Thursday, 29 December 2016

Are charity videos needed?

Are there too many charity videos on the TV and internet? Are the public becoming numb to charity video appeals? Do you wonder how you can make your charity video stand out among the crowd?

It could be a harder task than ever before to appeal to the good nature of the public to support a charitable cause. With TV broadcast saturated with advert  appeals to encourage us to give to various charitable causes, you may wonder how you can make your charity video achieve more impact than what's already out there.

We need charitable organisations, and charitable organisations need support. It's easy to take things for granted and we can forget that in the background charities are constantly working to help keep the cogs turning. Without them and the support they receive there would be such a collapse in society more than we could realise.

So, we need charitable organisations, and charities need a good visual impact to help make us all aware of what is at stake, and to appeal for support. One of the ways this can be done is with video. Video is now the greatest way to communicate. Quite simply, everyone wants to see it in action, whether it's something to purchase, something to do, a place to go, and experience, a memory, music, tips, tutorials, products, and reviews. Therefore a charity video is also necessary for fundraising, appeals, public awareness, news, and promotional purposes.

There are a huge amount of charity videos in circulation, but without them how would we know? How would they be able to reach out to the public for support? The moment we are not made aware is the moment we can turn a blind eye. There can never be too many charity videos to keep us aware of the reality, encourage us to take part, and ask for support.

It's easy to become numb to charity videos which is why it is important for the video to have an impact. It's important not to rely solely on tugging at the heart strings. Emotive videos are great, but great scripting, the right sound track, and thought provoking ideas will help the video to rise above the others. More importantly, it will help to stay in people's minds rather than blend in with others.

Below is a selection of charity videos by Trapdoor Films. If you would like to see more then you can visit

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Documentary Video Production

A special place

"Pardon Mill .....a special place..."
What a true statement this was in this special documentary we produced.
Parndon Mill is tucked away on the outskirts of Harlow in Essex. It is a hidden treasure which is home to over 30 different creative businesses, arts, and creative designers. many would not even know it is there. This hub of creativity was a flour mill a long time ago, and today it still holds it's character in it's beautiful surrounds.
This was one of our first filming projects and a documentary video production was in at the deep end. The film is narrated by Robert Halfon MP. Robert often visits and has his lunch in the grounds of Parndon Mill amidst it's tranquility set next to the River Stort.

More than just a filming project

In this film we interviewed Sally Anderson and Roger Lee. Sally is the owner and founder of Parndon Mill and she gives a lovely brief over view of the history. Roger Lee takes care of the everyday running of the mill. Both are passionate artists themselves and have even worked together on projects. What comes across in the often emotional interview is how in love they both are with what goes on within the mill. In Roger's own words "'s the people that are Parndon Mill".
We had the pleasure of visiting some of the varied different works that go on behind closed doors at Parndon Mill. For us this was quite enlightening and we learnt a lot. For us this was more than just a filming project. The documentary was filmed over quite a few weeks in order to coincide with some of the busy schedules there.

We hope you enjoy this short documentary and welcome you comments.

If you like our work and enjoy seeing it please ‘like’ us on facebook. You can also follow us on Twitter & Google+, and subscribe to us on Vimeo and Youtube.

Past Life - How we filmed it

So, we had the idea to put together a promotional video production that was edgy, and showed some varied filming and post production ideas.
It was fun putting together, and initially we had in mind a warm sunny summers day in a concrete suburban area, something like a flyover. However, instead it was winter, cold, and spitting with rain. Furthermore, we ended up in a dirty underground car park and a town park area.
Still, it added to a cool grungy effect and just made the angle of the film head a little bit differently. But this is often how it happens, you start with the initial idea and it develops, unfolds, and it can change. In the end your finished product can be different to the idea at the you started with.
it was important that the short film told a story, and at the same time story needed to be short, sharp, hard hitting and grungy. We also wanted to have the use of graffiti, jumping and break dancing within the video. I approached a good friend of mine, James Blunderfield, who agreed to be used in the film. James teaches break dancing so it seemed a good idea!


Before filming even starts, if a sound track is going to be integral to the video then I think it's important to have this in mind before you even start. The music could influence the feel of how you actually film.


Originally I wanted to use the underneath of a flyover for the shoot. The shape and the mass of concrete would have been a great effect, especially against the sky. We did find a couple of locations, but the best ones weren't that accessible and trying to get permission to film when it's on land belonging to someone else is a right pain! We then tried to find some derelict sites for effect but security companies always got in the way.
James then had a good idea about a little known old car parking area underneath some flats, it was dingy dirty, oh and awesome! The main issue with our chosen location was the light, or the lack of it. Although there were pockets of light from above and at one end through some shutters. These lighted areas actually added towards a great effect in the end.

Camera Settings

We wanted to shoot in 1/4000 shutter speed to create gritty sharp motion. Our reason for this was also to to be able to control slow motion much better. The frame rate was 50fps for the same reason. Of course, with little light it proved quite difficult at times, but it added to the whole grungy look anyway.
The other issue we had was that we wanted James to spray graffiti as this formed part of the 'Past Life' story. But we weren't about to be arrested for criminal damage for real. Therefore we added the graffiti in post production. So, in effect James was actually in front of a blank wall spraying nothing at it.
The actual hours of filming probably came to around 6 hours. It was cold and wet, and not really ideal for break dancing I guess.

Post Production

As previously mentioned having the sound track settled before editing the footage is so important. For us, this is what produces the feel, the flow,  and the impact of the whole film. Too often we have seen some well filmed footage out there, but the music is added as though it's a backing track to a montage of clips. For this reason the video then becomes a series of clips stitched together with music to help it along. Wrong. The goal is to make the two become one.


Within the post production, the biggest time consumer was getting the graffiti on the wall. To do this a still image was taken of a drawing James did on a piece of paper. This was probably about 10 x 6 inches in size. This still image then had to be masked. The image then went through quite a few different processes to give it a life like feel. What we tried to achieve was a rough effect as though on a brick wall. It wasn't bad in the end.
One thing you will notice is that the camera is moving in all but one of the scenes where graffiti is being sprayed on the wall. If the shot was still it would be easy. So the image then had to be motion tracked to follow the movement and angle of the wall.
The last shot of James spraying the graffiti has a green screen spray effect as no real spray was used.
In post production we decided we wanted a 'filmic' look. I wanted to get away from the video look as much as possible. This was another reason we didn't shoot interlaced, but progressive.
The natural colours also needed dealing with to give more of a grunge appearance. We didn't want it too colourful.
Chroma keying was used to overlay the targeting effects. These were then motion tracked.


The ultra slow-mo effect on the jump, on the break dance twist, the jump over the bench, and the spray was created with the help of Twixtor. This is a cool program but works best if the background is as clear as possible so not to interfere. These ultra slow- mo shots normally only work well for a few frames before warping appears. This normally appears around the parts that move the fastest. Twixtor has to work hard to keep up where there is a lot of information on the screen, so with quick movement this makes it quite difficult. Therefore our shots had to be chosen carefully.
If you want Trapdoor Films to get involved with your promotional video production then contact us.

 If you like our work and enjoy seeing it please ‘like’ us on facebook. You can also follow us on Twitter & Google+, and subscribe to us on Vimeo and Youtube.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Reaching New Heights

We had a great experience filming the charity video for the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust. As well as filming the helicopter and the crew, we had the the added bonus of meeting and filming Jonny Coggan, a paralympic wheelchair rugby athlete.

The Airbase

It was a packed agenda at the Earls Colne Airbase in Colchester. The weather was on our side which meant the helicopter would be flying today. The helicopter was actually taking off as we arrived and offloaded our kit. There was no knowing when the crew would need to fly off for call or when the helicopter would return, so we knew this was going to be a bit of a run and gun shoot. We had to be ready.
The plan was to film in 50i interlaced with a few shots in progressive 25p as we knew some of the footage may be used for broadcast. We were just finishing off our first interview with one of the crew when we could hear the helicopter returning from a call out. We grabbed our kit and ran into position to grab the shots. Fortunately though we actually had some time later in the day to mock up a take off. One of our videographers, Michelle, actually got the opportunity to go inside the helicopter for the ride and get some footage from inside, it's not everyday you get the opportunity to film from up in the sky. However, I was most happy with my feet on the ground and filming from there.

Interviewing and filming Jonny was revealing. He had an amazing story of overcoming a life changing injury to his spine resulting in paralysis. Amazingly he is now a wheelchair rugby athlete and was due to compete in his fourth Paralympic games in Rio. What an amazing triumph and encouraging story.

The Training Session

Our second day shoot for this charity video was to get some footage of Jonny's rugby training session. Their training session had us astounded. For 3 hours it was virtually non stop and quite full on at times. There were no shortage of wheelchair clashes, and fortunately no injuries. It was quite an eye opener to a sport that we had not really seen much of before and to of been able to film this sport was quite a privilege.
Please do feel free to leave your comments below and we hope you enjoy the video.

Have a look at more of our video works

Visit Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust for more about what they do.

If you like our work and enjoy seeing it please ‘like’ us on facebook. You can also follow us on Twitter & Google+, and subscribe to us on Vimeo and Youtube.

Trapdoor Films | Charity Video

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Why should wedding videographers be cheap?

With the rising popularity of professional wedding videography there are many wedding videography companies out there offering a variety of services for your wedding. But, there are also a variety of costs for different wedding videographers.
This comes as no surprise as with this there is also a variety in quality of the wedding video that you will get at the end. Wedding videography can range from as little as £395 to around £5000. This is a wide gap. However, similarly wedding photography will be varied in the same way. There is an element of truth in ‘you pay for what you get’.

What is noticeable first is the look of the wedding video. The lower end videos will adopt a home video look, the shots  and angles may be less impressive, but mostly the editing can let the film down by being either predictable with poor transitions and bad editing which ends up as just a montage of static clips to background music. The higher end wedding videographers will adopt a film look, the filming techniques will be more advanced and impressive, and editing will be seamless.

So, if you want a high end wedding videographer why should they come cheap?

What I really can’t understand is those who want a videographer but don’t want to spend much. I never really hear this of a photographer? Often a videographer is last on the list and only if the budget allows or if there is a bit of money left over. Many high end photographers are even more expensive than a videographer and have a far less work load. A wedding videographer will have to use far more hardware filming kit throughout the day to capture the variety of shots and filming techniques; they will need to capture audio by using a variety of different microphones on different people and locations, then when the day is over the videographer has even more work with weeks and weeks of post production editing to produce your finished film. So it pains me when someone would expect a wedding videographer on the cheap. Yes, if you do want this then, as mentioned, there are those that could probably meet your budget….if you want that kind of finished film, but don’t expect what you can get at the high end. Try comparing their films and see what you think.

In my opinion a wedding videographer should cost double what a photographer charges solely because of the work load that has to go into it, but wedding videography is only starting to become a more widely known professional product, and many still don’t know what is on offer with film nowadays. When it has taken it’s rightful place at the top end of the wedding planning check list then maybe prices will accurately reflect the service.

Don’t just settle for still images, but let a professional wedding video bring your day back to life.

If you would like to see some of our wedding videos and view our wedding packages then please visit Trapdoor Films

The rise of modern wedding videography

Back in the 1980’s with the development of the video recorder being available, the novelty to film everything that moved grew. If you were lucky enough to own one it seemed a good idea to get your Uncle or pal to man the video recorder and document your wedding day with the good old shaky hand held effect. This was amazing. As video recorders were quite pricey it didn’t take long for individuals and companies to start offering their services to video your wedding day. This would still consist of the good old hand held camera effect, or if you were lucky you would have a video camera set up on a tripod and left in the corner unmanned to capture everything that moved backwards and forwards in front of it. At the end you would be presented with a 4 hour video tape to trawl through all sorts of mind numbing material. Still, you had it recorded forever.

With the development of digital camcorders, the drop in price and the improvement of quality it became even easier to pick one up and video your wedding. You had a better quality, but still had the good handheld shaky cam consistent with every home video.

As time has moved on and the video industry developed, the stigma of the ‘wedding home video’ has been hard to shake off, people still believe this is what is on offer when mentioning having a wedding filmed.
When my wife and I got married back in 2006 having a wedding film was and after thought for us and not a priority. We, like many others, settled for a family relative to man the camcorder for the day. This was a biggest regret. Even though the development of wedding films was still nothing like they are now, we could of still had a well filmed and edited piece to remember.

Today, the wedding video on offer has gone in a completely different direction. No longer must you settle for hand held shaky camera, no longer must you settle for s static boring camera angle, no longer are you restricted with bland depths of field, no longer are you restricted with filming techniques.

With the introduction of DLSR video technology it became possible to make the most gorgeous still image with lovely depth of field and bokeh to come alive into a moving image. It was possible to produce what you see on your TV. Along with the filming hardware to produce the shots you want and the capabilities of the video editing software there was nothing that couldn’t be done. Along with this the audio capturing capabilities  have moved on, so no longer is it the sound of everything in a ‘bathroom’, but individual voices can be captured and edited.

Wedding videographers now can offer and produce a piece of film work second to none, those wishing to have a wedding video can now effectively have their own mini feature film of their day. The most popular wedding videos are the ‘short form’ films which range between 18-25 mins in length. Basically, when you have wedding photographs and pick out all the best ones and have them in a photo album…..that is effectively what the short form video is, all the best parts edited to make a consistent story of your day. This can be an emotional roller coaster set to music and integrating things that were said on the day.

Like every service on offer, you will still get some better than others. There are some photographers that take better pictures than others, in the same way there are some videographers that produce work that still reflects a home video appearance. There is an art to producing a wedding video that looks like professional film. These videographers are the ones you will pay for, just like you will pay for a good photographer….you really do pay for what you get so remember this when deciding to book your videographer.

Wedding videography is here to stay and is increasing each year in popularity as the word gets around and what you can really have. So get in there, budget for it and book your wedding videographer today because it will bring your wedding day back to life!

To see some of our wedding videos and wedding packages then you can please visit Trapdoor Films


How to get the wedding film look with DSLR


When I began filming I desperately wanted to achieve that ‘film look’ that everyone asked about in the video world. I remember reading many articles on trying to emulate the look the film producers achieve when watching your favourite movies, and trying to steer as far away from that home video look as much as possible. It seemed that unless you owned a RED camera then achieving this look was difficult. Most of what I found didn’t work the way I wanted and so I had to piece together the parts that I thought were useful with the parts I discovered to make the look I wanted, and it took a while.

Although you might see the film look you like in a movie it’s also important to find out what actually works for a wedding. For example, there’s little point opting for the Matrix film look unless you want the bride to have a bleach bypass look with a green tint. Whereas there may be some fundamentals that are the same to begin with when developing your film look the point I’m making is just because it looks good doesn’t make it right for your video.

1. Camera settings

The first and most important thing to master is what camera settings you need to shoot for this look. We use DSLRs at the moment and so my settings will be geared towards these, however whatever camera you choose for your wedding shoot some principles are the same. The idea is to shoot flat with little definition. Films are shot like this and produce a flat look. This is what moves it away from the video look.

Picture Setting:
DSLRs come with different picture settings as a basis for what you might want to shoot, from landscape to portrait, and the camera will adjust colour, contrast, sharpness accordingly. Don’t use these.
I was introduced to a picture setting you can download called ‘Cinestyle’, and it was the best thing I have done. This is free and installs on most DLSRs easily.
So why Cinestyle?
This setting has been developed so it is flat which is perfect for the film look. In other words, there is no additional light and shade added to give extra definition. When you see the Cinestyle setting it won’t be flattering in it’s colour because it’s not meant to, and here’s the benefit….
When you use any of the other picture settings and frame anything that has dark shadows you will see that most of the detail in the shadows gets lost as the darkness loses this information. Although this might not immediately ne noticeable or might not instantly look bad, if you film and record this you can never get this information back as it has been written in the file as a dark area and no other information in this area has been written. So that’s it. If you now film and record the same area with Cinestyle flat look all the information is still there in these dark areas. So now if you use your colour curves in post production to bring up the dark and light areas to now add the definition you will see that the dark areas, and are as dark as another setting except the difference is you have retained much more information in the Cinetsyle setting giving more detail. The same applies for the light areas, you have much more control on the information retained which might otherwise of blown out. The colour curves will automatically bring out the colour more as you adjust it as well, and you a free to add colour when you want in post to exactly how you want.

