available from: [Accessed 20 April 2014].
Olivri, T. (2014) Geek Art, Chronicle Books
Reas, C., McWilliams, C. and LUST (2010) Form+code in Design, Art, and Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural.
Richardson, M (2014) Getting Started with Raspberry Pi: Electronic Projects with Python, Scratch, and Linux, Maker Media

Rogers, S (2014) Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design, Wiley

Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. (2004) Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. London: MIT Press.
Sharp, J. (2015) Works of Game, MIT Press

TEDxTalks. (2012) Noisy Jelly: Marianne Cauvard & Raphael Pluvinage at TEDxHanzeUniversity, [online]. HanzeUniversity (Groningen, NL): Available from: [Accessed 20 Mar 2014].
Temple, K. (1991) Pinball Art. London: H.C. Blossom.
Diver, M. (2016) Vice Gaming Podcast. Episode 5 - It's an Indie Games Special [podcast]. 15 April Available from: [Accessed 15 April 2016]

This Flipping Podcast - various episodes 2015 - 2016 [podcast]

Play Dead  - various episodes  2016 [podcast]

BBC Click - various episodes 2015-2016  [podcast]

Wizard Mode Filme

Pinball: Project Proposal

I wanted to get some practice in writing proposal documents for likes of funding applications. It's possible I'll look into these things for the MA project so this can be used as a starting point.


I'm interested in the digital presence in the physical world, games and play as art (in the artists making process, and interactivity for the viewer). These ideas led me to pinball, which I have been thoroughly researching, playing and making work in response to over the past year.

  • The medium of arcade games and play - specifically pinball
  • The relationship between digital and physical objects. How does a digital object translate to physical
  • There’s something I need to explore more with memories. Memories creating these objects via a digital space? Memories create the artwork? The artwork is the object?


  1. Self directed body of work for a group exhibition - based on previous research & practice
  2. Explore ways to articulate, test, evaluate and execute concepts quicker and more efficiently
  3. Create more refined finished work - suitable for exhibiting
  4. Invest time into learning new digital skills - increase employability
  5. A shareable project to gain exposure for ongoing work + exhibitions, particularly online


The project has three sections - which will likely have crossovers.

I'm setting myself some pretty clear goals to start out with, I'm hoping setting some boundaries will allow me to work purely creatively. However the outcomes are totally flexible, keeping in mind to achieve what I want to this year, I need to focus.

Pinball Machine

Physical & digital versions of a pinball machine. Build a simple version to capture the essence of pinball as an interactive installation and digital game.

Physically I will use existing pinball parts which control the traditional steel ball along with something (likely screen based) within the machine. However I don’t want it to be entirely screen based. I hope to achieve an installation that appeals to multiple sensory organs and provides a reason to physically experience the artworks.

The digital game may sit alongside, or separately as a game online accessible via smartphone. It’s possible it could speak to the physical version in some way.

Prints & Mini Print

A playground for the direction + style of my work.

3D sketchbook to visualise ideas digitally to help plan and communicate more effectively. Gamifying the sketching process?

  • Repetition - in the printmaking process + the nature of playing pinball
  • Observational & memory - records of thoughts or moments
  • Not restrained to a particular process - expand on skills I already have

Marble Run

An extra idea - if time allows. Alternatively it could be incorporated to the pinball machine (example see Marbelous table - where the marble run feeds into the pinball machine.

Kinetic sculpture integrated into my exhibition space. Repetitive / captivating / fun. site specific, playful installations


  1. Review - 14/1/16
  2. Degree Show - 1/6/16


  • Santander Bursaries
  • Grants for the arts - Arts Council

I wanted to get some practice in writing proposal documents for likes of funding applications. It's possible I'll look into these things for the MA project so this can be used as a starting point.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Hit the ground running

I'm about to embark on my final year of MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking at UWE, Bristol.
The crescendo to the three years is, of course, the degree show in June 2016.

