Transmedia – the future of storytelling?

In an age where we have many channels through which we can digest entertainment it is perhaps inevitable that storytelling keeps getting more engaging. The edges between platform, media and gameplay are blurring. Fiction and reality are combining to form a new hybrid. A form of storytelling that impacts directly on your life.

Actors of your favourite action show performing a scene right in front of your eyes on the streets of London like a flashmob, to supplement a plot point in the show. Playing a video game of your favourite sci-fi show so that you can feel what it is like to be the main character. Interacting with your favourite soap opera drama to help determine what the plot outcome will be. These are all possible examples of transmedia.

It’s nothing new. The phrase was first coined in 1991 but variations of the technique were being used earlier. The 8-bit computer game Elite in 1984 came bundled with a novella called The Dark Wheel which immersed you in the world of the game before you played it (very clever as the game was only depicted using wireframe graphics). Small examples like this are quite prevalent, but it has become more and more intricate over the years.

The Blair Witch Project in 1999 is a famous example which could be classed as transmedia where they placed spoof ‘missing’ posters on billboards to raise awareness of the characters which they pretended were real. They also published a dossier of one of the main characters that people could read to learn more. This helped paint a richer world and made what was a low budget film seem to be something bigger than what it actually was.

Transmedia seems to be a hot topic right now, perhaps as the public has a much greater appetite for multi channel consumption helped in no small part by the second screen phenomenon. The biggest hyped transmedia project right now is the brand new TV show/game Defiance which aired last week. This is being made concurrently as a TV show and a video game which allows you to explore the world depicted in the TV show.

The reboot of Hawaii 5-0 also recently did a Choose Your Own Adventure style venture where they allowed the audience to determine the final ending by voting on Twitter.

But it doesn’t all have to be the latest social media techniques. Doctor Who recently aired an episode where one of the characters was reading a book and this book held clues to part of the storyline. The BBC has now published this book as an eBook for viewers to read and help understand some of the backstory to that episode.

Transmedia is spreading. The balance, however, has to be struck. The more channels you use or the more tactile or interactive you make these channels then the more real and immersive your world becomes. Too many channels and you risk spreading the story too thin, and at the end of the day you still have to have a great story otherwise no-one will keep tuning in. But if done well it can bring the story to life and immerse your audience ever more into your fictional world.

I’m excited to see what other storytelling methods will be used and what new technologies will help to enhance these even more.

(This blog was also posted on LEWIS 360 –

Image source -

My Productivity Tools


There’s been quite a bit of buzz recently about Mailbox and how it will revolutionise people’s inboxes. Email most certainly is broken and any way to improve is good in my book. Looks like Microsoft have also made very good ground with, their impressive Hotmail-killer.

Productivity has been a hot topic for a while and is certainly one that is close to my heart. I’ve tried numerous ways to better organise my life and work over the years and recently some apps or methods have really started to stick. So for all you other productiphiles here you go…

I subscribe to news feeds via Google Reader and on the way into work (or just any time I’m standing around with nothing to do) I’ll skim all these news headlines using the gReader Pro app on my phone. This app is clean, light and fast. Great for skimming headlines. If any of the headlines spark my interest I will star it. Then when I’m more able to read an article in full I will load up Feedly which is synced up with my Google Reader account and loads the starred headlines in its Saved for Later section. This can be on my desktop, preferably on my iPad on the sofa, or on my phone when I have more time or a better signal than on the train commute. I really like the Feedly reader and personally hugely prefer it to Flipboard. I find Flipboard not structured enough. I always prefer having an overview of all my stories and Feedly has a list view and a thumbnail view but both are on pages with unlimited scrolling. And lastly, when I find something that I want to keep or that isn’t worth my time reading now but I want to keep it for later then I will save it in my Google Bookmarks. I use this rather than sites like Pocket because I prefer to keep everything in my Google account if I can because it is the lowest common denominator in terms of third party apps being able to sync with it. I also love how easy it is to add a bookmark using the Chrome extension and also easy to browse my categories on my iGoogle page (although I know these are being phased out soon). I literally have hundreds of categories or tags in my Google Bookmarks. I partly use it as a filtering tool and a way to keep my head sane by knowing that I’ve not missed out on an article but I don’t have to digest it right away. I know it’s always there if I need to read it one day in the future. And yes I do backup my Google accounts regularly.

