Tentacle Mechanism

So here’s a tentacle mechanism I’m building for the ‘558’ video.  The song’s called ‘Some of the creatures have broken the locks on the door to lab 558‘, so we need some creatures.

I’m quite please with the motion of this one, looks quite realistic.  I’ve had a go at building tentacles before for Beast of the Air, but that one didn’t move in a particularly realistic fashion so I ended up animating it in After Effects instead.

Next step for this one is to create a silicon skin to cover it.

My previous tentacle……

Shooting miniatures

So I’ve now finished my ‘Lab 558’ miniature and am in the process off shooting it.  I bought myself a glidetrack a few years ago which is a gadget that lets you get smooth panning shots with your camera.  I’ve not really used it that much however so I’m taking full advantage of that.

I’m also trying to incorporate CG elements into the miniature shots using a camera tracker plug-in in after effects.  It’s quite clever as it not only figures out the camera move but also the lens and focus distance as well.  I’m then creating additional CG rocks and other elements to add to the lab model.

Here’s my set up.


And here’s a pic of the model.



Macro Video

I’ve been having some fun doing some more macro photography using some macro tubes that I’ve recently purchased.   I’d previously shot some video of my brother’s eye.  This time round I’m dropping food colouring, gelatin and wall paper paste into a dish of water to get some cool effects.  I’m trying to get cool biological looking shots.

I’ve lit this with some LED strip lighting I got from Amazon which works really well.


Here’re some stills from the video I’ve shot so far.

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I recently bought myself some macro tubes which are camera add ons that sit between the camera and the lens.  Basically they let you focus on objects much closer than you typically could.  Much closer.

I’m currently working on a new video for my brother’s song Some of the creatures have broken the locks on the door to lab 558 and got a chance to use them.

Check out these shots of my brothers eye 😉


New Video

I’m currently working on a new video project.  This is going to be a music video for my brother’s song Rise Another Leaf.  I’ve always loved the song and have had the idea for ages, I’ve only recently found the time though.

Here’s a test video I’ve produced, essentially to learn using some new software.  This was produced using Video Copilot’s Element 3D plugin for After Effects.  I’ve had it a while and last used it on the music video I did for Dead Beyond Buried.

Last time I used this it was fairly basic however you can do alot with the software as it allows you to render 3D objects inside After Effects.  This video was really to try getting a decent look using the lighting and reflection options.

Three Rows of Teeth

I’ve been creating some artwork for my brothers new album.  This was inspired by a series of ideas we have for a video which will accompany one of the songs on the album.  It seemed sensible to incorporate some of the imagery from the video into the album artwork.

This was mainly created in after effects rather than photoshop and made fairly extensive use of the element plugin to render some .obj files within after effects.

I’ve also created a video where I interview Tom about the new album and point out the flaws in his plan.

Pale Blue Dot

So I’m working on my scifi short which has gone from ‘Invasion London’ to ‘Invasion Earth’!  Once more the front room’s been transformed into a greenscreen studio and I’m doing some shots of the spaceship model.

Here’s a short test video.  One of the main issues so far has been getting smooth panning shots.  My initial attempt at building a platform on wheels and sticking the camera tripod on that met with limited success.  It can possibly be refined but I’m now kind of stuck between seeing if I can do everything hand held and buying a glidetrack for £250!

This shot was done with the tripod supported on my shoulder.  I don’t mind the hand held thing necessarily but if you want shots looking like the ships flying past you probably need something smoother……

Another issue I ran into was pulling a clean matte from the footage.  My greenscreen setup’s OK but I’m always limited by the space I have available (my font room and the length of the greenscreen) and the lighting (some dodgy photography lights I got off ebay).

I’ve attempted to get round this in the past, most recently for Beast of the Air, by shooting outside so that I have natural lighting.  This introduces other problems though, like trying to set up a greenscreen in gale force winds!

Anyway, in this case while I could pull a decent enough matte from the footage I was getting alot of noise in the resulting video.  I guess this was due to a combination of the DSLR video and the chroma key filter (Keylight in this case).  After some experimentation I came up with a way of getting round this.

Keylight allows you to output a ‘screen matte’ which is effectively a black and white representation of the areas of the image that are transparent and opaque.  Normally I’d just use this to see how good my matte was, however this time I’m actually using the screen matte in a different way.

After Effects allows you to use black and white/grayscale images in a number of ways.  One method is to use this as a ‘Luma Matte’ that takes the black and white values from one image and use them to define which areas of another image are transparent and which are opaque.

I was therefore able to use this screen matte:

to remove the background from this image (minus the support pole which I had to mask out manually).  The result is you get all the transparency but none of the image noise.

There are probably some After Effects ninjas out there who will go ‘yeah so what, that’s obvious‘, but hey, screw you ;0)

I’ve also been working on an intro sequence that sees us flying tthrough the solar system and approaching Earth, inspired in no small part by Carl Sagan’s Contact, but in reverse.

I also wanted to include some famous space images so I’ve been working on my ‘Sagan Flare’ to recreate Carl Sagan’s famous ‘Pale Blue Dot‘ image using an optical flare as the Sun passes  out of frame.

Here’s Sagan’s original Pale Blue Dot video, it’s really quite beautiful.

I’ve also got Earth Rise in there as well as taken by Apollo 8.  It is a good idea to show so much from a video you’re working on?  Probably not but it’s not like anyone actually reads this ;0)

Invasion London

So I recently did a video of the BT Tower exploding:

And I couldn’t help feeling that what it could really use is an alien drone of some sort flying past shooting it as it explodes.  So I set about making one.

This is made out of a variety of bits of junk – there’s a coke can in there, yoghurt pots etc.  The main structure is made from a plastic u-bend kit for fixing a sink.  That’s then overlaid with a shell made from cardboard overlaid with fibreglass.  The ‘eye’ is a halogen bulb and light fitting.  The overall shape is inspired by a news story I saw about some giant shrimp!  It’s also got some elements of the Hunter Killer from Terminator and ‘The Betty’ from Alien 4 (crap film, great miniature work!).

I’ve  just bought an air brush and compressor with which to paint it.

So once this is finished I’ll be shooting it greenscreen and creating a short ‘aliens invade london’ sequence.  Should be fun.

I’ve also been designing some elements to augment the model.  Here’s an energy ball element that I’ll be compositing into it’s ‘eye’.  The background is a picture of the Joint European Torus, a fusion reactor and there’s also a pic of the ATLAS detector from the Large Hadron Collider in CERN ;0)

And finally here’s a gallery of images of the model.