Cinestyle picture setting comes with pre-determined sharpness, contrast & colour settings which are all taken down, here’s why, and why these can destroy the film look.

Remember we are not taking photographic still images but moving images, so take your sharpness right down. You might think that the whole point to HD is the crispness of what the cameras can produce, yes, but not by using the built in sharpness. . When taking a photo it’s all about the sharpness of the image, but if a moving image is that sharp it will appear adopts that glassy video image that moves away from filmic to video. Sometimes a moving image can appear too real, as though in your front room, to enjoy.

The basic rule here is ‘contrast is your enemy’. Get rid of it in your camera settings. Take it down to 0. This again will give your picture an over bold look which is adds to that glassy video look. If any shots require a little more contrast this can be added in post with more control over it, but don’t get it written in to the file which can’t be taken away.
I remember first trying to get the film look and reducing contrast in post over the top of film which had contrast already recorded, it doesn’t work.

Not quite as an issue as sharpness and contrast, but again it’s important not to have too much written in that can’t be manipulated later in post. Cinestyle already has this reduced by default but they even suggest taking it down further to give more scope in post.

2. Post Production

So now that the footage has been shot flat we can now look at grading the footage to get the film look. This is what I have found works for me as a standard template for a wedding film look. Although some shots may require an adjustment on this depending on their own characteristics.
I use Sony Vegas Pro 13, but the settings can be found on all similar editing platforms.

Colour Curves:
I don’t have an exact template for this as I find that each shot require slightly different adjustments depending on how much light etc. The S-curve is what you are aiming for. As soon as you begin to raise the high curve and lower the bottom curve you will see how the light and shade is brought out and the image starts to have more depth and life with more detailed information retained.

Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks:
Use No.85 as a basic preset template. This works for me for nicely for weddings. If you need to adjust the preset high curve on this look if your whites look a little blown you can. You can also achieve this look by suing tints, colour corrections and making it yourself, but the whole point of this software is that is has provided something that fits for you so use it!
When you first apply this you may be horrified at how dark and over saturated it may be, you might even think it’s contrast is way too high.…calm down and bear with it, we haven’t finished but it’s important to have this. This look provides the dark and light we will need, with an added tint that works well for the film look.

Colour correction:
You might not need this for all shots, but I find with indoor shots you might.
You can either mess around with adjusting the colour on the No 85, Magic Bullet look to reduce a bit of yellow tint, or what I find easier is the simple Vegas Pro colour corrector.
You might say why choose the Magic Bullet look if you need to correct it afterwards? It’s the way the curve and tint has been put together in Magic Bullet that works, we can adjust what we need after.

This is what will top it off. Apply -200 contrast on top. Now you will see how the dark areas have been lifted more to see the information again, and the light areas have calmed down. Films have low contrast to give this look. If you took away Magic Bullet and the -200 contrast, the information will be similar but you will notice the difference in the light and shade tint that Magic Bullet added to give the film look. But we need the -200 contrast over the top of it.

Broadcast Colour:
Finally, Sony Vegas Pro has a broadcast colour function, if your editing platform has this or similar use it. This has been designed for broadcast requirements to stop white and black being too light and dark beyond the requirement for broadcast quality. Whilst editing you should see on your scopes if these are too high or low, but applying this can just makes any little bright window, or dark shadow taken care of. I use the ‘conservative’ setting to make sure.
I have found that since using Cinestyle setting that I rarely have this anymore. Some adjust this broadcast setting to give an even flatter image on light and shade for the filmic look, which I used to do, but be careful with this as this can appear a bit over the top, again Cinestyle took care of most of this.

So I hope this has helped. I hope to get images on here to give examples of my points at some point. This is my basic template for a film look for weddings. You might want to experiment with looks for other kinds of film styles, but as long as you have the initial settings first you should be ok to experiment.

If you want to find out more about our filming at Trapdoor Films then please visit Trapdoor Films