I’ll also scan my main Twitter lists at the end of each day on my phone and anything that links to a big article or a video then I’ll Favourite it and read it properly in the morning. I don’t use Favourite to actually favourite something. I use it as a temporary flag. So I do wish they would rename it. People often thank me for favouriting their tweets but actually I’m just bookmarking it for later.


This is where I’m most intense. I love making lists and it’s how I organise my life. I make lists of everything under the sun and I store them all on Simplenote. This syncs across all devices and the app that I use for my Android phone is Flick Note. I also have these lists automatically backed up to my Dropbox account.

To Dos
For To Dos I use Wunderlist. Easy to add lists and tasks. Easy to tick them or prioritise or change the order. Also syncs well across all devices.

At work, however, we need something a bit meatier. Something which has multiple users, collaboration, email notifications, calendar sync etc. For this we use Asana. The free version is incredibly powerful and the interface is extremely smooth. At the time of writing they have also just released a new Android app for it too.

And for quick notes or temporary lists at work I use Stickies. I just haven’t worked out how to sync them across my work and home computers though.

When I’m working from home I tend to try to work in 1 hour chunks when possible. It lets me get in the zone when working on a design, drafting a proposal or editing a video. But when in the office there are so many distractions and interruptions that 20 mins is much more realistic. If someone asks if you are free for a few mins and you’re in the middle of a 20min slot you can more easily say ‘Give me 10mins’ and then complete your slot. 20 min chunks is also the most granular level I get to for timesheets.

Pomodoro Technique
This certainly can work well to keep you focussed for 20mins and prevent procrastination or social media timesuck. There are many Pomodoro apps out there. I use PomodoroApp. It’s incredible what you can do in 20mins when you put your mind to it.

Getting Things Done
I’ve also read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and personally I think you have to adapt it for your own needs. I use my own version of it, with three main To Do lists and then other sub lists for specific projects.

The two biggest drains on productivity in my opinion are Social Media and Emails. Social Media is the easiest to tame. Be strict by using the Pomodoro technique, switch off notifications on your phone, use apps like Isolator to block everything else out. But email is certainly the most difficult to control. Constantly waiting for that little red flag indicating a new message. Using your inbox as a priority To Do list. Sending yourself email reminders. All these things can just eat up your time. It’s good to have time ignoring email but it can be hard to not check your email for an hour. It depends on the work culture you have and the timescales associated with your sector. Not everyone can be like Tim Ferriss and insist that everyone works around your short windows of checking emails. You can certainly try to encourage better email habits though. Keep it short, don’t CC when you don’t have to and always move the conversation forward with an action or a suggestion for someone to respond to. I try to maintain inbox zero and generally have less than 20 emails in my inbox at any given time and rarely more than 5 at the end of each day. I archive them off into searchable folders, I respond quickly and succinctly where I can and I make relevant notes in my proper project management software.

I spoke about some of my favourite apps in my recent blog post about my Nexus 4 but here are some of the ones I use to do with productivity.

gReader Pro
Flick note
Google Drive
Google Calendar

Some people say it doesn’t matter the platform or the app you use as long as you use it well and you use it consistently, but I do think it’s good to use ones that sync across devices and sync with each other.

I do tend to change my habits, and perhaps that is one of the things that works for me in order to keep things fresh and motivating. I’ll revisit this subject in a year or so and see how much it has changed!

