Category Archives: Atlas of the Future

Artisan GIF’s

I have spent the last 2 days making a GIF. That’s about 16 hours making 16 second’s of what is essentially a moving image. I’ve been staring at the timeline in Photoshop for so long the images are ingrained in my eyeballs. It’s probably not been the most efficient way to make this GIF, but with so many components it was the only way I knew how.

Yet I don’t feel bitter towards it, instead feeling strangely proud of my labours. Others will probably glance at it and then continue their scrolling, but I’ll remember the hours of staring at that flashing sequence of images and the subsequent kind of mild epilepsy I inflicted upon myself to get it done.

It makes me wonder how many GIF’s I’ve scrolled past, oblivious to the blood, sweat and tears which someone poured into those few seconds of content. It’s a humbling realisation that there is immense craftsmanship in even the simplest of things all around us. I shall try to be more aware of it, as should you. The world might seem a little bit brighter.

My 29-Hour Day

Yesterday I got my first real taste of the manic working hours of the industry. As I type this I’m still getting the occasional brain twitch, so bear with me if my writing gets a bit haphazard.

Starting out at 5am in Brighton, where I had spent the weekend, I began my journey into London, stopping off at Gatwick airport to drop off my  girlfriend as she flew back to Switzerland. From there, strung with various pieces of filming equipment and feeling like I was about to set off to destroy the One Ring, I continued into London.

Crashing at my uncle’s flat for a few hours, I then went out to Highgate, where I needed to film a Futurenauts podcast recording as part of my job with Atlas of the Future. This was the second shoot I’d had with the Futurenauts- ‘But wait!’ I hear my probably non-existent readers say, ‘Where’s your blog post about your first shoot Matt? How can you deprive us of even the smallest details of your professional activities?!’. Well, dear (imaginary) reader, the reason I didn’t write about my first shoot was that it was my first ever solo shoot and was frankly rather embarrassing. There were a number of factors which led to this.

The first was that I didn’t actually plan much which, although generally not too big an issue at university, in the real world really starts you off at a major disadvantage. There’s really nothing like a bunch of professionals turning to you and asking ‘What needs doing?’ and you not having an answer to really sear the importance of planning into your brain.

The second was that the kit I had probably didn’t even count as the basics of a solo-shoot, consisting of only a camera and tripod. Now, being used to having access to thousands of pounds of top-end tech at university, going into a shoot without even an LED lamp was much harder than expected. Especially when the kit I did have, a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, was much less forgiving if you don’t know your stuff than the Canon DSLR’s I’ve been used to. Manual colour temperature settings, shutter angle instead of shutter speed and no on-screen indicator crucial aspects like exposure really highlight the gaps in your technical knowledge and mercilessly demand you fill them.

The third was something I couldn’t have really appreciated until I experienced it – solo shoots are HARD. There’s not a small team of your mates all working at various levels of focus until you happen to get everything done. There’s just you – having to keep that pace and energy up at all times and with an intense level of focus to get the shots you need. If something goes wrong, if you forget a shot or don’t get it all done in time, it’s your fault and you’ve got to deal with it. I probably learnt more in those cringe-worthy couple of hours than the whole of First Year.

I now realise I’ve actually written about my first shoot. I hope you’re all happy with yourselves.

BUT, as I said before, I learnt a lot from it and this time round was a much better experience. Going in with a detailed plan and better technical knowledge, I got a lot of good footage and came away feeling much better about the future of my career. As they often tend to, the shoot went on longer than expected and I finished up around 6:30pm. From there I headed back to my uncles to try get a bit of sleep because I WAS NOT EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH MY DAY.

That’s right ladies and gentleman, I was yet to embark on one of the most interesting yet harrowing experiences of my life – a night-shift at ITV Studios. I’d managed to arrange the shift during my work experience in September with Loose Women by sitting down with Nick Thomas, the Head of Editing for Daytime, who invited me along to one.

For those of you who don’t know, the editing suites in broadcast television work 24 hours a day, with editors working in 12 hour shifts. So from 9:30pm to 9:30am, I would be shadowing the daybreak editors who worked through the night editing all the clips (known as VT’s) for the following morning shows. I spent most of the night with a guy called Chris who seriously knew his stuff, having started out in MMA 13 years ago and worked his way up from there. It was a really great insight into ITV’s editing workflows and I continued to learn about the importance of Avid’s hardware in such large-scale operations.

I only had one nap the whole night, which I’d consider a success, even though the lines I woke up with on my face from sleeping on my jacket were so deep they made me look like I’d been mauled by a large cat. I can honestly say that was probably the most tired I’ve ever felt in my life – my body was trying to forcibly shut down regularly, like someone as holding down the power button on my brain.

In spite of this I have to admit it was loads of fun, I’ll definitely see if I can do it again!

Starting out at the Atlas

Today I went to London to meet with Cathy Runciman and Lisa Goldapple, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of Atlas of the Future. It was good to see Cathy again and to meet Lisa in person, who largely operates from Barcelona. We started out discussing the plans for the future of the Atlas and how I might play a role in them, which will continue to develop as my relationship with the organisation does. For the moment, under the instruction of Lisa, I plan to help with the running of the Atlas website as well as their Instagram page. The Instagram page offers an opportunity for growth, both in terms of the way it operates and its subsequent outreach. I have a couple of ideas for how to explore this potential growth and will keep those ideas up-to-date on here.

We also met with a few of the clients which the Atlas is working with at the moment. GreenLab is a new set-up in London which works with local people and organisations to trial food-based sustainability projects. From using hydroponics to grow food with fish-poo to investigating mealworms as a potential food-source, GreenLab offers a space to try these small-scale projects which could have worldwide impact. There is the potential for me to spend some time in the lab documenting some of these projects and the growth of the relatively new space in which they are being trialled. This will be my first practical project with the Atlas and one which I’m very excited to begin working on.

 Traditional methods         Fish Poo

Next, we met up with Louise Ash of Meaning Conference to discuss some ideas for generating video output from this year’s conference. The conference, which takes place every year in Brighton, looks at some of the biggest issues we face today. Through a series of talks, workshops and discussion, it aims to facilitate the creation of ‘new methods, approaches and ways of working to create a more sustainable, equitable and humane world’. The plan is me to go to the conference this year to help cover the event, which would include interviews with key speakers and getting extra footage, outside the static 3-camera setup for the talks, to more fully capture the event itself.

Finally, we headed over to Volans to discuss how to move forward with the latest round of content which the Atlas is producing with them as part of Project Breakthrough. I’m not too sure of the full-scale of the partnership, but the bit that I will be focusing on is working with Lisa to edit footage which has already been filmed for the project.

Overall it’s been a great start to the placement. It’s really exciting working for projects which are working towards a better future; I’m already learning more about our world and how we’re striving to improve it. I can’t wait to see how this develops!