Blog retrospective… Part 1: Piccadilly Furs

3 and a half years ago I looked so much younger. Freelancing takes it toll on you!

When I talk about my old work I am only really talking the stuff I made for my website. Not my true old work as I have been shooting for 21 years now and my blog has only been around for 3 and half years.

I like to sometimes go back and look at some of the earlier stuff I put on here and see how much my work has grown (or not). This is going to be a new feature on my blog. Going back to older work and analysing it.

This was the first video I posted on my blog. It was simply me testing out my then brand new EX1 and the Letus Extreme which I had owned for about 2 months. What was a first time for me was taking all the kit I needed for this into Central London without a car. Just my Miller Solo DS20, the camera, the Letus, 3 lenses or so, cards and batteries! Of course with DSLRs now this is not a big deal but it was a first for me then!

I miss my EX1…a lot. I still have my EX3 but you know what? I prefer the EX1 due to it’s size. I sold it to Den a while back and wish I had kept it!. Oh well!

The images out the EX1 are great, but the sensor is small, just 1/2 an inch making shallow depth of field VERY tricky. So that is where depth of field adaptors came in. If you want to know more about them watch my explanation video here.

With this clever bit of kit you could turn your EX1 into what you could look it as a pre-production version of the F3! 🙂

So this piece, what was it all about? What did I plan to get from it? What do I think of it now?

Actually it’s nice to watch it again after all this time. Obviously it will have sentimental value as being my first video on my blog, but there are a numbers of things I still really like about it and of course a number of things I don’t like too. But’s it is a moment in time captured, to go back and re-edit it would be a futile thing to do and a wrong thing to do. It’s nice to leave past stuff where it is.

So the plan was to test out the timelapse of the camera and it was superb and still is, better than almost all the video cameras out there. The interval recording can drop the shutter down to capture 64 frames per interval. That’s pretty damn good. At 25p that’s like a 3 second exposure on a stills camera! This give it beautiful streaky timelapse. I also wanted to try out the slow motion…720p only, the same as the much newer F3 (a big disappointment in that camera being 3 and a half years newer and the same slow motion!) Last but not least I wanted to see how well it coped with the low light. 35mm adaptors eat up light so this would be interesting. The EX1 was supposed to be way better in low light than the camera it replaced. The HVX200.

So I spent the afternoon and a bit of the evening filming. Timelapses, portraits of people, slow motion. It was a lot of fun. The images were superb and even at night time (although Piccadilly Circus is quite bright) it coped.

Looking at it now. There is not that much I would change, a few edits here (still like the way of lot of movement hits the beats and screeches in the track) and there and maybe a few different shots. It works well for what it’s purpose was. It also captured the feel of Piccadilly Circus pretty well despite having no natural sound just The Velvet Underground track which fitted really well.

I rarely use tracks with vocals on these days so it’s nice to be reminded how nice they can be.

Grade wise, I have learnt a lot since then. I would change everything but hey, that is what comes from experience! I really don’t like the fake tilt shift shots on some of the faces.

There is also some issue with flicker on artificial lights, clearly I was not keeping my shutter to 1/50th and 1/100th for slow motion so we get that nasty effect.

But, putting all the minor things aside. You can see why this piece was key in a way, certainly for me. It’s so bloody filmic looking. That Letus adaptor was the bees knees back then and it changed everything for me and for many others too!

This was the third of my personal pieces that I still do fairly regularly even now. The previous two were shot with the Z1 and Letus and the JVC and the Brevis. I had already shot a number of paid jobs on the JVC and Brevis by the time I made this piece. I do the personal pieces for fun, because you know what? Shooting is bloody fun!

 

Piccadilly Furs HD from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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Comments

  1. I really do like this video a lot and I’m not a pro cinematographer so some of the stuff you talked about like the “issue with flicker on artificial lights, clearly I was not keeping my shutter to 1/50th and 1/100th for slow motion so we get that nasty effect.” I did not even notive until you told me.