I've been on a bit of a journey, exploring themes of the digital presence in the physical world, games and play as art (in the artists making process, and interactivity for the viewer). Leading me to pinball which I have been thoroughly researching, playing and making work in response to over the past year.

Although it hasn't been easy to work it all out, I'm now making links between these areas of interest, working towards extending my practice through a refined body of work and the final group exhibition.

Conceptually I am exploring the relationship between digital and physical objects using the theme of games and play - specifically pinball.

The Starting Line
With a world of possibilities, I'm setting myself some pretty clear goals to start out with, I'm hoping setting some boundaries will allow me to work purely creatively. These outcomes are totally flexible, but to achieve what I want to this year, I need to focus. Time is tight. No fucking around.

This also marks the start of a 3D sketchbook, where I visualise ideas digitally (in addition to a traditional sketchbook) in order to plan and communicate more effectively.

1.  Pinball Machine - Physical & digital
2.  Marble/Pinball Wall Run - integrated into my exhibition space

3. Mini Print - a playground for the direction + style of my work

More on progress in each individual part as time goes on. Which it will. Fast.

Project Management
I'm using GitHub to project manage.
Check my Pinball repository over on GitHub.

Let's go!
So wish me luck, feel free to get in contact either by commenting, emailing or over on twitter.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Campanology - The Ringing of Bells

Campanology from Jono Sandilands on Vimeo.

Campanology from Jono Sandilands on Vimeo.

Inspired by bell ringing, Campanology is a collaboration between five artists from a multitude of disciplines. It incorporates a wide range of practices, from fine art printmaking, traditional casting and contemporary design. This installation will interact with the local surroundings, the church of St Mary Redcliffe and influenced by cuckoo clocks, it will come to life when the church bells chime.
This work is inspired by childhood memories of building marble runs. Here the marbles act as the bell ringers, slowly pushing their way to the top of the tower before hurtling down the track, ringing bells on their automated and repetitive journey.
Exhibited at the Control Room, Bristol 4 – 11 August 2015 as part of a group exhibition alongside Charlotte Biszewski, Aoife Barrett, Naomi Greeves and Lorna Sylvester.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Getting started with Wordpress Theme Customisation

I've been asked a few times by friends starting a small business, for information about getting started with Wordpress Theme Customisation as well as sorting out a domain and hosting. I thought I'd share some of the resources that will get you up and running.

You may be interested in the services I offer, which are perfect for startups, small businesses, organisations & charities.

It's an ongoing list, please feel free to share any additions.

Learning Code
You'll use HTML, CSS and PHP code with Wordpress. Don't worry, you will learn as you work with it, but you need to know the basics:
A free interactive website to learn to code

Much better code learning site, subscription.
Specifically, How To Build a Wordpress Theme track could be spot on for you.

Five Best Text Editors
You have many choices for code editors, my favorite is Sublime Text.


I use this almost everyday. For a beginner it's also good for learning the terminology so you can YouTube for tutorials etc.

Theme Customisation: A Beginner’s Guide to Customizing a WordPress Site
Great place to start for finding out where to start with themes - google/youtube to learn more.

Theme Customisation: How to customize a Wordpress theme
A comprehensive guide.

Theme Customisation: Customize any Wordpress Theme
Sometimes it's better to watch someone demonstrate - loads of tutorials on YouTube - go search!

Child theme: How to create a child theme
If you use an existing theme (free or paid) make a child theme to make edits.

Premium themes: Elegant Themes
I have a subscription to Elegant Themes, check out their theme Divi, one of the best adaptable themes I've found.

For domains and web hosting I usually suggest to get the Business Package from There is also great options from TSO Host. Please shop around. Make sure you meet the Wordpress Requirements.

Uploading with FTP

Where to find your FTP username/password (123-reg)

After that really, Google is your friend :)

Good luck, any questions comment or email.

