Monday, 1 April 2013

Astralis - gameplay trailer

The gameplay video for the upcoming Foxhaut Games release is here! Astralis (HD youtube link)

Tim Hurley at The XBLIG has written up a review of the game so far, click here to jump to his excellent blog and get the inside scoop.

Astralis will soon be coming to Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace.

Next post - a behind the scenes write-up of what went into making the trailer.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Houdini Tonight @ Cable Street Electric

Working (at the day job) today but heading out to Limehouse to record Houdini live tonight at the launch for their new single Into The Woods. They are playing a set in Cable Street Electric and I'll be there to do one of my favourite things - video a kickass band up close and personal.

I'm off work tomorrow to finalise the Astralis video after spending close to 12 hours in that awful wooden chair on Saturday in a prolonged and satisfying edit (comfort notwithstanding) and with a bit of luck get the Houdini video assembled, exported and hosted online. That's the plan at least, but I do know that it only takes one hiccup to derail an edit for several hours, so cast a penny in the well and wish me luck.

If you're in London and want to start your week off with a bang then come and join us in Limehouse tonight.

The venue is Cable Street Electric (within the Cable Street Studios complex) and the nearest tube is Limehouse. Houdini will be on around 10pm.

Bring your own beer.

To get us in the swing of things, here's Houdini's video for Into The Woods. The clever bastards done did dis demselves. Enjoy!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

New editing suite and Astralis

My editing suite (small spare room with desk, darkness and - when God is smiling benevolently upon me - tea and biscuits) has been permanently repurposed and is no longer available for my editing needs.

In order to continue my work, I bought a cheap desk on gumtree and carried it home with Dee from an apartment about fifteen minutes walk away (fun fact - it becomes 25 minutes when carrying a desk while walking the dog) and I have relocated the computer to the bedroom, in what can only be designated as a nook between a monster wardrobe and the patio door to the garden (maybe this bedroom is supposed to be a dining room? Fuck it).

It is at this rickety desk I now sit, on a folding wooden garden chair that I had to de-muck and de-spider  thoroughly. On the plus side I can keep the back-breaking discomfort down as long as I constantly monitor my posture and I do have a hot cup of tea and a bacon bagel.

Right now I'm working through a backlog of Astralis footage trying to get the video ready for completion. New sample footage is coming in all the time and I've hit a bit of a wall with the editing because the codec of the video files means that the footage edits very slowly in Final Cut. Rendering 30 seconds of footage can take 30 minutes so I'm trying to seek a way around it. I'm running some exports of various footage to see if it works better. It's all putting quite a strain on the computer so there is not much I can do in the meantime except write this blog post. Or idly browse the net, but that's a death sentence to productivity.

I've only got the one day to get as much done as I can as I am at work for 8 hours on Sunday and filming a gig on Monday night. The good news is that the file conversion seems to be working. When it comes to codecs, file types and compression, it's all a strange voodoo as far as I can tell. I just cross my fingers and pray to the Lords of Kobol. I know that's not exactly a professional thing to say but I'll be the first to admit I have a lot to learn about that kinda thing. If all goes well you should be able to see Astralis in action very soon.


Well, this batch of files is going to need some time to export before I can continue. I wonder if Dee is up for another game of Carcassonne?

*blog update - she was up for a game and the video exports worked!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Filming with Houdini

On Monday 18th March I will be filming Houdini playing live. I really enjoy getting stuck in with live performance, moving around the throng of the crowd with the main camera to get nice close angles on the performers, with a camcorder set up on a tripod getting a good angle of the band and crowd to use as cover shots.

Sometimes I manage to convince someone to lend me a second camcorder so I can get two angles as cover which gives me a few more options when putting the final cut together. It's good to have more than you need when filming something live and unrepeatable.

Until the 18th I will continue to plug away at a new Astralis video. It was only yesterday that I finally got all the footage labelled, catalogued and inserted. So now I have my ball of clay, but I definitely don't have a sculpture just yet.

I'm still working with Final Cut Express as I haven't quite saved up enough for Final Cut Pro X yet. The difficult part will be the changeover, for simplicities sake I want to completely finalise all my projects with my current editing software before moving over. This means finishing Where's My Milk You Bastard and the Three Sided Football footage as well. The former is being polished up and added to on a weekly basis, the latter has been sadly sidelined while I wrestle other projects but should be receiving some attention soon.

Projects... so easy to start so hard to finish. Must be more disciplined.

