Archive for the ‘Creative’ Category

The Lodger – Hitchcock Restoration & Score by Nitin Sawnhey

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012


The BFI have been involved in a campaign over the last couple of years to ‘Save the Hitchcock 9′. These 9 early films shot by renowned director, Alfred Hitchcock in the 1920’s are in great need of restoration and thus a funding campaign was set into motion, involving a big donation made by Martin Scorsese’s charity, The Film Foundation.

There is no doubt that the genius of Hitchcock in the world of cinema is ingrained within our lives and culture, References and homages will continue, as the years progress. The BFI are celebrating his genius with a season of every one of his films through to October 2012.

What makes this project very interesting is giving an audience to his first foray into a genre that would define much of our understanding of him. Being a member of the British Film Institute, which I would highly recommend, gave me early access to purchase tickets to see ‘The Lodger’, Hitchcock’s first thriller, a silent film that follows a series of ‘Jack The Ripper’ style murders around London town by a character known as ‘The Avenger’, based on a book that purported Jack The Ripper to have lodged in a local guest house. Released in 1927, this movie showed the thinking behind many of Hitchcock trademark approaches to theatrical filming and his unique approach to storytelling through the lens.

Nitin Sawhney & Band + London Symphony Orchestra

Colouring and toning effects were employed directly to the negatives, giving the movie added depth and colour cues. We were given an introduction to the project and a quick extra glimpse into the restoration process with before and after shots. Although this movie was remastered fairly recently, current digital technology has allowed a much clearer and precise restoration.

The Lodger also gave us Hitchcock’s first cameo appearance.


Part of the restoration process involved commissioning a new score, and musician Nitin Sawhney was tasked with delivering his interpretation . The audience in the Barbican and those in cinema theatres around Britain were the first to experience the fully restored movie with a score performed LIVE by Nitin Sawhney’s Band and the London Symphony Orchestra. The acoustics and performance worked wonderfully I initially found it hard to just watch the movie, but after the first couple of minutes immanaged to focus my eyes away from the musicians and just let them do their thing. It was impressive the way the lighting for the orchestra synced with the negative colouting/toning used between the scenes, as the screen hues changed, so did the illumination around the orchestra, it allowed for an immersive experience and the ears to follow the sound and the eyes to stay on the screen.

Nitin Sawhney in Q+A after 'The Lodger'So on the whole I was impressed by the score. Beautiful strings, voices and motifs used to create narratives that weaved between the suspense, comedy and love story. It worked suprisingly well, given the nature of the original novel by Marie Belloc. Great use of drums and percussion throughout, mixed and performed extremely well.

I couldn’t help but notice traces of Nitin’s work from previous albums creeping into the soundscape, subtle string phrases reminiscent of Nitin’s earlier album Prophesy sprang to mind. It was diverse and fitting with a lashings of Psycho and North By Northwest, add in some period atmosphere and a bit of Metropolis. I heard some much Hitchcock in it, yet it had such a distinctive sound that was very much Nitin Sawney. The score sounded full and timed perfectly, my congratulations go out to the Nitin, the band and the LSO.

Experiences like these are what make the world of cinema so special. I fully intend to try and catch future movies with LIVE accompaniment. It is just that one of my pet peeves about the cinema industry centres around poor projection or care in the sound department, something that is changing with digital cinema. When its being played LIVE for you, its a totally different experience. The Barbican has great acoustics, so it is well worth catching performances there if you can.

Nitin Sawhney Signing

You will be able to see The Lodger with the new score at the BFI from Aug 10th – there will also be a conversation with Nitin Sawhney that evening.

Further information:

Nitin Sawhney on twitter @thenitinsawhney

Nicki Wells on twitter @nickiwellsmusic

British Film Institute

The Barbican

Kapow! Comic Con 2011

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I’ve never been to a Comic Con before, i’ve seen youtube clips and heard the buzz about them, but this year was the first time i’ve ever attended one. All thanks to Kapow! 9th -10th April 2011 . Set in the heart of North London – I bought my ticket months in advance and was treated to a wealth of costumes, independent artists, signings and a great atmosphere.

I only managed to attend one panel, and although it was a wonderful experience, I was let down by the endless queuing and regular disappointment of not getting in to an event. Regardless of spending huge amounts of time in the queue. Twitter kept me amused and there were lots of new friends made.

I will definitely be going next year.

