Entry for Make the Cut contest

This is a bit of a late post, things has been pretty crazy busy now that it’s getting into show seasons. Back in April Adobe ran an editing contest to celebrate Adobe Premiere Pro’s 25th birthday. Contestants were to do their own version of Imagine Dragon’s “Believer” music video using pre-existing footage and some Adobe Stock footage that could be downloaded upon registering.

I found out about the competition rather late. In my opinion the contest wasn’t advertised that well, as I found out about it from a blog that has nothing to do with Adobe, and didn’t receive any emails before the competition started. After contemplating whether or not to participate (it was during busy times and there wasn’t that much time left in the competition), I decided that it was a good opportunity to work with well shot footage, and after editing for so many 48hours film competition, I was certain I could make something work.

Though there was no restriction on using Premiere Pro only, I decided to do mine solely in Premiere Pro, and decided to keep things clean cut and simple. The toughest part was deciding what narrative to go with as there was no brief. After watching all the footage and reading the song lyrics, I came up with a narrative I was happy with and started constructing the video. To be honest this was one of the tidiest timeline I’ve ever done. I had a small group of people (my colleagues) with to be my test audience after I finished a rough cut to make sure that they get the message I was trying to get across and that they could understand and follow the flow of the story.

My entry didn’t make the finals, but I had a lot of fun doing this, especially that this was the first music video I’ve ever done. Here’s my video, I hope you enjoy it.

I’ve been told by my friends in certain countries that they couldn’t open the Youtube link, if you’re experiencing this problem, I’ve uploaded this video to my Vimeo channel as well, watch it here:

The Making of “DICKS” Short film [48hours 2016]

This was a super late post, but I was waiting for our film to be online first before posting this. This time, the 48hours film competition happened in September instead of on its usual slot in May (and at some point, April), which made it a bit tricky for both me and J because of our workload (and I bet a lot of other people too). J didn’t end up joining because he had to be away for work on the shoot weekend.

Team Puppyguts drew the genre “Punk movie” and I had a slight panic bubbling in me when I heard the news because that genre isn’t really my cup of tea. So on Friday night I spent some hours browsing through my DVD/bluray collection and online for punk movies, researching on editing styles.

I arrived on set around 3pm on the Saturday, which was a lot later than originally planned, but I was able to set up the on-set edit suite and straight onto footage dump as soon as I arrived. The team was already well into the shoot by this point and had quite a lot of footage for me to work on.

The shoot went through the night, we had A LOT to shoot, and I didn’t see a lot of it since I was editing at the same time. I did catch some of the shoot though, when I needed a break from staring at the screens (and also because my shoulders were going numb, and I needed to stretch my legs). We finished the shoot at 4am and we moved back to HQ where I continued editing.

This was the first time in my 48hours participation history that I didn’t sleep. I managed to spit out the rough cut by 8am though, and after some reviews and directions, I got the second cut done by 12pm (we had to cut out about 2 minutes out of the rough cut to get our film under 5 minutes in duration). Then after a few more tweaks, I finished the finished cut by 2pm, ready for the finishing touches. It was a personal record for me, and one that I’m super happy with.

We handed in with plenty of time to spare, and decided to stick around and watch the countdown, where I think someone missed the deadline by a few seconds. Overall it was the most relaxed Sunday of 48hours that I’ve ever experienced, and I was told that the team think so too. I was tired, but I was very happy with the film we made.

If you haven’t already, watch our film below, and check out more behind the scenes photos here. Make sure you also check out Puppyguts’ other films too :)

Photos copyright © 2016 Silver Duck. All rights reserved. silverduck.co.nz

Model Shoots

It has been awhile since I posted here, mostly because I’ve been busy with Silver Duck. One of the things I’ve been busying myself with recently was doing more photoshoots with models. It’s safe to say that I find shooting with a model to be more challenging than shooting people punching and kicking each other in the ring. I still really want to get into cosplay photography in the near future, and I hope to get to do that soon.

For booking enquiries, please go to silverduck.co.nz or send me an email.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights from the recent model shoots:

Heston

The shoot with Heston was my the first male model shoot I have ever done, and I have to say that even after researching a lot of poses and male model shots, it was more challenging than I anticipated. Both Heston and I were new to this, so we were figuring things out as we go, and it ended up being a very valuable experience for the both of us, and we had fun while doing it too, it’s always a bonus. More photos from this shoot can be found here.

Panephone

A friend from Aikido class, Kat Hardwick, is a seamstress, and I love her work. This year she submitted her work to WOW (Word of Wearable Arts) and I’ve been following the progress of this outfit on her facebook feed since she started on it. Unfortunately the outfit didn’t get selected, but she decided to have a photoshoot for it. I’m so happy she asked me to do the shoot, it was amazing to see the outfit in all its glory! She did an awesome job at it.

One of the most challenging part of the shoot was finding a solid ground for Kat to stand on because of the shoes, and the location we shot on was a little bit muddy at the time due to the few days of rain before the shoot. Another challenge we had was the stark sun, and we found that we had to wait until we got around the location before I could get a particular shot I’ve had in mind due to the sun’s position. But, the location offered a lot more than we expected as we explored more of it on the day of the shoot, and we were happy the little nooks and crannies we found over there.

So here is Kat in her amazing Panephone dress :) More photos can be found here (contains both mine and my partner’s shots).

One of the things I love about shooting with my partner is that it enabled us to shoot some behind the scenes. Too bad there wasn’t a 5th person to take a pic of one of the setups, basically it was Brent (Kat’s partner) crouching behind Kat as a support, Kat was sitting on him, me crouching on a funny angle to get the shot, and J holding the reflector :p The result? The first pic above (with the light behind Kat), which was the shot I knew I wanted to get going into the shoot, and we had to wait for the sun’s positioning.

Wellington Rifles

This was an impromptu photoshoot with Wellington Rifles Service Rifle and Living History Unit (Inc) . My partner and I went out to the range for a fun day of shooting with some of the guys I worked with at the Stolen Senses teaser shoot, and some of the guys were fully dressed up, I had my camera, and it was a beautiful day. So we decided to do a mini photoshoot after lunch. More photos from this shoot can be found here.

Sri

I had the opportunity to do a quick and fun shoot with Sri on a Sunday. One of the things I love about Wellington is that there are so many great places to shoot at, during this shoot my partner found more locations around one of the sites we were shooting at, something for us to file into our collection of potential shoot locations. There was one shot I had in mind, but I couldn’t get it at the time, it wasn’t until I review the shots that I figured out how to get it (d’oh!). It’s a lesson for next time. View more photos from this shoot here.

And thanks to my partner who took this behind the scenes pic :)

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Until next time…

Armageddon Expo 2016 Wellington

Oh wow! A year went by so fast, because next thing I knew Wellington Armageddon Expo was here. This time around I was at the event at a different capacity. I was there as Silver Duck working with Pixie Captured Images for Behind the Themes to cover what was going on all around the event, as well as doing a few interviews with some of the celebrities. I had never taken so many cosplay pictures at the event before, and I must say that those cosplays are amazing! The work and effort that went into each and every one of those costumes are just stunning. For all the photos taken at this event, please go here. Below are some of my favourite photos from around the events.

I really hope I’ll get the chance to explore cosplay photography, because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, and taking photos at the event only showed that I still have a lot to learn, because it was something I’m unfamiliar with. (Keep scrolling down, there are panel & zombie alley photos as well).

Despite doing a lot of laps at the Stadium, I had time to catch some of the panels whenever I went past, as well as catching up with a few friends. Below are some photos from the panel:

Knowing that I’d most likely be busy during the event, I took the liberty to get my partner and I tickets to the opening party and the shindig, so I could have a night off and hang out with the guests as I didn’t think I’d have the chance to get their autographs (I resorted to absentee pack so I can get them) and photos with them. In the end I did get pictures with David Giuntoli, Tahmoh Penikett, and Cliff Simon on the last day (and I almost missed David and Tahmoh because I was taking photos and doing interviews).