Storytelling in Movies and Video Games

I’ve always found it a bit strange when video games are made into movies. The whole essence of games is that you get to control the character. You have a certain amount of freedom to explore the environment and do what you want. Films are in many ways the antithesis of that. You have no control. You are a passive observer. Perhaps the games industry sees it in a way that a movie can be one big advertisement for their game and help them sell more units, in the same way that the He-Man cartoon was an advertisement to sell more Masters of the Universe toys. The fact remains that the games industry is bigger than the movie industry. That’s been known for a while. But which medium is better at telling stories?

Movies are very well controlled. They are linear and the director can carefully construct all the various elements at their disposal (lighting, music, pacing etc) to take you down a path and feel certain emotions. But there is no freedom. You are a passive observer who has to watch the characters in the movie and empathise with them. You are strapped in for the ride.

Games let the viewer have control. You are free to move around and interact with people and objects. You have immediate cause and effect in relation to your actions. You experience the story with yourself as the main character. But this freedom can also let the player stray off the path and get in the way of the experience of the story.

J.J. Abrams and Gabe Newell from Valve recently discussed this at the DICE Summit keynote in Las Vegas. They explained how there are many obvious differences between the two forms of media, but that there are also many similarities. The illusion of freedom in games can often have a complicated hierarchical structure, similar to story arcs in movie screenplays, which will always bring you back to the same ordered key points of drama in order to move the story forward. They both use misdirection to focus your attention on particular elements. They use setup and payoff to make you feel more involved in the storyline and to connect more with the characters. In both there has to be a balance between immersion and storytelling, and they play to their own strengths. But in both there is always a storyline spine throughout. Without a story there is no connection with the audience.

They finished their talk with the news that these behemoths of entertainment would be collaborating on movie and game ventures. Personally I hope they don’t just make a movie of Portal or Half-Life or a game of one of Abrams’ movies. I’m hoping they somehow try to bridge the two mediums in a way that hasn’t been done before. Perhaps some kind of interactive YouTube movie or get Abrams directing elements of a game to a level not seen before.

But for me it’s just great to see the video games industry all grown up and teaching Hollywood a thing or two about how to entertain people. That’s a good story in itself.

View the keynote

Image source - Variety YouTube video

Documentaries to watch


The new documentary about The Pirate Bay is now available to watch online (or torrent of course) totally free and legitimately. I guess they kind of had to make it free. It would be have been majorly ironic if they had tried to make money out of it and then people torrented it illegally.

Documentaries are big business right now. Perhaps due to the public’s fascination with reality on TV now shifting to the big screen. Or perhaps it is because it is a lot easier to fund your own film via Kickstarter. Either way there seem to be more and more interesting documentaries being made with bigger and bigger budgets these days. Here are a few ones that might interest you if you’re into pop culture, film, sports or anything geeky. Some have been around for a few years and some are due to be released within the next year. About a quarter of these have been funded via Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

