My new Taiwan spectacular aerial film

I just got back from an interesting adventure in Taiwan. One of the interesting parts was taking my DJI Mavic drone with me. Before I set off I wasn’t quite sure what type of short I was going to make . Due to certain circumstances which have been discussed in my previous post the film took shape in a way I wasn’t expecting. It became an aerial journey . I wanted movement and a feeling you were traveling across the land , of the beautiful country.

The first stop was Jiufen and incredibly popular town built into the side of the mountain. It used to be a gold mining town and some of the shops and actually burrowed into the mountain itself. It has an amazing food and handicrafts culture and wow that view its pretty spectacular.


Taking of from the town itself really wasn’t an option. It is a very dense space with narrow footpaths and closed in buildings. So we drove further up the road and I flew it over the town, complete with some eerie looking clouds and flew it up the mountain from below which you see in the film.

I had been practicing quite regularly back home for about 7 months to do the shooting in Taiwan. It takes a level of confidence to be able to do the camera moves, that I was able to achieve. You need to practice manually flying it home for when the  automation on the craft fails, which it did a couple of times.

taitung pano

On such occasion was in this valley , featured above , I got very low on battery and the return to home automation wasn’t working. It started to land about 30 feet away from me in a rice field. This would of been an issue as the rice field was full of water. I quickly manually took it over rose it out of the field over a big stone fence and onto the road. Little did I realise whilst I was concentrating on my flying a tourist had walked and sat down on the afore mentioned fence and I nearly gave him a buzz cut as I bought the drone back to safety.


Featured above is the home of the Lidao aboriginal tribe.

This location was a 2hr drive north west of Taitung. The drive through valleys, fallen rock slides into mountains through mountains was utterly spectacular . There is one road in and one road out. This is where tourists don’t come this is real Taiwan to the core.  The village is perched on the side of the mountain. Whilst utterly breath taking, this has its own issues. Taiwan is famous for its typhoons and being so exposed leaves them cut of from the rest of the world when the storms hit, as they do every year. But what they do have is pristine land and fertile soil. They grow rice , which by the way is sublime like nothing I have ever tasted. They grow cabbage and various other vegetables. They then trade there crops for medicines and other essentials to keep the village running.  We got to have lunch at there local store, they were a bit wary of white people. Our guide got very cranky when some of the locals denied there was anywhere to eat. So we had this hime cooked lunch wild boar with this yummy rice.The boar is still hunted in the forrest as it has been done for over 1000 years. The dish was very simple but ridiculously fresh and flavourful. I then did all my shooting. I literally got to fly my drone of the side of the mountain, it was so exciting . You can’t even fathom standing there on the ground watching these pictures come in. It was really exciting.

You will notice in the film the sequence in the rice fields and in the village is very smokey. The reason for this is , on the day they had started the harvesting of there rice crop. The first part of this is to burn it. This is because they they have a worm that feasts on the rice and the fire is to kill it off. At times the fires were very close to the road and we had to close the vents . But the upside is it created a look to my pictures that I really love and I think you will agree adds something to the film.

Lastly I wanted to touch upon the stunning music in my film. The music is all from local composers and performed by the Taipei philharmonic orchestra. The music sets the tone of the visuals. I plowed through quite a bit of music to find the pieces that I ended up using. Without it, somehow I don’t feel its would of been as authentic. The music closely resembles how I felt when I saw the imagery and enhances it with local flavour.

I wanted the music to sell the visuals and the visuals to sell the music. If they didn’t work in tandem the piece would not of worked. The music should almost be invisible .

University Post Grad Week 1

I have always been a technical and creative person but professionally getting the right set of skills to push my career forward has sometimes been difficult. In a creative industry such as television when I was starting out I had to take whatever position I could get. I ended up editing news and current affairs. I had always dreamed of a far more creative endeavor such as drama ,but news was where I ended up. It then became apparent a couple of years ago that the standalone news editors role was starting to die. The broadcasters were employing systems to enable Journalists to edit there own stories .

As this was becoming more obvious to me, I started to look at ways of moving beyond my news room experience . What I found was that I had some very specific skill shortages , that would hamper my career growth. One such deficit was in motion graphics namely After Effects and design skills utilising Photoshop.

The role of the video editor has changed dramatically in broadcasting , now you are expected to be the editor have the ability to design and implement moving graphics and to have a multi disciplined approach to your media production duties. The editor is no longer just the editor.

So fast forward to the last week, I have started university doing my post grad in multimedia. It has been a very enlightening week. Why?  for one After Effects isn’t nearly as intimidating as I first thought. It is all built upon key framing , this is something I have done across many different software packages. It feels somewhat familiar to me ,in the way it works. When I worked in London at Bloomberg we edited all our material in Premiere which is the sister application of After Effects . I frequently had to keyframe effects in Premiere which is most likely why After Effects feels less intimidating. Here is an example of an early effects exercise I did.

What I am most looking forward to is bringing my video, photography and love of design together to start bridging over into this exciting new media world. My ultimate aim is to take this further and go onto study 3d animation. My ultimate aim is to design video, effects and edit for film television and online. To be as diverse as possible and to exit the sausage factory I have been involved with these past few years.

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