You may be interested in the services I offer, which are perfect for startups, small businesses, organisations & charities.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Bells Project - Progress 2

I introduced the project in my last post with my initial progress, in this post I will summarise my development and the changes I've made since.
Campanology exhibition poster. Design: Rosie Carmichael 
4-11 August 2015
North Cabin, The Control Room, Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol

Five artists from across a multitude of disciplines all participating in this collaborative installation for one week. When the bells of St Mary Redcliffe chime, the piece will come to life.

Charlotte Biszweski, Aoife Barret, Lorna Sylvester, Naomi Greeves, Jono Sandilands.

Facebook event

Power & Motor
The motor I originally had my eye on was a stepper motor, the idea being that I could control the motor a bit more via Arduino, but in the hope to keep things really simple I opted for a straight forward 12v motor. So it would just simply be powered directly from a power adapter to run.
12v 14RPM motor from Amazon 
Really there's no real opportunity to test it properly until everything else comes together so I'm hoping it's all good!

The lift
Initially I prototyped a marble pump mechanism for lifting the ballbearings. It worked quite well with a drill, but when attached to my new motor, it was a bit much and was overloading... not surprisingly it's quite a clunky beast!

Introducing: Marble lifter v2
So a simpler mechanism is required, it would be better to have only one moving part. Here's what I came up with with a bit of research and a very quick turn around on some last minute laster cutting, thanks to my neighbour at my studio in Deben House.

It works quite well don't you think!?

The tower
I figured the best way to build the tower (to allow the marbles travel vertically to the top of the track) was to drill holes in smaller blocks of timber. In my studio I don't have many tools, just a few hand tools and a drill, I wanted to make use of my very basic setup to see what I can do.

Each block is 4-5cm, hand sawn + drilled. They are locked together with dowel plugs.
Starting ambitious I wanted to have 50 ballbearings in the run and be 20 blocks high, that would make the tower stand around a meter tall. When I finally got the new mechanism and motor hooked up, I realised I was going to have to cut back quite considerably as the motor didn't have enough torque to handle that lift.

Carved and ink blocks (left), printed on paper

I have also carved each block so when they are stacked together they create an abstract and simplified likeness to the architecture of St Mary Redcliffe's bell tower. The blocks have been used to make prints.

Building Frames
The exhibition is an installation, Charlotte who is organising it has been planning conceptually to have the pieces displayed in three dimensional frames. They act as a holder and a frame for each of the works, and also takes advantage of the space making it more visually appealing to someone walking by. Along with Naomi & Aoife, I offered my help for building frames and after a few days of planning, deconstructing pallets, testing, panic buying timber, building, failing... we eventually worked it out...

Breaking up pallets - is hard work!

Frame building pictures are a mix of Charlotte and Naomi, sorry guys I stole!

Final push
It was really difficult last few weeks, with a really close friend passing away. Working on this project during that time really helped me get through the lead up to the funeral. I have read about creativity being a positive and therapeutic outlet during the grieving. I've never really been sure how to deal with the death of someone close to me, but this has possibly been a step to finding my own way. I'd like to know more so if anyone has any links to articles or personal experiences to share, please do.

It also meant I needed to work extra hard in order to get finished up so I could walk away knowing I had created the best possible outcome. Some of my extravagant plans for the wire track had to be abandoned and simplified, I made an oversight in how hard it is to form wire, especially with very limited tools.

Sometimes working out the simplest route to take in a project pays off. I'm yet to process my final thoughts on the outcome, as I've only seen it working twice! Tonight is the first preview and it will be switched on for over an hour, I have no idea if it will hold up! A bit nerve-racking!

So the motor failed on opening night! Pretty embarrassing but it was semi expected. Not enough time to test and not enough money to buy a good motor in the first place. We live and learn.

The good thing is that it did work; the motor is just not strong enough for the load of the heavy ballbearings so after a while it just stalled. I went in a few times to restart it but it inevitably failed within a few minutes... so I had no choice but to switch off, it was really disappointing. Like I said I had kinda seen it coming, but with other things on my mind, I really just wanted and needed it to work and all be ok.

