Christmas for Breakfast


Whilst working through the archives I came across a batch of  grabs from the very first in-studio test for BBC Breakfast back in November 2008. Even though this was only the first test, I had prepared not only night, dawn and morning daylight scenarios but also a full range of seasons and a snowy christmas version complete with decorated trees.

Eventually, we narrowed our focus down to the dawn light option with low sun angle and sky ablaze with colour. The winter option was also dropped and we proceeded with a summer and autumn version for the seasons, though I don’t recall ever seeing the autumn version being used. It would have been great to really go to town on producing a full blown winter wonderland scene but unfortunately, this fairly quick paint-over has been the closest I have managed to get so far.

The interior scene at this early stage was a deliberately re-purposed version of the main news backdrop. The buildings in the background are also much larger in scale than the final version which ended up approximately 75% painted rather completely photomontage as here. The photography of buildings in this and the final version came from the rooftops of multi storey car parks within Nottingham. I always find it ironic that in the cut and paste from the final BBC Breakfast backdrop performed by East Midlands Today to create their studio backdrop, they replaced my photography of Nottingham with….a photograph of Nottingham.

From the archives…

The process of redesigning and re-building the lightwell website is proving to be a surprising trip down memory lane. In over ten years of designing and illustrating architecture and buildings I have amassed a huge portfolio of images, many of which get archived and forgotten after a few years. A lot of the images get passed over because technically and artistically they get superseded by better examples. Others, I just get bored of looking at.

Architects Journal Front Cover, May 2000

The images I created for Luz Vargas Concept House 2000 designs probably fit into both those categories now, but for a time they proved invaluable to me in starting out as a freelancer as Luz was managing to get them printed and showcased everywhere. As well being exhibited in the Royal Academy summer exhibition, they managed to make the front cover of the Architects Journal.

If nothing else, I think this particular project demonstrated perfectly the benefits of having an enthusiastic client with an interesting design to work on when illustrating or visualising architecture.

Hole in my bucket… part 2

After concluding that the footage from the HV20 just wasn’t going to be good enough, I decided to have a look at the footage my DSLR could produce. The poor mans HD (720p) spewed out by my D90 is awful so I was never considering using that, but I did take a look at the stills capability and that looked fantastic and provided a clean key. If I could rig something that would capture the camera move I was looking for using a combination of time-lapse and stop motion then that could be a great solution. The miniatures aren’t going to move so I would only need to animate the position of the camera.

First things first, I need to sort out the camera. I started out by testing the camera hooked up to Nikons Camera Control Pro 2. First thing I noticed is that a zoom lens just wouldn’t work because the lens components shuffle every time a shot is taken so I tried out a 35mm DX prime. The shuffle problem was solved but I started to get a flickering effect even with constant lighting. Thinking this might be due to the AC supply I then tried out long exposures of up to one second but this still resulted in an annoying and very obvious flicker. Investigation on the web revealed that DSLR cameras utilise automatic shutters in which the iris stops down with each shot, then opens back up again to allow for a clean preview through the viewfinder. This closing and opening of the aperture inevitably results in tiny inconsistencies that lead to variations in the exposure and cause the flicker. I tried partially unscrewing the lens to disconnect the contacts and override the stopping down but the lens would lose its aperture setting completely.

The next step, source an older Nikon lens on which I can set the aperture manually and test again…