Category Archives: film

art\write: Two Chairs goes live

Two Chairs project

The art\write Two Chairs project I wrote about earlier has gone live. The main project page links to eleven very different responses to the original prompt by sixteen different artists and writers.

My piece is a short film involving live action and (of course) some small sections of stop motion animation. It took a lot of false starts and rapid learning to get to where it is now. I’ve still got a lot to learn. I am indebted to Pat Roberts and Jon Legg for their help.

The next project is already underway. I was challenged by a friend to incorporate a particular guest character. It felt strange at first but I think I have created a world and style that fits. The screenplay is written, voices are being recorded and some very technical shots are in the can (!). Today I’m reviewing the shot list and getting ready to start the bulk of filming. It’ll be 95% stop motion as things stand. Stay tuned.

Another stop motion animation

It’s been a while but here is the link to our latest stop motion animation experiment (Penguin / Hedgehog: The World Tour Part 2). It’s a bit rough and ready but we’ve learned a lot putting it together. Things like: it’s hard to light with table lamps. I hope you enjoy it.

More stop motion animation

Our latest short is here.

This time we’ve incorporated more green screen work and our ‘actor’ is a little more mobile.

Our thanks to Jonathan Legg for doing the main voice over work.

Stop Motion Animation

We, like most people, have been stuck at home for weeks. I should be learning French and writing a full length play but that’s not happening.

However, we have become fascinated with making stop motion animation. There’s no rhyme or reason for this. We’ve never tried anything like it before so we’re starting from nothing.

It began as a joke. I’d been sending a daily photo to friends and family purporting to be the story of Morris, our new rescue penguin. In one part of the story Morris is kidnapped and a note has been received (yes, it is silly). One of the recipients asked for proof of life so I decided to animate some mock CCTV footage.

This required some research. There was zero budget and less expertise. I found out about Stop Motion Studio software which runs on an Android phone (did I mention we don’t have a camera?). This allowed us to create the first film.

And then the second.

After that we created a couple of fun shorts here, here, and here. Obviously I hadn’t quite managed focussing at this stage (or, indeed, at any stage so far).

Next we wanted to create something longer using lights (struggling with this as well). This is the Brian Sedge Masterclass. If you like Shakespeare… I’m sorry.

We returned to Morris’ story for our latest effort. It’s all got a bit out of hand. For this ‘production’ we had a screenplay, recorded a soundtrack separately using Audacity, used green screen (chroma key) to give us an exotic setting and used a video editor to mix it all together. It took several days before we found a piece of freeware that worked for us but we settled on Shotcut, which is idiosyncratic but does the job. The result is Egg, Morris’s origin story.

It’s been a steep and sometimes rocky learning curve but it has been fun.

‘Buffet Froid’ and a bear in the garden

We watched Buffet Froid last night. If you don’t know it it’s a French film directed by Bertrand Blier and starring Gérard Depardieu, Bernard Blier and Jean Carmet.

I must have bought it some time ago and then forgotten about it. I do that. A lot of our DVD collection is still in cellophane (just as many of my books are unread). Regular work seems to be improving my attention span though. I’ve finished several books recently and can now cope with whole TV programmes and films on an occasional basis.

So we watched it. I didn’t know anything about it beforehand. The cover speaks of a theme of urban alienation, but that hardly does it justice. It’s bonkers. Albert Camus and Luis Buñuel must be major influences. You have to work hard to make some sort of sense of it, but it is an enjoyable task. I’m still working on it today. I can’t see Hollywood remaking it.

In other news we have had a bear in the garden. We think it was bear. We have this new bird feeder thing – a pole with hooks on, water bowl, all that sort of stuff. It’s very popular with the birds and Morris the local squirrel.

Anyway, this morning the peanut holder has been unhooked, thrown to the ground and the peanuts emptied out and eaten. That’s got to be a bear, right? It might be a squirrel I suppose but Morris is no heavyweight and that nut holder is sturdy. So we have a bear. Or a squirrel. Or an owl – it could have been an owl.

They found the smallest dinosaur in the world just up the road the other day but that’s long dead.

>Rides a bike

>This is a link to a picture of Laurence Olivier riding a bike. The cap seems to have the rainbow bands on it and perhaps ‘NISSAN’ on the side. It’s from the film ‘A Little Romance‘ (1979) which I’ve never seen.

Anyways – Larry rode a bike in 1979, I rode a bike yesterday. So I’m back on the bike. I rode 2 miles to a café on Sunday as well, just so I could say that I did ride.

Yesterday’s effort was deliberately relaxed. A long, flat opening over the Pevensey Levels and then some gentle undulations through Herstmonceux (land of trugs) and Ninfield. The gentler profile of the route meant less energy expended than recent efforts. All in all it was great – good weather and a real ‘build’ to the ride. It may not have had much training value, but it got me back out there.

Next weekend’s planned event (the Catford CC 10m TT) is off – my entry was received too late to be considered. I think the Royal Mail may have done me a favour1. The extra time will mean a bit more fitness gained before the ’10’ and ’25’ the following weekend.

Easter is out for racing because of family commitments, so it will be May before I get a chance to start racing in earnest. I’m still not exactly champing at the bit. I’m going to try training every other day for a while (rather than 5 days a week) to try and build up the enthusiasm ahead of the fatigue.

1 They didn’t do me a favour when they lost the modem router that I’d ordered though. I ended up having to buy an overpriced one from PC World. Still no refund either. Not that I’m bitter.

>So who says cycling isn’t cool?


Humphrey Bogart rides a bike
Found this on the very more-ish Rides a Bike blog.

