Beast of the Air has won a steampunk award!

Got an email last night saying:

Congratulations! “Beast of the Air” is the winner of a 2012 Rose City Steampunk Film Festival Approbationary Zoetrope (“Zoey”), the Director’s Choice trophy, awarded by the festival director to recognize overall stand-out steampunk film-making. “Beast of the Air” contains, in one short vignette, all the humanity, technology, fantasy, and ingenuity that represent the spirit of steampunk at its best.

Aren’t they nice?

It’s a little unexpected as well as I’d not realised it had been entered in a competition – they’d emailed previously asking if they could screen it but I’d not realised it was a film festival.

Here’s the site


I’ve finished a quick steampunk vid.  This is an advert for the ‘Krakomatic 5000’, the gun used in Beast of the Air.  It’s similar in style to the advert we did for Slatters Electro Mechanical Personal Steam Powered Power Plant and Geist Goggles a while back.

Obviously I’ve got some slightly more sophisticated effects software since then so I wanted to up the ante a little and do some effects like the ghost characters which were partially done using a tutorial from Video Co-pilot.

The rest of the shots new although many used elements from Beast of the Air.  I also got hold of a new plugin called ‘Twitch’, also from Video Co-pilot, which allows you to add flickering video effects which I used for some of the film noise in the video.

In other news I’ve also recently bought a plugin for After Effects called Trapcode Particular.  This is a particle engine by Red Giant Software and is a little more sophisticated than the particle systems that come with After Effects (although they’re pretty good on their own to be honest).

Here’s a small test.  It’s best watched in HD as you can make out the individual particles abit better.  I’ll be doing some more vids as I get to grips with it ;0)

Tom Slatter at Kew Bridge Steam Museum 02

I’ve done a short new vid.  This incorporates some more footage of my brother playing at Kew Steam Museum as part of the Steampunk Exhibition that ran there this year.

I’d already done a vid of some of Tom’s songs in my previous blog post but I had a little more and decided to do another vid.  This time round I wanted to include some FX so we have Tom projecting the video into mid air using my steampunk gauntlet.

To do this I motion tracked the light in the palm of the gauntlet so that we had the x,y motion of the gauntlet however I also wanted the camera to pan around the video as it plays to show that it ‘really is’ hanging in mid-air.  There is 3D tracking software available but for this I simply keyframed a blank solid in after effects to rotate as the camera pans.

Once I had the motion down I dropped the video in.  I also added a distortion around the edge of the video which warped the background image of Tom.  The idea being that the projection worked by creating a forcefield in mid-air onto which the video image could be projected.  There’re also some particles falling out the bottom edge of the video.  Dunno what they represent, they just looked nice ;0)

The final parts were to grade the video and add some flashing lights to Tom’s face and the walls to make it look like the light from the video was interacting with the scene.  This was done with an adjustment layer and a wiggle expression varying the opacity of the layer several times a second.  There’s also a 3D camera pull in to the video of Tom playing.

We also took the opportunity to film the last few bits for our Krakomatic 5000 advert.  A fair bit to do on that still but here’s a quick pic of a Kraken being poked with a stick ;0)

Photo 03-11-2011 15 06 40


DSC_2992Got a few people along to pretend to be ghosts this weekend.  I’ve filmed ’em greenscreen and will be compositing them into some footage I shot when I was up in the Lake District recently.

This is going to be part of a small video ‘advert’ for the gun which we used for the Beast of the Air video, which we’ve dubbed the ‘Krakomatic 5000’ on account of it being used to kill kraken, see.

One section will feature some ghosts floating about, causing a nuisance as they’re wont to do.

The second part will have some shots of my brother rather ineffectually trying to kill a sky kraken with a giant fly swatter before ‘tooling up’ (in true 80’s montage stylee) with the Krakomatic 5000 and heading off to kick some serious cephalopod ass……actually do kraken even have an ass?


This is similar to the small ad we did for Slatters Electro Mechanical Personal Steam Powered Power Plant and Geist Goggles, the props from Spinning the Compass:

Tom’s done a voiceover similar to the one from this vid advertising the gun.  For some reason I thought he’d mentioned ghosts.  Turns out he hadn’t at all, but by that point I’d already done this test video for a demonic/ghosty face, sounded out some people about being said ghosts and come up with all sorts of ideas about ghosts.

The solution?  Make him re-record it,  but this time mentioning ghosts.

This vid was created using the Demon Face Warp tutorial from Video Copilot, so I intend to use the basics of that and some transparency effect for the ghosts.  So once I’ve done that we’ll have some ghosts knocking about,  occasionally screaming at the camera and doing various ghostly things.  Here’s a quick screen grab.  It’ll probably change abit as I refine my ghostly effects but you get the idea.


Summoning the Kraken

Just returned from Windemere where, other than holidaying, I was filming some establishing shots for the Beast of the Air video I’m working on (and very close to finishing).

Here’s a still of the view, which was quite pleasant.  I’ve used some video of this scene for the opening shot.


I know what you’re thinking – what a nice view, but what it really needs is a giant steampunk tower in the background.  Well look no further, here’s the model I’m currently working on which will finally grace the forested hill on the left.

The idea is that the tower has been ‘steampunked’ itself and so it’s broken areas have been clad in brass panelling.  The airship will be docked at the platform that sticks out the side.

The chorus of the songs says that ‘the beast of the air wails a sing, wails a song to keep us dreaming’, so I figured that a sky kraken hunter might attract the beast by playing it’s song back at it, to summon it from the heavens, hence the rather large megaphone attached to the top.  This’ll be attached to some rather large steam engines I think to generate enough power to summon the kraken!

Or something.



I’ve been working on the Beast of the Air vid.  Feels like there’s tons to do but I’ve actually done quite a few shots now.  One thing I need to do is film some more  tentacle elements.  I’ve been making do with a few shots that we filmed a while back however I’ve started using the puppet tool in After Effects to give them some different movement. It basically lets you put in ‘pins’ to various points of a piece of video to a still and then puppeteer it by keyframing those points.  Turns out you can actually do some pretty cool stuff with it so I may not need to film so much after all!

I’m also beginning to turn my attention to the next section which will involve the airship from my previous video Spinning the Compass.  Although we used it in that video I wasn’t really happy with the shots I got for it, mostly because I didn’t have After Effects then so didn’t have access to any motion tracking or even a decent colour key tool.

I’ve been resisting the urge to stick any video on youtube just yet but can’t resist sharing a frame grab of Tom dodging tentacles ;0)