You probably landed on this website and thought ‘OMG, that video background is totes epic WTF lol’ …there’s no shame in admitting this. Our analytics tools are telling us that 99.86% of all our site visitors are doing the same thing*, so we thought you might want to find out more about it.
If we’re right then please just sit back and relax as your interest is about to be sated; big time.
When we set out to build our website we had three very specific targets for what we wanted:
video background, because video backgrounds are hot right now
video needs to have couriers in it, preferably with beards. Beards were reasonably hot when we shot this, but we are not so sure about this now. We’re receiving conflicting reports but will be keeping a close eye on developments.
video needs to heavily feature London, ergo it needs to have drone shots because everyone knows drones are SO frickin’ hot right now
As you can tell from watching the video, we totally smashed these targets massively out of the park …except they weren’t really our targets.
This whole thing started after seeing a WordPress theme we really liked that had a video background feature. We knew we’d have to get some video for it but were just going to buy HD stock video of cyclists and London and cut it all together. Sadly, there’s very little good stock footage out there so we ran out of road quickly pretty and had to delve a bit deeper to find what we wanted. That’s when we found this beautiful video by Evan Skuthorpe of Photostorys and the idea of shooting drone footage really took hold. A friend of ours heard what we were looking for and intro’d us to a director called Tom Bell who not only shoots with drones, but loves shooting stuff around cycling and cycle messenger events. This hit a sweet spot that we never dreamed was possible to hit. It felt and looked a bit like this:
When we spoke to him at the time we thought we’d still mix stock footage with original footage but Tom wasn’t having it because he loves this sort of thing and wants to do stuff properly. Then it quickly snowballed from being just a video background into a proper 3 and half minute thing.
Tom cast Mat to star in the video, who wasn’t just picked for his rugged good looks – he features as Mr December along with his brother in the latest LCEF naked calendar, you can buy one here – but also because he happens to be very good courier. He’s not the only one either – the guy who high fives Mat at the end is Frank. He’s known for being incredibly fast, and happened to win a bike we put up for a raffle last week to raise money for guys going to the CMWC (not a fix we promise, he bought a lot of tickets). My girlfriend are also in there – we checked with the SAG and it turns out our day rates were really cheap.
George from Full City Cycles, me looking in the wrong direction and Frank ‘The Tank’ McQuade with the winning bike behind us
Now that we had a proper video we figured we better sort some tunes out. Our friends from Belfast Rory and Andy from Rudimentary Records were kind enough to let us use a few tracks. You can download the main track below and buy the track at the end of the video here.
We asked Tom a few questions around taking on the work and the shoot itself. Here’s what he came back with:
Why did you take the job?
Bicycles are big part of my life and shooting for Gophr came as opportunity to to get involved in interesting, bicycle-based film projects. You guys had a pretty strong ideas of what you wanted to see in the film, some of which I was pretty thrilled at the thought of capturing.
How did you get involved in the whole cycling scene?
I have been cycling forever from city to mountains but only started to make films around 8 years ago and bicycle culture related films came naturally. My first commissioned bicycle related film for Don’t Panic Magazine was shot with Fixed Gear London Crew in 2008 when they were building a bicycle for Vans.
When did you start shooting with drones?
I’ve been an amateur drone enthusiast for few years now and once those became capable of steadily carrying a high def video camera I very quickly realised the potential. These days toy size drones have become very popular and now, pretty much anyone can start playing with them to get results. For a professional production though, flying systems tend to be very sophisticated and the operators are trained and licensed professionals.
What was the best bit of shooting and editing this video?
It was very exciting shooting with Mat on the streets chasing him between the cars, you can be so much quicker on the bicycle in what it feels like stationary traffic! For different angles we’ve used variety of setups/operators: we’ve shot from the bicycle mounted cameras, with an operator following Mat on a motorbike shooting with camera stabilisation. We had to go as minimal as possible with our setups, to become fast and agile to show the speed in the tight traffic. This I think was the most exciting part of the project
And the worst?
The hardest part was to control lighting source – the Sun itself. we tried to shoot on the sunny days to show London at its best and this caused lot of trouble with exposure continuity especially moving from the direct light to the location casted with shadow. The other worst bit is at the end of the video when we were shooting at night around Soho – Mat was behind a rickshaw which decided to take a hard left without any warning and Mat ended up crashing into it and landing inside the the cab. I was worried he’d hurt himself and it all happened so fast neither he nor I were sure who was at fault. Looking back at the footage it’s pretty clear. It’s also pretty funny.
Any final words?
Yes! I can’t stress enough: People get on your bikes! Anyone can ride a bike and there is no excuse for not doing it. It has massive social, health, economical and environmental benefits and I believe it should be native to humanity. Find comfortable environment for you to ride in (not only stationary one in the gym no matter how good you LCD display is), if you are not comfortable on the streets do it in the park but RIDE ON!
…wise words indeed. Thanks Tom. Find him and his brilliant work on Bellotheque. Please comment or tweet us if you have any questions.
*we totally made that up