    I have been looking back on some of your older work Philip and sometimes I do like the smaller cropped sensor better then the HDSLR footage. I kind of think the darker colors give a older film look of a darker film with a high ISO.

    I still do like HDSLR footage but the cropped sensor kind of has its own effect of its own.

  2. I still remember the first time i ever heard of you. I think it was over an year ago or more….and i was like “There you go…i found my teacher”…Its always nice to look back at your older stuff, and of course would be a great thing on the blog. Memories… 🙂 All the best my dear “Menthor” Cheers.

  3. I got to say that there is something beautiful found in the way we used to shoot video with the 35mm adapters – pre HDSLR days. There is something very organic about the picture quality.

    Now I am not saying that HDSLR’s are bad ( I love them in fact)…but there is something special and beautiful about the look of this. I still can’t quite reproduce the look of my HVX200 and Letus with any of my HDSLR’s…I come close but no cigar.

    Very brave my friend of just hanging that chunk of metal from the tip of your camera…but back then we all did that didn’t we?…off course, now we got these crazy contraptions all arounf a itsy bitsy camera. Chicks dig the rigs man!

    Finally, I don’t know who the hell is that guy in that picture you posted. The Philip Bloom I know looks like he lives in the woods and fights bears just for the hell of it…just kidding my friend…

  4. Really enjoyed this Phil. I think it’s incredibly valuable that you’re doing these retrospectives, as we get to learn about your thought process and just how much work goes into making something memorable.

    Cheers.

  5. how about the picture versus dslr video like gh2 or 5dm2,
    the adaptor can make loose some quality there aren’t?

  6. “3 and a half years ago I looked so much younger. Freelancing takes it toll on you!”

    I turned 35 the other day, but now I understand it all: I must´ve been “freelancing” the last 3 and a half years and I didn´t even notice… 😉

    Congrats, grandpa.

  7. It’s interesting you reflect on your older work Philip. About 3 years ago I stumbled upon your blog and your earlier EX3+DOF adapter work. It was these films that inspired me to set off down the DOF adapter path myself. I remember watching this film and other like it (e.g. The Magic Bus Stop, Return to Dungeness etc) with a ton of questions at the time, all of which were answered over time by your blog.

    As for the grading, it is such and art that over time your eye definitely changes when you grade, and you become much more of a critic of your own work. I actually don’t see an issue with the grade you did on this piece. I actually associate the coloring with how I remember London (if that makes sense?).
    cheers, Jon

  8. I cant believe its only three and a half years ago!

    I found your blog just after jumping in at the deep end and buying an EX1 it was an invaluable source of learning for some one who hadn’t got a clue as to what they were doing. Watching Piccadilly Furs back then gave me inspiration and showed me the potential of what could be achieved.
    Its been quite amazing to watch the coarse of your blog from those early days to how successful it is now, and deservedly so.

    Of course I have a 5Dmkll now 🙂 and love filming even more.
    Keep up the good work Philip and many thanks.

  9. I remember seeing Picadilly Furs back in December of 2007, as it was the first time i learnt about the possibility of shallow DOF through 35mm adapters. That must have been one of the most exciting things i ever learnt.
    By the way that sunset over Picadilly Circus, must be the most cinematic ever. You didn’t ask Weta Digital to paint it in did you?
    Will you review Kew Gardens? That still is my favourite. I remember feeling a bit sick with excitement in the tummy after i saw it. A mere three years later and we take shallow DOF for granted!

  10. Heck man, you can see how far you’ve come in the last three years!!! i thought your last film ’24 hours of neon’ was a big step up from some of your personal work i’ve seen but if you look at this as a beginning its a giant leap! (not that i think its bad by any means!). keep it up.

  11. Bonjour Philip
    Beau travail. Le passage du temps le bonifie, comme pour le vin !
    Peut-on librement filmer dans Londres avec une caméra et un pied ?
    Les personnes filmées ont-elles donné leur autorisation ?
    Merci de cette nouvelle analyse
    Hervé