I went armed with my Fuji W3 – 3D camera and have uploaded a large amount of pics to flickr already.

Having already started the upload process of the images to flickr on the Saturday night of this 2 day Con, I noticed a HUGE amount of interest in it from the states, hence, my flickr view stats spiked from the usual 100’s/day into a 6k+/day over the period of the conference! Which is mind-blowing!

Following the twitter hashtags and streams for the event is a mist for me and on the morning of sthe second day I offered @johnfreeman_dtb to use my pics from flickr in his blog post:

Here were the main highlights of the con for me:

Indie Releases

Independent Comic book artists with innovative use of music and  Eternal Descent Volume 1

Eternal Descent Booth at Kapow! Marshall and EMG Guitars

Eternal Descent Booth at Kapow! Marshall Amps and ESP Guitars


Artist Destiny Blue was offering Chibi sketches, and I loved the idea of having a little crazy character of myself sketched, I asked her if she would mind doing a larger version and one in colour, so she went ahead and took some pictures of me as a reference and promised to post it on later once completed. I am in love with the result :)

Chibi sketch of Ket by Destiny Blue

Chibi sketch of Ket by Destiny Blue


I queued for hours to get my copy of Batman: The Killing Joke (Deluxe Edition) signed by artist Brian Bolland, but it was worth it. This was my main mission attending the con, i didn’t bring any other titles with me, as I was a noob and I really didn’t want to cart too much down to London with me, something I intend to remedy next time, I wish I had chosen some choice titles in my collection now.

Brian Bolland Signing my copy of Batman The Killing Joke

Brian Bolland Signing my copy of Batman The Killing Joke

Kid getting his book signing

Kid getting his book signing


Of course there were an insane number of cosplayers out in force and made the day much more interesting: This next image was shot on my 3D camera and processed to be seen with Red/Cyan glasses.

Black Cat + Wormwood

Black Cat + Wormwood

Joker and Harley Quinn

Joker and Harley Quinn

Thoroughly enjoyable day out, except for one american artist who acted like a egomaniacal jerk when I said hello and complemented him on his artwork. Hey just a tiny drop in the ocean compared to all the awesome, cool and fun people I met that day. Roll on next year.

TRON Blu Ray Ayoh

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

It seems like the wait is over. Finally the disappearance of the old Tron Classic DVD seems to be over. A Remastered High Definition Blu Ray release is imminenet (April 2011) – along with a slew of TRON: Legacy bundles.

The marketing here as usual is out there to tempt and to confuse the public. There are so many different packages.

Tron Legacy (3D Blu-ray + 2D Blu-ray) w/ Digital Copy
TRON 2D Blu Ray/TRON Original Blu Ray
Tron Legacy (Blu-ray + DVD) [2010]

And i’ve also seen a Special Collectors Cube Box set that contains the Comic Prequel and some other collectibles.

I love the idea of the Double/Triple Play sets, you get the High Def & the Standard Definition versions, the ultimate flexibility. However, it looks like i may well get the Double Pack purely to get my hands on the TRON in High Definition, for the cost of a sale price Blu Ray at £17 you can’t go too far wrong. Even though Legacy isn’t ever going to be a cult classic. It set a benchmark in pushing the SFX envelope.

Also it seems to also be an interesting shift in promoting 3D Blu Rays whilst not penalising those who haven’t upgraded. There has to be a stronger system of releasing 3D titles to the public, and this might see the start of a new trend. Tying 3D discs to hardware manufacturers sucks, and is outright stupid for takeup of a new technology. The second issue is, we need strong titles and better 3D movies being made. However TRON wasn’t bad in 3D, although it probably needed to be seen in an IMAX to get the true/full potential of its use. Perhaps some lessons can be learnt here.

TRON: Legacy & the original TRON can be pre-ordered via Amazon/Play/HMV now.

TRON Disney Craft Kits

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Disney Family have a series of printable craft kits with a TRON-esque theme to them:

All kits are linkd as PDF files on this page:

You can print out and make 3D models of 3 types of lightcyles, recognizers and a whole bunch of other kits to keep you (i mean your kids) busy and immersed in the TRON vibe.

The lightcyle models look quite detailed and will need some patience to complete I imagine.

Thanks to @bleedingcool on twitter

Vegan French Toast Recipe

Monday, December 27th, 2010

I was let loose in the Kitchen over the xmas holidays. So the two main recipes I tinkered with were:

Vegan French Toast & Marinade Tofu slices (recipe coming soon).

