Youngfilmmakers was an exciting project we developed with Hounslow based charity Spark the aim of which was to give students (aged between 15-18) an opportunity to work with experienced filmmakers (us!) and for them to produce 5 short films for 5 Hounslow based Charities or businesses in groups of 5. The charities involved were Cultivate London, MSO Marine, The Musical Musuem, Age UK, and I&H Homes.

The students first had to pitch in front of a panel of 6 and the winners of the pitch were selected to participate in the 2 week long course.

The students all had interesting ideas and it was hard to select the participants at first, but eventually clear winners were found.

Workshop Day

All the students (27) turned out on Easter Monday to the Docking Station in Brentford where we ran a day-long intensive camera workshop. The idea was to introduce the students to the equipment they would be using (Canon DSLRs, specifically the Canon 5D Mark III), as although some had experience filming before, DSLRs were new to the students. We also showed them interview technique and introduced them to the lighting and sound equipment they would be using to make the films. Nell also talked through the groups about their ideas, to make sure their scripts had come together and to check the group had assigned the roles for filming.

Azul shows Amelia the RED Epic

At the end of the day Brazilian feature film cinematographer Azul Serra introduced us to his work, talking about how he had produced it, he then showed the students his RED EPIC (as used on The Hobbit amongst countless other Hollywood productions) and we tested out the high speed capabilities of the camera! Much to the students amusement.

Berry and India get to grips with the 5D

Once the workshop was over each group was given 1 day to shoot their film and then an editing workshop and a further two days to edit them. On the shoot the students worked in the roles they’d chosen for themselves, with one person nominated director, camera, sound and then often a second person filming as well on the Nikon D5200. We felt it was important to give the students that wanted to film the opportunity to do so and on several of the shoots it was great to get some extra footage from the B -camera that we could incorporate into the final film.

The filming went really well except for the unseasonable weather (snow in April!) which was surprising to say the least! But we got some great footage in the can and then it was back to West Thames College for editing.

MSO Team hard at work

We taught the students using the latest Adobe Premiere CS6 which they took to really quickly and edited their films to a great standard. Some of the students had edited before, some had never edited before but we taught them all the tricks we know, showing them useful shortcuts and ways to speed up their cutting as well as advising them on the structure for their films and how to pick the best shots. We also showed examples of our own work to inspire them and to show them the different styles of editing as well as group discussions about editing a sequence. As there were only 10 or so students editing Anny and myself would work with 2 groups at a time and regularly switch between them to ensure that their progress was going ok and that they would reach the Friday deadline.

The final films had music composed specifically for them by Alex R Winter who did a brilliant job with the ideas that the students had given him, (some very specific, like it needs to sound like this song, to another group choosing their instrumentation and mood).

We were delighted with what the students achieved in the period of time and at times it felt like we were running a little film studio! The students impressed us with their organisation, their timekeeping, their ideas, their team work, their hard work and their imagination. We were simply blown away by the quality of work they produce and hope you are too.

The experience of running the course was incredibly satisfying, not only to produce excellent work that all the charities / businesses were incredibly impressed by (and will be using on their own websites) but also sharing our skills and knowledge with students who were so eager to learn. They gave an incredible account of themselves and it is to their credit that the final films produced are of such a high standard.

Dave has been working on his MA (Digital Documentary) since October and had to produce a short documentary for his course.

The film had to be about a person or a place and he choose to make it about his hairdresser Allan whom he’s known the last 15 years. Allan was approaching his 65th birthday at the time and the film looks back at Allans’ life in the barbershop and his plans for the future.

We’d filmed with Monkseaton back in November 2011 when they helped us out with some programmes for Newton TV.

We jumped at the opportunity to revisit the school and produce a couple of bespoke films for the school to promote the opportunities for students and the facilities of the school.

We wanted to try something fun and included some nice POV shots that we did on the latest Go-Pro (3 Silver). These added the personal perspective we were looking for (as well as providing much amusement for the students taking part!

The beginning of a busy summer for Picnic started with this great job for Chichester University. The EdUmatics project has been running for 3 years and is a European-wide educational development project aimed at improving the use of technology in the Maths classroom. With partners from Germany, Italy, France, UK, Slovenia, and the Netherlands we were asked to produce a video showing the work of the project.

Filming began in Worthing West Sussex at Davison’s High School showing the work of the Maths teachers involved in the UK – Netherlands partnership.

We filmed in Montpellier and in Slovenia for the project and delivered a 5 minute cut & 28 minute cut in 7 different languages!

