Shooting how-to guides at Contour Autocraft

BRUCE Macleod is an expert craftsman who can turn sheet metal into almost anything. I’m delighted to be working with Bruce again. We first worked together when his company made the famous copper petals on the 2012 London Olympic ‘cauldron’. You can see that film here:

Now were creating a set of short films that explain some of Bruce’s sheet metalworking techniques. These films will be used to promote his classic car restoration courses.

It was also great to be working with Steven Booth, a long-time friend and colleague who came along to art direct the shoot and kindly supplied the still photograph.

We’re giving a new life to an old laptop!

WE have been asked to produce a timelapse film for a construction client and filming will last 18 months!

The site is quite remote and has no internet access so we’ve had to design a self-contained system for collecting thousands of photographs taken over hundreds of days.

Central to the hardware requirement is a decent laptop computer that will be left on-site for the duration of the build. Because of the location we decided to keep the computer cheap and cheerful, there were minimum technical requirements. To get what we needed we looked at refurbished machines, and this one from fitted the bill perfectly:

It’s a Lenovo T420 with an i5 processor and a 320GB hard drive – a proper workhorse of a machine with plenty of life left in it. But the amazing thing is the price, less than £200.

Compared to what we could buy new for £200, this is an amazing spec. The keys are worn very shiny but we like that!

We can leave this running for a few weeks at a time unattended and visit whenever the drive is filling up with images. We have installed clever software from IPTimelapse in America and Mike, one of the company’s tech experts, has been amazingly helpful. His software controls this top quality camera via an ethernet cable.

Yes, it’s a security camera capable of better-than-HD quality images and superb low-light performance. The whole system, including cables and a 240V power supply, has cost less than £500 and the client is delighted.

It will all be away at the building site location for a year and a half, so if you would like us to make you an amazing timelapse film, well, we’ll just buy it all again!

North Coast 500 films

I just don’t have the time or the energy to make a film a day and write a blog, so I’m just going to post the links to the YouTube videos on here for now. Most films not available on mobile devices due to copyright restrictions but I think you can enjoy them all if you watch from within this page.

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Episode 5:

Episode 6 (where I drone on and on and on):

Episode 7 (final, mercifully brief, episode):

Bonus clip, meeting Dot:

Greetings from Ullapool

IT’S the start of day two on the North Coast 500. I’m in Ullapool.

I left Cambridgeshire at noon on Friday 13 January and arrived by the beach at Fort George, near Inverness, at just past midnight.

The Garmin Camper satnav took me through Glasgow, along Loch Lomond (where I saw at least three moon rises over the mountains across the water). Glencoe was very dramatic. A weird mix of snow showers and moonlight but not fun to drive through.

I wasted too much time looking for a convenient campsite in the Inverness area. I’d been told about the Fort George area by ace photographer and graphic designer friend Steve Booth and it looked promising on the map. Turned out it was perfect.

Yesterday morning I filled up Fanny with diesel, set up a couple of vlogging cameras and set off for the west coast.

Last time I was in Ullapool it was hot and sunny. Today it’s dull and grey – exactly the conditions I was dreading. So I took three hours this morning to get moving. I studied some technical manuals, made a cooked breakfast and lazed about listening to the radio.

I parked on the harbour to write this but the internet connection was awful so I’ve moved to a Tesco car park. The van is warm and dry and I’ve got plenty to do: books, magazines, films on the laptop.

The problem is that the next leg of the journey (, along the dramatic coast to Cape Wrath and Durness, is spectacular, and to drive it in the mist and rain will be soul-destroying.

Of course, it might be like this for the rest of the week. But I like Ullapool, I’ve got good internet access, a pot of coffee and plenty of time.

We had a night out!

It’s Friday evening and we’re at a Peterborough hotel, in a big function room with hundreds of excited employees of Peterborough and Stamford hospitals. They’re here for their annual outstanding achievement awards.

We’re here because we had the honour of making the pre-awards film and we’re very pleased with it. It’s here for a few weeks, mostly to allow those lovely people who took part a chance to see it (they didn’t go to the awards).

We don’t have a licence to use the music by Alesso, although the event was covered by the hotel’s performance licence. If Alesso asks us to remove the film, we will. But at the moment he seems happy with the YouTube ads.

Our first ‘unboxing’ film

Sometimes it’s just good fun to play. So when we have a new computer to set up with editing software it’s nice to have a project to try things out. We just bought a new Windows laptop to help with editing on the road. We’ve also been thinking about making product review films and unboxing videos.

So when a package from our favourite sauce chef arrived we used the opportunity to try out the hand-held Panasonic and the Lenovo Y700 on a bit of unboxing action.

You will see better unboxing videos on YouTube but you won’t taste better condiments on your dinner!

See the whole range at:

A voice from the past

It was great to hear the voice of a former colleague on the phone yesterday. Jon Adams and I worked at the same magazine publishing company a few years ago and, like me, Jon was a film-maker in a previous life.

Since leaving magazines Jon has gone back to film-making and got in touch to explore possibilities of us working together. It was great to hear from him.

Jon Adams is a talented voiceover artist and music composer and his work will enhance any video production from Campervan Films. Have a listen to his audio files: