Thursday, November 30, 2006

New York at Night

Welcome to the third post about my recent holiday in New York. It is such a vibrant city and at night it dresses itself up in lights and takes on a whole new look. The photos above and below are of Times Square (of course!). This part of NY looks fantastic at night with it's row upon row of illuminated screens, lit up advertisements, moving images and bright lights. It really is a rainbow of colours and was always full of people no matter what time of day I was there.

The photo below is looking towards Radio City (close up in the last photo) but is typical of Manhatten at night with many of the windows in the buildings lit up which makes them look kind of pretty. I particulalry love the picture below as you can see the people on the sidewalk going about their business but looking dark and shadowy.

The next picture is looking down one of the avenues near Radio City where they had put thousands of lights in the trees which looked really festive. Walking around NY many of the shops, especially on 5th Avenue had Christmas window displays and many of the trees were dressed in lights like the ones below which really started me feeling all Christmassy!

The picture below is one of Radio City which is hosting a Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. For more than three quarters of a century, the Radio City Rockettes have kicked and danced at Radio City and they have become a beloved national icon and a true slice of Americana. Radio City Music Hall opened its doors on December 27, 1932. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett were only a few of the celebrities and luminaries to grace the Great Stage. over the years.

So, these are my pics of New York at night. I hope you enjoyed them. More NY pics to follow soon...

Monday, November 27, 2006

On top of the world

The thing thta was top of my list to do while I was in New York was to visit the Empire State Building. It is so iconic, being in dozens and dozens of films that I just had to go and see it for myself. Of course, I also wanted to see the wonderful view of NY from the top too so I got up early to avoid the queue and off I went on what was a gloriously sunny day. As you can see from the first photo, the Empire State Building is a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture and there was plenty of evidence of this inside.

I was really lucky with the weather as the visibility was excellent and when I got to the top an absolutely wonderful view of the city was before me on all sides. The photo below is looking uptown and you can just make out Central Park behind the buildings in the centre. I visited the park a couple of times and will share some pics with you in a couple of days.

Below is a picture of the wonderful Chrysler Building, which is another marvellous example of Art Deco architecture and is so unique and elegant looking. I zoomed right in on it as it really is a beautiful to look at and also because I could see it from my hotel window.

In the next photo you can see how the view of the Chrysler Building actually looked from the top of the Empire State Building. This pic is looking East and you can see the East river behind the tall tall buildings with Queens in the background. If you look at the horizon you can also see the curviture of the earth! Isn't that amazing?

The photo below is looking uptown once more but this time I zoomed in on the Flat Iron Building. It is such an unusual shape that it was easy to pick out and you can also see Madison Square Park in front of it. Later the same day I went to that park to see the Flat Iron Building up close and personal as the sun was setting as you can see in the next pic.

For the photo below I zoomed in on a junction of the roads where you can see the ubiquitous yellow cabs. I used these a couple of times though I mostly walked or used the Subway (my poor feet!), and I must say I smiled as I hailed one of these cabs as I have seen it in the movies so many times!

I actually spent quite some time at the Empire State Building but after half an hour it really started to get crowded up there. As I came down I was also surprised by how long the queue had gotten with people waiting to get in and go up. My tip is to get there early though I must say I would like to go back and see the same view at night when the city is all lit up.

(Btw - all the pictures in this post and other posts as indicated are taken by me so please don't reproduce them without permission. Thanks!)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back in the UK and jetlagged!

I'm back and at the moment I am soooo tired despite just sleeping for eleven hours! Guess I have jetlag. Anyway, it was nice to see that some of you had left me a message so thanks for that - it's nice to know you dropped by :0)

Anyway, I had an absolutely fantastic time in New York. It rocks!!! Big time. I thought I'd share a few of my photos with you as a taster now and I will post more over the next few days. I did so much and saw so many great things it would be impossible to write about it all at once. To start with, the first photo was the view from my hotel room. The hotel was called The Alex and was very nice. It was quite modern and comfortable and I even had an LCD TV in the bathroom. But the best bit by far was waking up on my first day, opening the curtains and seeing the Chrysler Building. It really is a stunning building and looked great at night too when it was all lit up.

Despite my hotel room being great I didn't spend too much time in it as there was so much I to see and do. I must have walked miles and miles while I was there but I also used the subway a lot too with the fabulous Grand Central Terminal being my nearest station. I could not believe how big it was or how beautiful this station was inside. Still, at the end of every day my feet were sore from walking!

The next picture was taken at dusk when I was exporing and was taken up the road from Radio City which you can just see in the distance. New York is definitely a city that looks good at night and my first view of it as we drove in was at night and I left in the dark too. What an impressive skyline! The other thing that took my breath away was how tall many of the buildings were. This meant that even on a nice day the sidewalk was often in the shade and boy, it could feel cold so I wrapped up nice and warm.

The photo above was taken at the site of the World Trade Centre which I visited on the day I went Downtown. It was quite a moving experience as there were pictures of 9/11 displayed at the site as well as a run down of the events that day. It was quite a positive place too however as you could see the building work taking place and it really felt like NY was repairing itself and looking forwards with this new project.

The next photo was taken from the top of the Empire State Building. The view took my breath away. It didn't matter which way you looked there was a building you recognised and the people and cars below looked sooo small. The photo below is of the East side of the city and my hotel was a block north of the Chrysler Building which you can see in the picture.

The next picture is of Radio City. I didn't go and see a show there but I was quite taken with how it looked all lit up with this huge Chriustmas Tree. The Rockettes were in the Macy's Parade which I turned out to see but was a bit of a wash out. It was cold, wet and miserable and the poor people in the parade looked the same even though they were trying to put a brave face on it. The weather also meant that the balloons were tethered very low so it was not such an impressive sight. I also discovered that on Thanksgiving NY is more or less is shut! The city that never sleeps took a day off for the holiday so I went to the cinema in Times Square instead. I saw Happy Feet and the New Bond Film and I must say that seeing a film is a much different experience in the US. American audiences seem much more vociferous and seem to get quite wrapped up in the film gasping at all the white knuckle moments and even yelling at the screen, or maybe this is just New York?

Anyway, I did go to see Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in the Lincoln Centre which was wonderful. The sets were beautiful and the production was excellent and I also thought the Lincoln Centre was a lovely building with an Art Deco feel and an impressive chandalier in the foyer and auditorium.

My wanderings around NY took me to MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum, The Natural History Museum, Rockerfeller centre, Wall Street, Battery Park, Bronx Zoo, the Staten Island Ferry and 5th Ave and the area around it for shopping (including Tiffany's and Bloomingdales) and I have some pics to share soon. I also took time to walk around Central Park which is in the last photo below. I visited Strawberry Fields and also saw the skaters though I didn't go skating myself.

Anyway, I'm tired so I'll write more soon. I had such a great few days away but came away wanting to go back as there is still so much to see!

Friday, November 17, 2006


At last!!! My bags are packed, I have my currency, my travel insurance and my passport and I am off to New York! I am so excited that if I was a kid I could pee myself. I have wanted to visit The Big Apple for a long time now and I can hardly believe that I am actually going.

I am going with a friend and we have a list as long as the yellow brick road of things we want to do and see, but as we are only there for 5 days I suspect that we won't get to do it all! I don't mind though, the intention is not to stick to a rigid itinery but to go where we fancy going when we want to go and see where our feet take us. There are some things that I definitely want to do though including going up the Empire State Building, walking around Central Park, Times Square, Ground Zero and going to see Tosca at the Met Opera. As we are there for Thanksgiving then we also intend to go and see the Macy's parade but I am mostly looking forward to just walking around, sightseeing and shopping and taking things in. Thanks to everyone who suggested things for me to do - I have noted them in my Rough Guide to NY.

