Lights, camera, action!

So, you will have already guessed my love for photography – well,  you should also know I have a similar passion for videography – or film making.    In fact I had a love for it before I could afford to do it.    Now, with the age of blogging in full swing, I’ve been encouraged to take it up again with a vengeance…

I always wanted a cine camera since being a little boy;  I would watch in awe as my friend’s Dad, who lived two doors up from me, would get out his cine camera and film all sorts of stuff – before the days of sound!   Back then the hobby was too expensive for a young boy to contemplate so I would resign myself to sitting with my friend while his dad got the projector out and showed the holiday films on Cine8 as it was called back then.

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Just before I left school, the school purchased a reel to reel video tape recorder and a large static camera for the science dept.  Me and my two school mates talked the science teacher into letting us use it at lunch times.  We had decided to make a science fiction film.

The first part of the movie consisted of a space launch.   I constructed two space ships – one was an airfix Saturn five rocket and the other was a quite modern for its time sort of tube with swept wings – I made it in metal work and the teacher was not impressed as I was supposed to be building something else.  It was a bit short sighted really – he could have encouraged me to be a model maker for the movie industry instead of forcing me to fix his Austin Seven car wreck stood in the middle of his workshop.

We wanted some smoke and flames and the chemistry teacher had shown us how manganese crystals could be burnt with some magnesium strip, and we used this on an asbestos mat to create the rocket booster flames and smoke.    It was awesome, as the intense light caused the exposure on the camera to shut right down – all you could see was the light from the burning compounds against a black background.   We filmed this with the camera upside down and slowly tilted it away so the flames seemed to be ascending in the air.   However that’s as far as it got – we could not agree on a storyline, we had no costumes and our acting was terrible.  With no support from the drama teacher (we weren’t in his drama class) we got thrown out of the theatre at lunch times and had nowhere to rehearse.

That was the last time I got involved in video until our own wedding was filmed by Sue’s uncle on his old clockwork camera;  we still have the two reels of film – they are about to be sent away to be copied onto video files.

As I grew older, the cost of photography dropped and technology advanced dramatically, while cine technology remained fairly stagnant except for the addition of a small magnetic strip which allowed sound to be recorded, so my attention turned towards photography in my late teens and early married life.

When I started working with Fibresand, and we won the project to make the show ring at the Horse Of The Year Show in 1986, I talked my boss Vic into hiring a video camera to film the whole event.  In those days the huge video cameras took full size VCR tapes and sat on your shoulder – I hired it from the local Granada TV shop in Mansfield on the market place.    I’ve very recently found the VHS tape lurking in the back of a cupboard and transferred it to my PC.

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Soon after we had Stacey and I purchased our first video “camcorder” as they were named, a sony handicam – I think it cost £250, which took small Video8 tapes, which was the main competitor to VHS-C.   I made many videos with that, kids birthdays, weddings, holidays etc – all transferred again onto VHS tapes.   These were tucked alongside the Horse of the Year Show tape and I’ve just spent the last week transferring these over to my PC.

Image result for sony handycam CCD

As HD became the norm, I upgraded to firstly Video8 then MiniDV,  both of which used “firewire” to transfer the video to PC’s.   Afterwards of course full digital camcorders came out with SD cards; the first of these I purchased for around £150 in Singapore  and I have continued to have various little video cameras up until buying my Nikon D3200 DSLR which doubles as a video camera – no need for a separate camcorder!   After forty years I finally manage to amalgamate both hobbies into one!    Unfortunately it was almost impossible to do any editing as I needed very high spec PC’s and expensive programs to make the editing, and my own PC and laptop just didn’t have the processing power – a problem that I eventually solved by investing in my current hi-spec laptop.

Over the years we have taken a lot of footage which still sits in its raw state on my hard drive.  Cruise video, more family events.    A waste really.

So last week I was tidying out my holiday/camera/gadget/ dad’s stuff cupboard and found this box of old VHS tapes but I no longer have a VCR – So I put out a all points bulletin on Facebook and fortunately a dear old friend of mine offered to lend her old VCR, so I have borrowed it, purchased a little conversion device from Amazon, and I have just finished converting nearly 24 hours of VHS tapes back to the computer – well it wan’t all converted – some of it was rubbish.    But I also watched a Jean Michel Jarre concert, Back To The Future, an episode of Dr Who with David Tennant in it, and two episodes of Brookside!

It might seem like a waste of time maybe, as you have to sit and watch in real time as it transfers to the PC – i.e. a 2 hr tape takes 2 hrs to copy.   But it’s been worth it as I’ve been lucky enough to uncover some footage I had forgotten about.  Two weddings, two Norfolk broads holidays with my dad on it, three christmas parties, footage from our first house including Stacey’s 1st birthday with Grandma Burch on it, and my grandad Len’s 90th birthday party.

I have two more boxes, one full of Video8 and Hi8 video tapes and the other full of MiniDV tapes, from a later model.  Remember I need the now obsolete ‘firewire’ technology to recover this footage and it has been a small feat to find a PC with firewire.  However,  I’ve managed it and I’m busily converting old video footage that I had forgotten that we still had, and probably hasn’t been viewed since the day it was filmed.

I mentioned blogging at the start of the page and this is really were my interest in video has regained momentum.  I decided to start my own youtube channel devoted to travel, and I started using my phone, my cameras and my little 4K action cam to film our excursions which now sit on our youtube channel here.    Unfortunately Sue doesn’t share my love of movie making which is a pity as we make a great team and have lots of laughs that I would love to share with you all.  One day maybe.

My children, and grandchildren, are eagerly awaiting the film of them when they were babies!  So I’ve just created a new youtube channel to go alongside this blog, called, not surprisingly – 45 miles.    Unfortunately, that’s going to be a private site by invitation only, due to the private nature of the footage.

Ask if there’s something you particularly want to see.

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