Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Thanks to you, I have new equipment!

As some of you may know, I'm an Amazon Associate, which means if anyone gets to Amazon through any links on my site, then I can get a small commission on anything you buy, usually around 5%. My plan is to put the money towards equipment and bits and pieces that I need to help me with my projects, things I can't necessarily afford to purchase myself.

Anyway, as a result of you lovely people clicking through to Amazon from my blog, I received my first payout!

So, here is what your kindness has bought me - the power of light!

Getting good quality video means you need good quality light, it's an issue I had skirted around for too long when I started out. Mostly because good quality lighting is expensive and cheap lighting can bring more problems than it solves. You might remember that Andy at Syncrovise gifted me with a great continuous lighting kit recently, which I have used on several shoots and has really helped me light up my subjects. It was such a revelation in fact, that I've been looking to inexpensively bolster my lighting arsenal. And thanks to all of you, I have now been able to, with an LED light bank and a 5-in-1 reflector.

LED light bank

I have seen these online but never really thought much of them, I guess I doubted how much illumination a bunch of little LEDs could offer. But then I saw one in action when I dropped by The Explorer's Collective Live From Forest Hill recording session, and it cast a lovely bright, daylight-balanced white light. So I did my research and took the plunge on this.

Big enough to cast a bright light, but still a compact enough unit to be completely adaptable. Most importantly, the light comes with a dimmer! It also has a shoe attachment meaning you can attach it directly to the camera or camcorder, or even to a tripod with a cheap adaptor. The LEDS run cool too, unlike a lot of other (admittedly far brighter) lights so I can experiment with coloured plastic overlays to give me coloured light. It comes with some plastic inserts that slot in over the LEDS and change the colour temperature when necessary, but the naked bulbs run at a very nice pure white daylight temperature, meaning the light looks natural and not overtly artificial .

5-in-1 reflector

This is a collapsible reflector that folds away into a (relatively) small disc, but pops open into a large diameter of 110cm. It has removable covers and can be used as a silver reflector, a gold reflector, a white reflector (different colours mean the reflected light will have a different hue), a translucent disc (to reduce or diffuse bright light) and a jet-black cover for using it as a dark backdrop. A reflector gives you the ability to bounce light around during a shoot, it helps to add a little accent of light to specific objects or to eliminate unflattering shadows around an actor's face.

I had previously used a stiff piece of cardboard wrapped in kitchen foil (a good no-budget substitute!) but this reflector gives a larger, stronger and more consistent result.

I just want to say a really big thank you to everyone who helped me out. If anyone wants to help out in the future when shopping on Amazon, visit my blog first (you can bookmark me, if that isn't too forward of me to suggest) and start your first Amazon search from the box on the right, or alternatively click through any Amazon linked products in any of my equipment or book reviews. It'll take you straight to Amazon where you can shop as normal, I get a 5% commission on anything you buy, and it won't cost you a single penny! Any money made goes towards video equipment, which I'll post on here!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Astralis trailer

It's finally here!

Last night I finished putting together the trailer for Astralis, an upcoming Xbox game I've been helping to develop. Here is the trailer, showing the world the first glimpse of our game!

Astralis is still in development but we recently had a push to get the game to a playable state so that we can enter it into the Dream Build Play competition this year. I'm happy to say we made it!

Changes and improvements were happening constantly over the past few weeks, so we waited until the latest possible moment to capture the footage so that the video would contain the most representative imagery possible.

The game is now entered into the competition and we are really hoping to make an impression upon the judges.

Making the video was a fun process, the first step was getting round to one of my fellow programmer's place to see the newest build in action and to play through the level. Then we worked together to capture the footage and loaded it on to various CDs and memory sticks. Over the course of the weekend extra files, improvements and audio were sent over the internet (slowly, as they were quite large!) to bolster the range of footage I already had. In this video we are showing gameplay, letting people see the game in motion and understand how it works. What we couldn't show any of at this stage is the narrative of the game, but this won't be last trailer we make, so watch this space!

It was a very different style of working to what I am used to but I had a blast with it. I'm pleased with the results but ultimately I am delighted with the game itself and how far it has come. The progress has been amazing, and the talent of the team members has been hugely humbling.

There is more info about the game on facebook, where we have an Astralis group page. Join us!

I'll probably write a follow up about the making of the video in a later post, if you're interested keep an eye open. As always I'll be using page tags, so you can click the ASTRALIS tag to bring up all related posts!