TPB – AFK – The story of The Pirate Bay
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters – Fascinating documentary following the rivalry between the Donkey Kong high score contenders
Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade – Similar documentary but this time for Pac Man
Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope – Morgan Spurlock’s review of Comic Con
The Dream Team – NBA TV’s film all about the Dream Team
Doin’ It In The Park – All about street basketball
Calling Automan – Documentary about classic 80’s tv show Automan
I Am Bruce Lee – A Bruce Lee documentary
The Art of Rap – Ice-T’s take on the Rap industry
Raiding the Lost Ark – Jamie Benning’s outstanding filmumentary of the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark
Star Wars Begins – Jamie Benning’s take on Star Wars
Building Empire – Jamie Benning again on The Empire Strikes Back
Returning to Jedi – Jamie Benning. Jedi
Mansome – Morgan Spurlock all about facial hair
With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story – Documentary about Stan the Man
The People vs. George Lucas – All about the Star Wars phenomenon
BBS: The Documentary –  Jason Scott, telling the story of the Bulletin Board System
Get Lamp: The Text Adventure Documentary – Jason Scott’s history of the gaming text adventure genre
Indie Game: The Movie – All about the independent video game industry
Beyond the Mat – 1999 film about professional wrestlers outside the ring
Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows – 1998 lowdown on professional wrestler Bret the Hitman Hart
Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters – The story of Tetris
Forks over Knives – Advocating vegetarianism
Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 – The history of James Bond
Collectable Spectable – Documentary series about Mark Bellomo, toy collector extraordinaire
Frazetta: Painting with Fire – All about legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta
Drew: The Man Behind the Poster – All about legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan
Get A Life – William Shatner’s take on Star Trek fandom
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan – Charting the life and work of the legendary stop motion animator
Downloaded – A film about Napster. Due out in 2013
From Bedrooms to Billions – The story of the UK computer games industry. Due out in 2013
Beyond Neon – A documentary about the revitalisation and resurgence of downtown Las Vegas. Due out in 2013
Toy Masters – The story of the Masters of the Universe toy range. Due out in 2013
Dear Mr. Watterson – A Calvin & Hobbes Documentary. Due out in 2013
Cassette – A documentary about the humble cassette tape. Due out in 2013
Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair – Documentary about the famous Chinatown Fair arcade in New York. Due out in 2013
Room 237 – The story of The Shining. Due out in 2013
DEFCON: The Documentary – Jason Scott’s film about the DEFCON conference for hackers. Due out in 2013
The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time – All about the classic video game. Due out in 2013
The Video Craze: “Where Were You In ’82?” – Documentary examining the impact of the video arcade. Due out in 2013
Inside Jaws – Another filmumentary from Jamie Benning. This time on Jaws. Due out in 2013
Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary – The history of the classic board game. Due out in 2014
Turn to 400: The Story of Fighting Fantasy – A proposed documentary about the Fighting Fantasy game book series which failed its first attempt on Kickstarter but which may resurface

My Nexus 4 Review

Nexus 4 phone

Just over a week ago I got my new Nexus 4. I thought I’d give it at least a week before I wrote a blog post about it so that I could really get to use it properly and get over the ‘new phone’ excitement. Well to be honest I’m still not quite over it. It’s easily the best phone I’ve had and there’s only a very few things I’m not totally happy with.

Good – First thing that hit me was the size of the screen. Much larger than my  previous Nexus S and my work iPhone. Great for watching videos but occasionally a menu button is a bit of a stretch away when holding it in one hand. I am, however, already totally used to it. In fact it’s really strange now to go back to a smaller phone. The weight and build of it is also very nice. Sturdy and classy. Nice glass most of the way round.
Bad – It looks slick and unfortunately it actually is a bit slick. Slippy, that is. The edges are a bit too smooth and it can be quite easy to drop if you’re not careful. It can also be quite hard to pick up from a desk actually when it’s lying flat. I didn’t want to have use a skin or case on this phone, as it’s so beautiful without one and I was going to put my faith in the Gorilla Glass, but I actually have bought a case for it now just to give me better grip on it. The biggest problem I have with the handset is that the main power button is very inset. It hardly sticks out at all. This can actually become a problem when, for example, it’s night time and you reach over and want to press the power button to wake it up and see what time it is or if you have any missed calls. It can actually be hard to feel which way round the phone is and where the button is.

Good – Everything is good with video. Any format of video played, especially with VLC or MX Player. Easy to transfer videos to your phone or to download them from the great Google Play library. Beautiful streaming on Netflix, TVCatchup, YouTube, TED, BBC iPlayer etc. All looking great on the 4″ screen. Maybe it’s not officially called a retina screen but its certainly good enough for me.
Bad – erm, it’s not 3D?