>Bank Holiday stuff

>Friday night and it was off to the Prom #56 at The Albert Hall. The ascent to picture rail level seemed to help the deafness that has blighted me this week and with 20 minutes to go I got some hearing back – Yay! I still struggled to remain focussed though – I find music difficult. There’s a quote attributed to Sir Thomas Beecham along the lines of “The English don’t understand music. They just like the noise it makes”. I relate to this.

The fourth movement of the Bruckner was worth the wait though.

Sunday was the Westerley CC 25m TT at Marlow (H25/2). I had high hopes for this, having gone under a couple of weeks ago on the same course. In between times I had put in a heavy (by my standards) training block and had followed this with an easy week. However, the legs and the head weren’t there and I rode poorly – not really trying, which is not the right attitude. I ended up with a 1:03:52, finishing towards the end of the field.

Race stats: Time: 1:03:52 (23.49mph). First 12.5 miles: 32:35, last 12.5 miles: 31:15. Top speed: 37.2mph. Slowest mile (9): 3:12 (18.75mph), fastest mile (1): 1:52 (32.14mph). Average HR: 156bpm, maximum HR: 166bpm. Average cadence: 74rpm. 45th of 64 finishers. Winner: Adam Topham (High Wycombe CC) 51:57

In the afternoon we went to see The Illusionist directed by Sylvain Chomet – very enjoyable.

This morning I rode the second Westerley CC event of the Bank Holiday: a 10m TT on the H10/22 from Marlow. What a cold day! Most of the climbing on this course is on the way to the turn, so the return should be fast. This morning, however, there was a headwind back and I managed to come home slower! A better, more aggressive ride though.

Race stats: Time: 24:46 (24.23mph). First 5 miles: 12:07, second 5 miles: 12:37. Top speed: 33.5mph. Slowest mile (3): 2:57 (20.34mph), fastest mile (5): 2:05 (28.80mph). Average HR: 162bpm, maximum HR: 165bpm. 18th of 36 finishers. Ave. cadence: 76rpm. Winner: Peter Weir (Maidenhead and Dist CC) 21:22

>Verulam CC 25m TT

>I rode the Verulam CC 25m TT on the fast F1/25 yesterday. Slightly disappointed with the time – 1:01:45. Slightly disappointed to have to get up at 3:30am as well. It was a still, cool day. What wind there was was against for the last 10 miles.

Race stats: Time: 1:01:45 (24.29mph). First 12.5 miles: 30:04, last 12.5 miles: 31:38. Top speed: 33.9mph. Slowest mile (20): 2:59 (20.11mph), fastest mile (12): 2:08 (28.13mph). Average HR: 161bpm, maximum HR: 167bpm. Average cadence: 74rpm. 55th of 92 finishers. Winner: Sam Barker (Planet X) 52:08

It was our wedding anniversary so we went out for a meal and a film. May I recommend Toy Story 3.

>*does a little dance*


At last!

This week I finally came off the medication that I hoped was suppressing my TT performances. The stuff is supposed to take a fortnight to clear the system, so I wasn’t expecting immediate results.

The picture was taken in The Netherlands last week by Henny Postema – many thanks, Henny

Saturday was a fun day out. Willesden CC had hired Welwyn Velodrome for the day and 20-25 club members gathered for a couple of hours of swooping up and down the banking in the sun. Unusually for Welwyn there was hardly any wind which, combined with the unseasonal warmth, made for a great day. I was riding poorly, but it didn’t matter. I sprinted enthusiastically and ineffectively, lost wheels, bridged gaps, tried to bully Ray Kelly… all sorts of things. I (and several others) finished the day tired but uplifted. The star of the show was WCC’s multiple champion Jayne Paine. She was supposed to be taking it easy because she was racing at Herne Hill the next day, but show her a finish line and… She won the scratch race at the end by a country mile.

Sunday was an early start and a long drive to Tempsford for the Bedfordshire RCC 25m TT on the F1B/25 course. The ‘B’ version of the course is hillier than its F1/25 brother, but a decent ride nonetheless. The start was chilly. Despite it being a ‘slowest 90 riders’ event I was seeded in the second slowest group (on a ‘4’). Accordingly I expected to be caught early doors and to see no other riders ahead of me. I think the seeding was awry: I caught my minute person after about 10 miles and my three minute man after the turn. No one came past me.

Most of the climbing is on the way out, but there’s a little climb to the water tower on the way back. What wind there was was against on the return. That headwind really told in the last couple of miles.

I blew up a little with seven miles to go, but hung on and hung on to record 1:02:04. That’s an improvement of over 7 minutes on the previous best this year. I’s 83 seconds faster than I have ever gone in April before (and I won the event with my previous fastest). I am chuffed and relieved. And today I am as sore as hell.

The stats show a suppressed heart rate, probably because of the sprint efforts on the track the previous day.

Race stats: Time: 1:02:04 (24.17mph). First 12.5 miles: 30:56, last 12.5 miles: 31:07. Top speed: 36.0mph. Slowest mile (12): 3:04 (19.57mph), fastest mile (17): 2:03 (29.27mph). Average HR: 153bpm, maximum HR: 163bpm. Average cadence: 78rpm. 23 of 72 finishers. Winner: Tim Davies (Icknield RC) 55:56.

What changed? The course was good. The weather was good. I used my best wheels for the first time in the UK this year. All of these are factors, but I hope that the meds were also a factor in slowing me down. If so, things are looking brighter for May. Unfortunately, I only have a club event next weekend.

After lunch Pat and I planted a fig tree in the garden. We’ve planted very little because the garden is already well-established. But we had a fig tree at the last house which fruited heavily. If the new tree fruits it’ll make this place feel more like home.

In the evening we went to the Renoir cinema to see The Father of My Children. We’d never heard of it, but it’s a wonderful, strange film. With my teaching work I have to read a lot of books on how to write for film. None of them could explain how this film does what it does. Which makes me like it all the more.

That was a weekend, that was.