The French toast was more a whim for breakfasts as we stayed over at my mums, and the Tofu slices were to accompany our veggie xmas dinner.

So I did some google searches and then modified  the recipes  that  I came across:

Vegan French Toast

Vegan French Toast cooking on a pan

Creates a vegan (egg free) mixture for 4 pieces of toast, great for a fried breakfast.

  • 2 Heaped tbsp Egg Replacer (or the equivalent of 2 eggs)
  • 1 tbsp of Gram Flour
  • ½ Banana
  • 1 Small Pinch of Salt
  • 4 Pinches Cinnamon
  • 2 Cups Soya Milk
  • 4 tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • 4 Slices of Bread
Preparation & Cooking time:

20 min

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly, make sure the banana is fully mashed. Use a fork or an electric whisk. It should be gloopy, no too thick though.

Dip a piece of bread into the mixture, one at a time then turn over, let it soak on each side for about 30-40 seconds, then place in another bowl propped up by a fork to let the excess mixture drip away. I usually cook one piece whilst another piece is soaking and ready for cooking.

Fry each dipped slice of bread on each side until golden all over ina frying pan. I use 1 tbsp oil for each piece of bread, serve with maple syrup or whatever you like!

TRON: Legacy – Review

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

This is a pretty spoiler-free review.

It’s been 22years since a movie that came from Disney inspired me at the possibilities that computing technology held for the future, not just in movies, but in the “Real World” too. That movie was of course TRON.

TRON: Legacy (the sequel to the original 1982 Cult classic) In Cinemas December 17 in Disney Digital 3D and IMAX 3D. It’s also generated quite a bit of buzz around itself.

Ever since the concept clip leaked at ComicCon a couple of years ago, the world gasped and held a breath in anticipation. It was going to be in 3D too, then we heard Daft Punk were attached. wow.

There is a lot riding on the movie, light cycle pun intended. Its a glorious digital visual treat, with a gorgeous and stunning world portrayed on screen. It’s fast paced and will have you sucked into the digital world. The sound track really works well too. It is a movie that you should definitely get into the cinema’s to watch. 126 minutes whizzed by.

TRON: Legacy

TRON: Legacy

I recently attended the TRON Night at the BFI IMAX last month & it revealed some more of the real world scenes and a few of the Grid scenes, basically taking the trailer and showing more of those scenes, without spoling too much. It left me optimistic and excited. Yet I am finding it hard now, not to notice flaws in the whole thing after seeing it in its entirety .

I watched the presentation in Dolby 3D, which I find doesn’t work as the best digital 3D system out there. I much prefer RealD as a 3D delivery system.

I’ve seen 3 trailer / teaser previews of this movie so far in 3D – in RealD & IMAX 3D – I was absolutely blown away by the 3D effects in the RealD 10 min preview I saw. And the IMAX was pretty good. The whole movie preview in Dolby 3D didn’t come close. I was in a prime position, but its a massive theatre. The size of a cinema screen and your position within that can have a huge effect on the 3D experience. (always sit middle and towards the middle to back of an auditorium).

There were some very interesting 3D moments during the film, but feel that there was too much of a safe call on a lot of the shots, this could be down to that face that I wear glasses and I don’t think Dolby 3D works best for us. Yet it could have been filmed this way, or perhaps it was a judgement call on the final edit. The 3D aspect aside, the visual texture is stunning and superb, and is certainly something special. I would see the movie just for this alone.

LIght Cycle Concept

LIght Cycle Concept

The light cycle & disk battle scenes are truly amazing, in terms of choreography and lighting, the effects just ooze sexiness. But I wanted and expected more out of it.

Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde both stood out particularly for me and should be especially proud of the work they put in to the movie. On  whole the whole TRON team have created a very special movie indeed.

I’ve felt a little let down though that it fails to reach the OMG – WOW status. It certainly came close. Some poor editing choices and a couple of very confusing moments in the storyline, that could have been easily resolved with some extra dialogue OR more careful editing. I read the prequel comics and it explains a huge amount. But some quick edits and assumptions are made during the film, that leaves you thinking …. huh? I don’t think a majority of people will be this critical of the movie, but I do wonder, people get paid to make sure these get ironed out.