Good – Well this is the main draw of Android, and it doesn’t disappoint. So much control over your app organisation, your home page and your lock screen all as standard. Then you can also install third party menu ‘launchers’. And I’m not going to even get into the things you can do if you root the phone.
Bad – Doesn’t seem to have things like Do Not Disturb features or pre-written text replies but I’m still looking. I could be wrong. If not then I’m sure there are apps for that.

Good – Android apps really have come on in leaps and bounds in the last two years. In some cases they can be better than iOS apps it seems (Spotify I’m looking at you). Just smoother or more settings etc. Maybe there’s a technical reason for this. The apps just pop. So quick and smooth. Probably due to the quad-core Snapdragon processor. They never use to work so well on my previous Nexus S. All the main apps that you could name are all available on Android now of course and are all really well supported. Android is no longer just the immature wee brother of iOS. It’s all grown up and is fighting for the crown. And the Google Play store is awesome now. Way more intuitive than the latest version of the App Store in my opinion. Also, I am a pretty heavy Google user: Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Bookmarks, Google Reader. I use all these many times a day and Android obviously links in natively to these platforms and the apps all work seamlessly.
Bad – There are a few popular newer apps which are still iOS only (such as Vine) but there’s not too many and the number is coming down all the time.

gReader Pro
Google Drive
Google Calendar
Google Maps

And I need to give an honourable mention to all the retro gaming emulators out there. So much more choice on Android. Excellent ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, NES, SNES, Mega Drive and MAME emulators available.

All-in-all, pound for pound the best phone out there and the first iPhone beater in my opinion. Android finally done right.

This Gizmodo user review about the Nexus 4 helped me make my decision to get it and is definitely worth a read if you’re interested in the phone.

My Thoughts on The Hobbit in High Frame Rate 48fps

I’m writing this having just finished watching The Hobbit HFR 3D and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. 48fps instead of the usual 24fps. I’d heard lots of negative comments about the high frame rate and so I was eager to see it for myself.

I have to say, my first reaction was the same as a lot of the comments I had heard. It looked cheap. It looked too real. It looked like a rehearsal or like watching a ‘making of’ documentary where it just looks normal and then you see the ‘afters’ where it looks like a film. This looked like the ‘befores’.

I remember Peter Jackson saying that it can be jarring when you first watch it but that you get used to it after about 8mins and after that you feel more immersed. All I know is that it totally pulled me out of the film initially. Possibly for the first hour. I was too aware. It looked in places like a low budget recreation about the Middle Ages. It looked like an old episode of Doctor Who.

The audio for some reason also didn’t sound great. I struggled to hear some actors. I was very aware of the score, or lack of score in some places. Perhaps this was due to the HFR pulling me out and just making me hyper aware of everything. And in film-making its about immersing the audiences and guiding their senses and emotions. But in HFR 3D it’s hard to hide anything. No more smoke and mirrors or distraction techniques. Everything is sharp and if it’s not spot on it looks fake.

But then a funny thing happened. I started to get more immersed in the second half of the film but I’m not quite sure why.

  • Perhaps I was more gripped by the story and that distracted me, as a good story should
  • Perhaps it was because there were a lot more visual effects in the second half of the film. They have more control over the lighting etc in the visual effects shots and therefore had a better chance of getting it right.
  • Maybe it was because there were more bits in slow motion. Ironic that but it makes sense that the slower motion bits looked more smooth, although its also a bit strange having slow motion without any motion blur. It’s like the actors were just acting slow, like on ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’ or something. But it looked good

One thing I certainly noticed was that the lighting was very important. The bits that were mostly CGI looked stunning in HFR. The bits that looked most jarring were when they filmed against what were obviously sets (particular in the night scenes, interestingly). The lighting somehow just made it look too real and fake, (funny how in the movie business ‘real and fake’ isn’t always a contradiction in terms). When done well it was akin to the difference between standard definition and well shot hi definition. Stunning. But by the same token, and in the same way the early HD often looked very fake, it means you have to be very careful in how you light, apply make up and move the camera. Obviously this will mean that many people will do it badly. Even Peter Jackson didn’t get it right in every scene. And if a badly lit or badly shot scene is so easy to pull you out of the movie then I’m not sure it is something that everyone should try. I certainly wouldn’t want to see a drama or rom-com in HFR. Keep it to the fantasy and sci-fi adventures please. Or even better, nature documentaries and IMAX specials.