I couldn't sleep that night, which seems silly now, but at the time it felt like I had to get this working as soon as possible. If I didn't get the new motor ordered asap I wouldn't get delivered until the day the exhibition closed. Searching for hours online and trying to calculate the best motor to get for the specs I went around in circles from eBay to Maplin with no luck and no guarantee of delivery time.

I am of the belief (not a religious one) that things do work out, or fall into place. I was once told this is if you want something bad enough you will get it - through work.

So slotting right into that motto, I eventually found an amazing supplier of electronic and mechanical components to the hobbyist + education called Makertronics.

The site has the best selection of motors I've found, and lots of other electronics and parts that will be useful in future, so sure they'll come in handy again! They had the perfect motor at 15rpm and high torque - the motors are actually drill motors. I ordered at 5am Friday and I received on Saturday lunch time. Pretty cool.

It took a bit of time to retro fit into my piece as the motor shaft was a different size, but eventually it all worked out!

We're working on a video of the exhibition.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Bells project - intro & progress

MA Printmaking friend Charlotte Biszweski is organising a collaborative exhibition and asked me to create a kinetic piece to be part of it, inspired by the ringing of bells at St Mary Redcliffe church in Bristol.

Campanology exhibition poster. Design: Rosie Carmichael


4-11 August 2015
North Cabin, The Control Room, Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol
Five artists from across a multitude of disciplines all participating in this collaborative installation for one week. When the bells of St Mary Redcliffe chime, the piece will come to life.

Charlotte Biszweski, Aoife Barret, Lorna Sylvester, Naomi Greeves, Jono Sandilands.

Facebook event


Research & Concept

As soon as Charlotte told me about the project I knew I wanted to be involved. I had a really vague idea using some of the left over ball bearings from my recent pinball inspired Ball Saver piece.

I did a little bit of online research into St Mary's, they have a really good section on their website specifically about the bells, including ringing times and this document about how the bells are rung.

Prepare for crappy sketches....

I've been thinking about a few ideas of a looping track/marble run style system, the ball bearings ring a bell (or bells) as they gain speed down the track. The balls need to be lifted to the top of the track to create this everlasting loop. Looping and pointless looping has been been a theme in a few of my pinball sketches so really interested in building that into this project.

I'm working towards having a central tower with a ball lifter, then an outer track with multiple bells. The front face will be carved to look like St Mary Redcliffe's bell tower - possible this carving could be used to create a limited run of woodcut prints.

The lift

So how to lift the balls? I have a couple of options which I can also power by a motor. The first evident in my initial sketches is a wheel. The wheel would be geared and with holes in it's face, as the wheel turns it pick up balls at the bottom and lifts them to the top to be released by gravity.

I'm running out of time to experiment and prototyping gears doesn't sound fun without a laser-cutter and only basic hand tools, so online research led me to a collection of interesting marble runs and eventually to the marble pump which I have prototyped:

The ball lifter is a really rough version of the talented Matthias Wandel's Marble Pump. He has a tutorial how to build his much better version.

Also a test with a wire track and bell:


Obviously I'm not going to sit in the cabin at the bridge control room during the exhibition so need to power the crank via a motor.

I've been looking at a 12v Motor from Hobbytronics. I'd also need the Universal Mounting Hub.

Lot's more to do, plan to keep blogging my progress, so please check back or if you are in Bristol look out for the project at the start of August.

Friday, 12 June 2015

The Last Music Video

Waaaaay back in 2012, I filmed this music video for The Last - it seems like a lifetime ago now!

I wanted to speak a bit about the process I took when producing the music video, why it was so delayed... and how that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Keep in mind it's a no budget production, done as a favour to friends.

I spent two evenings filming The Last at guitarist Martin's project house in Nesting, Shetland. He lives just down the road and is planning to completely renovate this amazing old house. However in it's state it made a perfect location for filming a music video.

Boom! Shake The Room: Check out that floorboard bend!

