Wits End Archive

This unique archive footage taken in 1979 shows the dilapidated state of Wits End. The footage was kindly donated to us by the Tour Guide of the closed Twilight Ballrooms.

Of course Wits End is fictitious. And any sharp eyed seaside fan would realise straight away that it’s Blackpool. And naturally it wasn’t filmed in 1979 but over 40 years later. Effects to degenerate it include saturation reduction, augmented green and red channels, white noise, dust and specks (created using fractal noise and random seed at 25p/s). And not to forget the fantastic Video Copilot Twitch plugin (the only plugin that WAS used mind) plus various other tweeks here and there. Weird, I used to dream of having a good HD camera 20 years ago and here I am with great footage degenerating it. Funny ol’ world.

Synthwave Art

Wikipedia says “Synthwave (also called outrun, retrowave, or futuresynth) is an electronic music microgenre that is based predominately on the music associated with action, science-fiction, and horror film soundtracks of the 1980s. Other influences are drawn from that decade’s art and video games.”

So, think Tron meets Bladerunner. The colours are usually neon lit or based on old computer graphics. There is quite a nostalgic sometimes melancholic quality about these graphics. Themes usually promise adventure and reward in a brave new electronic world whilst using quite basic shapes and perspectives. The accompanying music is almost always synthesiser with artists like Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Jean Michelle Jarre. Indeed I listened to the entire Equinoxe album by JMJ recently (listen to Part 5). For electronic escapism it simply can’t be beat.

I hope to try and compose some original tracks in the future of this style. But in the meantime I’ve used a two minute excerpt from an apt song by Pet Shop Boys called “This Used To Be The Future” – a great song featuring Human League’s Phil Oakey and vocals from BOTH Pet Shop Boys. The song was never released as a single so I’ve created an unofficial video using a montage of some of my Synthwave Art clips. Enjoy.

The Tripods

The Tripods is a cult BBC sci-fi classic from the mid-80’s, a Satuday teatime tv trilogy which sadly got the boot after series 2. I, like many, was gutted and years later I’m still not quite over it. In fact only the cancellation of Channel 4’s Utopia has equalled the feeling. So as a kind of therapy I’ve recreated the opening titles using the brilliant original theme music by Ken Freeman

More exterior shots

The history and evolution of the Twilight Ballrooms concept. From a house shaped theatre perched on top of a crumbling cliff to its final incarnation, a crumbling variety hall on a pier in Wits End.

This video will show the real life venue that inspired it – a venue that sadly burnt down almost 100 years ago!

POSTSCRIPT: This week, the end of Colwyn Bay pier collapsed into the sea. Eerily similar to the story. Full story here

Four Men in a Pub – Twilight Movie Diary

Since becoming a dad, the Twilight Ballrooms project has ground to a halt. That’s parenthood, there’s just no time to engage in the work required. So to sate your appetite and in a rare entry for the Twilight Ballrooms’ Movie Diary these days, I’ve decided to release this rough clip of an experiment I did a while back with a genuine scene from the film. The acting is rough, the cuts are crude but it was fun to explore the green screen environment (the set is CGI by me). It also explored the feasibility of playing all the parts myself – if I can brush up on the accents that is! (which, if you hadn’t noticed are English, Irish and Scottish for the pub regulars and American for Buster Cristo) This would certainly help save money as I can’t afford to pay anyone being a zero budget project, nor do I wish to exploit anyone’s talent for zero pay.

Also on a practical note, it would be easier for reshots and dubs! When I did A Life Of Brian (my first half hour project) my friends all worked for free. It was their 30th birthday present to me. However I only had them for a few days and in the proceeding months, during the edit, I was frustrated when I found I needed a link line recording or a clip redoing. I remember having to edit a conversation together from two recordings I’d recorded in different places and revisiting the location with my partner to shoot more clips. All of course without the actors. So this project, given its virtual environment, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that life would be easier and more flexible if I just play all the parts myself. Well, not ALL the parts, but more on that anon!

PramCam is here!

At the start of this year I became a father! As any parent will tell you, the new responsibility is a full time job. And that’s as well as the other full time job that pays your bills. Naturally, progress on my film projects and posts to this site have become few and far between. That is, until I realised on my walk in the park the other day that the pram I was pushing would make a terrific dolly. So I purchased a Joby Grip Tight and Gorilla Pod stand – basically a tripod for the pram and my iPhone. Then using the Instagram Hyperlapse app, had a go. The result below has been speeded up and stabilised even more with After Effects.