Like 3D, HFR has its dos and its dont’s. 3D has become overused and when used with too many fast cuts, like in most action films, it needs to be really dialled back or else it is jarring on the brain as the stereoscopic parallax keeps changing. HFR when used badly can be jarring as things look too sharp and you are pulled out. But I don’t think you can dial back HFR like you can with 3D. A film is either HFR or it isn’t.

But the bottom line is that it is great technology and personally I take my hat off to Mr Jackson for giving it a go. I do think it has a future but it just has to be used carefully and film makers have to know they are doing. It won’t become standard. Perhaps it’s best used for things like fully CGI sequences or longer shots like in nature documentaries. It should not be automatically used for every film. Exactly the same guidelines that 3D should have.

Sometimes 24fps is better. It adds that right amount of motion blur to give it a dreamlike quality and yet still hold persistence of vision. I read that when frame rate drops below 40fps we subconsciously know its not real and this lets us suspend disbelief. This is why 48fps can pull us out more easily and make us more aware of it being actors on a set. I would love to see The Hobbit side by side in both frame rates to do a direct comparison.

Now the big question. Would I opt to watch the next Hobbit movie in HFR or 24fps? To be honest I’m not 100% sure but I think I’d probably give HFR another go. When it’s done right it’s breathtaking.

Oh and by the way, Martin Freeman is fantastic in it.

Image source -

How I Built This Blog

I thought a nice way to kick off this new blog might be to explain how I made it. One for any webheads out there. The bare bones is the TwentyEleven theme from WordPress. I then made a child theme on top of that which changed a few things such as the width, banner, sidebar, colours etc. It’s a great framework to start from as it is clean, HTML5 compatible, and also responsive. I’ve got mixed feelings about responsive design and I will blog about them in a future post but I thought that I shouldn’t dismiss the technology without experimenting with it first hand on a site that isn’t for a paying client. One area that I had heard could be a bit sketchy on responsive sites was video. The beauty of modern WordPress sites is that you don’t have to even get the embed code for YouTube video. You just paste the URL of the YouTube or Vimeo video and it automatically detects it and embeds it as video. Nice and easy. I was hoping I could use this and wouldn’t have to muck about with plugins or jQuery just to get video playing properly at all the responsive sizes. After testing on various platforms and browsers it seems to work ok on most of them with the notable exception being my Android mobile. It doesn’t scale at all on that. Some others just have a slightly stretched bounding box around the properly resized video which to me isn’t a big issue.

I’ve also included some basic CSS3 effects, again just to see how well it works on different browsers. If you roll over the blog title and most other links on posts and in the sidebar then they should transition from grey to black or vice versa and back again on rollout. This seems to work fine on Firefox and Safari but on Chrome there is an annoying little bug which means that it stops working on links that you have already visited.

In terms of design I wanted to keep it ultra clean and make it all about the content. To highlight the content even more I made the banner and sidebars grey unless you roll over the links. I plan to try to include a full colour image to all posts to help enhance the content and make the homepage look more attractive. I’m also currently playing around with some jQuery animation ideas to possibly add to the sidebar.

More to come I’m sure! Blog version 1.0

New Year, New Blog

Well, the time has finally come. The sun is rising on my new blog. Thought I’d keep the design nice and simple. So that it doesn’t distract from the great content? Something like that. Expect a pot pourri of eclectic posts. Yep, that means pretty random content. From reviews of new gadgets and comments on tech trends, to observations in design and ramblings about retro geekness. Some old posts are below. New ones coming soon.

