I’m leaving FXHOME: here’s why

After 14 years, I’m leaving FXHOME at the end of this month.

14 is not an insubstantial number of years. One of my colleagues was 10 years old when I started working there. Back then, the Internet (and thus, the world) was very different. No Facebook. No YouTube. Google was still just a search engine. The iPhone hadn’t been invented. George W Bush and Tony Blair were getting ready to carve up the world. Nobody had seen the battle for Helms Deep. Half Life 2 was still two years away, as was Steam.

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Heads Up: Riffing on Iron Man

Something I don’t think I’ve blogged about is my recent work at FXHOME on a Marvel-inspired campaign called Heads Up, designed to launch the new HitFilm 4 Express product. I ended up writing and editing a ton of videos, which have already nabbed over 204,000 views. A truly mind-bending stat.

Here’s the main sketch that everything hangs off:

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Feeling the chill: summoning the trolls

A recent video I produced and presented for the HitFilm channel was all about editing gaming videos. Pretty simple but useful stuff, presented in a nicely relaxed manner. Given the channel has a fairly diverse viewership, I wanted to have a brief overview that established the culture of online gaming videos for anybody unfamiliar with the concept. Here’s the finished video:

When scripting the episode I had a moment of weakness and it’s been irritating me ever since. Continue reading

Creating the cover for A Day of Faces

Since April this year I’ve been writing a science fiction serial called A Day of Faces, which I’ve been publishing over on Wattpad. You can read it for free.

Much like a physical cover in a bookshop, the image representing your work on Wattpad is a big part of attracting the attention of readers. I wanted something that was intriguing but mostly abstract, and which tied in with the themes of the story without being too on the nose.

Hence this:


I’m not a designer, so it’s not the fanciest cover in the world, but I thought it might be interesting to show how I put it together. I actually used HitFilm 3 Pro for this particular image, which is designed primary for video projects but has a bunch of useful features for this kinda thing.

So the first step was to grab a 3D scan of a human head. There’s a bunch of free models available online which you can find with a quick Google.

It started off looking a bit like this:

Basic head

Adding a couple of lights reveals some additional details. I also deliberately went for a metallic blue specular highlight:
Basic lighting

Here’s the same model with the final lighting setup, which used a softer, more diffuse style. The main light was positioned above the head, resulting in shadows falling on the eyes and from the nose, with a soft fill light coming up from below:

Softer lighting

This head was duplicated multiple times. Lighting was disabled for the duplicates, such that the central head is the only one retaining full detail. The outer heads look more artificial and mannequin-like. The idea was the represent an anomaly among the population:

Multiple heads

The primary head was adjusted to be reflective, with a chrome-like appearance:


The final step was to add some additional grading elements, first in the form of some volumetric light rays blooming out from the centre:


This was followed up with some anamorphic flaring, creating the vertical smears and a more atmospheric look:


And that’s how it was done. All entirely in HitFilm 3 Pro.

I’m taking a short break from ADoF but I’ll be back with the second story arc in August.

Experiences of SXSW

I went to SXSW! This is exciting because it’s an event which has grown increasingly relevant and influential over the last decade, has spread into every corner of every news website I read, and this year…I was there.

FXHOME kindly flew me there and back, accompanied by my colleagues Kirstie, Josh and Andrea. In summary: Austin is wonderful. SXSW is weird and confused but mostly good. Continue reading

Molyneux, Kickstarter & why fixed funding is good

Gosh, John Walker’s interview with Peter Molyneux makes for hard reading. It’s resulted in the usual outraged reaction from those gamers who get terrified of reading anything which isn’t a simple graphics/gameplay/replayability review with a percentage score. And, yes, Walker’s interview pulls no punches and its opening gambit is especially on the nose – but it’s also an astonishing, fascinating interview which gets to the heart of an issue that everybody else has danced around for about 10 years. Continue reading