Happy 10th Anniversary

Anniversary-website-banner

Happy New Year, but also Happy Anniversary. Yes can you believe it, 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of Tranquility Base Presents. To mark this milestone, I’ve put together a short film documenting the slow but steady evolution of this, my film making website! From the first ever shots with a webcam up to todays experiments with computer graphics and post production and the bits in between! Plus some previously unseen footage (lucky you!) I’d like to dedicate this film to all those who have got involved with the projects! Enjoy and Happy 2013!

Time Flies!

Anyone who doesn’t know, my flat is undergoing extensive repairs since a flood last November… and yes, it’s STILL going on. So I’ve been quite preoccupied with that on what feels like a full-time basis. I’ve also been doing lots of web-design favours for friends. So what I’m saying is basically it’s been a while since I last blogged. But before you get the violin out…no don’t… there have been some exciting stuff going on too. Like I’ve purchased a Zoom H4N for sound recording…more experiments from that anon…stay tuned viewers. Also a NAS drive, more or less my very own 3TB cloud, though it’s video streaming leaves a lot to be desired thanks to Seagates badly designed app. However, I’m not disheartened as knowing the geek community it won’t be long before someone releases a better one than Seagates miserable effort.

Anyhoo, here’s a video clip. Pretty basic….

…except that that was originally just a photo!

The flies are created using the png on the left with a particle system, whilst the clouds are used moving masking and a simple skew. Skew is better than simply moving the cloud layer as it allows the clouds at the top (and therefore nearer) to move quicker than the clouds at the bottom (the ones further away nearer the horizon) A simple technique yet very effective. Considered adding a lens flare but thought it might be overkill. Sometimes simple is best.

2011 – More than a dream!

I have been working hard, honest. The thing about pre-production and/or learning anything new is that at the end of the day, you don’t really have anything to show for it. Well, I thought I’d change that and have edited a quick montage of all tester clips and stuff generally marked on my hard-drives as “CANDELETE” – that’s all files that I create just to experiment and test an effect or process that I’ve just learnt. Other than that, the clip is usually redundant. After all, when am I going to need a tube train on the New York subway, unless they script a film called “The Taking of Balham 123”)
That is until now, where, before the files ARE deleted or permanently archived in that warehouse where the Arc of the Covenant also lives, they can have pride of place in this montage. Enjoy.

Vanishing Point

Experimented today with something called “Vanishing Point”. There is much you can do with this Photoshop filter which helps you edit a 2d photo in a 3d environment. One of the cool things is when you export it to After Effects. (Check out this tutorial from Andrew Kramer) By moving the virtual camera in the import you get this. If edited right it can look like a perfect faked dolly/crane shot. This one is just rough, but remember, the original is just a flat 2D photo. Can’t wait to try some more test out.

Panarup!

So the last few weeks have been a mixture of different Twilight related projects. Lots of 3d drawing, notably the top of the Twilight tower which has now been added to the Ballrooms. I have also been designing numerous posters from the Twilight’s history. I did something similar to decorate the set when we took the Twilight’s live show to Edinburgh in ’06.  However, these new ones are far more superior, even if I do blow my own trumpet. The new posters not only appear in the film but are also needed for the new live show this August 2011. Indeed much of the current pre-production is dictated by Richard Leigh’s deadlines for set building for this show. It’s been great fun thinking up old variety act names (“The Wimple Sisters – There’s Nun like’em”). It’s also started making the Twilight come alive.
Today, to try something completely different, I’ve been working on manipulating 2d images to make a 3d aerial pan. Here is the result of my experiment. (Very rough, you can even see the edges of each photo, but you get the general idea)

Great tip – if you use the advanced search bar in Flickr you can choose pics that have a Creative Commons License, some even for commercial use! (IF IN DOUBT – ALWAYS ASK THE OWNER). Some of the pics in these shots were CCL but I hope to use original shots once I get my new DSLR. More of that anon!

Ray of Light (uncompleted)

Found this little gem from the Tranquility Base Archive. Kylie Vilcins plays “Adelaide” in the rather weird monologue shot around the same time as Starmaker (in which she can also be heard singing “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts”) Although uncompleted, there is something appealing about the character. She reminds me of an Australian Kristen Schaal.