Anyone who is along for the journey, I hope you enjoy the ride.

Sunrise image

8 ways to improve your corporate videos

If they say that a picture paints a thousand words then a video must paint over 25,000 words per second. Video is an incredibly powerful medium which is becoming more and more expected by users online. If you are producing your own video there are several things you can do to ensure that it is the highest quality you can make it.

Choose a style
Think about what you want to get from your video. Who is your audience? Do you want a slick corporate interview or a fun, engaging viral video? Can you make it hand-held or do you need a tripod? The style of your video sets the tone and depending on what style you choose it will affect how you handle some of the other points below. Know what you want, and then go for it.

Know your content
Part of your preparation is to know exactly what you want to film. It can be much more difficult to just go out with a camera not really knowing what shots you want. If you know from the start what you need to get then these shots will come out better. Draw up a storyboard. Print out your questions and know them well. If you’re interviewing someone and they address three of your questions in one answer you will want to be able to adapt on the move and adjust any further questions to fit.

Get your kit ready
Whether you are using a high-end Sony Z5 HD camera, a consumer level camcorder or your iPhone you need to know your kit. Make sure you know how to switch it on quickly and know of anything that can happen accidentally like a particular mode button that can be easily knocked. When you’re busy filming you don’t want to have to be messing about with the menus. Also double-check and triple-check that you have all the batteries charged, spare tapes/memory sticks etc before you leave the office. If your basic kit is 100% ready then that gives you more confidence and less things that can go wrong. Keep these things ready all the time in case you get called out in a rush.

Find a good location
Location, location, location. If you can get a good location then it puts you in control. You need as much control over the lighting and background noise as you can, plus you will want the background and scenery to look interesting whilst not distracting. If you’re filming at someone’s office then try to make sure they book you a room in advance which is big enough for your needs, has decent lighting and most importantly does not have background noise. There are ways to handle small rooms or bring your own lighting, but background noise is one thing that you cannot remove in post-production. Also make sure you arrive 30mins before the subject walks in the room so that you can get setup with camera angles and lighting before you have to manage with the subject.

Some people waste money on cameras or lenses which are superfluous to their needs. These are worth nothing unless you have good lighting. A good lighting setup will improve your picture tenfold. Soft lights are better than hard lights as they don’t produce as much shadow. Direct sunlight can be quite harsh and if you rely on using natural light from a window just be watchful for cloudy periods during filming as that can make your shot look hugely different when you’re editing it later. Ideally a 3 point lighting system is the way to go but even if you have only one light point you can be creative by having that light the subject from an angle, or bounce it off a wall to soften it even more.

Good audio is extremely important. Think about how you can happily watch an in-flight movie on a small screen a few rows ahead of you as long as you have the audio at a nice level in your headphones, but conversely when you’re watching TV on your brand new 42″ HDTV at home and the volume is too low it can be very uncomfortable. The one thing that makes the biggest difference in the quality of a final video is the quality of the audio. Bad audio screams ‘amateur’. Not only can you not remove any background noise in post-production, but editing audio quality is much harder than colour correcting poor visuals. Ideally use a boom mic, a radio lapel mic or even just get the camera’s internal mic as close as you can to the subject.

Put your subject at ease
Many people, even CEOS, melt in front of a camera. Be prepared for this. You may have to record segments several times and then edit the good takes together later. If they have to read text out try to make sure they are familiar with the text in advance. Attempting to tape a makeshift autocue underneath the camera lens doesn’t work as you can see their eyes move. If you are filming an interview on your own, try to get the camera all setup and recording and then leave it alone. If you are fidgeting with the camera during the interview you will break eye contact with the subject and also make them more aware of the camera being there.

Editing out the pauses
You’ll notice from any good video, TV show or movie that the editing is very tight. Try to minimise the awkward pauses at the beginning and end of takes. Tighter editing is better than loose editing. If you are having to cut between different takes of the same headshot, it’s handy to have shot some extra shots of the building, environment, and related activities that you can cut away to during the transition. This way the audio of the speaker continues in the background and you don’t notice the jump cut.