We had a very rough plan to make transitions through the house, telling this story of the song and singer Birdy's ongoing heartache and love of music. I did some informal planning with the band to create more of a story line with other people involved, but eventually came to this simplified idea of a following Birdy through the house.

I kinda wanted it to be a nod to elements in Idlewild's Modern Way of Letting Go video (although I just noticed there are two versions of the video, the one linked is the one I'm talking about, can't find it on YouTube). But obviously on a much smaller budget and production value.

Filming went well but through various reasons I delayed the editing process.

During and after filming it was an incredibly busy time at my day job at Shetland Arts: Mareel, the music, cinema and education venue was just about to open it's doors. After this, things didn't get any quieter with work. And in 2013 I made a huge change in my life by moving from Shetland to Bristol to study. So along with this being a bit of a favour for friends (I got paid by means of an electric drum kit, which is pretty cool) - it wasn't very high on my list of things to do.

The second reason was I knew there was lots of footage to sort through, synch up to the audio and fine tune. Including a particularly tricky transition, which was quite honestly filmed badly by myself. I also knew I didn't have much in the way of a backup so this transition needed to be in the final for it to make sense.

Eventually I forget about this project, until a few weeks ago when I came by the original footage on some hard drives while clearing up. Checking the created on date, I felt pretty shameful.

So I set myself a challenge, I had a few days and nights free to focus on getting the video edited.

I had started a rough edit back in 2012 using After Effects, but it was getting very messy, really not the right editing program for this. So I fired up Premiere for the first time in a few months and got to work on selecting the shots. I really didn't know the true power of Premiere to make the editing process easier.

Tutorial: Managing And Viewing Assets In The Project Panel on Adobe TV

I really enjoyed preparing and processing the shots, it was actually a joy to work with.

Synching up all these different shots to the audio was something I was quite honestly dreading. But I thought; "there must be a way to synch audio to video" and of course there is, I found out about the amazing multi-camera feature which saved me hours, I mean probably days saved really.

Tutorial: I usually use tutorials. Check out the multi-camera tutorial on Adobe TV

We filmed all shots with the audio playing in the background as reference, so I can us the multi-camera to automatically align the audio to all of the shots at once. This is amazing!

Now when editing I had the feature to play through the video and to simply select what camera 'angle' I wanted to use. The multi-cam feature records the camera selection as you play through, in the same way I imagine as controlling live footage for TV or that scene in Wayne's World...

Wayne's World: camera 1, camera 2, camera 1, camera 2...

Is it too geeky to admit that I'm excited by these software features?

Time to wipe
Now there's just that tricky transition where the camera goes behind Birdy's head, the idea being that the band disappear during the transition. This technique is called a body wipe, you'll see it loads in things like CSI. It doesn't have to be a person, in My Name is Earl they do something similar by panning the camera in and out of shadows etc.

Rough edit: Harsh zoom and shift making it quite fake looking
Fine tune: More gradual, lined up and blended in middle
It did take a while to line this shot up to get it just about right without looking to faked, but getting a really rough version done quickly then going back to fine tune was certainly the way to do it.

I could have spent hours more, but I always kept in mind the original footage was filmed with a moving/walking camera, handheld with no stedicam. It was never going to be perfectly cinematic!

The shots and colours aren't perfect, but think it captures something unique, given my basic setup and budget I think it's ok. A rough and ready music video, which does relate to my way of working and style. I know there are always lessons to learn and improvements to make, but for a one man filming and editing team, it could be worse!

Am I being hard on myself for the amount of time it took to edit? In reality sometimes it's really not a bad thing to sit on projects for a while. When there is always going to be a pressure from clients to finish jobs, as I work on my own to very small budgets, things just have to wait. Our culture is that of "I want this now/yesterday" instead of allowing time and space.

Through revisiting this project I realise how this period of time can breathe new life into a project, a more relaxed attitude to projects has inspired motivation and creativity.

Something you might not know: I also designed and screenprinted the EP artwork.

About The Last
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Buy Halos and Heartaches EP on itunes (£2.49)