Anyway, I will be AWOL until the following weekend so in the meantime I will leave you with the following video (It's extremely clever but a little sad) and if you haven't taken a squizz already, then check out the video on the last post. Also leave a comment and let me know you dropped by. Enjoy! I know I will ;0)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

By The Blade

Last weekend I went out filming with Spearhead Films again. We decided to totally re-shoot the whole sword fight from beginning to end using a different set-up for the camera. We pumped the frame rate up and opened up the shutter more. We wanted plenty of depth of field so many of the close-ups were shot a fair distance away and then we zoomed in on the subject. We also went for a much lower camera angle which gave a much more dramatic effect and added some camera shake. Of course some clever editing has added to the pace and drama.

The final version will involve actors in futuristic clothing and ancient armour in a fight to the death for a future sci-fi film. This sequence is to test camerawork, angles and fight choreography and was shot and edited in approx 6 hours. We used Apple Macs for editing and Sony HDV cameras for the filming, the quality of the YouTube video does not reflect the quality of the final video.The sound is all stock from the camera as this is a camera and choreography project. We would record sound separately on our final feature project.

This time when we went out the leaves on the trees had turned more yellow and brown and gave quite a striking background to the fight. As this is simply a test shot sequence for a much bigger project there is not really much of a story here but basically the hero prevails! My take on it is that these two men trained together but that one of them wronged the other in such a way that only a fight to the death would settle the matter and restore honour. Anyway, I would be interested to know what you think of the video, especially compared to the first test clip. Also, what is your take on what happens? I'd love to hear your view!

Watch This Space...

Coming soon...

The sword fight sequence is currently being edited and will be showing here in the next day or so. So now you can find out what happens!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Even Pandas Sneeze

This is just a quick post as I wanted to share this clip with you. It made me laugh out loud!

I am out filming today with Spearhead Films. We are going to film the whole sword sequence that we filmed a bit of last week. We are going to experiment more with camera angles and effects this time and see how it comes out. If all goes well I should be posting the finished video here soon.

Meanwhile I hope this clip makes you smile :0)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rush Hour

This clip speaks for itself! It was an advert made by the BBC called 'Rush hour' and featured David Belle who invented the sport of Parkour. I remember seeing it for the first time and being absolutely amazed as I had never seen anything like it and every time it came on I was glued to the TV. I mean this guy actually does this stuff! Anyway, I thought you might like it to so here it is!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Look at what I did!

Some of you might have noticed a link to Spearhead Films on my blog. This is a small independent film company based in the UK that I have become involved with. So far they have made two feature films and one is signed for distribution and has been sold in Japan.

At the moment the company is in the very early stages of pre-production on their next big project. I can't share any details with you but it should be excellent.The video below is a test sequence we shot today. It was also a training session for me on the camera, and I am quite pleased with my efforts. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New York New good they named it twice!

I'm in countdown mode to my holiday now... 17 days to go 'til I fly to New York. I'm getting quite excited as I have wanted to go for some time and just about everyone I know has been and tells me it's fantastic. Of course here in the UK we see so much of it on TV and in films too so that I am told that it is instantly familiar even though you've never been there. I'm going to do so much walking and sightseeing and perhaps a little shopping too :-)

I have a list...

Empire State Building
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Times Square
Macy's and Bloomingdales
Met Opera (going to see Tosca)
Central Park
Site of the World Trade Centre

I am there for 6 days and I have the feeling that it won't be long enough.

My brother and sister were in NY when 911 took place. I remember that for a time we weren't sure if they were OK and it was such a relief when we found out that they were. You see, they were meant to be flying back that day and were at the airport and for a while we weren't sure if it was their plane. They managed to stay in touch via email as the phone lines were not good for a few days and we managed to get them back a week later. Meanwhile I had to wire them money so they could afford to eat and pay the hotel for the extra week. A few weeks after their return I got a postcard of the World Trade Centre that they had posted the day before which I have kept. I know that day affected other people in far more profound ways than this but that is my personal experience.

Anyway, my brother and sister still sing the praises of NY and both want to go back so I am taking their advice and seeing it for myself and I can't wait. If you have any suggestions of things I should do or see leave me a comment :0)