Maker Faire 2014: Hacking cinema and space exploration

Posted on May 19, 2014


Maker Faire 2014 shed some light on the world of cinehacking: building your own equipment to create cinematic video. The University of Newcastle’s CultureLab team talked about their Cinehack movement and WeLove Digital catalogued some incredible photography and film-making techniques.

Cinehack is an initiative set up by Dave Green and colleagues at the CultureLab, a media department at the University of Newcastle. Building often expensive equipment, such as glide rails and dolly tracks, using materials available at home DIY stores means that the team can set up cinematic shoots anywhere on a budget.

Browse through the Cinehack website and you’ll find guides on how to use a remote-controlled helicopter for aerial shots, how to construct a wireless camera control and essential equipment for the cinehacker’s toolkit.

Cinehack Cape Town
Cinehack spent four weeks in January and February travelling around Cape Town and the Western Cape area in South Africa working with local musicians. The Cape Town Cinehack is a beautifully conceived and executed project. Enlisting local hip hop crews including The Archetypes and Brownian Flokid to create music videos from scratch, the Cinehackers took a lot of camera equipment, a DJI Phantom quadcopter drone and power tools to build the necessary track for smooth tracking shots.


Locations, concepts and styling were all cooked up in production meetings and the idea was for all involved to learn and teach each other new skills. A flavour of what the Cinehack team captured can be seen in the video below – four original music videos and the seeds of a community of DIY video makers in Cape Town.

There is a dedicated Cape Town blog giving more details, great pics and video with the Cape Town crews, plus a Facebook page which concentrates on cinehacking tips and tricks.


The Art of Space
Cinehack supremo Dave Green also pointed me towards the work of another film-maker called Joseph Popper and I’ve included a couple of his videos below. Popper studied art and design and that comes across in his beautifully conceptual short films. All of his work riffs on digital culture and modern technologies, with two recent films looking at man’s exploration of space with a wry glance – ‘The One Way Ticket’ examines the idea of one-man deep space exploration, while ‘Into Orbit’ (below) shows an aspiring astronaut trying to simulate the experience of outer space using a roundabout in the playground.

My favourite is ‘Portal’ (also below) which looks at urban architecture in London. Sound design on this film is lovely. Popper has muted all the sounds of the city to concentrate on the footsteps of his mysterious suited man as he walks around the area. Look at the variety of shots he has in the film too. An interesting and innovative film-maker.

Into Orbit by Joseph Popper


Portal by Joseph Popper


Abandon Normal Devices
Dave Lynch, whose Project Nimbus laser projection system I wrote about in a previous post, was featured in a film, digital culture and art festival called Abandon Normal Devices. AND takes place annually in Liverpool and Manchester. The website has an archive of past years and some info on what’s coming up at the next event.

One preview of a film showing at the next festival caught my eye. It is called Leviathan and seems to be a salty tale of the sea using a cinema verite style, letting the images do the talking. Leviathan’s trailer on Youtube is below.