Sunday, 24 February 2013


Last night Dan Dobson and I spent a few hours capturing gameplay footage from the latest build of Astralis.  The game is looking better than ever and we managed to pull about an hour of footage into 55 files, more than enough to get me started. Dan will be on hand to do any extra videos I need and send them to me using Dropbox.

The files themselves are huge so I'm going to use a trick that Alec (Astralis art director) taught me, which is to have a highly compressed version of the video loaded into Final Cut for when I am editing and building the video. The compressed version will be much smaller and easier to manage, reducing CPU strain and render times. Once the video is finished I find the source file for the videos on the hard drive and overwrite the compressed videos with the uncompressed videos (importantly, using the same final name). Final Cut then assembles the video using the full quality files.

The final render will be the only one that takes a little time. The hundreds of renders I will be doing before that will all be many magnitudes quicker. A simple trick, but one I never learned until now.

But first I need to compress all the full-quality videos. Once this is done I'll be ready to go!

Let's squish those files!

Friday, 22 February 2013


New look courtesy of the one-and-only Steve over at

Steve is a professional graphic designer with eight years experience and is the mastermind behind the new visual theme across my blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. Steve, it's been an absolute pleasure working with you to get this new design up.

I commend this great man to you all without reservation.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Well, a very long time after this "small easy project" started, I finally have a first draft of "Where's My Milk You Bastard".

It's terrible at the moment. It needs lots of fixes and to have the running time chopped down by a sizeable fraction, but it finally actually resembles a short film. A little bit of polish and maybe I'll finally share it with the world.

Now the first short narrative is out there it's time to start thinking about the next one! Possibly some dark drug infused nightmare of a short film, a collaboration with a brilliant mind. Say no more, for now.

Coming up - lots of work on a new video for Astralis! We've got some really good footage incoming and the game is looking it's best. Watch this space!

Friday, 7 December 2012


My time management is terrible right now. I'm so tired. I'm working ten hours today and I have been exhausted all week. After getting home from a full time job, making and eating dinner, an hour walking the dog, feeding the animals and getting a basic level of housework done, I don't have long before I need to drag myself to bed for less sleep than I'd like every night. I haven't been able to get anything done all week.

Obviously, as someone without children, I don't know how easy I have it. I should try and remember that.

Then there's all the cycling. My cycling commute is great for keeping me out of the crowded trains, but 20 miles a day is exhausting, plus the bike maintenance this week has been really time consuming (punctures, swapping tyres, idiotically causing a hydraulic fluid leak from my brakes).

Diana's mother is with us for a little while, hence the recent house re-organisation and wardrobe building that has taken up a few weeks of spare time. The "editing suite" is now her room and the recently repaired iMac now resides in the living room on the dining table near the TV (our house is small and crowded) which isn't the best location. I can still get some work done, hunched over it's blue glow with my headphones on while Dee and her Mum try and watch television in the evenings and Mugatu tries to snooze on the warm keyboard. Hopefully soon we can pick up a cheap desk from Ikea so we can relocate the "editing suite" into a dark corner of the bedroom and I can hide away once more, dragging timelines and drinking tea with bags under my aching eyes. The unfortunate effect is that we will be displacing the cat's play towers. Mugatu - I'm so sorry. Digby - you never cared for them anyway, you smug little guy.

Add to all this that money is just falling through our fingers. We account for every penny but for a long time now our outgoings exceed our incomings. Things will get better, we have some debts that will be clear by the end of 2013 and then we can finally balance our books. Just got to hope we can keep going til then!

It's been an especially tiring two weeks. Trying to elevate this hobby to the point where I can start getting paid work while also holding down a full time job at the moment seems imp.. improbable. Nothing is impossible. It's just about motivation. Strangely, writing down how tiring I find everything is motivating me to try harder and find more time for it. This blog has become some strange text-based self-administered talking therapy. Working hard and sleepless nights are part of the package, aren't they? I'm obviously expecting too much for too little effort. Come on Dan, step it up a gear!! I just need to make sure I can get at least half an hour of video work under my belt every day. That shouldn't be too hard! Let's do this!!

But not tonight... tonight I get home from work at 10pm and I'm going to curl up in a ball and sleep. Look at this, I'm relapsing already, one sentence later. Hopeless!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Got the iMac back, everything is running smoothly!

I got all my recent DV tapes uploaded and I am assembling the first draft of the Tug Of War video from  this recent weekend shoot.

However I have hit a bit of a wall.....

Thanks Mugatu.