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Knifeworld: High /Aflame

It’s been a while since the last Knifeworld video. The band has gone from strength to strength and the new album “Bottled Out Of Eden” shows a new confidence and strength of vision. I love it when you see something evolve from the early ideas to the finished product. Kavus had been semi-secretly sharing the title of the album for a while, enjoying its sound and connotations. I was very excited to get a copy a while ago.

Knifeworld had opened with High/Aflame the last few times I had seen them and it grabbed me from the first time I heard it. So I was a bit disappointed when it wasn’t the first choice of track to make into a video. But after a bit of inter-band discussion they wisely decided to go with it and I was very pleased indeed. Hurrah!


One of my favourite bits about making a video is bouncing ideas around, preferably over booze (although coffee also works). Mel, Kavus and I steadfastly approached the topic over lager. I am nervous about taking credit but it might have been me who suggested collaborating with Chris Tomsett. Chris does psychedelic lightshows, principally in Brighton, as Innerstrings. I had photographed some gigs where Chris had done the lighting and loved it. I had also seen lots of other gig photographs where his beautiful work transformed quite prosaic spaces into kaleidoscopic landscapes.

Chris works with a mixture of old school oil-based lights and digital elements that can include real-time footage captured by a couple of HD video cameras. The work he did on this video was digital and included manipulated real-time footage of the band. Chris has a great collaborative style and was happy to be directed and to offer excellent suggestions; above all he was able to create exactly the sort of visuals that we had hoped for. It made life very easy for those of us pointing cameras.


On this occasion, we used none of my Canon kit. This whole video was shot on the new generation of Sony cameras. Most of the footage was shot on the state-of-the-art Sony A7S II, using the Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS lens. The second camera was the also very new Sony A7R II, mostly with the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS.

The A7S II is notoriously excellent in low light and it didn’t disappoint for a second. One very odd thing was the visual hum lines we got with the massive projections. By “hum” I mean slow-moving stripes of colour that travel from the top to bottom of the image. The issue relates to the synchronisation of the projector’s own refresh rate and the camera’s own capture rate. I experimented with different shutter speeds and learned that if we used 1/40s (instead of the usual 1/50s that one traditionally uses when shooting at 25FPS), the hum vanished.

The 28-135mm f/4 is a servo-powered zoom lens, which is VERY unusual at this price point. F/4 is pretty slow, but combined with the A7S II’s excellent low light handling it did a superb job. I think we shot most of the A7SII footage at a whopping 8000 ISO.

Second camera on this shoot was Sue who did her usual excellent job of assisting: quietly pointing out mistakes and making suggestions. Sue and I get on really well and have a great working relationship. She put in a long hard day on the shoot and never so much as rolled her eyes at me.

We shot some footage of Kavus using the Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f0.95 ASPH at F/0.95. Mostly because we could. This footage proved invaluable in the final edit, although you can’t tell it was shot on such an impossibly posh lens because it was “somewhat” processed.


Kavus had some images that were created by the Knifeworld sleeve designer, Steve Mitchell, that he wanted to show at the start of the video. You can see Steve’s beautiful work here.  These were a simple disk with the song title and a new clean version of the Knifeworld logo.   I felt like the disks were nice but I would like to create a three dimensional animated version of the disk.

For this I needed a vector graphic version of the logo to animate in After Effects.  Although the image I was given was a bitmap and quite low resolution, I was able to convert it using Adobe Illustrator with just a couple of clicks.  Very cool.

The Knifeworldworld planet that you see in the animation is Steve’s sleeve art Bottled Out Of Eden wrapped around a sphere.

Here it is:   

Home Of Fadeless Splendour

2 May 2015 brought us The Alphabet Business Convention.  This is a show celebrating the work of the genius that is Tim Smith.  I don’t use the word lightly – I love Tim’s music above all others and his work as a video director is also astonishing.    Tim suffered a series of debilitating strokes in 2008.  It’s fantastic that he was able to attend the event, which he clearly found hugely affecting.  We all did.

Anyway, I took my cameras along.

I have a few internal rules about photographing bands.  I really like to get some pictures with every band member visible.  I always think “How would I feel if there was a picture of my band and you couldn’t see me in it?”  – I think drummers get a particularly raw deal, often sitting in the gloom at the back of the stage, or  lost behind the singer.

I also like to capture some drama and excitement in the pictures.  That’s the motivation behind my use of ultra-wide angle and fish-eye lenses.

Here’s the pictures on Flickr – I’d recommend watching them as a slideshow:

Home Of Fadeless Splendour!

It was a wonderful event and there were some wonderful people there.

Until the next time!

Ash xx

Best of.

Thought it was about time I made a collection of my best and favourite pictures.  I should probably do one of the live pictures too, but this is specifically those pictures where someone has, with malice aforethought, actively engaged with me to take them.  I hope to do lots more of this sort of thing and will hopefully add some new ones to this collection very soon.



Christ, this is a boring post.  Luckily the pictures are süper-awesome-fantastico!



Knifeworld: Don’t Land On Me

Kavus, Mel and I sat down after in a pub in Islington early in 2013 to discuss the next Knifeworld video. Kavus showed me the video to Slade’s 1971 smash “Look Wot You Dun”  The look is stark, with a black background and bright lights, wide angle lenses and right in yer face.

The remit was to get a heightened performance video: like watching Knifeworld play live while the viewer is on psychedelics.
The song is eight minutes long and I went through Bob Drake’s wonderful mix of the song second by second creating an Audio/Video reference chart so I would always know where I was in the song.   I listened to nothing except that track for a week to make sure I knew it inside out.  It is testament to the song that – even after this and editing the video – I still love it.

We filmed it all in one session in July.

Camera and lenses

I shot almost everything with the Canon 5D Mark III – it works so well with all that tricky black – and some with a monopod mounted 5D Mark II.
I also shot the first minute and a couple of other shots with a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition. This let me shoot at 60FPS and some of the shots you see towards the end are slowed down from 60FPS to 25FPS. The GoPro is a fantastic little camera capable of amazing things. I used the Neat Video addin to help reduce the noise, which is the cameras only real shortcoming.

Main lenses were:

  • Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM – for goofy ultra-wideness
  • Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye – now discontinued but a great lens. I love the fisheye shot at 1’37” and one of my favourite details is that I got Nicki and Chlöe to wear the same lipstick for symmetry. Charlie is holding the fan to the right of the camera.  Nice fan work.
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM – great video workhorse.  Revolting for stills.
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM for the eyeball close-up.
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – I love this lens for video.  Great colour and contrast.

I used a starlight filter for maximum ToTP-ness. Mainly because no-one uses them anymore and they’re groovy.


Luis Fortuna was doing the theatre lighting and assisting with the audio playback.

For this shoot, as well as the theatre lights, I used a couple of LED lights: a big LED panel and my new Jinbei EF100 which I bought from the excellent Foto Morgen in Germany.

I have since bought another of these cracking lights from FM. They are the same form factor as studio flash heads and use the same Bowens S-fit adaptor. This means I can use my normal light modifiers, including my favourite, the Lencarta 150cm folding Octobox, which I used extensively here.

I also used one of these bonkers £25 160 LED lights as a hair light.
Battery life with a camcorder battery is fantastic. I used one from my long-redundant twelve-year-old Panasonic camera and it worked on full power for 2.5 hours.


I spent about five evenings banging this into shape and it very suddenly came together pretty close to what you see in the final cut. Everything was done in Premiere CC. There’s a bit of fiddling around with time and the big solarized wobbly BOOOOM! does a good job of signifying that important noise.

After the main cut was complete, Emmett added some nice touches as overlays. The lava, cloudy skies and fireworks are all his and I think they really work.

I also animated Steve’s ( excellent Believer’s Roast and Don’t Land On Me graphics using After Effects CC.

I won’t embed the video because I want you to watch it full screen in HD.  Here’s the link

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