There are key moments during this film where the script looses its way, now, this could have been lost in the editing room. Its hard to say. But its these little things that make the difference between good and great.

Daft Punk’s soundtrack added a huge element to the movie and is pretty darn hot. There is so much that I actually do love about this movie, but the euphoria I should be feeling seems to have got lost in the postal system somewhere, that feeling like you’ve lost something. What happened ? It’s hard to tell who makes the calls and shots on big budget movies like this. Needless to say, it will do well, the merch will sell and I will go and see it again. Their job is done. But it should have blasted the bits out of me on all levels. Maybe too much emotion on the Users and not enough spent on the Programs perhaps.. who knows. Maybe a directors cut DVD/Blu ray might surface and patch the bug, but the gridbugs seem to have run amok somehow.


TRON: Legacy Film Still

TRON: Legacy was a fun ride to be had by TRON fans and newbies alike. You should definitely carve out some time to go and see this in 3D, but it, only just, fails to shine brighter than the amazing lightcycle jets do.

But in the words of Marty McFly “You’re Kids are gonna love it”

TRON fragmentation detected ….



StereoDataMaker: DIY Digital 3D – Reading Geek Night 12

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

On Tuesday 12th October 2010 I gave a talk at Reading Geek Night – It marked a 1st year birthday for the popular local geek gathering.

I was very honoured to talk on this special occasion and also the ability to share my geeky passion for all things 3D. And need to thank Jim Anning who organises the event for asking, and encouraging me to do this.

I started quite late and my 20 minute allocation went into a 40+ minute talk (I really didn’t think it would take as long as it did), there was a ton of information to get through and anaglyph images to see.

Well  there were lots of links to resource materials and sites in the presentation and for those who attended (thank you for sticking with me) I am putting the links up here. The talk was based around my history in 3D and then geared towards explaining how you can build your own 3D HD capable vid/still camera. If you are interested in learning how to build a stereoscopic 3D camera yourself, then please take a look at my post series:

  1. how to build a digital 3d camera rig part-1
  2. how to build a digital 3d camera rig part-2

For those at the talk here is a summary:

Leave a comment or drop me a line on twitter if you have any questions, i’d be happy to help you get started.

Also please check out my 3D flickr stream if you’re interested.

How to build a Digital 3D Camera rig [part 2]

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I’ll assume you’ve read part 1 in this series of posts, if not take a look now then come back.

Getting ready to build

Once you’ve got 2 identical bodies form one of the Canon models listed in the previous post, you will have to get each camera setup and prepped for stereo 3D shooting. There are probably a few routes towards getting this done, and like software installation there are certain dependencies required for the build process.


To have a fully working 3D rig you will need the following items:

  • A trigger mechanism – which is essentially 2 USB cables wired to a power supply
  • A Bar or Z-Bar to hold both cameras together
  • Identical sized SD / Memory cards for your camera, preferably > 2GB each

It is possible to buy all of the above without any hacking at all – it could save you time and headache.

Twin Bar

2 z-bars

2 z-bars for different Canon Camera Models

To be able to shoot 3D – your images need to be on the same horizontal plane as each other. You achieve this by mounting both cameras Side-by-Side to one another on a bar. You could knock something up of your own to do this which would save time if you have the right drill bits, material and camera screws. There are levels of sophistication when it comes to the bar. In some instances it might be necessary to incorporate a z-bar. This is where one camera is inverted. This is due to the nature of lens location on the camera body.

A lot of point and shoot Canon’s have their lens offset to the left or right. This means that the lenses of both cameras  when mounted side-by-side are too wide for a natural stereoscopic image. By inverting one camera you can bring the lenses closer together. This is a more expensive route, as you need an engineered bar with the right horizontal spacing and the specific height. If you were to choose this method, it might be better to buy one form the existing geeks that are making them for a wide rande of SDM capable models.

If you have a workshop and like this sort of challenge, it would make a fun project.

Hama Flash bar and screws

Hama Flash bar and screws

The more simpler side-by-side can still achieve good results though and on an budget you could pick up one of those Hama flash bars. Its made of plastic and would allow you to add another camera screw to it. This might not work with all camera bodys. You need to measure the bodies total width. Access to the USB ports can often interfere with this step as well, my Canon A570i rig has this problem and without seriously low-profile angled USB plugs I can’t place the cameras really close, even with a z-bar!

In my next post we will talk about the triggers