Below are a few examples of our videos, filmed using various techniques and in various situations. Feel free to contact us at if you would like to ask for any advice in video production.

Autoglass 2020
Autoglass April Fool
Boardroom Tweets
IBM Predictive Analytics at Marwell Wildlife

[via LEWIS PR]

Social gaming – are we having fun yet?

Gaming is no longer the domain of the teenager or young adult. And I’m not just talking about video games. They became mainstream years ago. Now we are all allowed to have fun, and we’re allowed to have it anywhere we want. This act of gamification is evident everywhere, from unlocking badges in FourSquare or Gowalla, to making exercise and education fun in video games such as WiiFit and Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training. Fun is being used as a way to instigate interaction and participation. The brilliant Fun Theory videos by Volkswagen take this to another level such as their video where speeding drivers’ fines get put into a Lottery pot which is won by one of the safe drivers on the same stretch of road. Everything now needs fun and rewards.

There’s no question that social gaming has almost always been preferred than playing games on our own. Watching experts play Street Fighter down the arcade was better than just playing against the computer in your bedroom. Playing with a friend on Bubble Bobble or with several friends on Gauntlet are some of the seminal moments in gaming history. And more recently technologies like Xbox Live have revolutionised the gaming experience. This social gaming mentality is now crossing borders and is breaking into mainstream activities. Is it the competitive element we love? Or the rewards? Or just the fact that we can have fun doing things that used to be boring? In a time where recession depression looms permanently overhead, our common woes are being relieved by bouts of social gaming. You know that other people, including your friends, are playing these games and so you feel a part of a bigger group. Or to put it another way you know that you are not alone. After all, isn’t that our biggest fear? Being alone? Stats reveal that some online games have higher audiences than prime time TV shows. Farmville recently had 30 million players per day while Dancing With The Stars in the US had about 24 million viewers (stats via

Nintendo’s new handheld console the 3DS has a groundbreaking 3D technology which doesn’t need glasses. That’s amazing. And yet this isn’t the feature that is drawing everyone to the device. It’s their Street Pass technology, which for example allows users to play a game of Street Fighter wirelessly with anyone else on the train who happens to have a 3DS, or exchange game puzzle information with each other even when the device is in sleep mode, which is proving to be attracting many people.

And no article about social gaming would be complete without mentioning the phenomenon that is Angry Birds. Even though I am one of the few who don’t actually like it (I can hear you gasp as I type this – I prefer Cut The Rope), there’s no denying that Angry Birds has become a behemoth of social gaming. Not only is it linking in with Facebook (almost a necessity these days), where it can access all your personal data, but it is also becoming a mega brand of its own. Over 12 million paid copies have been download, and over 30 million of the free version. It is generating over $1 million a day in advertising and is moving into the areas of clothing, plush toys and even a full length feature movie. All from a little game you play on your smartphone.

One other very exciting technology is Screach which allows people with any smartphone to join in a game, using the phone as a controller, such as on a big screen in a bar and compete with their fellow patrons. It could revolutionise the pub quiz. Every interaction has a value and advertisers might pay to join in those interactions or the user might pay for the experience. This paves the way for the main investers in social gaming: advertising, vouchers and coupons. More and more we are seeing adverts placed inside the games themselves, such as real products being grown within Farmville or in-game billboards in many titles. And vouchers and coupons which have been used in networks such as FourSquare, Gowalla and Groupon for a long time are now making their way into games. One user has a value, but when that user is part of a network with similar interests and has a passion for achieving fun goals, that value is multiplied.

So next time you’re enjoying playing a social game, think about all those people who are benefitting from you having fun. It’s good to share the love. Just remember that, as in any game, we can’t all be winners. Or can we?

[Via LEWIS 360]