Here’s a video we made for SPARK the new name for the Hounslow Education Business Partnership.

Nell came up with a cracking idea for the video and we filmed this in a couple of hours at Chiswick School. Many thanks to the school for their help and the great work of the students!

It’s been a busy summer at Picnic, filming a 30 minute documentary for a European Maths Project in Slovenia, France and the UK. We’ve been working on a corporate promo for the Hounslow Education Business Partnership and filming the annual Institute of Physics lecture at the Royal Institution.

We’ve not produced a showreel in sometime to showcase the breadth of our work but here’s a glimpse of some of what makes Picnic – Picnic.

Footage included was shot on a variety of Canon DSLRs for a variety of clients.

If you’d like to know what Picnic can do for you then drop us an email. Cheers

It was an absolute thrill to go to the BFI this month with the team from the Institute of Physics to collect an award for our Career films.

Apparently -  ‘The judges liked STEM career clips for it’s objective (to encourage studying and careers in science).  They also felt that the resource addresses its target age-group well – the content was lively and interesting to 14-16 year olds. The fact that fundamental science principles were linked to work issues was also praised by the jury.  This was voted to win unanimously by the jury’

Take a look for yourself:

We think these films work because they are fast paced and fun, teach you a bit about physics and give you plenty of questions to ask a teacher. We also like that over 90,000 people watched the film about Natural Motion on Vimeo. They were  great to make and were inspired by an initial idea by Dr. Saher Ahmed, and supported by Taj Bhutta and James McNish of the IOP who were an absolute pleasure to collaborate with and never seemed to tire of my endless questions.  Many thanks to the small Picnic team that worked on the films, to James for finding the contributors and Kim for making the pictures move, and of course thanks to the BUFVC for organising the awards evening.

End of Oscar acceptance speech!

In conclusion the BUFVC judges said this about our film – “the jury agreed that the winner stood out for its educational value and ability to meet the needs of its target audience head-on by linking the application of science with important world issues.”

So it has happened, we’ve gone and invested in the 5D Mark III and it is absolutely beautiful.

Also, and importantly we can film stripes! (Moire is reduced) and the camera body seems to be able to cope without overheating.

I’ll upload some work as we do it but for now enjoy Dave filming the sea in Worthing, the day he opened the box.

We are delighted to have been nominated for the Learning on Screen award run by the BUFVC and are really excited to be going to the party in April to see who the winner is!

The films that have been nominated are the career films we made to support the IOP in their mission to persuade more people to take physics to A-level.

You can see them here:

Keep your fingers and toes crossed for us.

January has been a busy month for Picnic, editing our Newton Science content. But we wanted to enter the Jessops competition ‘The Shot’ to produce a 10 minute film around the theme of ‘The Shot’. I’ve wanted to make a film about a landscape photographer for about a year now, and we were fortunate to find Sławek locally in Sussex. He’s an extremely talented photographer, taking breathtaking shots of the Sussex coastline and countryside. As it turns out we were the only documentary entry, and so far we’ve had 4499 views (in two days!).

We were very inspired by Philip Bloom’s wonderful film ‘Booth’s and Bodies‘ all shot on the Sony Nex-5N, a beautiful little camera we got back in October and have started using more and more. We wanted to make something as visual as the artistry that was taking place on screen and something philosophical. In Sławek we had the perfect candidate.

Workshop Day

We woke at 5am on Monday 23rd January (not easy after a weekend walking in the New Forest!) and picked Sławek up, parked up (in near darkness) to begin the 20 minute walk to the Seven Sisters in Sussex. A truly beautiful location for a dawn shoot. We shot for a few hours as the sun swiftly rose, we were the only people for miles and it was incredibly peaceful. It was a beautiful morning, the waves were crashing by the cliffs as we ventured round one, then two of the bases of the impressive chalk cliffs following Sławek as he looked for ‘the shot’ that he had never got before at Seven Sisters. As he talked about the illusive images that he goes looking for, each one more extraordinary and unique than the last, we were reminded of our own pursuit for perfection, our own drive to get better shots than ever before. Ultimately Sławek reminded us that the pursuit of the shot is just as important as actually taking ‘the shot’, and the mere act of filming / photography is an enlightening and enriching experience regardless of the results. No trip is ever fruitless, and for us this film most certainly was very fruitful indeed.

You can watch the full film below, shot by Nell and myself on the Sony Nex 5-N and the Canon 550D.