Then there was this one time when we went through the zombie alley and Darren got mauled by the zombies :p Watch it here:

I managed to snap some awesome pictures before having to run out of there ;)

And, I also managed to get into the make up room, as the zombies were being done ;)

I had so much fun at this event, which got me buzzing for a few days afterwards. I miss my ‘geddon buddies already, but I’m sure we’ll meet again at the next one. My feet were so tired after walking lots of laps on concrete floor all day for 3 days, but it was all worth it, and I would like to once again thank Behind the Themes and Pixie Captured Images for taking me on for the task.

If you’d like to see all the photos from this event, please click here.

All photos are Copyright © 2016 Silver Duck. All rights reserved.

New dojo!

Yesterday, Aikido Tenshindo Wellington dojo moved to a new location at 2 Bell Road, Brooklyn. I have been a part of this Aikido family for over 3 years now, and I admit it was really hard having to move location.

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The dojo at the old location

This was the second relocation I was a part of within 6 months, with Combat Room moving to a new location in October last year. Saying goodbye was never easy, but it was heart-warming to see so many club members showed up and helped with the move. There were so many of us that the whole move was done in under 2 hours. I haven’t seen a lot of them for awhile too because many of us come to class at different times of the day and week, so there are many members who I only get to meet at seminars, gradings, or club’s social functions.

The move itself was a lot more of a ritual for me. I wanted to help out, and I also needed to do it. It was my way of saying thank you and goodbye to the space that had provided us roof for us to train under, then saying hello to the new space that would let us continue our training, and I’m going through it together with everyone else.

Our new space is very spacious, it’s also a home to a couple of other clubs. We explored the space yesterday, we found a hidden staircase to the attic (by hidden I meant easy to miss), and quite frankly the attic was pretty awesome and have an amazing view. It looks like we’d be on a cleaning mission sometimes in the next week to spruce up our new home.

New beginning at the new place, as much as I’m sad to leave the old place, I’m excited to train at the new dojo! I feel blessed to be a part of this Aikido family.

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Aikido Tenshindo Wellington family

Star Wars Metal Earth Model: R2D2 build

After doing the AT-AT Metal Earth model build, I decided to take on the R2D2. I did expect it to be potentially be a bit more challenging due to its shape though, so to find that I broke a couple of parts of the model wasn’t quite that surprising (in addition that some parts are quite flimsy). However, I was a little disappointed that some parts, in particular the middle leg didn’t fit properly once it was being attached to the base. This was one of the parts that I broke due to several tries to put them together, and in the end I left it hanging because there wasn’t really anything else I could do about it, especially when the part that broke came with no spares. The other part I broke was because I folded it wrong and had to refold it but it broke when I did so. (it’s the grate in the middle, should be pretty visible in the photos). As you can see on the photos below, I did this a little roughly and managed to scratch the surface quite a bit, and I also had trouble making the head round.

I gotta say, this is such a neat idea, but I found that most of the tabs aren’t long enough to be twisted, some parts are flimsy, and some parts didn’t even fit together properly. Perhaps it was an error from the factory, who knows, but I knew I wasn’t the only person with the problem. In my opinion the AT-AT model didn’t have as many problems as the R2D2, mostly the AT-AT’s parts are a bit flimsy, but the model fit together nicely, but then again I only have done 2 of these models, so I don’t really have much experience to do a comparison. The R2D2 was the first time I encountered the problem of not being able to fit the parts properly, and according to posts I read from other users, it isn’t the only model with this problem.  I wish more of the smaller/easy to break parts come with spares. In saying that, I’m still keen to do another model, the one I want to do next would be from the Mass Effects model series but I haven’t decided which one yet.

Other than the problems I’ve encountered, I love these Metal Earth models, they have such great details and it’s a lot of fun to build.

Here’s the build:

My holiday DIY projects

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful time over the holidays. I know this isn’t the first post of the year, but now that Christmas and December birthdays are well out of the way, I thought it’s safe to post this now (I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for the recipients).

It started with me craving for Nutella. How did Nutella get me to DIY, you ask? Well… I’m lactose intolerant, and Nutella contains dairy, and unfortunately none of its dairy-free substitutes taste right for me, or have the right consistency. So one day I was looking at my Facebook feeds, and one of my friends posted a homemade Nutella video (it was one of those buzzfeed or something), and it got me looking for homemade vegan/dairy-free nutella. After looking at so many recipes out there, I decided there are 2 recipes I’d like to try, and so I did.

The result? It could use some tweaking to suit my taste, but other than that, it was pretty good! I’ve been using it on (dairy-free) pancakes and I absolutely love it, I’d imagine it would be great on ice cream too. Once I finished this batch I’ll either try this again but alter the recipe to suit my taste, or I’ll try the other recipe I found.

It was pretty close to Christmas when I made this, so J and I had to start thinking about what to get everyone for Christmas. Here I was looking through DIY stuff, and decided that maybe this year we should have a DIY theme to all the presents, including the birthday presents covered in this period. So I went on a hunt for DIY present ideas. To say I had information overload was an understatement. It got to the point where I don’t actually know what I want to make anymore, and my bookmark manager had accumulated so many links which I later categorized for easier find. There were 2 birthdays and 6 Christmas presents to think about. The Christmas presents have an agreed budget, which though we were thankful for that, actually made it a little bit harder.

The birthday presents

The first thing to get out of the way were the birthday presents. I was inspired to make jewellery, so after looking for ideas, I decided to make bird nest pendant. Thankfully we have a local bead store in town, and I know they sell gemstones, because I wanted gemstone beads for the nest pendant. If you don’t know already, I love wearing, meditating, and working with gemstones, but to find stones that work for a certain person may be a little harder than finding one for myself. In the end I made 3 pendants, 1 for myself (not only it’s a test, but it’s also a keepsake, to celebrate the first time I made one of these), 1 for my bestie, and 1 for J’s Mum.

My first bird-nest pendant:

Birdnest pendant

The green stones are Chrysocolla. I haven’t really worked with this stone before, but I was drawn to it at the store, and after finding out about the properties, I decided that it’s a good fit, not only for me, but for my bestie too. The white stone is Moonstone, which is something I always like, and always been drawn to.

For my bestie:

Birdnest 2a

Photo credit: @nJCz on Instagram

She and I share a lot of similar taste, and sometimes I feel that we’re in the same wavelength, and to feel that some of the stones I got for myself would suit her as well wasn’t a surprise. For her, I’ve put together Turquoise and Chrysocolla. It is said that when given by a friend, Turquoise will protect the wearer from any negativity. When I see the finished product, I knew it would suit her very well.

For J’s Mum:

Birdnest pendant

This was a combined effort. J chose the colour scheme, then together we searched for the stones that suit her. She’s an artist, so Carnelian was my first choice, as it is known to boost creativity. The others were Amber (for its balancing and calming properties), and Smokey Quartz (to remove obstacles). The result was a lovely colour combination, which we’re glad to know she loves.

Then came the Christmas presents

Cold-brewed Coffee

A few days before I made my first pendant, J made himself cold-brewed coffee, something he has been doing in the summer since last year. So he said that he’d be making those for the boys, except for his Dad because he doesn’t really drink coffee.

Cold-brewed Coffee, bottled

He spent hours filtering these into the bottles after the coffee were ready to be bottled, but eventually he got there the day before we went up to his parents’ for Christmas (that was quite a hectic day). And the result, we heard back from one of his brothers who said that it’s really good. I’ve also tried J’s cold-brewed coffee and it is really good.

Attempted bath fizzies

As for the girls, I’ve been through so many pages of ideas and after a lot of thinking and calculating to make sure we’re still within the budget, I’ve decided to do homemade beauty/bath products. Thankfully I use some of the ingredients needed pretty regularly, so I have some at home already, but the rest warranted a visit to the local health/organic store, and a couple of online purchases.

My idea was to make a pack of mini bath bombs, which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, but never had the occasion to do it.

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The result wasn’t quite the way I hoped. It seems like on the day I made them, it was rather humid, and the bath bombs ended up fizzing early. Though I also thought that I may have sprayed a bit too much witch hazel.

Ditha IMG_7308

The second try went a little better, but still had too much moisture. I did try it without the witch hazel at first, but the mixture wouldn’t stay together, so I sprayed it with witch hazel (less amount that the first time), and the fizz still activated early. But this time I suspect it was from the food colouring I used (though at very little amount), since they’re water-based. I really need to find non-water based colourant that’s available locally or ships to NZ. So I had to scrap these. I ended up using these as toilet bowl freshener though, and also as fizzy shower melts, which worked pretty well.

Body butter

The other products I wanted to make were body butter and bath salts. And after a lot of thinking we decided to make shaving cream for J’s dad. After looking around for body butter recipes, I bought more fragrances, and away I went with making them. I gotta say I got really tired of whipping the butter, it took ages to get it to fluff. The shaving cream and the body butter recipes shared a lot of similarities, the differences are in the ratio, and that the shaving cream contains castille soap, while the body butter does not. The body butters were a lot of fun to make, though I basically took over the kitchen making these for a few days, which ended up in a few days of very late dinner.

Homemade body butter

The result was really good, I was very happy with how they turned out, and those body butters are just lovely. It melts on the skin and leaves it well moisturized.

Bath Salts

Bathsalt mix

The bathsalts on the other hand, were quick and easy, and they were a lot of fun to make too. I decided to make colour stripes for presentation. Much of the fun of these projects was finding out the fragrance that would suit the recipient, I’m glad that they seem to fit.

The labelling and wrapping

DIY presents and label ready to go

On the day we were going up to J’s parents place was quite hectic, with me frantically looking for my calligraphy marker, because I realized that my calligraphy set doesn’t have the nib I wanted, and my calligraphy marker with the correct tip was nowhere to be found. Originally I wanted to use stamps, but couldn’t find the alphabet stamps in town that doesn’t cost so much and also not so small. So in the end, I ended up using fine-tip sharpie to write the labels. Then J did all the wrapping. The end result was great, though we had to keep the presents in a box to keep them from falling over (the bubblewrap wasn’t helping).

So that was my DIY presents adventure, and though it was a lot of work to make these, I had a lot of fun making them.

Star Wars Metal Earth Model: AT-AT build

I actually bought this awhile back, but I never had the chance to actually put them together until a few days ago. I thought they look really cool when on display in store and it would be a good little project to do on  a rainy day or when I have some down time.

I haven’t worked with small objects for a very long time now, and I have to admit that I did struggle a little bit when putting this together. The parts are pretty flimsy on some bits, I managed to break one of the face plates when attaching it to another part, and I wasn’t even applying that much pressure. Fortunately I managed to keep it in place once all parts are put together. Then I also ALMOST break one of the body plates when attaching it to the rest of the body. It seems like I wasn’t the only person with this problem though, some reviews stated that something like this happened to them. Some parts are hard to fold or won’t fold properly. Luckily I only had 2 parts that had this problem. Most of the problems weren’t really visible once the model are done though, but you can probably see one of them on one of the photos below. The back end body panel wasn’t closed properly (the tab wasn’t in place), I left it there because I struggled to close this bit, and this back panel was so close to breaking, so I decided to leave it the way it is.

Folding the tabs was also a bit harder than I thought especially due to the size of the model. I tried tweezers, pliers, and also my finger nails (which wasn’t a good idea), but in the end the flat end of a skewer saved the day (and my nails). It was small enough to get into tight spaces, and it was easy enough to move around.

Other than those little problems I encountered, putting this little model together was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to building my next one. Making the time-lapse video, on the other hand, gave me more challenge than I thought it would be. It was the first time I videoed myself using that sort of setup, and it took me awhile to remember that I need to work within the frame, this got pretty challenging when I need to really look closely at what I was doing, and I head-bumped the camera several times because I forgot that there was a camera right by my head.

So here is the video of the build:

Looking back

Also posted here.

In the past 3 years, I have grown to love coming to training at Combat Room Muay Thai on Ghuznee St, Wellington. I found the gym when I decided that I’ve had enough of sitting around after 10 years of absence from martial arts. On Wednesday, I attended my last training session at the Ghuznee St gym. CRMT is moving to a new location on Hania St in about a week.

This is not the first time Combat Room moved location, but it is the first time for me, so I won’t lie, it’s hard to say goodbye to the place. I have emotional connection to that place and the people I met through the gym, but as someone pointed out, it’s a good thing to have that sort of attachment, but changes are inevitable, so just move with it, and see where it takes you.

Apart from the health benefits and friendships forged at this place, CRMT and the CR family are also largely responsible in developing my photography skills. I’m forever thankful to Charlie (RIP) who gave me the opportunity and had faith in me to shoot my very first ring side gig at Combat 1, and to Pete and Dex, who encourage me to keep taking photos. Over time, I learned so much about the mechanics of fight photography, and I learned more about my gear and its limitation (and how to push it).

So today I’m taking a look back and share the progress and improvement of my fight shots since I started shooting fights, thanks to Combat Room.

2013

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Joe Kelly (Alpha) vs Manuel Mancini (Jai) at Honour 4.

Honour 4 was the very first Muay Thai fight I have ever shot. I took the shots from the audience seats while also supporting my friends who were fighting on that night.

2014

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The North Island WMC Light Welterweight Full Muay Thai Rules Title Fight: Michael Foy (JAI) vs Jesse Mika (SMAC AKL), at Honour 5.

At Honour 5, I started to learn more about timing, and how to anticipate, turns out it’s not that much different than anticipating an attack while sparring or fighting, you are still looking for that twitch a split second beforehand.

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Rehua Smallman (Combat Room) vs Tipene Maniapoto (Zero Tolerance) at Combat 1

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Aisea Lealea (Combat Room) vs Jason Solomon (JAI) at Combat 1

Combat 1 was my very first ring-side fight photo gig, and the first thing I noticed when I stood by the ring that night was that everything looked so different from there.

Desmond Jones vs Gene-Gregory Elbourne - Siam 1

Desmond Jones (JAI) vs Gene-Gregory Elbourne (MAI Dojo) at Siam 1

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Tomo Greer (JAI) vs Mamta Morganan (ETK) at Siam 1

With one of the Combat Room boys fighting at Siam 1, I decided that I would like to come along and watch the fights (with my camera in tow, of course). I asked the organizer if it’s ok to bring a camera and gave her the link to where I’d put my pictures up, and that’s how I ended up at ring side, she asked if I would take picture at ring side, and of course I said yes. I found myself more comfortable this time around, and in general I was happy with the results, but I also learned that I need to work on my endurance so that the results of my shot are consistent throughout the whole event.

Gerard Roach vs Daniel Chadfield

Gerard Roach (ALPHA) vs Daniel Chadfield (Relentless) at Honour 7

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Rehua Smallman (COMBAT ROOM) vs Rick Smith (STRIKEFORCE) at Honour 7

To date, I found my best shots were from Honour 7 fights, mainly due to the great lighting setup and the venue, and I was happy with the overall result of the shoot.

2015

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Rosie Duxfield (ALPHA) vs Louise Fuller (BULLDOGS) at Honour 8

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Carl “Meat” Tangen at Honour 8

I found many problems shooting at Honour 8 due to the lack of lighting, and it was the driving force for me to try out another lens that I have been eyeing for awhile for my next shoot.

Rohan Clark vs Kristopher Annear at The Trade Off

Henry Harper vs Kev Patterson at The Trade Off

The Trade Off was my very first boxing match I shot, and it was also the first time my partner and I shot a gig under Silver Duck.

Thank you for the amazing years at Ghuznee St!

Photo by J Mealings

Our big happy Combat Room family! – Photo by J Mealings

Behind the scenes of “Beyond the Fridge”

We had an amazing time making “Beyond the Fridge”, we worked with such a wonderful team, and met amazing people. So here is behind the scene photos from “Beyond the Fridge”, if you haven’t watched it already, click here to watch the film.