Designing 007 – Fifty years of Bond Style

I have been lucky enough to design some grand architectural spaces for TV over the past few years, but I doubt that any will ever feel as cool as I imagine designing sets for a Bond movie would. To celebrate fifty years since the release of Dr No, the first of the Bond films, The Barbican is staging an exhibition of the designs behind the franchise.

Update: Just found a little more info on this exhibition over on the BBC website: Designing 007

Architectural writing

A book on architecture and sci-fi should be one of the most wonderful things in print, but when I read the first line of the introduction to Architecture and Science-Fiction Film by David T. Fortin I am left a little cold (I have even chopped out the first third of the sentence here.)

“…he discussed his eminent disdain for avant garde approaches to the house derived from self-referential and over-intellectualized architectural strategies, instead of engaging with the phenomenological position of what it means to be human.”


Mies said “less is more” and with architectural books I would say less words and more images would suit me just fine.

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…

There’s a hole in my bucket…part 1

I am currently working on a reasonably ambitious personal project that will involve shooting some miniatures for incorporation into 3D backgrounds. I am trying to work with what I have which at present consists of:

– Canon HV20
– Greenscreen cove
– Syntheyes
– After Effects

I started out by looking at my existing video camera coupled with a modified skateboard deck for a dolly. Immediately, I could see that this is going to shake like hell and not give any useable footage. In still situations, I can also see that no matter how well I light the greenscreen, the quality of the HDV footage coming out of the HV20 just isn’t good enough.

Time for a rethink…