About Me

Welcome to a blog about a film-maker, one who could be described as a story teller with an experimental approach to technology.

Hello, my name is James Tomkinson and this is my microscopic slice of the world wide web which should give an idea of what I do.

I think we can agree that people make films in a number of different genres. Mine is drama, a human story of either fact or fiction recreated in a gripping performance. Although that isn’t a dictionary definition it is what I write and capture either ‘in camera’ or on-stage.

An interest in building things has stayed with me throughout my younger years. I have to admit my DIY skills could use a little polishing yet that didn’t stop me from designing and refining the designs for my stereoscopic 3D rig since 2010 the results of which are on my YouTube channel.

Feel free to have a look around.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Evaluation of triple camera setup


A little while ago I adapted my 3D camera setup to make my Mk4v2 3D/2D rig. Now it is time to reflect on the results this produced. Included are a selection of the videos filmed in 2014 with this setup. An outline for said a review is below.

1 Logistics

2 Framing

3 Final Results

4 Conclusion

First of all there is the weight of the rig which has proven to be a hindrance. I’m sure that this is far from the heaviest rig around but never the less, this setup can become difficult to hold steady after a while. I had thought that the additional weight would help plant the rig against my shoulder and thus produce steadier footage which, when filming, was initially the case. I shall have to find out whether the rate at which the rig becomes difficult to hold decreases in warmer weather.

The problem of framing was only a slight one. As the 3D rig was mounted above the 2D camera the two setups were filming vertically parallel to each other. This meant that they were aimed at different points on the subject and I hadn’t built in a method of vertically adjusting the angle of the 3D rig.

There was another issue with the way the 3D rig was mounted atop the 2D camera. It was attached with a cold show to 1/4 inch screw thread adapter. This meant that a large weight, spread over a wide area was balanced on one relatively small point. Cutting to the chase, this meant that vibrations were introduced into the 3D footage.

Final Results
Okay those two headings were a blast of negativity so let’s finish this one on a more positive note.

Having filmed Ash on the Rails for four years in 3D and therefore at a fixed wide focal length it was great to be able to zoom again. When filming steam trains you can’t always get the angle you want or get as close as you want as there are usually two dozen or more other people trying to do the same thing, so having the choice of focal lengths was a welcome treat.

In concluding this was an interesting experiment which has taught be some interesting points about building camera rigs. There will be jobs where this rig will be an appropriate filming tool, so there may be further updates should I choose to use it again on a future project.

Bittern - 22/11/2014 - 2D

Bittern - 22/11/2014 - 3D

Rood Ashton Hall - 19/12/2014 - 2D

 Rood Ashton Hall - 19/12/2014 - 3D

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Day After The Fair


A gem of a production!

Playing Charles Bradford has been so engaging and so delightful, as has being involved in such a brilliant stage production. The characters are emotionally driven, the story is such a tug on the heart strings and by the end a dry eye in the audience could only belong to someone with a heart of stone.

You will have undoubtedly noticed that this article was not headed by a spoiler alert as I would be doing all concerned a disservice if I were to reveal what this script can bring to the stage.

However I will say this. Sometimes the perfect cast work on the perfect script. Each and every member of the cast became their character on stage. They didn’t simply play the parts but they became the people in the story. They wanted to be the characters not simply say the lines. I say this not to exaggerate the matter but simply to convey the truth. Such a working attitude is infectious. It drives people to give everything they can to the show. It has been fantastic to work such talented actors.

Credit must also go to set, props and especially costume for creating the atmosphere of 1895. The outstanding achievement of making and creating upwards of fifteen costumes for this play shows the dedication of the costume team.

As the last play for 2014 no one could have wished for such a happy conclusion.

Ok now for the spoiler alert.
"...ambitious young barrister Charles, is portrayed by James Tomkinson with gusto. Initially charming, he reveals a less appealing side to the character when Charles realises he’s ‘chained to a peasant’." – The Sentinel (November 27, 2014)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Filming with three cameras simultaneously


The above photo depicts a revision to my Mk4 3D rig.

This is my Mk4v2 3D/2D rig, which allows me to combine the best out of each system. The 3D setup allows me to create stereoscopic video but limits my shooting style to ‘zooming with my feet’ and can struggle with low light environments whilst the 2D has much better image quality in both day light and dark environments and also allows me to use different lenses for both artistic and practical reasons depending on the location of the shoot.

I grant you this is simply a combination of two systems that are working independently from each other but it give me a new challenge whilst shooting as I feel that I’ve been getting rather comfortable filming with my Mk4 3D setup and this will push my filming capabilities just a little further.

The results from the first test with this setup are already in and I have embedded them below.

One thing I thought would be a problem was the lenses from my VG20 creeping into the shot on my GoPro’s. With my 55-300 lens plus its hood this isn’t an issue, although my 500mm prime is just a little bit too long, not that I would be attempting steady-rig or hand-held footage with that lens anyway.

3D Version

2D Version

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Beware the moon


Here is a sample of an upcoming project. Lens reviews. Not unfamiliar territory I know however I though seeing as I spend a good deal of my time using lenses to film things I should take it upon myself to understand a little more about how they work. The above image was shot with a 500mm prime lens, so not the nifty fifty but the abundant five-hundred. That was awful, I do apologies.

More to the point, I hope to cover the following about each lens I review:-

Image quality
o    Sharpness – in the centre of the image and the corners

Image artefacts
o    Vignette
o    Distortion
o    Onion effect
o    Chromatic adoration

Construction material 


Operational behaviour
o    Zoom
o    Tactile Switches

Features and extras 
o    Vibration Reduction
o    Auto Focus
o    Filter threads
o    Lens hood

Lens weight

Now I may not be able to test all of these for every lens and I may add things to this list if I think of more point to discuss between now and the reviews release. This should be interesting on way or another.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Much Ado About Nothing


“… They were supported by some excellent performances, especially by James Tomkinson as Don John's evil sidekick Borachio…” – The Sentinel (July 14, 2014) 

As a dyslexic who didn’t enjoy any but one of the Shakespeare plays I had to study at school, it feels a little strange that I’ve been on stage performing in my second Shakespearian play and have thoroughly enjoyed it once again.

I’ve entered a new area of characters as my first villain, Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing. With just shy of nighty mines most of which were grouped in long speeches this was by far the most I’ve had to learn for any production. Focusing on slowing down my speech and emphasising certain letters proved to enhance both my diction and the evil nature of the character.

Another aspect of the role was my gestures. By making deliberate, pointed and slow indications I could give the character a dangerous manner which on person commented on as being “spider like”. This was all the more important as Borachio’s behaviour needed to change in his last scene to convey his remorse.

Now, corpseing on stage is any actor’s nightmare. Thankfully that didn’t happen to me during this show but one line in particular was the source of much hilarity during rehearsals. The line in question was:-

Dogberry: I do not like thy look, I promise thee.

Our director had Dogberry and Borachio nose to nose with each other for this line. However every time we practised it both myself and the actor playing Dogberry would fall about laughing. This went on for about a month’s worth of rehearsals until finally we figured out how to control the situation. If he stared at my chin and I at his forehead we could get through that line in character. Up until then we had been staring directly at each other resulting in one of us corpseing every time. Although we’d found a way around the problem it was still a worrying moment of hoping that we could keep from laughing on the first night. Fortunately we managed this confrontation on all six nights.

Now it’s all over. I’ve realised that I’m as much a victim of after show blues as anyone else involved in theatre. Now the waiting for the next show begins.