Thursday, 4 February 2016


Well, that's kind of another way of saying that Tuesday this week was Groundhog Day! Yeah!

Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog residing in the town he is named after in Pennsylvania, did not see his shadow, which means there will be an early Spring.

I had a little chuckle to myself when I saw the listing for one of the Sky channels this week. It was showing the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, over and over again, all day. Someone in programme scheduling clearly has a sense of humour.

I've had a bit of a Groundhog Day myself all week, as I feel I have been continually editing the same short film over and over again for one of the young student groups at the performing arts academy, here in Edinburgh. I've been using a technique called rotoscoping. This is where you take the image of a person moving and trace round them accurately, so you can transplant them from the original background, onto a different one. It's basically animation, as you have to do it one frame at a time. And there are 25 frames every second! Most clips I've been using are only around two seconds long, but that can take me around eight hours. More if I get it wrong, which I did at the start of the week and had to start again.

As I said, my very own Groundhog Day.

Aside from editing I'm attempting to make my own sound recording blimp. This is a sausage shaped housing, roughly 10cm wide and 40cm long, with rounded ends. Normally made of plastic mesh, with roughly 5mm holes, I'm making mine out of steel, mainly for strength. Then I've added a fine net curtain-type mesh onto one side, rolled it into shape, securing it with steel wire. I then bought some faux fur, and made what is called a "deadcat", a big fluffy, hairy sleeve, which goes over the outside to further reduce wind noise.  The kids always have a chuckle at the name.

So what is this "blimp".

When you are recording sound on a windy day, even with a slight breeze, it can be heard like a jet engine going across the camera's microphone. But within the shielded space inside the blimp the air is perfectly still. So you place the microphone inside on a special shock mount, and hold the whole thing as close as you can to the person you're recording, and you get almost perfect sound, with not a hint of any wind. It is quite remarkable. Last week we were outside with one we had hired, and the wind was gusting 50mph. So effective was the blimp that initially I thought the microphone had not been switched on!
I have a fairly good microphone but no blimp, and they are upwards of £200 to buy. So I sat down to design my own one over the course of a couple of days, and I'm almost finished. One challenge was how to create the curved ends. As I was in my local supermarket I had a eureka moment when I found 10cm wide sieves! Perfect. I just have to cut the supports off and fit them on each end. Job done.

It's not been tested yet, as I'm still making the deadcat to go over it.

In some countries they call it a dead wombat. Maybe this week I should call it a dead hog, in honour of Phil.

Maybe not.

No comments: